There is a teaching that is running through the church these days that “all we are to do is love people, not change them.” This sounds so loving and so good. But the reality is, this is not the gospel of Christ. This is a twisted gospel, a false teaching; they are empty words, full of death. It’s one of the most destructive and unloving things we can do for another; this so called “gospel” keeps people dead in their sin and in bondage to eternal death.
Change is at the heart of the gospel of Christ. For we “have been taught to put off our old self, the old former way of life, which is being corrupted by our deceitful desires; we are to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24). This doesn’t sound like we are to not change. This is change! We change in our minds, we change what we believe about ourselves, we change who we are trusting (Christ vs. the world and its lies), then we change our behaviors. Our old life is gone and our new life is here.
Sadly, if we aim to never change anyone, we then have chosen to partner with them in their sin. The ways we partner with those living in sin are 1.) We join them in their sin, 2.) We shy away from speaking truthfully to our neighbor, 3.) We don’t show them the way out of their life of sin, 4.) And we often give hearty approval to their way of living. Take note, Jesus ate with the sinners; He did not sin with the sinners. He was not afraid to tell the truth to those in sin. He was bold. He was true love. Likewise, He is the same today! But Jesus chooses to use His church to express His boldness and His great love. “Preach the word” Paul tells Timothy! And every Pastor is to do the same, but so is every believer. There is hope in change!
Paul tells us quite boldly, “For this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them.” (Ephesians 5:5-7).
Paul gives us a list of all those practices that we are to change from: sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking and the like. God’s wrath is being prepared for such practices. To not encourage change from this is to invite the wrath of God upon a person. This is hateful. This is harmful. Instead Paul challenges us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received: put off falsehood, leave your life of sexual immorality (not even of hint of it should mark your life), get rid of impurity, greed, and work hard, share your earnings with those in need, be kind, compassionate, forgiving, speak wholesome talk, walk in the way of love, and the like.
We are to encourage the sinner to change. Not just bring up their shameful acts but pave a way out of their sinful life. There are three ways out of this lifestyle of sin. And these three ways are the way of hope, happiness, and true love. One must…
- Repent – To repent is to admit that the life we are living and all its deceitful practices are sins against God. We not only admit them, but we ask God to forgive us. For He is the only One who can forgive sin.
- Accept – We must ask God to forgive, but then we must accept Jesus His Son as our Savior and the only One who paid for that sin. We must make Him Lord of our life which enables us to change.
- Allow – Once forgiven, once Christ is received and made Lord of our life, we must allow His Holy Spirit to do the work of change in our life. Daily He will convict, teach, and help us see the truth we need so we can become new like Christ, made in the likeness of His holiness and right living.
How can anyone say that change is not necessary; and that all is needed is love. The one who does this actually sets a trap (a foothold of the devil) for those whom say they “love.” We are to walk in the way of love. And that way is truth. When we speak truth to our neighbor we are do it in love. Not ignore the truth, soften the truth, twist the truth, or change the truth. For any truth or gospel that is ignored, softened, twisted and changed is not truth, it’s a lie, and it’s not the gospel that Christ came to die for and give to us.
Let us hold true to the truth. And let us be true to those living in sin. Let us love them with a Godly love, one that shows them life and liberty. Love as Christ loves!
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17).