GOD’S METHOD OF RENEWING OUR MINDS
IS CALLED REPENTANCE,
THERE ARE MANY EXAMPLES
OF REPENTANT CHANGES
No sinner is beyond God's love if he comes in repentance and faith. God does not just reform lives, He transforms lives. The world cannot offer such hope. Twelve step programs try to reform addicts. Psychiatrists try to uncover psychological problems and hope they can talk out a reason to change. Education tries to inform and instruct a reformation. Positive thinking tries to ignore reality and speak only good, hoping things will change. Yet, God does so much better, He actually transforms lives, and changes people miraculously.
During the former rain revival, thousands of people were transformed by God. Priests of the Hebrew faith turned to Jesus. Christians were so transformed by God that they could be thrown to lions, crucified, or beheaded, and their faith stayed strong. Their repentance decision was so strong, they could withstand the attacks upon them.
There is a difference between reformation and transformation. Society has many programs that try to reform. Sometimes they can help people modify behavior patterns. Transformation affects not only the mind, but also the soul of the person. Transformation is a change of the inner self.
Reformation is a natural by product of transformation. When a person is transformed, he ceases to desire the things that created the problems in the past. He ‘repents’.
PAUL repented, changed his thinking to God’s way of thinking.
Pharisaism had failed to help Paul find peace and harmony in his soul. It did make Paul to be a dedicated rebel against Christianity. He thought he was doing God a favor by mistreating, persecuting, and imprisoning Christians.
"In raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities."
Paul procured from the High Priest a commission to extradite from Damascus any Christians who had escaped from Jerusalem. Paul was determined to wipe out the church. When he saw many believers had fled Jerusalem, he received permission to capture and arrest any who were followers of Jesus.
On the road to Damascus, a bright light flashed around Paul. In the midst of the light was Jesus. This encounter quickly resulted in a transformation of Paul. Paul heard Jesus speak to him from that light on the road to Damascus.
I Corinthians 15:8
"And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am."
The men about Paul saw the light, but they were not transformed. Paul saw more than the light, he met Jesus on that night. This revolutionized his soul.
Paul was transformed from one who was "breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1), to a Spirit-empowered apostle of Jesus Christ. This was quite a transformation. There was an immediate change in Paul, and he was never the same again. He lived repentance daily, for his mind was changed from former incorrect thinking to thinking as God wanted.
SIMON THE SORCERER repented,
but he later ‘un-repented’.
He was from a city in Samaria (probably "Gitta", traditionally the birthplace of Simon the Sorcerer). Simon had done many wonders for a long time. Since his power was not from God, it must have emanated from the devil.
Philip cast out many demons, and must have cast out the demonic powers from Simon the Sorcerer. Simon accepted Jesus.
The signs of speaking in tongues when people received the baptism of the Spirit was startling to Simon. He resorted back to the old, pre-salvation desire to have power and pre-eminence. Many new Christians resort back to old habits as did Simon. Many churches are troubled by saints who have old habits and traits they should not have.
Peter said that Simon had "bitterness" at the lack of pre-eminence in giving this gift to followers. This wrong attitude almost cost Simon his soul. The "Western text" tells us that Simon kept weeping the whole time that Peter was reprimanding him.
Scripture leaves the story of Simon with him asking for mercy. What happened after that, we do not know. But like Simon, many transformed saints fight old attitudes for years. They must be reprimanded and exhorted. This may seem harsh to many, but sometimes the transformation given by the Lord can be lost if exhortation is not given.
THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH repented, and his decision brought about the Ethiopian church, which today still survives despite opposition all through the millennia.
Philip left that great revival in Samaria where many were being transformed, to go to a lonely desert road to Gaza. There he met one man. A covered wagon, with an Ethiopian treasurer reading the book of Isaiah, crossed the path of Philip. The Ethiopian was confused about Isaiah's prophecy about the suffering Messiah.
