Embracing Grace: From the Inside Out

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 42

Scripture: Matthew 18:2-4; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Deuteronomy 4:39-40; Philippians 2:12-16; Romans 12:1-2.

Photo Credit: Shahram Sharif / CC BY 2.0

God never changes.

I, however, am not God.

Duh.

Oh, so you’re a comedian, are you? Look, some people act like they don’t know they’re not God, okay?

Okay.

Good, now we’ve got that cleared up. As I was saying… I change all the time. It is part of having a body. We are said to have corporeal bodies.

Uh… is that like having a corpus delecti?

Ha, you are a comedian! Corpus Delecti is Latin and literally means body of crime. It is proof that a crime has taken place. When you misuse this word to refer to your derrière, what you are saying is that your body is a body of crime. How fitting!

Hmm… I didn’t know that.

Corpus Delecti has more to do with corporeal than we realize. The word, corporeal, comes from the Latin for corporeus “of the nature of a body,” from corpus “body,” from PIE *kwrpes, from base *kwrep- “body, form appearance,” probably from a verbal root meaning “to appear,”1 as from the womb. That I have a date in which my life begins merely underlies the fact that I change.

Jesus spoke of change:

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”2

Change is a necessary part of becoming like Christ. If I do NOT change, I cannot be transformed into the image of God’s perfect son, Jesus.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.3

Why is it, then, that change is something to which we are so resistant? Do we not want to be more like Jesus? No. Anyone who desires to pursue God has a heart after God and desires to change to become more like Him.

We cannot become God, but we can be transformed. There is a difference. Gnostics, like the Mormon Church, teach that we can become gods, but God’s Word says there is no other god, either in heaven, or on earth.

Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.4

So why do we need to change at all, once we have received the gift of salvation? I like to think of salvation is the starting point in my relationship with God, but like all relationships, it must grow to remain vibrant and alive. Paul speaks of this in Philippians:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.5

Work out my salvation? Then is it what I do that saves me?

No, not at all! When I am “saved,” to use Christianese, or rather, when I accept the free gift of salvation from Jesus, my spirit is saved. My flesh, however, continues to decay until the day I die. It is my soul that is the part of me that requires due diligence. It is the soul to which Paul is referring when he says “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” My soul (my mind, will, emotions) requires daily attention. My mind must be renewed daily in God’s word. I love the way the Message Bible words this passage in Romans 12:1-2:

 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.6

This is what the Christian life is all about – changing from the inside out.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, the world and we in the church have gotten the idea that once we come to Christ we either are or must be (at least in front of others) perfect. And to make it even worse, if we happen to see someone else stumble in their walk with God, or, heaven forbid, find they do not measure up to our notion of the Christian life, what is the first thing we do?

We judge by what we see on the outside.

I believe this results from one of several possible causes – either we ourselves are not walking with God like we should, or we think we have arrived, based on some revelation of God we had in the past.

This all the more shows how much we daily are in need of change.

A great man of God once said that if we do not find ourselves in a state of deep repentance at least once every forty days, then our hearts have become hardened.

The fact that we need to repent of sins after receiving Christ shows how much we do change.

The famous evangelist and preacher, George Whitefield, said “True repentance will entirely change you; the bias of your souls will be changed, then you will delight in God, in Christ, in His Law, and in His people.”7

 One of my most favorite men of God, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, had this to say of repentance:

Evangelical repentance is repentance of sin as sin: not of this sin nor of that, but of the whole mass. We repent of the sin of our nature as well as the sin of our practice. We bemoan sin within us and without us. We repent of sin itself as being an insult to God. Anything short of this is a mere surface repentance, and not a repentance which reaches to the bottom of the mischief. Repentance of the evil act, and not of the evil heart, is like men pumping water out of a leaky vessel, but forgetting to stop the leak. Some would dam up the stream, but leave the fountain still flowing; they would remove the eruption from the skin, but leave the disease in the flesh.8

If I come to the place in life where, because of my personality or natural charisma, I allow my gifting to rule my life rather than the Holy Spirit, then I am in danger of losing all I once gained in God.

Pride is the sin.

The glory of man, our outer shell, fades with the flower of the field. Because I choose to look at life from an eternal perspective, I must not allow what I see rule how I live.

I must live from the inside out.

I choose to change from the inside out, so that my entire life will reflect the glory of God.

Read: Matthew 18:2-4; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Deuteronomy 4:39-40; Philippians 2:12-16; Romans 12:1-2. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, thank you for showing me the path of salvation: living in a state of humility toward You. Help me, Lord, to change those things in my life which do not measure up with Your approval. Make my life be a fragrance to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

___________________

1 “corporeal.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 19 Mar. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/corporeal>.
2 Matthew 18:2-4.THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. www.biblica.com
3 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
4 Deuteronomy 4:39-40. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
5 Philippians 2:12-16. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
6 Romans 12:1-2. Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. www.messagebible.com
7 Quote by George Whitefield. Sermons on George Whitefield. 19 Mar 2011. http://dailychristianquote.com/dcqrepentance.html
8Quote of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 19 Mar 2011. The Spurgeon Archive. www.spurgeon.org

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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