When someone places their faith in Christ as the risen Son of God, confesses their sins, admits they’re hopelessly lost without Him, and trusts in Him as their only hope for salvation, what happens spiritually to that person is equivalent to pulling a sock inside out…Complete and total heart change. It’s supernatural.
Heart change is always accompanied by behaviour modification because we cannot serve two masters. Salvation is 100% God’s doing. Nothing we do before we place our faith in Christ has any hand in saving us and therefore, nothing we do after we place our faith in Christ, can remove our status of heirship.
Sure, we’re still going to mess up…we’re going to tell a lie that we will justify, we’ll steal something small because it’s not that big, we’ll cheat at a board game and we will use filthy language and drive in rush hour traffic in such a way that the words of a popular bumper sticker become a common defense among Christians who give a single finger wave to a fellow commuter:
We cannot possibly think that God is more interested in changing our hearts than He is in modifying our “old self;” our old behaviours. Colossians 3:3 says once you’ve surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, you’ve died to your old self and now live for God. The Apostle Paul goes a step further in verse 5 and calls us to “put it to death;” kill our old habits and ways of earthly living. That is what you call hardcore behaviour modification.
Paul then gives two detailed lists:
1. Behaviours that – as Christ Followers – we are to put to death; dig a grave, bury this junk, and Glorify God in all that we do.
2. Then we get a list of behaviours and characteristics that define a truly redeemed life.
- Sexual Immorality
- Lustful Passions
- Evil desires
- Covetousness – which is ultimately…
- Obscene Talk
Pretty long list. Perhaps Paul was making sure he didn’t miss anything for the people who would inevitably ask…”but what about ___________?”
Then for the crowd of, “Christianity is just a bunch of rules and lists of things you can’t do,” Paul included a long positive list that contrasts the above negative one.
Paul firstly tells believers to Put To Death the old ways; behaviours of our old selves.
Now he writes, Bring To Life; Put On:
- A Compassionate Heart
- Bear With One Another
- Forgive Each Other. And above all these…
- Put On Love
- Be thankful
- Study God’s Word
- Teaching and Admonish One Another
- Sing Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs
Paul sums it all up in verse 17 : “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
You cannot have legitimate behaviour modification without a supernatural heart change. The two go hand in hand. Likewise, if you have true heart change, behaviour modification is inevitable, not optional. When God transforms someone, it is a complete spiritual and lifestyle overhaul. Therefore, He cares about your heart as much as He cares about your behaviour.
I like what Paul writes in verse 14 – And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
If others are supposed to be able to differentiate believers from non-believers merely by our love for one another, that should be the biggest defining factor for us as believers. When heart change happens there is evident fruit, as it were.
Matthew 13:23 – Tells us some may bear more fruit than others but, nonetheless, true believers bear fruit.
What do Ripe Fruit and Rotten Spoiled Fruit have in common? They are fruit. That’s it. One is dead and the other is alive. So as 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that we are a New Creation, made alive in Christ and the former self has been crucified, we must live like it. Put on the garment of life.
Can you imagine living all of your life in one set of clothing? Not only one pair of pants, one T-Shirt, and one under garment, but over the years you’ve soiled yourself time and again, but you in your own power, could never take these clothes off and wash them. There was no getting them clean. Now Christ comes and says, trade your soiled and dead garments in for a brand new, clean, tailored, white suit. Can you even fathom looking back at those old rags laying on the ground and have the slightest desire to even touch them? Let alone put them back on.
This is what Paul is saying in all of this. You’re an heir with Christ now. Live like it. Dress like it…spiritually that is. We are being transformed into the image of Christ…
2 Corinthians 3:18 – And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Just like a mailman can’t go to work in his dirty workout shirt and gym shorts, Christians can’t come to life and wear our old clothes of our former lives. Plus, if my mailman showed up in a stained white T-Shirt and boxer shorts, I would have a pretty hard time telling he was a mailman…wouldn’t you?
Don’t get mistaken.