Sunday, August 15, 2010

Transformed From The Inside Out - By Sue-Lynn Teo

The following article was written by Sue-Lynn Teo, one of our Powerhouse+'s powered-up young people.

Someone once asked me “When you became a Christian, how was your life transformed?” I was quite stumped at that moment, but as I reflected on it I was reminded of Galatians 5:16-18 “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature… If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law”.

As I meditated on these verses, I realised that even born-again Christians like me struggle with issues of how we live a holy and pleasing life to the Lord (Romans 12:1). The lure of the world and its sinful desires seem much too attractive and we sometimes can get pulled back in. As a university student studying overseas, the temptation of drugs, alcohol, clubbing and getting drunk just to experience a ‘high’ were more real. I have to admit that at one point, I found myself swayed to conforming to worldly desires. Why wake up so early to go church on Sunday when I can go clubbing with my friends till late on Saturday? Why spend time serving in ministry when I can enjoy other more ‘exciting’ pursuits? I lived the life of a Sunday Christian, coming to church and being ‘holy’ but on other days, being no different from a non-believer. Looking back, I realised that I was choosing to live my life ‘somewhere between’ that of the sinful nature and that of the Spirit. Not willing to surrender my all to God, I gave him only a part of myself.

In retrospect, I realised two things. Firstly, no matter how hard I tried, I could not be free from sinful desires. I remember trying to change my outward attitudes and actions by my own effort. More often than not, I failed to see any real change. I could not deal with the two conflicting forces by myself and if I relied on my own strength, I would inevitably fall back to my sinful life. My own effort to change my external actions and attitudes without an inward working of spirit could not lead to lasting and true transformation. Indeed, an outward change of actions and attitudes can only result from the inward workings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

The apostle Paul proclaimed to the Galatian church that Christ has set us free from sin and the law. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1). The image of a prisoner’s chains being broken away as he is released from life of captivity comes to my mind. He has to carve out a new path in his life and start afresh, making the conscious decision everyday to resist his old ways.

It dawned on me that transformation was not a “one-off-overnight-thing”. Rather it was a process that I have to go through to truly live a life worthy of the Lord. Luke 9:23 reminds us that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him. We have to surrender our whole selves to God, not just a part, and wholeheartedly follow Him. Not just today, not just on Sundays but every day of our lives.

Indeed, only a transformation from the inside out can enable a lasting change so that we can truly use our lives as living testimonies to His name. I encourage you, my brothers and sisters in Christ to make every effort to live a life by the spirit. Then, the power of Christ will help you control your sinful desire, the words of Christ will be in your mind, the love of Christ will be behind your actions.

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