Faithlife Sermons

How Do People Change? (2)

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 2 views
Notes & Transcripts | Handout | Sermon Questions
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Definitions

indicative /ɪnˈdɪkətɪv/

■ adjective

1 serving as a sign or indication.

2 Grammar denoting a mood of verbs expressing simple statement of a fact.

imperative

■ adjective

1 of vital importance.

2 giving an authoritative command.

Change Begins by Understanding and Applying the Gospel

A. Some wrongfully start with the imperative-what we must do for God, which leads to moralism.

Which is unbiblical and it’s destine for failure.
Especially in the New Testament biblical pattern the bible typically begins with the indicative, that is what God has done for us in Christ, as the grounds for the imperative and that is what we do as a result.

1. Scripture begins with the indicative, what God has done for us in Christ, as the ground for imperatives. Rom1-11; Eph1-3; .

You see this most clearly in the epistles of Paul where for example in Ephesians chapters 1-3 are description of the gospel, what God has done for us in Christ. Then in chapters 4-6, it’s okay, therefore.
Then in chapters 4-6, it’s okay, therefore.
Likewise in Colossians, the first two chapters are about what God has done for us and then three and four, put that into application.
1. Scripture begins with the indicative, what God has done for us in Christ, as the ground for imperatives. Rom1-11; Eph1-3; .
(ESV) — 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
The way we are to walk is the way we learned Christ.
He’s talking about how this new self has been created by the new birth.

2. Specific New Testament exhortations are grounded in the gospel.

(ESV) — 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
(ESV) — 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
(ESV) — 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(ESV) — 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(ESV) — 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
(ESV) — 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
(ESV) — 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Even in the very practical section it keeps going back to the fact, how can I forgive, it’s because God in Christ has forgiven me.
It’s the Gospel that enables me to do this.
Only a Christian is capable of the kind of change we are seeking.

3. Of course this implies that only Christians are able to change according to the will of God.

(ESV) — 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The unbeliever is incapable of living out the gospel.
(ESV) — 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
(ESV) — 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(ESV) — 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

4. What about cases in which unbelievers appear to change (i.e. lose weight, quit smoking, no longer drunkards)?

It’s true that unbelievers are capable of exercising self-discipline in order to get what they want out of life.
The issue is motive.
The motive is not for the glory of God but rather he’s working so that someone would think more highly of him.
The heart idols remain.
This is not the change that God seeks.
The change that God seeks is whatever we do we do for His glory.
The change we seek is out of the heart that every sin comes, and then the change we seek is the heart is changed and as the heart is changed, behavior is change but then that behavior is motivated by a zeal for the glory of God.
(ESV) — 43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”
(ESV) — 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
(ESV) — 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(ESV) — 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
5. The change we need is inward and Godward.
(ESV) — 14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
(ESV) — 20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

B. We and our counselees need to comprehend that who we are in Christ is the basis for the changed lives we want to live.

(ESV) — 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
(ESV) — 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
(ESV) — 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

1. Some think of the gospel exclusively for justification, but don’t see its relevance for sanctification.

(ESV) — 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
My observation of many believers is when it comes to justification, justification takes place when we believe, you understand that you’re a sinner, you trust Christ’s atonement, the sole ground of your forgiveness before God. God declares you righteous through faith.
Many people look at that(Gal 3:3) as the beginning of your Christian life, you are justified by faith alone in this gospel, but they don’t understand the relevance of the gospel for sanctification for growth.
Then they(counselees)get the idea that they are sanctified by their works and they are laboring in their own strength to become better.
We are born Pharisees.
It’s the most natural thing for us to go back to the law.

2. The gospel is just as important for your sanctification as it was for your justification.

You need to preach the gospel to yourself everyday.
We need this reminder of the gospel because if left to ourselves we will keep going back to the law as the means of how we think of ourselves and justifying ourselves.
We are also tempted to think that God accepts me on how well I’m measuring up.
There are many women who are prone to a form of perfectionism.
They think they have to achieve the mom and the wife, the woman, I’m all for those things, but when they have in their mind two things:
God won’t accept them based on how well they do at that, they lost sight of the gospel.
God has accepted you based upon Christ and not that.
(ESV) — 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
God accepts us in Christ.
The other harm that comes as a result, is when we fail we either lower the standards so far that it doesn’t resemble the bible anymore then finally you can do it and feel good about yourself which is pride, or there is going to be despair because your not able to meet that standard still and your utterly discouraged.

3. Some nouthetic counselors move too quickly to the imperative, without placing enough emphasis on who we are in Christ and how the gospel relates to change.

We need to explain to our counselees better cause I think most of them are quite ignorant of how the gospel itself relates to change and who we really are in Christ.
And sometimes with our homework, do this, do that, that’s not going to be successful if they do not have a biblical understanding of how change takes place in light of our identity as believers in our union with Christ.

4. Many counselees have a false identity and label themselves according to their past sin rather than their new identity in Christ.

