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When it comes to personal change, as well as change in others, much of the frustration we experience stems from the fact that too often we’re trying to change actions on the outside, when God wants to change hearts on the inside. This is why I contend that more of our time should be spent dealing with the real issue at hand—the posture of our heart towards God.
Think about it in this flow-chart fashion—
Whatever the surface issue is you’re dealing with that’s acting like a change nudge, there is a root issue underneath it: your attitude about it. Are you willing to surrender that issue to Christ? Are you willing to submit to the authority of God and his Word? Until you are, you’ll never see that the real issue isn’t the issue, but your attitude.
However, surrendering that issue to Christ assumes you are in union with Christ and have a relationship with him. Do you know, and are you increasingly knowing, Jesus Christ through the Bible, prayer, and his church? If not, you won’t see the white flag as the viable option it actually is.
However, knowing Jesus Christ assumes you have experienced supernatural conversion. In other words, to say you know Jesus Christ necessarily means you have taken your stand on the truth about Jesus, namely the gospel (i.e., his life, death, burial and resurrection as the only means by which we are saved). Have you believed in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, thus being born again? If not, you aren’t able to even know the One who has the power to change you.
Until Christ is Captain, lasting transformation can’t happen. Unless supernatural conversation of the heart occurs, there will be no supernatural change in the life. In other words, words that are plainly simple and yet deeply theological, genuine conversion is the seedbed for all real spiritual change.
The Apostle Paul states this unequivocally in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Bottom line? Authentic salvation is always the starting point of lasting change. Deep change is impossible apart from the work of regeneration.
That’s why the really fundamental issue before you isn’t the specific and temporary situation that seems to keep you stuck, but your soul’s eternal salvation that empowers you gain true traction in your life. Admittedly, there are subsequent and connected points of action that necessarily follow, but settling the real issue—are we genuinely regenerated?— is always the first step.