Transformation Starts With a Choice
by Billy Graham
The 12th chapter of Romans says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (verses 1, 2).
It says be transformed; be changed. That’s what we need today. Among young and old alike, we need a change—a spiritual change, a moral change. God calls on all of us to make a total surrender to His Son Jesus Christ.
If you want a change in your life, if you want forgiveness and peace and joy that you’ve never known before, God demands total surrender. He becomes the Lord and the ruler of your life.
You’re surrendering all the time. When I fly in an airplane and I sit down in the seat, I’m surrendering to that plane. Nothing I can do about it.
I’ve been operated on several times, and I didn’t negotiate with the doctors. As they took the knives out and put the anesthetic in, I put my full trust in those doctors that they were going to do the right thing.
God said, “I know the plans I have for you, … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). That’s what God says. He’s not here to condemn you. He’s here to bless you and love you and take you into His arms and say, “I forgive you. I’ll change your life. And when you die, you will go to Heaven.”
That’s what God is saying, if you will surrender totally and completely. But you can’t hold anything back.
|"Dogwoods in Bloom"|
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
I read that by the time you reach college age you will have seen more than 200,000 television commercials. Can you believe that? Congress debated what influence advertising was having on children’s behavior. The average 21-year-old has seen 10,000 hours of violent programs. No wonder we have shooting in our schools. Our minds get saturated with violence or swearing or sex or whatever it is. A survey found that 77 percent of all allusions to sex on network television involve sex outside of marriage, and that cheapens love.
The Bible says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new” (Ephesians 4:22, 23, NIV). You can be made new.
You see, your mind is more than a computer. In a computer, the programs don’t get stronger the more you use them, but it’s not true with what you see and hear. What is repeated is reinforced in our minds. What we remember influences what we do. The Bible says, “For as [a person thinks] in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). What do you think in your heart? What are you really like down inside?
Television also creates a problem or a dilemma and then in 30 minutes neatly resolves the problem, and the viewer enjoys a feeling of release. But that’s not the way it is in real life. In real life, our problems won’t go away rapidly. We’re conditioned to want things immediately, right now: “I want gratification now. I want my way now.”
The Bible says, “Whatsoever things are true and honest and just and pure and lovely, think on these things” (Cf. Philippians 4:8). Is that what you think about? Good things? Or do you think about things you know are not right?
The Bible says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind”—your mind—“is stayed on You” (Isaiah 26:3). Get your mind on Christ every day, all day long, because the devil is fighting for your soul.
There are two forces at work inside of you. One is satanic, and one is God. Don’t let the devil corrupt your mind. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), the Bible says.
Second, surrender your body. One of the great debates today is who owns the body. Doctors, lawyers, clergy, judges and juries debate the moral, ethical and legal sides of this issue. And the questions surrounding suicide and euthanasia and abortion center on the issues of who owns and controls your body. Who controls your body?
The Bible says if you’re a Christian, your body does not belong to you. It belongs to God. And the Bible also says that it’s God’s temple. Your body is God’s temple, and He dwells in you if you really know Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:16).
Well, you say, “Billy, what do you think about sex?” I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for sex, and you wouldn’t be either. God created sex. He made us sexual human beings, men and women.
(C) Allen Pearson, All Rights Reserved
The scholar Eugene Kennedy wrote that sex is being used for a whole host of reasons for which it was never intended. And that’s true. There’s no such thing as free sex or free love. There’s a price tag of broken relationships and broken hearts and broken bodies and broken families. God created us as sexual beings. But from the beginning, God planned that the full expression of sex is to be within marriage.
What about you? If you have made a mistake in this area, you can ask God to forgive you and change you and give you power to resist temptation. He’ll do it. The Bible says, “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers … will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, NIV). In other words, you can’t go to Heaven unless you get it cleared up. And the only way to get it cleared up is at the cross where the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses from all sin.
Jesus said, “[You] must be born again” (John 3:7). You can start all over with a new life. He’ll forgive all the past and give you power for the future. Your heart can be changed. It’s changed through prayer. It’s changed by reading the Bible. It’s changed by listening to the Holy Spirit.
Everybody is tempted. The devil tempts everybody, every one of us. I’ve been tempted hundreds of times; so have you. Temptation is not sin. It’s when you yield to temptation that it becomes sin. Christ died to give you a new heart and a new desire.
Third, surrender your will. Before Jesus healed or helped people, He would normally say, “Will you? Are you willing?” And I’m asking you, will you surrender to Christ? Will you let Christ dominate your life and be the Lord of your life? Will you? That’s the question He asks. The Scripture says, “Whosoever will, let him come” (see Revelation 22:17).
You say, “Lord, I will receive you into my heart tonight. Forgive me of my past, the things that I’ve done wrong. I want You to give me a new direction in my life. I want You to fill up this empty place in my life.”
Have you ever surrendered yourself unconditionally to Christ? Have you ever given Him your mind and your body and your will? When you come to Christ, that’s just the beginning because you must live for Him. And in living for Him, that means that the dominant feature of your life will be love. Whatever the color of someone’s skin, you love them. You go out of your way to be friends with people of another race. That’s how you love.
I hope that you will say, “I receive Jesus in my heart. I trust Him. I know that I’m going to go to Heaven because of Him. I know my sins are forgiven because of Him, and I’m ready to die for Him.” Will you do that? ©1999 BGEA
Will you surrender to Christ?
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. The Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Devotion reprinted and published with permission of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.