God Wants to Make You New, Not Better

My pastor’s sermon yesterday at Riverstone UMC touched on the power of the Holy Spirit to change our lives.  One of the Scriptures he read was Acts 1:5-8, which is Jesus’ promise to send the Spirit.   Jesus said,

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you

More and more professing Christians today seem to lack power.  I know this was true in my own life for many years and as I look around at the rates of addiction, divorce, depression, suicide, relational woes, church splits, gossip, fears, anxiety and so on within the church world I am left to conclude one of two things:

1)  Jesus overstated his case, or,

2)  The Holy Spirit hasn’t come upon many of us.

I have no reason to call Jesus a liar but I think I have every reason, based on what I see in my own heart, to believe many of us approach the things of God with an attitude that says,

I’ve got all I need, thanks.

And in so doing we grieve the Holy Spirit.

The greatest news on earth is that even while we are here we can be made into new creations through Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).  This is tremendous news for the addict who thinks he or she must forever identify themselves with their addiction or be chasing after the idol called recovery.     God doesn’t just want to make you better.  He desires to make you new.

And He has the power to do so.

It’s my testimony that God meets us in our deepest need and becomes that need fulfilled.    Christ truly is our “all in all.”    It’s also my testimony that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).   We must come to God as empty vessels, with nothing in our hands but our brokenness and a willingness to surrender all that was and is about us.

God can’t fill us if we already think we are full.

So how do we walk in the power Jesus promised us as Christians?

What I am about to say would have greatly offended the “me” of a year ago but I have come to see it as truth and power.

First, we must humble ourselves before a holy God and reckon our addiction not as a “hang-up” or a “struggle” or a “thorn in our flesh” but as sin which offends God and makes a mockery of grace.    Jesus did not hang on a cross for us to be saddled with an addiction for the rest of our lives but he came to “destroy the works of the devil.”   No one born of God makes a practice of sinning (1 John 3:8-9).

The beautiful thing about naming it for what it is – sin – is that sin, unlike “addiction,” has a cure.   The same power that rose Christ from the dead will make a home in the  one who truly repents and agrees with God that the reason we continue to stumble is because we love our sin more than we love God.

When I was in the pig sty of my addiction I was still convinced that God and I were OK.   Nothing could be further from the truth!  In the same way that God had departed from King Saul in his sin (1 Sam. 16:14; 18:12), God departs from the one who continues to walk in the flesh.

The second thing we must do is stay needy.    We must learn to stay at the foot of the cross, which we now see as our only hope.    As we fix our gaze upon Jesus we will find it natural and necessary to let go of the things of this world which used to fill our lives as well as find the energy and will to invest ourselves in the lives of others, extending the same mercy to others that we have been so graciously shown on the cross.

This is the beginning of walking in the Spirit, which is power and life, versus walking in our flesh, which is death.   I know that in my own life, the extent to which I denied these truths is the same extent to which I lived a defeated Christian existence.    I had no power.   I had no self-control.    I had no will to please God or serve others.

But all that has changed, praise be to God, and I know the same can be true for you, too.

God doesn’t desire to make you better.  He wants to make you new!

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6 thoughts on “God Wants to Make You New, Not Better

  1. Interesting that you wrote about this, since lately, the message I have been getting is that God wants us to love Him more than anything else, even and especially our own selves. I think we have so little idea about how much He loves us (even though He gave His life for us and died a horrible and painful death). When we love our sin, our hearts become cold, and we become callous towards the things of God. All throughout Scripture (which is unchangeable as God is), we either choose to serve Him and love Him all-out or we don’t. The problem is that we want it both ways, hence, we’d rather patch up our sin, than let God get ahold of our heart, convict us, and repent (according to Psalm 51), making us clean and new. In my own life, when I have finally surrendered myself and my will to Him, He has blessed me immeasurably in ways that are so far out-reaching, I have written books about it. Some verses that have been particularly meaningful to me are the following:

    1Jn 2:15    Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
    1Jn 2:16    For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
    1Jn 2:17    And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

    Thanks again Chad and Amy for your honesty and sharing these powerful revelations that God continues to entrust you both with.

  2. I love the idea that sin, unlike addiction, has a cure. I have never heard it put that way before and it is a truly beautiful sentiment. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

  3. Could I rephrase your statement, “Stay needy” to “Continue to feast?” As believers, what do we lack in Christ? To keep our eyes on Jesus is the to look at the source of everything. Semantics perhaps, since I think you say the same thing in the sentences following.

    1. Hi Nathan. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I think continuing to feast is a good metaphor as well and captures the same intent. My point, as I think yours is as well, is that we must stay humble and hungry. Pride is always lurking at the door.
      peace to you!

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