The More Things Change…

Humans are in a constant state of change. These changes can be good or bad. The best kind of change we can experience is what Scripture calls repentance. In fact, the word “repent” in the New Testament is often a translation of the Greek word metanoeo, meaning, “to change one’s mind.” When we align ourselves more closely to God’s ways, experiencing a change of heart, belief, and action, it is a great change indeed. Conversely, a refusal to change is drastically dangerous.

The following is a Scripture-heavy meditation on what God has to say about humans and change.

Apart from grace, mankind does not demonstrate the good kind of change—i.e., repentance—because of a stiff-necked refusal to forsake sin.

“God will hear, and afflict them, even He who abides from of old. Selah. Because they do not change, therefore they do not fear God” (Ps. 55:19).

O LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return” (Jer. 5:3).

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jer. 13:23, NIV).

“Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him” (Pr. 27:22).

“Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds” (Rev. 16:10-11).

Mankind naturally demonstrates the bad kind of change—i.e., being unstable, tossed and turned by variable feelings and cravings.

They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the molded image. Thus they changed their glory into the image of an ox that eats grass. They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt” (Ps. 106:19-21).

“Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit” (Jer. 2:11).

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:22, 23).

“…he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind….he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (Jas. 1:6, 8).

What we need—on even a daily basis—is a change of heart (i.e., repentance).

“When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent’ [Mt. 4:17], He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance” (Martin Luther, 95 Theses).

“‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin’” (Ezek. 18:30).

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Rev. 2:5).

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19).

A change of heart often requires a change of circumstances.

Trials & Sufferings
“Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him” (Dan. 4:16).

The Rebuke of a Friend
“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).

Being Preached the Word
“And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:30, 31).

Next week, we will look at our hope for real and lasting change: the changeless Savior of the world.

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