The goal of my writing today is to inspire you to access the powerful transforming grace God has made available to us through the Holy Spirit.
In this series of articles, we are recognizing one fundamental truth regarding transformational grace: God provides the grace, but we must access it. Doing so requires discipline. We access saving grace simply through faith. Transforming grace is different. It requires more of us — we must do something to experience its power.
The Holy Spirit and Obedience
Jesus teaches that access to the transformational grace of the Holy Spirit comes through obedience. See John 14 and 15. He even clarifies that obedience will actually lead to greater transformational grace, just as pruning leads to greater harvest. See John 15:1-7. The more obedience we give, the more the Holy Spirit will challenge our weaknesses and immaturity.
John referred to this process as “walking in the light.” See John 1:5-10. If you want to be transformed, then be obedient to what the Spirit’s light reveals today. Doing so will allow the Spirit to move the light forward, exposing new areas that must be transformed. Again, be obedient, and the Spirit will keep moving the light forward. This is what John meant by “walk in the light as He is in the light.” See 1 John 1:5-10.
When Jesus saved me, I assumed I would be perfect from that moment forward. It took about 90 seconds to discover my assumption was wrong. Way wrong. In fact, I was a miserable failure. I seemed to sin constantly, and the task of living the perfect Christian life just seemed too big and difficult. I nearly gave up.
Did you know it takes about 56,000 steps to complete a marathon? Which two steps are the most important steps if you want to finish a marathon? Answer: The first step and the next step. Every marathon runner takes one step at a time. No one can finish a marathon in one gargantuan step. That’s just not the way it works — and the same is true for transformation.
The Holy Spirit has a lot of transforming work yet to do in me — and maybe in you too. At times, the task just seems too big for us — like trying to run a marathon.
If you believe you cannot live the obedient, transformed, and holy Christian life, then you are hung up believing you must complete the marathon in one step. This lie of “instant perfection” has kept you defeated and stuck for far too long. Christian perfection isn’t about the 56,000th step; it is the willingness to take the next obedient step. You can take that next step. Rest assured — the transforming grace of God’s Spirit will then empower you to take the next step, and the next, and the next.
What next step is God’s Spirit revealing for you today? If you want to experience more of the Spirit’s transformational grace, then take that next step.
Here are excerpts from John 14. See how often Jesus ties obedience to the transformational work of the Spirit:
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day, you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them…”
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away, and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen, you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.”
Friend, take that next step in obedience — and the Holy Spirit will lead you toward the next step. Keep taking those steps, and in time, you will be transformed. That is God’s promise!