This post is part two in a series on the Biblical Process of Change.
“I need more than just a bible verse to help me with this one,” said the young man sitting across from me. “People have given me verses before and it doesn’t help.” You may have felt the same way before. You went to a pastor or a friend with a serious problem and you were given a passage of scripture like a prescription from a doctor. “Read this passage twice today and once each morning for the next 3-6 days on an empty stomach.”
Maybe you’ve gone to a counselor expecting something similar. “If he can just give me the right words, maybe a magical bible verse, perhaps sprinkle some pixie dust on me, I will be better.” But biblical change doesn’t happen this ways. The biblical process of change is much more than learning a bible verse, but make no mistake, it is never less! According to 2 Timothy 3:16, the biblical process of change is rooted in scripture, but includes teaching, conviction, correction, and disciplined training for righteousness.
Make no mistake, the first step in biblical change is a clear understanding of the teaching of scripture about a given problem, behavior, or sin in one’s life. But this doesn’t mean that quoting or understanding one verse will solve anyone’s problems. If someone is an alcoholic, quoting a verse on the evils of drunkenness won’t likely solve their problems. What they do need is a clear understanding of the Biblical teaching on sin, addiction, individual responsibility, the Gospel, hope, repentance, forgiveness, and the process of putting off sin and putting on righteousness. This isn’t all they need, but it is the place to start for gospel centered, biblical change that will last.
People need the Word of God and its timeless, cross-cultural standards for life and righteousness. People need the Word of God for more than just head knowledge. It is the Word of God that the Holy Spirit literally uses as the instrument of change in the lives of people. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that Christ literally purifies His people by washing them in His Word (Ephesians 5:26). We must know the Word. Not just bits and pieces of it suitable for framing or placing on coffee mugs and t-shirts, but the full story of God’s plan to redeem sinners, our place in that story, and how God’s Word speaks to our specific temptations and sins.
So is this the magic pixie dust that brings miraculous life transformation overnight? Unfortunately, no, it is only the first step. Both Spirit-enlightened education and Spirit-enlightened action are needed. Next week we will look at the role of conviction in the process of biblical change.
Caleb Land is the director of the Gilmer Christian Learning Center in Ellijay, GA. For more information about this non-profit ministry to students, visit www.gilmerclc.org.