Changed by God the Holy Spirit
'Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.'
Romans 8v12-16 (NIV)
Our search for an identity is really a deep desire for change. Driven by the pressures from our culture and from ourselves we go in search of the new 'me'. We gaze in admiration at other people and desire what they appear to have. We commit identity theft! In our minds we pick and choose: I’d like their personality, their looks, their brains, their success, their relationship. In our search we are squeezed and conformed. But the change we so desperately want has led to an identity crisis. We are left confused and in despair. Change, however is possible. God's design for us is that we are changed to become more like his Son in character. God does this for his children by 'the Spirit you received.' The Spirit is not a thing or an it but a person, 'the Spirit of God.' When we turn from ourselves to God, God moves into our lives by his Spirit. He does this for at least two reasons:
First we are changed by the Spirits power. God's desire is that we are changed more and more into the likeness of Christ. That is something God does in us by the power of his Spirit: 'by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body.' Although I am God's child I still battle against the sinful nature, the 'misdeeds' of our body. So to experience change, to display the character of Christ, we must 'put to death' the sin in our lives. We take deliberate and intentional action to kill the things that lead us from Christ and to trust in self. This killing off is done by remembering all that Christ has done for you and all that he has given to you. We put to death the ugliness of sin by looking at the beauty of Christ. As the Spirit directs our gaze from self to Christ so we are changed and begin to display his character.
Second, we are comforted by the Spirit's presence. My battle with sin does not mean I am no longer God's child, on the contrary, 'those who are led by the Spirit (those who fight sin) are the children of God.' The presence of the Spirit is to bring comfort to us, that in the process of change, we are always God's children. This comfort is experienced in three ways: (i) Joy. 'The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again...' When we see our sin it can lead us to run in fear from God. However, Christ died for all our sin, he paid the penalty by his death so that we can enjoy God. (ii) Intimacy. 'the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' 'Abba' is a cry of intimacy expressed by a child to their Father. We can come and ask the Father for help to bring about change and he will do it. (iii) Security. 'The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.' He brings reassurance, that the presence and battle with sin will never disqualify us from being God's children. He will keep us.
God gives us his Spirit to bring about the change in our lives that we can never do on our own. As his children we are gently and gradually transformed into the likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ. By his presence and power we become more beautiful in character.
Father, by your Spirit's power please change my desire for sin to a desire for Christ. Produce in me more of your sons character. Thank you for the joy, intimacy and security I have because of your Spirits presence in my life.