Several months ago, on Sunday nights I preached on the life & ministry of Moses from Exodus, and I have been used a book to supplement my sermons entitled, Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry by Mike Wilkerson. This book has been a very helpful book to me personally and I hope it has been a help to those attending on Sunday nights.
One Sunday night’s sermon was entitled, “The Covenant-Keeping God: Our Only Lasting Hope for Change.” The gist of that message was as follows: Israel had promised to follow God and obey His commandments multiple times throughout the book of Exodus. However, each time they promised or saw God deliver them, shortly thereafter their faith in God and faithfulness to God failed. They wound up becoming enamored with false gods—gods that they could see and feel—the golden calf described in Exodus 32.
Author Mike Wilkerson states:
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation. You’ve sinned, repented, and promised to obey. And then you do it again. You wonder, “will I ever change?” The desperate heart that longs to be free from the bondage to sin needs some hope to hold onto. It needs some reassurance for the times when progress is painfully slow—or even moves backward… The key is “where” do you place your hope? Too often, we set ourselves up for disappointment by hoping in all the wrong things.
Sometimes we place our hope squarely upon ourselves to keep believing and having faith. Did you know that biblically speaking this is wrong? This is wrong because the Bible never tells you to have faith in yourself. The world will tell you this, but the Bible teaches a far different message. The Bible teaches you to have faith in God to keep His promises towards you.
One of the reasons the Israelites throughout the Old Testament continued failing in their faith is because they had no power within themselves to keep believing and keep obeying. God’s people continued to think they knew better than God, and so they worshipped idols, cried out for a king to reign over them (Saul) and remained disobedient to the point that they wound up in captivity in Assyria and Babylon.
This was their history. Yet, God told them that there would come a time when all of this would change. In Ezekiel 36, God says the following:
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
After Jesus came, lived the perfect life that we could never live, died for our sins, and rose from the dead, He sent His Holy Spirit to live within our hearts, giving us new hearts that want to obey God and be pleasing to Him. The New Testament teaches us now that it is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). God no longer dwells outside of His people, giving them instructions with no power to obey. Because of Jesus and the promised Holy Spirit, God now lives inside of our hearts guaranteeing that we will be obedient to Him and will want to be obedient to Him.
It is Christ in you that is the hope of your glory (salvation). That is why the title of the message was: “The Covenant-Keeping God: Our Only Lasting Hope for Change.” God has promised you through Jesus that He is going to change your heart, though the progress may seem very slow or seems like you are going backwards. Yet, He who never changes will not go back on His word.
Therefore, stop trusting yourself and in your ability to please God by your goodness or your promises. If you have been born again by the Spirit of God, trust that it is Jesus in you who has promised to NEVER stop working in your heart—that it is He that is truly our only lasting hope for change.