On Scrooge And Change

It has become a Christmas tradition for the wife and I to go to the local theater to see the play, A Christmas Carol.

Its message is as fresh each year as the first time I saw the play because the message of redemption and change never grows old. And Scrooge does change. Radically.

Tonight, while at the play, I began to think about why more Christians don’t see more change in their lives. After all, one of the best arguments for Christianity has always been a changed life. Yet change often comes imperceptibly slow or not at all, and not always because of a lack of trying.

There are five principal reasons people don’t change.

1. Never been born again. Trying to change your conduct when you’ve never been born again is a recipe for frustration. A changed life starts with the changed heart.

2. Never baptized in water. The Bible describes water baptism as the cutting away of the old man (Col. 2:11-12; Romans 6:4-5) and as analogous to the Israelites being set free from slavery when they came through the waters of the Red Sea (I Peter 3:20-21; Exodus 14:22-28). Whether you believe something supernatural happens in water baptism or that it’s merely a public proclamation of your status as a new person in Christ, baptism is a public identification with Jesus and a clear demarcation between the old and new.

3. Never baptized in the Holy Spirit. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit when he/she is born again, but there is a difference between receiving a drink of water and being baptized in it (cf. John 20:22 & Acts 1:4-5). With the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes boldness and power, the power to change (Luke 24:49)

4. Treating symptoms rather than root causes. Many Christians struggle because they attempt to treat the symptoms of bad conduct, emotional struggles or sin, rather than dealing with its root cause. It’s like taking a Tylenol for cancer: it may relieve the pain but it doesn’t remove the tumor.

5. Aborting tests. God uses trials and tribulation to make Christians more like Jesus. (James 1:2-4). When Christians abort these tests by giving in to sin or by avoiding or quitting the test they are missing God’s ordained opportunity for change. Bottom line: the more you give in and the more you quit the less you’ll change.

One last thought on change: sometimes change comes immediately but more often it’s a process. I find the Lord puts me in situations that continue to test me in areas in which I have always struggled. However, as I grow in the Lord, I struggle less with those problems than I did in the past. I’m not who I was, nor am I yet who I will be.

Such is the journey from Scrooge to sanctification. GS

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