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Before and After

Monday, July 12, 2010

Category: Attitudes, Change, Faith, Spiritual Life

“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7

Do you remember when you came to Jesus Christ in repentance and asked Him to save you? That was the day it all began for you. God forgave you of your sin and wiped the slate clean. He set in motion a process called sanctification that will continue the rest of your life.

The apostle Paul described this progress in terms of “before and after”: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Before salvation: old things

After salvation: new things

Draw a line in your life on the day you surrendered to Christ Jesus and compare the difference over time.

What does that look like? Here are a couple points of comparison: How’s your attitude? Is the fruit of His Spirit becoming more obvious in you? Are you more loving, more patient, more self-controlled?

How are your habits? Is prayer a more natural conversation between you and the Lord? Do you die to yourself quicker? Do you obey His Word regardless? In small and large ways, is your “before” life being replaced by the life and character of Jesus? More and more, do you love the things He loves and hates the things He hates?

If this is not happening, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Do I know for sure I’m saved?” To put it another way, “If your faith isn’t changing you, it hasn’t saved you.” The people who really have that conversion experience just aren’t the same anymore.

God didn’t drop down into your life, forgive you, save you, and move on to someone else. He came to stay. He started something supernatural and He’s not stopping it until the very last day that you’re on this earth. “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Sanctification is the process of transformation, and it produces holiness.

Get a mirror and ask yourself:

  • Am I ready to fully cooperate with the work that God wants to do in me?
  • What fruit of God’s Spirit do I see developing in me? (See Galatians 5:22-23.)
  • How do I see myself changing? How do others see me changing?

God wants to change you to the point that you see Christ when you look at your life. As you yield yourself to His Spirit’s control, He transforms you, gradually, one step at a time. Every little opportunity to display His glory, every little bump in the road equals an opportunity to widen the gap between before and after.

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