Back in 2001, my wife and I bought a small little house. It was not the prettiest thing to look at, but we thought with a little paint, time, and love we could transform it into a beautiful masterpiece. Man, were we wrong. After moving in we found huge structural flaws that would take major renovation. The work load that we thought we needed increased 20 fold. We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into.
Something similar to this happens when some trust their life by faith in Christ and then seek to grow spiritually. Many think that there is not much to change. Maybe a little change of daily and weekly schedules, like Sunday mornings will now be for corporate worship and part of every day will now be dedicated to reading their Bible and to prayer. But, besides those kinds of things, myriads of people do not anticipate the transformation that God wants to do in their life. As they begin their walk with God the word of God and the Spirit of God begin to expose the huge structural flaws found in their life. They begin to see that God wills that they go through major renovation, and He wants them to submit to every single change that He deems fit to do in them.
With our home that needed a lot of work, Isabelle and I were faced with one of two decisions: sell and run or roll up our sleeves, get out the sledge hammer, and start busting out what needs to go so that the new can be built in. This would be hard work. We would get dirty. But, the house would begin to change in ways that would bring us great joy. Similarly, two choices can face the new believer. They can try to cover up their need by making their life appear Christian to those on the outside. They can go to church and Bible study, start using biblical vocabulary to make it appear they are maturing in their faith, and serve in a ministry in the local church. They do all these things while deep spiritual-rooted sin reigns in them. They are not happy with the state of their spiritual life, and neither is God. They fear submitting fully to God because they are afraid of the costs that it will require of them. They are afraid of what other people will think if they began confessing sin, asking for sincere prayer, and making major adjustments to their life because of the gospel of Christ. They do not want to work at their relationship with God and they surely do not want deal with the spiritual dirt they know exist behind the thin walls of their heart. They want to control the changing process. While they have trusted God to save their soul from hell by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, they somehow cannot trust Him to make the needed changes that are required for them to live a life of joy in Christ. They justify their sin as normal, because many other believers do the same kinds of things. Every day is Halloween for them. They disguise themselves every day so that no one will see the real them. They smile, say everything is fine, and avoid conversations that will expose them. They are always on the defense and shifting their speech in order hide the sin that is destroying them in the inside. Living like this usually causes great suffering in their lives. Their marriages, families, jobs, finances, relationships, personality, and outlook on life are all negatively impacted because they simply cannot keep up the act all the time. Instead of helping the problem of sin in their life, it gets worse. Depression, fear, bitterness, anger, and other emotions begin to be the dominant personality traits they display. Unfortunately, those that live this way often make drastic life changing decisions in order to fix or hide the reality going on, and those decisions isolate them from God and His people who are willing and capable to help them. They want joy in their life, but they do not seek it from God. Instead they turn to idols. They turn to other things like alcohol, drugs, TV, pornography, Facebook, video games, sports, jobs, etc. While they find temporary relief from their sadness, the reality is that it is only temporary. Their co-dependency becomes nothing more than a mental or emotional Tylenol that cannot fix the problem, only relieve the pain. But, the pain comes back and reality hits them in the face, and then they seek another thrill to ignore the root problem. Pain is not their problem. Sin that is causing the pain is the problem. But dealing with the sin means major renovation and they simply do not want it. They think the costs are too high. But, in the truth of the matter is, they are already paying a huge price for their rebellion against God. Their pride is their sin. The only thing standing between them and the joy of the Lord is the pride of their own heart. Yet they will not give it up, for that would mean major change in every area of their life.
But there is another option! They can humble their heart, confess their need for change, fully surrender their life over to Christ, and begin doing what is needed to change according to God’s word. This would mean admitting their sin and confessing their need for help. This would mean allowing God to use His word like a sledge hammer to bust the external masks that is hiding their sin so that real and lasting change can be made in their life. To do this would require humility, vulnerability, brokenness, change in behavior, thoughts, attitudes, schedules, and desires. To do this would require such a person to surrender the control of their life over to Christ.
While doing this may sound hard, it is the road to joy in the Lord. Think about it for a second. No more reason to hide. No more covering up the sin. No more masks. No more faking it. No more avoiding conversations and being always on the defense. In other words, the road to freedom begins. Will it be easy? NO! But, change, good change, will happen. Their life will being to be built on the solid foundation of Christ. It will affect their marriages, families, jobs, finances, relationships, personality, and outlook on life. They will begin to reflect the beauty of Christ and begin to experience the joy that Jesus desires for them (John 10:10). Depression will begin to disappear. Their fears will be begin to be dismantled. Their bitterness, anger, and sinful attitudes will begin to be confessed and dealt with according to the cross of Christ. New life will take over. They will love the fact that God directs their life, and their love for Him and His church will increase day by day, month by month, and year by year. They will still struggle with sin, but they will know the path of deliverance. They will know that the change is possible with God and they can have confidence that every single change God wants to make in them is good and perfect and satisfying. They will learn that the people of God are an asset and will seek to involve themselves more in the life of the church. They will begin asking for real prayer requests that imply real need. They will serve, give, pray, study, worship, all from a deeper love for God and a desire to see His kingdom advance in the world. In reality, their whole life changes, and they love it and thank God for it!
As a person seeks to live honestly before the Lord and others, idols begin to vanish. They no longer look for satisfaction in alcohol, drugs, TV, pornography, Facebook, video games, sports, jobs, etc. They become no longer co-dependent on anything. They become solely dependent on the Lord, and this affects every relationship they have. They are no longer dominated by the sin of pride, but by a humble heart. This does not mean they will no longer deal with pride. But it does mean that their ears are more sensitive to the voice of the Lord. They want to hear His voice. They want to do what He says. They want Him to guide their life. They enjoy Him being their Lord and King. So, when the issues of their heart interfere with those desires, they strive to repent of them, so that the joy of being close to Christ is real, not fake. They REALLY are waiting for Christ to come back because nothing in this world can compare with Him. He is the one they long for, and all the attractions and distractions this world offers becomes less and less appealing because they simply cannot offer what their Lord gives.
My point in writing this post is simply to ask: which kind of person are you? One that is hiding what you know (and God knows) needs to change. Or are you a person who longs for the Lord and is willing for Him to do whatever He wants in your life, with your life, and through your life? Jesus is calling you and me to:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30