Quotes from Tim Chester’s book You Can Change. Chapter 2. Why Would You Like to Change?
Chester sets out to show three wrong answers to the following questions: “Why we want to be more like Jesus? Why do you want to keep a lid on your temper or overcome lust or stop living in a fantasy world? Why do you want to feel less depressed or biter or frustrated? Why do you want to be a better parent, a better husband, a better wife, a better employee?”
“1. To prove myself to God
The instinct to self-atone runs deep in our hearts. We want to make amends for our sin on our own. But God has done it all through Christ because of his grace, his undeserved love to us. Grace is so simple to understand and yet so hard to grasp. It’s not its complexity that makes it difficult. The problem is that we seem to be hard-wired to think we must do something to make God favourably disposed towards us. We want to take the credit. But all the time God is saying: ‘In my love I gave my Son for you. He’s done everything needed to secure my blessing. I love you as you are and I accept you in him.’ God can’t love you more than he does now–no matter what mess you make of your life. ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:6-9)
2. To prove myself to other people
One of the problems with trying to prove ourselves to other people is that they set the standard. Their standards may be ungodly, but we adopt their behaviour to fit in. Their standards may be godly, but we’re living in obedience to people rather than obedience to God. Often what happens is that we settle for living like other people even when that falls short of living like Jesus.
3. To prove myself to myself
For us, sin has become first and foremost sin against ourselves. If I sin, then I’ve let myself down. What I feel when I sin is the offense against me and my self-esteem, not the offense against God.
Justified by grace
But we can never change enough to impress God. Trying to impress God, others or ourselves puts us at the centre of our change project. It makes change all about my looking good. It is done for my glory. And that’s pretty much the definition of sin. Sin is living for my glory instead of God’s. Sin is living life my way, for me, instead of living life God’s way, for God.
Pharisees do good works and repent of bad works. But gospel repentance includes repenting of good works done for wrong reasons.
Deep down in all of us there is a tendency to want to prove ourselves: to base our worth on what we do.
The alternative life that Jesus rejects is a good life lived for the wrong reasons.
So the options Jesus presents are self-righteousness and poverty of spirit (Matthew 5:3)
When you feel the desire to prove yourself, remember you’re right with God in Christ.
When we try to prove ourselves by our good works, we’re saying, in effect, that the cross wasn’t enough.
We don’t do good works so that we can be saved; we are saved so that we can do good works. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
You will cleanse no sin from your life that you have not first recognized as being pardoned through the cross.
The essence of holiness is not new behaviour, activity or disciplines. Holiness is new affections, new desires and new motives that then lead to new behaviour.
…in the New Testament we are called to ‘be what we are’.
1. You are a child of the Father
We don’t have to worry about proving ourselves, because God says: ‘You’re my child.’
2. You are the bride of the Son
3. You are the home of the Holy Spirit”
Chester concludes the chapter by laying out the lies of sin and the greatness of God’s truth and offer. Isaiah 55:1-2