Preface: Christ’s sacrifice offers us liberty, forgiveness, and the opportunity for restoration to humanity’s original estate.
Arthur stepped off the bus in Kingston, Ontario, blending into the crowd, looking like everyone else. One would think he was perhaps a salesman or a grandfather coming to visit his family. But he was not like everybody else. He’d just been released from prison, where he’d been since he was 11. Now he was 53.
No prison seemed capable of breaking Arthur’s spirit or reforming his behavior. Of the 42 years in prison, 24 had been spent in solitary confinement, 17 months on death row, and 31 months on Devil’s Island, chained by his neck like an animal, confined to a 5 x 7 foot cell. He was known for the riots he started, for breaking a guard’s arm, another’s collar bone, and being responsible for the death of the sheriff. In one prison, he stole 40 pounds of cyanide with the intention of poisoning the entire prison staff.
All who knew him had lost all hope for him. One day, a preacher who was accompanied by his 14-year-old son Tim, came to visit the inmates. While following his father down the row of cells, for some unexplainable reason, Tim paused by Arthur’s cell to smile and wink. Arthur called Tim back to the cell and began to verbally abuse him, calling him everything he could think of. Tim broke down in tears, but he stood his ground. Finally he simply said to Arthur, “I love you.”
For the next seven years, Tim regularly wrote to Arthur and prayed for him until Arthur finally felt the love of Tim and the love of God. Arthur said later, “That was the first time in all of my life anyone had ever told me that. Every letter was stained with his tears. I couldn’t take it anymore. I got on my knees and came to the Lord.”
It was a miracle. A hate-filled, violent heart was transformed into a heart of love and grace.
So here he was, stepping off the bus, stepping into the world. He’d been released from prison, released from the power of sin. He was now a changed man, a new creature. His body was old, he was dying of cancer; but he was new and alive in Christ. He now had a purpose. He now had a story to tell. He had found the Power to change. He had found the grace of God.
Acknowledge the Power to change. The power to change is found on the cross. Knowing the story of the cross should do more than merely make you a good Bible student. There’s more to the cross than its place in history. The personal application of the cross in your life gives you access to a power that defies all other power. On the cross, Jesus overcame sin for you. Acknowledge the awesome power of His death! And accept the free gift of salvation.
Claim the Power to change. The power to change is yours for the asking. No trick questions. No obstacle course. There are only two prerequisites: You must believe in the Power to change and you must recognize your need for the Power. That’s it. It is yours. Why wait? Claim it today! And see the difference it can make in your life.
Share the Power to change. Good news is to be shared. The bubbling joyousness cannot be contained in your heart. The sheer force of the Power will explode through you for all to see. Because of the new creature you now are, doors will open, opportunities will come your way—opportunities to tell the world of the Power that can also be theirs. Only by beholding Christ on the cross can you be changed. When you accept God’s free gift of salvation, the Power to change, you will begin a catalytic reaction! When others see you transformed, reflecting the Christ who rules your heart, they will want to know more.
“By beholding we are to become changed; and as we meditate upon the perfections of the divine Model, we shall desire to become wholly transformed, and renewed in the image of His purity. It is by faith in the Son of God that transformation takes place in the character, and the child of wrath becomes the child of God. He passes from death unto life; he becomes spiritual and discerns spiritual things. The wisdom of God enlightens his mind, and he beholds wondrous things out of His law. As a man is converted by the truth, the work of transformation of character goes on. He has an increased measure of understanding. In becoming a man of obedience to God, he has the mind of Christ, and the will of God becomes his will.”*
1. How does being united with Christ through His death change your relationship to sin?
2. In what practical sense is sin no longer your master even though you may still commit specific sins?
* Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Book 1, p. 338.