When Philip asked the Ethiopian if he understood what he was reading, the answer was "No." Philip joined the Ethiopian for a while and began to explain Isaiah's prophecy of Jesus. As Philip preached Jesus, they came to the Wadi el Hesi, northeast of Gaza. It was probably in those waters that the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized.
This Ethiopian eunuch perhaps became the first Gentile convert to be baptized. The preacher was deacon, but the Ethiopian was transformed by the power of Jesus. He carried the gospel message back to Ethiopia where there is still a strong Christian church because of the transformation of one man.
THE PHILIPPIAN JAILER repented. His whole family came to Jesus.
"...they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place unto the rulers...saying... These men... exceedingly trouble our city... the multitude rose up together against them... when they had laid many stripes upon them... cast them into prison... at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God... suddenly there was a great earthquake... all the doors were opened... every one's bands were loosed... the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself...Paul cried... 'Do thyself no harm; for we are all here...' he called for a light, and sprang in... said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'"
The Jews were upset over Paul's casting out a demon from a girl that they had used as their source of income. They brought Paul and Silas before the town rulers. These rulers gave Paul and Silas thirty nine stripes. Then they were jailed and had their legs fastened in stocks.
The jailer was probably a retired soldier. The soldiers were taught much, but probably had not been taught much human kindness. This was an evil man who was accustomed to brutality and force. He had probably killed and maimed many in his career. He was not an easy person to transform. It took an earthquake and imminent death to make him open to the gospel, to make him choose a repentant, changed mind.
The earthquake rocked the prison foundation, and awakened the jailer from his sleep. The doors of the jail were open, and he assumed the prisoners had escaped. The punishment for that would have been death for the jailer.
Paul, in the dark with the other prisoners, seemed to know of the jailer's suicidal thoughts. He cried out to the man: "Do thyself no harm, we are all here." (Paul and Silas had apparently kept all the other prisoners from escaping.)
This jailer was ready for a transformation. He was saved, his household was saved. When God transforms someone as wicked and hard-hearted as this jailer, there is usually a "domino effect," and many more are saved too. No case is too hard for God. He loves to transform those who seemingly are beyond hope.
MANY LIVES ARE STILL BEING TRANSFORMED
Just as Ananias was used in the transformation of Paul, as Peter was used in the transformation of Cornelius, and as Paul was used in the transformation of the Philippian jailer - God wants to use saints of today in the transformation of many today.
God still wants to transform the spiritual abusers as Paul, the demonically possessed as Simon the sorcerer, the uneducated as the Ethiopian eunuch, and the cruel and hardened sinners as the Philippian jailer. God can take such people as these in the latter rain revival, and make them to be the pure, holy, spotless church that He will soon rapture.
God wants a pure church, a transformed people during this latter rain revival:
"That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkly, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
The imminence of the rapture of the church should make us want to purify ourselves, and it also demands that we desire God to transform more lives before it is too late.
I John 3:3
"Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."
God is able to transform the wicked sinners of the last days, to transform the hypocrites of the church, to transform the sin-hardened ones of which every one has given up hope. God is able to completely change their sin-corrupted minds, their wicked and hateful attitudes, and their sinful desires.
I Thessalonians 5:23-24
"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord. Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it."
God even wants to change the lukewarm Christians of the last days to be on fire for Him. He spoke to the church of Laodicea, an offer of transforming power. He said:
"I would that thou wert cold or hot... I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed."
Lukewarmness is no longer acceptable in this last time. The God of this latter rain revival will not tolerate and soon will not allow an un-transformed life. He offers transformation, and now He demands it. The rapture is for those who are pure, holy, and spotless. The revival is to transform lives that are ready for this rapture.
God transformed lives in the former rain revival, and God can do it now again. There are revivals taking place now in the prisons, in many foreign countries, in the entertainment industry, in the government leaders, and in any church gathering where people will humbly yield to His transforming power.