Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Changing People

I don't know if I put the right title for this post, but it's the best I could come up with. It seems lately that many of my grace friends have been coming under attack lately, having people close to them bring serious accusation and condemnation. Well, I guess I decided to join in! Well, not really...but I'm getting a small taste here and there. Honestly, it's been good for me and I hope it will be even better for my friends, since their attacks have been more brutal I can only imagine God will step up with an even more amazing demonstration of the grace and blessing they already believe in!

It seems that when people come to us with accusation, it is often a thinly cloaked attempt to change or conform us to their idea or standard of who and what we should be. They hold us up to themselves and/or other ideals they have invented as 'godly' and see us as fallen short. They are not happy with our performance or even our whole personality and therefore they come to us demanding us to change. They come assuming they know us, what we truly think and feel; they come presuming they can control us by humbling us (or perhaps more accurately, humiliating us) through judgements they pronounce on us. Often all this is very subtle, and most often it is a reflection of how these people live from day to day, under constant condemnation and fear of failure. They are not happy people, but insecure and beaten down. They are trying to change the people around them so they can feel better about their own lives.

My unbelieving response to this kind of pressure to change through guilt manipulation would be to try to defend myself against accusation, trying to justify myself even by repenting and confessing sin to the human accuser, apologizing for something that may not even be wrong. But the way I respond to accusation is changing, because the more I realize I AM JUSTIFIED ALREADY, the less power condemnation holds over me. I still struggle at times with people trying to put guilt on me, especially when those people are very close to me (such as husband or parent...) but God's grace is changing me.

This change is coming by a deep trust in God's love for me, that when I hear accusation I KNOW it is not from him. Immediately when accusation comes, the first thing I feel is God's love, his manifest presence, his voice speaking to me that he loves me just the way I am. He loves everything about my personality, my weaknesses do not concern him. I can trust that his grace IS changing me and I can live in rest and joy knowing that it's his timeline, his seed will grow and grow because it is supernaturally powerful to overcome all hindrances that may come. This amazing security I have in my Father and his love for me is producing fruit! I am able to handle accusation, even closely examine it without being angry with the person bringing it. Without bitterness, resentment, or fear or doubt!

My ideas about how to change people are changing. The more I understand that it is God's love changing me on his schedule, the more I have patience and love for my brothers and sisters who are also on God's schedule. There is only one thing we do to change people, or ourselves: sow grace. I recently listened to Rob preaching on the parable of the sower (which was excellent by the way!) so I've been thinking about it a lot.

"But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13:23

Before we can sow the word of grace, we have to receive it, hear it and understand it. We have to let it stay in the soil of our hearts until it grows, not giving up when it doesn't yield a crop on the first day, or second, or third...being patient and trusting the power of the seed that God has planted in us.

I think the best way to deal with accusation is to boldly and unashamedly stand in the gift of righteousness before our accusers, understanding that ALL accusation ultimately comes from Satan and never our father in heaven. We can allow our shield of faith to quench every fiery dart and our temptation to pick up the same demonic weapons of condemnation and accusation will be overcome as we realize God has already fully equipped us to stand firm against these attacks. God has accused Jesus of ALL our sin (yes, past, present, and future), has completely punished it in his body, and given us perfect righteousness as a gift because we have believed in Jesus. He will never never accuse us of sin or faults. The more we understand this, the more accusation becomes irrelevant. God changes us by his loving presence, by speaking the truths of the gospel to us over and over in fresh ways.

So when accusation comes, I can peacefully recognize that someone is merely regarding me according to the flesh and not according to faith and I don't need to panic or hang my head in shame. I bring the accusation to my Father, and he says 'That's a LIE, I have declared you RIGHTEOUS!!!" I am free to be who I am because I am in Christ! And now that I am free, I can joyfully allow others to also be free without feeling I need to be changing them either. Changing people, either ourselves or anyone else, is not our job. We sow the seeds of grace that come from Jesus, and he makes the seeds grow!

Some more resources for overcoming condemnation:

Victory Over Condemnation (Rob Rufus)

City Church International message archives

Dynamic Love Ministries (Bertie Brits)

Joseph Prince Ministries


jul said...

My fellow blogger Alan dedicates some of his posts to people sometimes, so I thought I'd dedicate this one to Dan and Lydia. I love you guys! Don't let the devil get ya down!

silent wings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
silent wings said...

Thanks for this post Julie,
This part especially resonates with my present struggle:

"Before we can sow the word of grace, we have to receive it, hear it and understand it. We have to let it stay in the soil of our hearts until it grows, not giving up when it doesn't yield a crop on the first day, or second, or third...being patient and trusting the power of the seed that God has planted in us."

I am really starting to realize how unaware I am of His patient nature. I think I need to go buy myself some seeds and a pot for a constant visual. :)

lydia joy said...

Thanks Julie, for your, again, bold forthright and timely shared words!!
I can really relate well to all you shared and I have been having a similar discussion with Jamie, about not regarding others after the flesh! This is so helpful to point out, people need to hear this!!
It really never ceases to amazing me how God sets us up for success if we only rest and believe in His word!!
Love, love, love ya!!!!

dogimo said...

