by Rick Warren — June 5, 2021
“Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.”
Ephesians 4:23 (CEV)
When Joshua faced a seemingly impassible barrier, the floodwaters of the Jordan River receded—but only after the leaders stepped into the rushing current in obedience and faith. Obedience unlocks God’s power.
In these situations, God’s power follows your action. But you don’t have to wait until you feel powerful or confident. Just move ahead in your weakness; do the right thing, despite your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit; it’s how your character develops and how you grow spiritually.
The Bible compares spiritual growth to a seed, a building, and a child growing up. Each metaphor requires active participation: Seeds must be planted and cultivated, buildings must be built—they don’t just appear—and children must eat and exercise to grow.
Effort has nothing to do with your salvation—but effort is essential to your spiritual growth. At least seven times the New Testament tells you to “make every effort” in your growth toward becoming like Jesus (Luke 13:24, Romans 14:19, Ephesians 4:3, 2 Timothy 2:15, Hebrews 4:11, Hebrews 12:14, 2 Peter 3:14).
You can’t just sit around and wait for it to happen. You need to act.
Paul explains in Ephesians 4 your three responsibilities in becoming like Christ.
First, choose to let go of old ways of acting. “Everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it!” (Ephesians 4:22 The Message). Your new life is based on God’s truth and living according to his Word. That means there may be some behaviors you need to change in your life.
Second, change the way you think. “Let the Spirit change your way of thinking” (Ephesians 4:23 CEV).
The Bible says you are “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 NIV). The Greek word for “transformed” is metamorphosis. It’s used today to describe the amazing change a caterpillar goes through in becoming a butterfly. It is a beautiful picture of what happens spiritually when you allow God to direct your thoughts. You’re changed from the inside out. You become more beautiful, and you’re set free to soar to new heights.
Third, put on the character of Christ by developing new, godly habits. Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it’s how you habitually act. The Bible says, “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24 NIV).
Don’t just sit around and wait for spiritual growth to happen—it never will on its own. Instead, be obedient so that you can unlock God’s power in your life!