By Ryan Davis, YWAM Publishing
Our staff recently had the opportunity to visit with one of our authors, Jim Stier. Jim’s book Against All Odds is an honest and compelling account of his conversion, journey into missions, and life as a missionary in Brazil. Jim is also the editor of the book His Kingdom Come: An Integrated Approach to Discipling the Nations and Fulfilling the Great Commission. While at our office, Jim spoke on faith, the subject of a new book he is writing. His message was inspiring, and I want to pass on a great point that Jim made.
Romans 7 contains Paul’s familiar line “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (v. 15 NRSV). Jim noted that, according to a Barna survey, many Christians strongly identify with this passage. The problem with this, Jim said, is that this passage, read in context, is about the pre-Christian life—life caught in the cycle of law and sin. The law is good, Paul says, but our sinfulness messes it all up. We need help to get out of the cycle; we need Jesus to rescue us—and he has done just that. That is why Paul says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25).
Paul goes on in Romans 8 to describe the Christian life—life in the Spirit, who sets us free—in contrast to the life of slavery to the law of sin. As Christians we aren’t supposed to stay stuck in the cycle of law and sin; we’re supposed to grow and mature and be transformed.
So Paul says in Romans 12:2:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And in 2 Corinthians 3:8 he says:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
In John 14:12 Jesus himself assures us:
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
Clearly, the Christian life is meant to be one of progress with God’s help. Jim is someone who demonstrates such Spirit-enabled transformation. When he turned his life over to God, he was never the same. That is a message for all of us as well. Are we by the grace of God being transformed into the image of Christ? Our answer should be yes!