God wants us to change and to bear fruit for His glory. John 15:8
And so as summarizing all of this, God wants us to change. He wants believers to grow in holiness. Jesus said, “My father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
The Gospel is the key to change.
We’ve seen the gospel is key to change. And that as we understand our union with Christ and abide in him and delight in him, but also we are responsible to exert effort. And I’m gonna illustrate this visually for just a moment. And that is when picturing Jesus, when he was walking on the water and Peter was sitting in the boat, and he sees Jesus and Jesus calls him to come. Say, well, how is Peter going to be able to go? How is Peter gonna be able to walk on the water? And it really illustrates two principles. On the one hand, Peter is completely incapable of walking on water. In the power of Peter’s own flesh, if he steps out of the boat into the waves, he will sink. It’s only Christ who can enable him to do this. And so we know from this story that as Peter fixes his eyes on Christ, as he steps out of the boat, he is able to walk on the water without sinking and that really illustrates, for me, the gospel part of change. That when you call your counselee to love his wife, or the wife to honor her husband, or a child to honor the parents, or to get over anger and depression and fear and worry with the answers the Bible supplies, you’re asking that person to do something that’s naturally impossible. But as Jesus said, what is impossible with men is possible to God, and it’s through the gospel, it’s through Christ, that what was impossible is now possible but you must fix your eyes on Christ. Not upon your labor of dog paddling or sinking, but upon Christ. When Peter takes his eyes off of Christ and starts thinking in terms of his own ability, he sinks. And so the gospel is key.
We are responsible to exert effort to change.
But there’s also a responsibility for human effort. When Jesus said, “Come here,” Peter had to decide to get out of the boat and start taking steps. As he was in that boat, he was responsible to obey Jesus and to stick his foot out of the boat and to start walking towards Jesus. And I think that’s the obedience part, is the commandments of scripture must be fulfilled. You can’t just wait for Jesus to levitate you out of the boat. You learn from the scripture what God wants you to do, you abide in Christ, you keep your eye upon him, you fix your mind upon what he’s accomplished for you in the gospel, and then by the grace of God, what is humanly impossible, this change, a change towards holiness, is possible because of Christ.