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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Should I Wait For God To Change Me?

Stomach Ache from Msoft PublisherAppendicitis

Imagine you have appendicitis.  You know you can’t take care of it yourself.  Only a surgeon can.

But to have a surgeon take care of it you need to do something — go to the hospital.

So think of how strange it would be if you did not go to the hospital, but stayed at home and said “I’m waiting for the surgeon to heal me.”

So what about sin?

Sin is like appendicitis — serious, but treatable.  We can’t take care of it by our own power.  But God can.

So do we wait for God to take care of it — or are there steps He calls us to take?

What does God’s Word say?

We can’t change ourselves

God’s Word says that we don’t have the power to change ourselves — only God can change us.

We see that in Scriptures like —

Philippians 2:13 — For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Deuteronomy 30:6 — The Lord your God will circumcise your heart … so that you will love the Lord your God.

Ezekiel 36:27 — And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.

Luke 18:27 — What is impossible with men, is possible with God.

1 Corinthians 15:10 — But by the grace of God I am what I am.

So only God can change us.  We can’t change ourselves.

So do we wait for God to change us?

No.  God’s Word does not say — wait for God to change you.  God’s Word says — take steps to change.

Look at these Scriptures —

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you… (Phil 2:12)

Paul does not say: because God works in us — therefore we should wait for Him to work.  He says: because God works in us — therefore we should work.  Which means — there are steps we can take that will bring His work into our hearts.

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. (Deut 10:16)

How can Deut 30:6 say God circumcises our hearts, when Deut 10:16 says we do?  It’s because God will circumcise our hearts — as we take the steps He gives us.

Put on compassion (Col 3:12)

Even though compassion is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), we don’t wait for the Spirit to give us compassion.  There are steps we can take by which the Spirit will give us compassion.

Putting this together

Even though I cannot overcome sin on my own, and only God can overcome my sin, that doesn’t mean I wait for God to change me.

So I should not say —

  • I’m waiting for God to give me patience.
  • I’m waiting for God to give me love for the lost.
  • I’m waiting for God to motivate me about church.
  • I’m waiting for God to enable me to forgive.

That’s like having appendicitis, but staying at home, not going to the hospital, and saying “I’m waiting for the doctor to take care of me.”

Instead, we should go to the hospital by taking the steps God has given us.

What are those steps?

Confess sin

We can’t cleanse ourselves from sin.  But look at what God promises —

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:9)

When we confess our sin, His power will start cleansing us.

How do you confess sin?  Turn to Him as you are — trusting that because of Jesus He welcomes you.  Honestly admit that you have sinned.  Tell Him you are sorry, and want to turn from it.  Ask Him to assure you of forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the Cross.

But don’t stop there.  It’s also important to —

Pray for the work of the Spirit

We can’t free ourselves from sin.  But the Holy Spirit can (Ezekiel 36:27; Gal 5:22-23; Rom 8:13).

And Jesus encourages us to pray for more of the work of the Spirit in our lives —

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)

So pray earnestly for the Father to give you more of the Spirit’s work.  Ask for the Spirit to satisfy you so much with living water of Jesus that you don’t thirst for the slimy puddle of sin.

But the Spirit does His Work through the Word (Gal 3:5; Eph 6:17), so we also need to —

Meditate on God’s Word

Jesus promised that if we abide in His Word, He will free us from sin (John 8:31-34).

Here’s how this works.  Every sin promises to satisfy our heart-thirsts more than Jesus.  And when we are thirsty, even the slimy puddle of sin looks good.

But when we pray over God’s Word the Spirit will give us a taste of the living water of knowing Jesus.  And that taste changes everything.

Hmm.  Slimy puddle?  Or living water?

No contest.

So pray earnestly over God’s Word, asking the Spirit to give you a taste of the living water.

As He does that — sin will lose its power.  Your heart will be changed.

Head to the hospital

So when you see sin in your life, think of it like appendicitis.

You can’t heal yourself.  Only the Great Physician can.

And He’s given you steps to take by which He will heal you —

  • Confess your sin to Him through Jesus Christ
  • Ask for the work of the Spirit to change your heart
  • Meditate on God’s Word, especially His promises

So don’t wait around at home.  Head to the hospital and get that appendix out.

Comments?  Feedback?  Thoughts?

I’d love to hear — leave a reply below.  Thanks.

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(Picture is from everystockphoto by StudioClArt.)

Category: Overcoming Sin and Temptation

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10 Responses

  1. Ash says:

    Very helpful post Steve! It’s always tough to find the “balance” (not really a balance, but you know what I mean) between God’s work and my work in sanctification. Thanks!

  2. Ash says:

    Also, that John 8:31-32 passage hit me really hard just now, even though I had read it a thousand times before.

    If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

    What a promise!

  3. lorrainekashdan says:

    Yeah, I like this because I have a dead ministry at the moment and virtually no motivation to go to church. So I guess I should repent of that and take my appendicitis to the Lord before It kills me!

  4. Wanda says:

    Thank you for the word I will add it to my daily life!blessings:)

  5. Aaron says:

    Some of this is really not right.

    “Paul does not say: because God works in us — therefore we should wait for Him to work. He says: because God works in us — therefore we should work. Which means — there are steps we can take that will bring His work into our hearts.”

    And

    “How can Deut 30:6 say God circumcises our hearts, when Deut 10:16 says we do? It’s because God will circumcise our hearts — as we take the steps He gives us.”

    It is actually the opposite of what he says here. We DO work out our salvation with fear and trembling BECAUSE it is God who works in U.S. both to will and act according to his good pleasure. In other words, since God does this, the guaranteed repsponse is that we 100% will work out our salvation. Working out our salvation does not come before God works in us.

    Likewise God circumcises our hearts FIRST through faith in Christ alone (Faith is a gift that is not chosen by man). There are no steps that the natural man is able to take for our hearts to be circumcised. These things are a free gift of God that are bestowed at a time when man is not able to chose them.

    Remember. Everything man does is a response to God already doing something. Man never does a thing first and then God responds. It is all by Grace lest any man should boast.

  6. Nelson Thia says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you sharing the words of truth woven together in the thread above to makes so clear the relationship between man’s responsibility and the sovereign will and power of God to sanctify and glorify those He effectively calls. Bless you and may God continue to use you to confirm, strengthen and established his Church through this endeavor.

    Grace and peace in abundance to you.

  7. Ruth Broughton says:

    Hi Steve,
    Your word strengthened me in my inner man,
    I have a son and daughter in law, who the Doctors say nothing can be done for them to conceive a baby, and my Father of 85 has been told he has cancer in the Bladder, we are going today to find out what the doctors say can be done. I survived cancer myself by walking with Jesus all the way and following what the doctors said to do. I opened your page as I had to take communion yesterday and my message was on the abiding place. I forgot to close the page, so it was open on my desk top this morning. I had been waiting on God and Thanking him in all my circumstances and giving him Praise, but was enquiring if there was any thing I could do. I always rely on his enabling ability (his grace)to overcome. Today I felt strengthened to seek God but even that I have been finding difficult with all the distractions. reading the scripture felt so good and your comments felt so right. God Bless you.

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