Conforming to God’s Design

Great changes take place for heeding the gospel. By paying attention to God’s message our inner man conjoins the Spirit to make changes for the better. The gospel is the message of salvation, which includes teachings, instructions, warnings and rewards. Adhering to these brings change into our life that suits us. People often look for change in life. They seek it, since they are desperate to escape the life they have been living. It is the lifestyle they have chosen that makes them desperate in the first place. People choose different lifestyles with a view to do well in life. When it backfires, frustration enters them and they seek change. As many times as they keep changing their lifestyle apart from the Lord’s consent, it does them no favor. Heeding the Lord actually provides to adopt a lifestyle that benefits. Gospel is the message to heed Him. If anyone acts on it, he or she acquires a lifestyle that never needs change. The Lord adds perfection to it.

God’s message places many things before us. When we absorb them, they work in different areas of our life causing change. Perfection embraces us when each one in his entirety conforms to God’s design for him. Hence, the gospel teaches, instructs and warns us. God’s desire for us is to gain back the character Adam lost in the Garden. Attaining it begins from understanding sin and being able to distance from it. Gospel instructs us of sin; teaches its nature and warns of its danger. An example is the following. “Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown’” (Jon. 3:4). What happened that day was remarkable. Even Jonah knew it would happen and as he did not want it to happen, tried to run away from it. He himself knew the power in God’s message and the change it could bring; for he is His prophet. He knew it would effectively work in those who listen to it. He was reluctant for it to happen and so, tried to run away.

As Jonah spoke the message, Nineveh turned to God instantly. They made every effort necessary for repentance. What happened that day was a total change in their lifestyle. They were able to choose the best lifestyle that put them in a good stead. The first remarkable thing to happen when we heed the gospel is God relenting concerning us. When this happens the terrible and the unsavory consequences do not fall upon us. The second is His blessings. One may need to change in an area or two in his life, although he is saved. And when the gospel brings to mind concerning them and he heeds, God relents. God has more patience toward us than we can think of. It is only when we abuse it that He is angered. He knows if we are in a state of knowing the difference between the right and the wrong. In other words, at times we may think we need not change. God through His message reveals the need to change. He offers us help so that we do not face bitter consequences for our actions. He protects us until the message reaches our ears. Then, by our response He acts.

If Nineveh did not consider changing after hearing the Lord’s message, the outcome would have certainly been different. Jonah too would not be displeased and angry. The Lord’s messenger should perform his duty and those who hear must choose to heed his message. Then, the outcome will always be remarkable. It is a life of righteousness, the root cause for change in lifestyle. The work of the gospel is summed up in the following. “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY’” (Mark 1:2). There is a messenger and there are those that heed him. The purpose of the message is to lead men to follow the Lord. Both the message and the messenger is the Lord’s doing. There is neither earthly substance to them nor man’s doing in them. Hence, it worked in Nineveh.

The gospel according to the will of God works. It produces results in and for all those associated with it. It leads them to a higher place by the higher standards it imbibes. He who knows it grips it with both hands. For there is immense care offered in it. Jesus revealed it. “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep’” (John 21:17). When Jesus told Peter to tend His sheep, it not only indicates the duty of the Lord’s servant, but also the message of the gospel for believers. The word ‘tend’ is meant to apply to every area in a believer’s life. Wherever there is lack or need, the message of the Lord’s servant addresses it. The Lord who is aware of the need supplies the message. So, the gospel is able to produce efficient results. Now, if you are heeding the message, it is producing results for a remarkable lifestyle. But first, there are three things you must consider.

1. Is the message of Christ? The Spirit said, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). The gospel message must have Christ at its core. It must deliver the views, intent and thoughts of God. It should not be man-oriented and self-spirited. It must avail the presence of the Lord in the Spirit.

2. Is the message building you up? With this in mind Paul said, “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision” (Phil. 3:2). If your inner man is not benefitting, you need to distance yourselves from it. If the message does not offer Christ’s peace, joy and comfort, it is not of God. It will never work in you to produce in you the righteous living that leads to a remarkable lifestyle. When it is not exciting you for an intimate relationship with Jesus, it is certainly destroying you. Sure, dogs can make great pets, but their natural instinct is to devour. So too are the evil workers and a circumcision not related to the heart.

3. Is the message helping you deal with the days of which the Word warns? In other words, is it preparing you to be steadfast in faith and to overcome the present days? “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1). If it is not revealing to you the God of Christ as the answer to all things, it is in fact leading you against Him.

True gospel message always passes the test. Hence, those that listen to it also attain a remarkable lifestyle. For God who is working in the message will certainly work in those that heed. Therefore, Peter happily said, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven– things into which angels long to look” (1 Pet. 1:12).

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