29th November 2010

An Inner Change Of Heart

“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly…”
Romans 2:28-29 (NIV)

Have you ever bitten into a nice looking apple only to find that inside the heart of it is all rotten? Appearances can be deceptive, can’t they? In a similar way, outwardly many religions appear attractive. So what makes Christianity so different from other well-respected religions such as Judaism and Islam?

It is that we are promised (usually upon baptism) that we would have an inner change of heart—the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us transform inwardly by the renewing of our minds (Romans 2:2). The inner core of our once corrupt carnal minds can then start to be renewed with God’s help and grow with love for God and for mankind, improving our outer appearance—that is, our behaviour—out of love.

This is so different from many other religions where the religious leaders try their best to change and improve people’s outer behaviour from the outside in, with outward reform coming from strict behaviour and performing many rituals. Hopefully out of habit they believe the inner mind can be changed, but so often the inner core can still remain selfish and corrupt.

In certain countries there are even religious leaders who try to impose laws and regulations upon the whole population. This, of course, causes conflict because to them it is fundamentalism that seems so negative and restrictive of their freedom.

In Mark 7:14-23, Jesus tells us that as mere mortals we are rotten to the core and cannot be changed by outward reform. We should realise that it is not psychologists, but God’s help that we need. We cannot form an entirely new character and love for righteousness by ourselves, for there will always be a core longing for the occasional sin and ‘to cheat a little’.

Outward reform and rituals imposed by religious leaders were attacked by Jesus in Matthew 23:25-28. The majesty and holiness of God seemed to be acknowledged in their actions, but the core was indeed rotten. St. Paul foretold in 2 Timothy 3:5 that religious leaders would come that had the ‘form’ but not the ‘power’ (of the Holy Spirit). How true when we look at some other religions today. Paul sums it up in Romans 2:28-29, that a man is really not a Christian if he is only one outwardly by his outward appearance.

Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the love you have for us mere mortals, for giving us your Holy Spirit to help us transform our minds and for giving us a Saviour in Jesus Christ.

Study by Michael Dandridge

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