The Power to Change Character

The Power to Change Character

In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul is addressing Christians in a very personal and direct way. In chapter one, he marveled they were turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6). In chapter four he says, “I am afraid for you, lest I have labored in vain,” (4:11); and directly, “I have doubts about you,” (4:20). The fear these were going to continue down a path that would ultimately lead them away from Jesus was eating at Paul. And, because Paul was calling them out on this and the error of doing so; he was afraid they would view him as their enemy because he told them the truth (4:16). With this background, consider the phrase that he uses in Galatians 4:19, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” Paul says that he is in birth pains until Christ is formed in them. Paul loved these brethren, he was the one who had taught them the gospel and brought them along to this point (1:8). The point of that phrase is that he was longing for the day when the character of Jesus would be found in them. He was longing for the day when they would choose the character of Christ in their lives. Have you considered that Jesus has the power to help you change your character?

A person’s character has been defined as who one is when no one else is around. It is the very moral makeup on an individual. The gospel is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16) and it can change lives and even a person’s character.

In Jesus we find the power to cancel the past. That is not to say that we need to deny our past, but with Jesus and the gospel, our past can be removed. There is a point when we have the power to go from living according to the flesh and go on to live by means of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18). The problem of not letting go of the past is that we can allow it to limit what we can do in the present (Philippians 3:13-14). In Micah 7:18-19, the prophet looks forward to day when God would cast all sins into the depths of the sea. Jesus paid the cost in full – in Him we have the ability to cancel our past. So, perhaps we have been those who walked according to the flesh, let’s remember that Jesus can; and if you are a Christian, He has, cancelled your past!

Oh friend, may we remember that we are not sufficient by ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5). In Christ, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:31-37). The same One who raised Jesus from the dead, the One with all power – He can help me overcome any problem in our lives.

Jesus has the power to change our character. Paul spoke of those in Christ Jesus do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit and the process of striving to be conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:1, 29). It is in Jesus that we strive to walk in such a way as to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-25).

With the past, sometimes we try to fix it on our own. Power is found in the gospel to cancel the past; I play a part through obedience to God, but this can’t be done without Him! Power is found in Jesus and the gospel to help with problems – I play a part, but I must rely on the help of God! We must see that Jesus has the power to change our character as well! May we strive to be conformed to His image.

– Adam Orr


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