• November 25, 2014

Christ can change us completely, from within

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Posted: Saturday, August 3, 2013 4:30 am

DEAR DR. GRAHAM: Do you think people’s lives can be changed if they believe in God? As a psychologist, I know people can change in small ways if they try hard enough. But we all have different personalities, and I don’t think our basic personality ever really changes. — C.G.

DEAR C.G.: One of the Bible’s greatest truths is that when we come to Jesus Christ and commit our lives to Him, God Himself comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. And one reason He does this is so He can begin changing us from within — not by our efforts, but by His power.

What difference will Christ make? For some people, the changes may be slow and almost imperceptible — at least at first. Others, however, may experience dramatic changes in their lives, as they turn to God and ask Him to help them overcome an addiction, take away their anger, or help them forgive someone who’s hurt them. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Whatever our personality, our lives will never be the same once we come to know Christ. I often think, for example, of the Apostle Paul in the Bible. He zealously persecuted Christians, believing them to be enemies of God. But when he met Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul’s life was dramatically changed, and all his energy was redirected to a new cause — the cause of Christ.

No matter who we are, God welcomes us just as we are, with all of our sins and shortcomings and personal quirks. But when we repent of our sins and open our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ, He begins changing us so we become more and more like Him. Why not let this happen in your life?

DEAR DR. GRAHAM: My friend refuses to think about anything dealing with life after death. He says the only thing that interests him is his life right now. And anyway, he says, he believes everything will work out for the best somehow. How can I get through to him? — L.Y.

DEAR L.Y.: Your friend isn’t alone; if you stood on a street corner in almost any major city today and asked people how much they think about God or life after death, most would probably give you a similar answer.

Why is this? Why do so many people put their heads in the sand (so to speak) and refuse to think about what will happen to them when they die? One reason, I’m afraid, is because it’s simply easier. Why bother thinking about eternity when you have so many other things going on in your life right now? Like the man in one of Jesus’ parables, they say to themselves, “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19).

But often people refuse to think about eternity for another reason: They like the way they’re living right now, and they’re afraid that if they take God or eternity seriously, they’ll have to change. And they might be right, because Christ calls us to repent of our sins and follow Him alone.

Pray for your friend; only God can change his heart and show him the folly of his ways. Pray, too, that you will be a witness for Christ by the way you live — by your love for others and the purity of your life. Remember Jesus’ words: “You are the light of the world.... Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14,16).

DEAR DR. GRAHAM: My aunt is a very devout person — she’s active in her church, reads her Bible daily, prays for others, and so forth. But I’ve never met anyone so concerned about her health or so afraid of getting sick. Aren’t Christians not supposed to fear death? — Mrs. K.R.

DEAR MRS. K.R.: God has put within each of us a strong desire to keep on living, and it’s not necessarily wrong for us to want to take care of ourselves and keep death at bay. The Bible says, “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

The Bible also tells us that death was not part of God’s original plan for His creation; it came about only because of sin. In fact, the Bible labels death as our final enemy that will only be destroyed at the end of time (see 1 Corinthians 15:26). We mustn’t take death lightly; not only does it bring our life on earth to an end, but it also marks our entrance into eternity — either in that place of absolute hopelessness the Bible calls hell, or in the joy of heaven with God forever.

But the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has conquered death! By His death and resurrection He overcame the power of death and opened heaven’s doors for all who repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith and trust for their salvation. Think of it: Because of Christ, we don’t need to fear death any longer!

It’s easy to become overly preoccupied with our health — particularly as we grow older. But when we know Christ, we know that someday we will go to be with Him forever — and that makes all the difference. Pray for your aunt, and encourage her to take time every day to thank God for Jesus’ promise: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: www.billygraham.org.

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