Salvation Means a Changed Way of Thinking and Living

This is the last of three posts centered around how we depend on autopilot settings in heart and mind to help us get through the decisions required by everyday life.

The first post opened the possibility to these underlying settings. We rarely recognize them but without them we could paralyzed by the multitude of options we face daily.

The second post showed how we were made in God’s image but sin has warped the way He created us. Scripture tells us “the wages of sin is death”. Our hearts and minds are made faulty and operate contrary to how God made us.

God offers us a new way to live and it involves a change in our hearts and minds. We have the opportunity to walk away from the destructive programming leading us astray and instead return to God’s design for daily life.

First, let’s continue with the illustration we started in the previous post, using technology terms to help understand our inner workings. Let’s turn from the downward trajectory where we make things worse. Instead, we open the door for God to make changes and return us to Him and His ways.

Clean Install

Because our factory settings and processing code are faulty as a result of sin, and since we have programmed preferences according to our personal wants, to follow our preprogrammed settings will get us into trouble.

The only way to get on God’s track is for a clean install. The Bible calls this salvation, and describes it as the death of our “old man”, our sinful nature or “flesh”. We rise to life as new creations, “born again” in the Spirit.

One solve for many computers facing repeated problems is a clean install of the operating system. This involves reformatting the hard drive, wiping it “clean” of any programming or data, and reinstalling the basic software. I have fixed a few friends’ computers this way.

This is the incredible moment of laying down final authority in our lives and offering to God. By admitting our failures and faulty desires, how we have lived for ourselves instead of God, and made a change of course to live His way and fulfill His plan in our lives.

This is the new life God offers us here on this broken planet. We are still who we are, and we still face the temptations of a fallen world all around. But now we live and walk “in the Spirit”.

We will mess up our lives, but less than when we lived for ourselves. And God holds on to us, is with us, leading us by His Word and the Spirit, forgiving our “missing the mark” sins as we confess them. We have Someone to lean on, find hope in, and share life with, Who “causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose” (Romans 8:28 AMP).

Restoration Protocol

A common question of seekers and doubters is some variation of, “If God is so good, how can He allow so much bad to happen?” Actually, we invited the bad. Adam and Eve started it. Thanks to our fallen nature we choose our own way apart from God’s. Multiply that by several thousand years and countless people and – whammo – here we are today.

One of the amazing elements of God’s plan is how He has more in store for those who trust Him than just a clean install on their hearts. Scripture tells us how He intends to restore humanity and Creation.

Merriam-Webster defines restoration as, “a bringing back to a former position or condition” or “a restoring to an unimpaired or improved condition”.

Maybe you are familiar with restoration projects such old cars or homes, taking them from an unusable or broken down condition to like new, or sometimes better than new condition.

God’s plan is to remake us. It is a transformation, a metamorphosis like how a caterpillar goes into a cocoon and comes out a butterfly. But it will happen in an instant.

It will take only a second—as quickly as an eye blinks—when the last trumpet sounds. The trumpet will sound, and those who have died will be raised to live forever, and we will all be changed. This body that can be destroyed must clothe itself with something that can never be destroyed. And this body that dies must clothe itself with something that can never die. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 NCV)

Some have said we go through this transformation because we become heavenly to live forever in the heavenly realm. But this is not the way forever looks for us as believers.

God will remake the heavens and the earth. What we see and know, this fallen universe, will be replaced with a new, perfect version, as it was intended at the beginning.

And we are not just going to live there, but the saints who live prior to its institution will rule there with Christ. (See 2 Timothy 2:11-12; Revelation 5:9-10)

So let’s connect the dots between posts:

  • Factory Settings ~ God created Adam and Eve, pure and blameless.
  • Beta Testing ~ They chose disobedience for the sake of making more out of themselves. In doing so our perfect design is rewritten to a fallen nature.
  • Adding Preferences ~ Because we are uniquely designed we choose patterns and sins customized to us, multiplying sin and its consequences in our lives.
  • Clean Install ~ God offers a clean slate (forgiveness) and fills it with His heart, Spirit, goals, and motives. We live by faith instead of for ourselves.
  • Restoration Protocol ~ One day God will restore Creation and change His followers from mortal to immortal, perishable to imperishable. We will reign with Him for eternity.

The First Choice

The key at this point is to start living from the “clean install” in our lives. This is the place we live today.

  • We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Our hearts have been changed from stone to soft and pliable (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
  • The Word of God changes our minds (Ephesians 5:26)
  • God’s Holy Spirit guides and empowers us (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

There is one important distinction between how we use our computers and smart devices versus how we live this new life. Our devices do what we tell them. They don’t have a choice. Even when they are infected with viruses they are only fulfilling their programming.

We have a choice. Every day we have the option to walk towards God and His ways or away from them. When we choose selfish, worldly, sinful paths, paths of our own design to fulfill our own desires, we choose to walk away from God. Even though we don’t think it is blatant is disregard for Him, when it is anything but His path, it is a movement away.

If we really want to make good decisions, to live as those who are wise and not fools, we must embrace God’s Word and live from it. Not just hear or admire the Word, but allow to truly guide us and direct our paths.

This is the first choice we have to make to have a different life. It is also one of the hardest tasks we have on this earth because it is the opposite of our natural tendencies. Even Paul confessed:

I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. (Romans 7:18-20 MSG)