(ESV) — 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
But now you’re in Christ, this is no longer who you are!
Understanding that new identity in Christ is crucial to change.
(ESV) — 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

5. The first imperative in Romans is to consider your identity in Christ-remember who you are.

The first imperative doesn’t appear until chapter six.
(ESV) — 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Remember who you are.
This is the key to growth and holiness.
That counselee who may have the right answers as to how you get saved is probably really clueless in terms of how their union with Christ relates to their current problem.
(ESV) — 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
(ESV) — 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
(ESV) — 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
(ESV) — 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

C. Understanding your union with Christ is the key to your growth in holiness.

1. Paul anticipates an objection.

(ESV) — 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
The gospel rightly understood does not promote more sin.

If salvation is by grace, apart from works, why bother to be holy since the more we sin the more God’s grace is displayed?

(ESV) — 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
(ESV) — 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

The gospel, rightly understood, promotes holiness.

(ESV) — 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
(ESV) — 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
(ESV) — 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

2. You can’t go on sinning because you are united to Christ.

Baptism symbolizes how as you go into the water old self has died in union with Christ.
(ESV) — 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

3. Your old self has died in union with Christ.

(ESV) — 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Baptism symbolizes how as you go into the water old self has died in union with Christ.
(ESV) — 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
(ESV) — 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
(ESV) — 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

4. You died to sin in the same sense in which Jesus died to sin.

(ESV) — 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
What he is explaining is what has happened to Christ has happened to you.
When he (Jesus) died to sin on that cross he was set free forever.
(ESV) — 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
(ESV) — 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

5. You are a new person, united with Christ in His resurrection.

(ESV) — 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
(ESV) — 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

6. You have been set free from slavery to sin to serve righteousness.

(ESV) — 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
(ESV) — 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
(ESV) — 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Before you were a slave to sin.
You could not stop yourself from sinning.
You had no power to do one thing that was pleasing to God.
But now, sin no longer has a claim over you, you have been set free!
To have a new master with this new nature to serve God, to serve Christ.

7. This is true of every believer.

You are dead now to sin.

8. Now, live in light of who your are.

(ESV) — 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

The fact that you are united with Christ does not mean that it is no longer possible for you to sin

Remember who we are in Christ, that empowers us to live differently.
(ESV) — 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
(ESV) — 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

The point is that the power of sin over you has been broken.

Nor does it mean that you no longer need to pursue holiness and fight sin.

9. How does this work itself out in practical terms?

What you’re thinking and what you’re believing about yourself influences how you live.
Remember who we are in Christ that empowers us to live differently.
What are you going to say when you hear the old master calling? You can follow, which is foolish or you can say, I don’t have to listen to you anymore, I am a free man.

D. Other ways in which the gospel contributes to change (sanctification).

1. We are able to bear fruit only through our union with Christ.

(ESV) — 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Without union with Christ we can’t do anything fruitful for God.
In our life we want to be cultivating the sense of dependence on Him (Christ).
(ESV) — 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

2. A key to change is to recognize that Christ is better than idols which tempt us.

39:32
(ESV) — 1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
He is describing how we so often go after, figuratively speaking, symbolically speaking, go after food that does not satisfy, that is representing sin.
A key to change to overcoming temptation and sin is recognizing that Christ is better then these idols that tempt us.
The things in the world will never satisfy.
He alone can fill and satisfy the soul.
To put it into concrete terms in terms of a counselee.
Her need as a professing Christian is to see she is seeking from those earthly pleasures, the joy the satisfaction that they will never give. It’s a satisfaction that can only be found in Christ.
(ESV) — 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
(ESV) — 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
(ESV) — 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
(ESV) — 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
(ESV) — 1 Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.

3. Comprehending God’s love and grace to us motivates and enables us to show love and grace.

(ESV) — 19 We love because he first loved us.
The more you think of Christ’ love for you, the more you think about God’s grace to you and how great that love is, you fill that in your mind the more you will reflect that love to your wife.
Look upon Christ, see his love for you.
Change begins with the gospel and it continues with the gospel.
Sanctification is rooted in the gospel, knowing the gospel, applying the gospel, thinking of yourself in light of the truth of the gospel and that will enable you to transform your life.

Discussion Questions

1. Is there a “secrete” to change that we must master to become effective counselors?
Only the Lord can bring about change in the life of a believer: Sometimes he chooses to use the counseling process to bring about quick and radical change.
At other times the process can be exceedingly slow. Sometimes people will even walk away, like the rich young ruler; refusing to change.
There is no secret to master: We should, however, employ the means tht He reveals as the ordinary way in which He effects change.
2. What are the “means” which the Lord ordinarily uses to effect change?
The Lord is also pleased at different times to use a variety of means to bring about change, including His word, prayer, circumstances and the admonishment of others.
As counselors we must do our best to set the word before our counselees, pray for them, hold the gospel out before them and call them to walk in obedience to the Scriptures.
If the Lord is pleased to use these thing to bring about change, all glory is to Him alone.
Involvement: Establish rapport with the counselee.
Investigation: gathering all relevant data about the situation/problem.
Interpretation: drawing conclusions about the data.
Instruction: teaching the counselee what God says in the Scriptures regarding their situation.
Intent: establishing willingness to take action.
Implementation: identifying specific actions and forming and carrying out plans to overcome the problem.
Integration: the counselee’s faith is so integrated with their life and they have been incorporated into a local church in such a way that they are able to move beyond the need for crisis counseling.
Related Media
Related Sermons