How hard it can be groping in the dark, looking for any source of light. Looking to each other instead of to God. Depending on each other frantically, becoming so easily confused, so wavering and insecure in the examples we set and the examples we see. Our dependence upon each other's example is so desperate, our accusations so bitter when we see someone "falling short", only because we have not fully learned to live in God. Because we are not comfortable relating to God.

We try to walk by the light of our fellow travelers, because we fear the truth of God's light. Only when we finally rest secure in the light and love of God will we stop trying to make others fill that role for us! And then we will see there was nothing to fear.

dogimo said...

I should also say, Jul is the exception to that. Her light is ALL-RITE!


Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

This is the start of warfare.
People gather round to"spy out your freedom", Paul's phrase.

The temptation is to bow before them. To accept their pressure. Also we know in our spirit what will happen if we refuse to bow to them on these things.
It is a clash of Kingdoms.

It is hard to speak the truth with grace yet firmness.
This is the life of the Spirit. This is the Jesus who lives within us still wanting to behave in the same way He did in His earthly life...catching out pharisaical behaviour...while stooping to encourage the condemned.
Boy, does it cause ructions. but we are called to this...in order not to deny our Father in heaven.

RJW said...

OK, Jul,
We know God doesn't deal in coincidence so listen up:
On Sunday, after a great time of worship and fellowship I was drawn into conversation with a friend who is very angry with God. Her family has been through hall for 4years and she basically has thrown in the towel on God's promises. If she hasn't seen them, then they aren't true. As if God is relative to our circumstance.
When I spoke truth to her she was very condemnatory and accusatory. My heart grieved for her pain and bitterness. I know God will love her through this.
My last post kind of grew from my distress over her situation. So many people are angry when God doesn't toe their line.
Lydia and I have been discussing these issues, as she stated. AND Matt and I just finished a 2 hour conversation which included sowing seed!!! I liken it to sex and pregnancy; it's gonna happen if you are intimate. Just relax! ;)
This is an incredibly timely post; thanks for your good Word.
WOW!! Amazing things are happening in the Body.

RJW said...

Actually, her family may have been through "hall", I don't know; let's make that HELL, please.

Good grief.

jul said...

Thanks for all the encouragement!

-Lydia, I love you back! I'm so glad we're still together in the blogosphere or else I'd miss you even more than I do.

-I've been through hall too Jamie, but now I'm living in big rooms, it's so much better haha!

-Cirra, it's funny, but I'm amazed at how fast you're growing! You are always a breath of fresh air when I see you or talk to you and I love getting to know you. Often we can't see it for ourselves because we're examining ourselves with a magnifying glass and would be better off stepping back to get a view in the full length mirror of the perfect law of liberty, it will show us our righteousness and perfection in Jesus.

-Chris, I think you write with a little more knowledge than is quite natural hehe. I felt you were seeing into what's really happening beyond the surface.

-what's up dog?

Matthew Daelon said...


You noticed the same thing I did in the parable of the sower.

I realized what it was we were suppose to do. Jesus said that the ones of the rocky soil, immediately receive the Word with joy, but fall away because they have no root in themselves.

The started out right. How? By receiving it with joy!! So we keep on receiving this Gospel of Christ with joy each and everyday and it sprouts and grows. "Much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness, reign in life through the one Man, Jesus Christ."

Mark 4:26-29

And He said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. he sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle because the harvest has come."

Walking Church said...

I find this works:

I ask them if we can pray together, right here, right now. Let's ask Abba for truth, His peace on the matter. (Essentially you are plugging for voltage from the vine where you abide).

I find most confrontationalist flee this opportunity.

Be encouraged - I find Abb/Jesus/His Spirit has done all the past work, present work and future work. Very freeing indeed.

Be encouraged more - that we were promised to share in His sufferings. Ask Paul...Peter...

ViolableWings said...

Thank you for sharing this, it is a help. Especially with every thing that has been going on lately. I have yet to read anything on your posts that have not been an encouragement. Thanks again.

Dan Bowen said...

Thank you Julie!! Never had a post dedicated to me before - wow how encouraging is that?! :) I love this post, I love your blog, I love you and Aaron and I love the fact that we are walking this path from legalism to grace together. Keep at it!

Lennart said...

Julie, What a beautiful post on God's Grace It probably the most miss-understood and abused concept around at the moment. The freedom of Grace is something that humans seem to balk and struggle with.

Your comment "They are not happy people, but insecure and beaten down. They are trying to change the people around them so they can feel better about their own lives." is so true.

I was getting so fraustrated with blogging, cause all I could find were the sites that proclaimed "grace, as long as everyone obeyed the rules".

Hallelujah, I have found another real grace site. My Heavenly Father is ALWAYS so good.

jul said...

You're welcome Dan!

And welcome Lennart, I'm glad you were encouraged and thanks for the amazing compliment of calling the a "real grace site".