Allowing the Bible to Read Us
What Are We in For – Pain and Time:
If we have tired of living a Christian life with little or enough transformation, the Word of God can provide it.
- But we need to be aware of a few things.
- (1) It is going to be painful and costly.
- (2) It is going to require your time and intent.
(1) Pain – Allowing the Bible to read us that we might be transformed is costly and painful.
- It will strip away the world from your identity.
- You will be separated from what you thought was “you”.
- You will cling to the “old self” – the flesh – and try to resist clinging to God.
- But you need to let go!
Indeed, this is what repentance means.
- We aren’t to simply turn from our sinful actions – that is moralism.
- We are to turn and change direction from “me”, “old self” and “flesh” to our new identity in Christ.
- We are no longer on the throne.
We see this distinction with Paul.
- Acts 26:20 (ESV) — 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
- Notice – the deeds come after the repentance!
- The turning to God – the dethroning of “self” from a regenerated heart – comes first and the deeds follow.
- Never mistake repentance for just an outward change of behavior.
Rosaria Butterfield puts it like this:
“I learned the first rule of repentance: that repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sin. How much greater? About the size of a mustard seed. Repentance requires that we draw near to Jesus, no matter what. And sometimes we all have to crawl there on our hands and knees. Repentance is an intimate affair. And for many of us, intimacy with anything is a terrifying prospect.”
In fact, Rosaria, in her conversion from lesbian-professor-activist lost everything she thought was she.
- She lost her job, her house, her lover, her friends, etc.
- “Murphy licked my face again and I laughed out loud. This was my conversion in a nutshell: I lost everything but the dog” – Rosaria Butterfield.
Scriptural Examples of Cost of Transformation:
Acts 9:8–9 (ESV) — 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Paul’s conversion and transformation cost him much.
- He was physically stricken with blindness for three days.
- And he lost his identity as the “Pharisee of Pharisees” and persecutor of Christians.
- He had to come to terms with the fact that his worldview was wrong.
2 Kings 5:9–14 (ESV) — 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Naaman, encountering the “word of the prophet” had a choice to make – himself or the truth of God’s word.
- At first, he justified his rebellion – “come out to me”.
- He expected to be healed on his terms.
- Leaving himself on “his throne”.
- After all, he was Naaman and he had “the rivers of Damascus“.
But God doesn’t transform us on our terms!
- Our terms are to try and stay on our thrown and “will-power” our way to spiritual growth.
- This is wrong, wrong, wrong!
Naaman had to go “down” in to the second rate “waters of Israel”.
- He had to “get off his throne”.
- He had his idea of what it meant to be healed, and his idea was wrong.
- He had to give it up.
BTW – Don’t be fooled into thinking that the cost of transformation is paid up front at your conversion.
- This would be a huge mistake; and something the Bible simply does not affirm.
- The costly grace of Christ is one and done at the cross, but the believer has to surrender daily; there is no coasting.
But wait…there is more cost to be paid for transformation.
(2) Time – Allowing the Bible to read us that we might be transformed also requires time and intent.
“The transforming power of God is available to every Christian. But the transformed life does not come by accident or chance” – M. Robert Mulholland, Jr.
- It is both something we have to “allow and submit to” – Mulholland.
Again, Rosaria Butterfield says this:
“Living according to God’s standards is an acquired taste. We develop a taste for godly living only by intentionally putting into place practices that equip us to live below our means. We develop a taste for God’s standards only by disciplining our minds, hands, money, and time. In God’s economy, what we love we will discipline.”
- The gold buried in the backyard example – again.
The Psalmist puts it like this:
- Psalm 119:9–11 (ESV) — 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
All of these things:
- “Putting into place practices”
- “Developing a taste for God’s standards”
- “Disciplining our minds, hands, money, time”
- Seeking God with your “whole heart”
- Storing up God’s HSTP (Holy Spirit Truth Powered) “word in your heart”
They do not happen by osmosis.
- You must posture your entire life toward the HSTP word of God.
- To understand God’s word you must stand under it.
- There is simply no other way around it.
- God transforms by his HSTP word.
So to be transformed by the HSTP word of God will require surrender.
- (1) You must give up who you are for who you are in Christ – very painful and costly.
- As Joshua put it, we are to Cling to God.
- (2) You must surrender your time and intent to God.
- Intent without the investment of time and effort is simply not enough.
Next week we will deal with Hebrews 4:12-13 to discover:
- (1) What God’s HSTP word does to us.
- (2) And how that transforms us.