Vol.XIV No.X Pg.3
December 1977

How God Changes Men

Dan S. Shipley

The apostle Paul writes of a most remarkable change having taken place in the lives of certain Romans. Whereas they were once the servants of sin, they had now become the servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:17,18). The word he uses to describe this radical alteration of character is "transformed" (Rom. 12:2). It comes from the Greek word (METAMORPH00) from which we get our "metamorphosis", a term used in biology to denote a change in form, structure, or function as a result of development. Such is the process by which the ugly caterpillar develops into the beautiful butterfly. Spiritually, as used by Paul, it denotes the extraordinary change from sinner to saint. Its inward nature is seen in its means of achievement: "by the renewing of your mind". Here is the starting place for true "newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Perhaps we need to be reminded that making Christians begins with changing the mind, not externals! Conversion is more than getting the sinner OUT of false religion, OUT of beer halls or OUT of bad company. It is more than getting the sinner IN Bible classes, IN worship services, or even IN the baptistry! If all of these things are done without really changing the sinner's mind, he is not IN Christ; he HAS NOT been converted! Now, externals are important, to be sure, but as the EFFECT of conversion; as the fruit of genuine repentance (Matt. 4:8). Repentance IS a change of mind (see Vine's); an inward change with outward effects, as with the Romans. They quit doing wrong in favor of doing right as the result of changing their minds. BUT WHAT CAUSED THEM (OR ANY SINNERS) TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS? What the Romans did was the result of what they LEARNED! Like the Ephesians (Eph. 4:17), they were darkened in their understanding because of ignorance: However, with the teaching they received (Rom. 6:17), their understanding was enlightened and when it was, they "became obedient from the heart." They were taught of God. When they heard and learned from the Father, they came unto Christ, just as lie said they would (Jn. 6:44,45). Thus, knowledge of truth made them free (Jn. 8:32). Paul Says plainly that these Romans were "made free from sin" in obedience to teaching. Such is the happy effect when good hearts receive the good news.

But the conversion of the Romans was not different from others recorded in the N. T. Without exception, what the converts DID, s the result of what they HEARD AND LEARNED. Take the Pentecostians, for instance (.Acts 2). "Now when they HEARD this..." (v. 37) they asked what they should do. Peter instructs them and "They that then RECEIVED HIS WORD were baptized" (v. 41) and, as Christ has promised (Mk. 16:16), were saved. Like the Romans, they were made free from sin in obedience to teaching. So were the Samaritans who, after hearing and believing the gospel preached by Philip, were baptized into Christ (Acts 8:12). Restudy the conversion of the Ethiopian, Cornelius and the jailor (Acts 8,10). All have in common the hearing and learning of words whereby they might be saved (Acts 11:14). Those who would seek salvation in some other way do so in vain. Only the gospel can change the vile sinner into a beautiful saint!