While on our recent trip the Lord showed me a difference between what we think should happen as a Christian and what truly happens when someone becomes a Christian. Practically, it seems the basis of faith for many people is that we are basically good people and our "faith" in Christ simply helps us deal with the part that is not good. In other words, Christ changes us so that we are acceptable to God, yes, but we are most of the way there. I bring my goodness to God, Christ makes up the difference, and all is well. And I count on God to bless my life and make things go well for me.
How arrogant and totally unscriptural such an attitude is. And that is the rub. We are aware of and want to move away from "obvious" sin. We overlook the little things that show our sin, they are understandable human flaws. But we miss the thing that is staring us in the face: the inherent pride that refuses to allow us to confess that there is absolutely nothing good in us to offer God. When Peter was following Jesus prior to the Resurrection, he was brash, and boastful. "I will never allow that to happen to you Lord." "I am ready to die with you." In short time Peter denied the Lord three times and was in hiding "for fear of the Jews." He had changed some since following Jesus. But. . .
After the Resurrection and Pentecost, Peter was transformed. He was in the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17 "a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come." Now he would die. Now he would stand for Jesus no matter what. Now he would never turn away from truth. He was not changed, he was transformed by the power of Christ and his life was not his own.
Transformed people love the Word of God and need to pray. Transformed people do not see their material goods, time or very life as their own, but God's. Transformed people gladly help others and see their life goal as sharing the love of God wherever they go. Transformed people love to be with the people of God. They encourage other people. They share their story of God's faithfulness regularly. They talk about their humble amazement at what God does rather than boasting about how much they have done for God. They are transformed from someone they once were to someone radically made new by the power of the Spirit of God.
So, the question is, am I changed or transformed? The old hymn stated it well: Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling."