Saturday, September 7, 2013

Reformation: A Willingness to Growth and Change

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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Below is the script: Reformation:
The Willingness to Grow and Change

 “He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:6, 7, NKJV).

 Our lesson this week is about the continual transformation that must take place in our lives. Each day of the week’s lesson illustrates renovating grace in the lives of the first disciples of Christ. These are examples of what God’s grace will do in those who are faulty, but “willing to be made willing.” Not only is God’s grace a justifying grace (Rom 3:24), it is also His power working within us to change us and to grow us more and more into the likeness of Christ. Grace is always greater and stronger than our sinful nature and our sin (Rom 5:20). If it were not so, it would be impossible for us to change or to grow into Christlikeness.

Growth and change does not involve our promises and pledges, for these are ropes of sand. Continual faith and the willingness to cooperate with God that is key to constant transformation. Our cooperation does not depend on our spiritual “back bone” or, in other words, our will power. However, cooperation does involve the power of the will. The strength of the will is in choosing. The power comes from surrendering the will to God’s will. This is where the battle of every believer (and of every unbeliever) is won or lost. Grace, faith and surrender of the will to God are the deciding factors in reformation, in change and growth. “

Ellen White says: “Let no man present the idea that man has little or nothing to do in the great work of overcoming; for God does nothing for man without his cooperation. Neither say that after you have done all you can on your part, Jesus will help you. Christ has said, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing’ (John 15:5). From first to last man is to be a laborer together with God. Unless the Holy Spirit works upon the human heart, at every step we shall stumble and fall. Man’s efforts alone are nothing but worthlessness; but cooperation with Christ means a victory. . . . Never leave the impression on the mind that there is little or nothing to do on the part of man; but rather teach man to cooperate with God, that he may be successful in overcoming.”—Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 381.

Our part is consenting to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. “All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of ages 668.

Reformation then is transforming our hearts into the likeness of Christ. For that, man must consent to let the Holy Spirit do the work. This is the great battle. It goes against our Sinful nature. But, it is the only way to have victory: surrender to the Holy Spirit. “As finite, sinful man works out his own salvation with fear and trembling, it is God who works in him, to will and to do of His own good pleasure. But God will not work without the co-operation of man. He must exercise his powers to the very utmost; he must place himself as an apt, willing student in the school of Christ; and as he accepts the grace that is freely offered to him, the presence of Christ in the thought and in the heart will give him decision of purpose to lay aside every weight of sin, that the heart may be filled with all the fullness of God, and of his love.”—Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 134.

We cannot do this work ourselves. Only the Holy Spirit can do it. We just let Him. “God wishes us to have the mastery over ourselves. But He cannot help us without our consent and co-operation. The divine Spirit works through the powers and faculties given to man. Of ourselves, we are not able to bring the purposes and desires and inclinations into harmony with the will of God; but if we are "willing to be made willing," the Saviour will accomplish this for us, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the know ledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5.” White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 482, 483; see also The Mount of Blessings, pp. 142, 143.

We cannot will ourselves into this work. Our will is not strong enough. What we “need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.” White, Steps to Christ p. 47.

Reformation occurs as we cooperate with God by choosing to surrender to Him anything that the Holy Spirit points out as not being in harmony with His will. Unless we make those choices (sometimes very painful ones), then positive, spiritual change will not occur.” Revival is what made the prodigal come home. It is a heart hunger to know the Father’s love in a deeper way. Reformation is the choice to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading for change and growth. It is the choice to give up whatever stands in the way of this closer relationship with God.

 The greatest motivation to make changes in our lives is the desire to no longer break the heart of the One who loves us so much. When the boy was wallowing around in the mud with the pigs, the father suffered more than his son. Revival occurs when God’s love breaks our hearts. Reformation occurs when we choose to respond to a love that will not let us go. It occurs when we no longer want to do anything to break God’s heart. It takes place when we make the difficult choices to give up those attitudes, habits, thoughts, and feelings that separate us from Him.

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