WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 5, 2021
TOPIC: LIVING A CHANGED LIFE
BY T. O. BANSO
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4 New King James Version).
The lady’s story is a testimony to the power in the name of Jesus to transform a life. She was a young girl but not yet married. I cannot recall what led to the conversation that day that made her tell me her past life, as her pastor. I think it was in 1992.
She told me how, before she came to Christ, she must drink a small bottle of a popular alcoholic drink every day. Although she was a non-believer, sinners considered it improper for ladies to do that! Ladies who did that were regarded as social deviants! Perhaps this lady’s regular consumption of alcohol was responsible for her quarrelsome attitude.
She had not yet gotten admission to a higher institution then and she used to assist her mother in her shop in the local market. Whether her presence was really helpful was another thing. All her mother’s neighbours in the market had a bad opinion of her. She would take up any quarrel between them and her mother and throw caution to the wind. The mother would have to be begging her to stop and begging her neighbours to forgive her for her excesses.
She was a troublesome person. She didn’t spare some of her mother’s customers or those who came to the shop to buy things for the first time. She would insult anyone who talked or priced her mother’s goods in a manner she (the lady) considered unsatisfactory. Many times, her mother’s neighbours in the market who were familiar with her behaviour would intervene and make peace between her and the customers.
Then she received Christ into her life. She stopped taking alcoholic drinks. I can’t remember how she actually gave her life to Christ. But she started having peace with herself and with others. Her attitude to others began to change. One day, she went as usual to assist her mother and something happened that made her mother and her neighbours notice she was a changed person.
On that day, customers and prospective buyers came to her mother’s shop and priced her wares. The neighbours were waiting for the regular hot exchanges from this shop. But nothing like that happened since morning and the neighbours thought this lady wasn’t in the shop. Then, one woman came whom she said was impolite to her mother as she priced something displayed outside the shop. The reaction of the mother of this lady worsened the conversation between her and this woman.
However, the unexpected happened. This lady came outside the shop to mediate in what, in the past, would have, by her involvement, degenerated into a quarrel. The neighbours were shocked. They had expected that, as in the past, she would fuel the quarrel while supporting her mother. But she appealed to the impolite buyer and her mother and the matter was resolved. Everybody was surprised. She also was surprised that she didn’t fight as before.
As she spoke with me, she acknowledged that she was not perfect but she had seen tremendous changes in her life in terms of her behaviour. Some things he used to do, she had stopped doing them. She said they no longer appealed to her. Indeed, if any man/woman is in Christ, he/she is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, they have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). A new life began for that lady and she continued to grow spiritually. You may have heard similar testimonies of other people who are living changed lives after they had given their lives to Jesus. You could even be one of such persons.
Based on what Paul says in Galatians 2:19-20, the believer’s life is often described as an exchanged life. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (New King James Version).
In addition to relying on the assurance given by the Word of God, a changed life is evidence of genuine salvation. People who are saved experience life transformation. They notice changes in their behavior and others do also. They depart from their sinful lifestyle. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9 New King James Version).
In other words, they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God (New Living Translation). 1 John 5:18a says whoever is born of God does not sin. This means he does not make a practice of sinning (New Living Translation).
This does not mean that once you give your life to Jesus, you attain a state of sinless perfection. It doesn’t mean that the believer does not ever sin after his/her salvation, but he/she is not a slave to sin. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2 New King James Version).
There should be a change in the believer’s life; he/she should be going forward or getting better. Paul the apostle says, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14 New King James Version).
Paul isn’t talking about sinless perfection but of Christian maturity or being made complete. The Bible in Basic English renders Philippians 3:12-14 thus, “Not as if I had even now got the reward or been made complete: but I go on in the hope that I may come to the knowledge of that for which I was made the servant of Christ Jesus. Brothers, it is clear to me that I have not come to that knowledge; but one thing I do, letting go those things which are past, and stretching out to the things which are before, I go forward to the mark, even the reward of the high purpose of God in Christ Jesus.”
Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit” (New Living Translation). Believers are saved by grace through faith; and not of themselves but it is the gift of God; it’s not of works lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are saved by grace (verse 5), not by works. However, we must do good works. We should be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8b). We should learn to maintain good works (verse 14).
Ephesians 2:10 says believers are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Therefore, we must, in obedience to the command of Jesus, let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
We cannot say because we have been saved by grace, we can continue in sin. Paul captures it succinctly: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4 New King James Version).
Every child of God must live a changed life, not in his/her own power but as he/she yields the control of his/her life to the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 3, John the baptizer gave a very hard message to his listeners, especially those who came for baptism but were not ready to repent of their sins and change their lifestyles.
He told them not to promote the rite of baptism above genuine repentance and a new life. They must prove by the way they lived that they had really turned away from their sins and turned to God. John believed the proof of true repentance was a changed life. They must produce good fruits worthy of repentance (verse 8).
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law” (American Standard Version). The New Living Translation puts it this way: “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.”
Christians cannot claim to have repented and still continue with their old way of living, their old sins. The new life does not come through the law; it comes only through a relationship with Jesus (Galatians 3:21-22). Paul says that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom he was chief (1 Timothy 1:15b). He says, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (verses 12-13 New King James Version). After his conversion, the great persecutor of the church became a great apostle. He lived a changed life.
As believers, we must live a new life in Christ Jesus who died to save us. A changed life is possible as we yield ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
We must not allow sin to reign in our mortal body that we should obey it in its lusts (Romans 6:12). Romans 8:5-8 says, “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God” (New Living Translation).
We shall live a changed life and a life that pleases the Lord as we obey the Word of God and listen to the Holy Spirit. Since you accepted Christ into your life, how much positive change has taken place in your life, in terms of your behaviour?
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I present my body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. I yield myself to the Holy Spirit and shall not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I receive the grace to live a changed life. Holy Spirit, help me to live a new life in Jesus, not the old life. Help me to live a life that pleases the Lord.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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