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Is It Possible to Change Ourselves?

We like the idea of change, of starting over again, of becoming someone different than we are. Sometimes, we move to a new place, thinking we can escape our problems. Sometimes, we think if we had some new friends or get married that life will be better. Then we think if only we had kids, things would be different.

Others think a change in their appearance will do it. A survey revealed that 80 percent of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance. And research has also shown that the more time people spend consuming media, the more unhappy they are with their bodies. They think that if they could look like someone in a magazine, it would meet the deepest needs of their lives.

If you think you would be happier if you were really handsome or strikingly beautiful, consider this statement from actress Halle Berry: “Being thought of as a beautiful woman has spared me nothing in life. No heartache, no trouble. Love has been difficult. Beauty is essentially meaningless, and it is always transitory.”

A professor of sociology said, “The demand for instant identity transformation has never been so pervasive. People want change, and they want it instantly. From fame to the instant thrills of Botox or liposuction, the capacity to reinvent ourselves has become fundamental.”

But can we really reinvent ourselves? Can we really change? Here is the answer: No. You cannot change who you are on the inside. You can change your appearance. You can change your location. You can change your relationships. But you can’t change yourself any more than a drowning person can save himself.

Sometimes, it is said the answer is within, but the reality is the problem is within. And that problem inside of you and inside of me is called sin. We have all sinned. And we can’t change our essential nature. The Bible says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT) There is only one person who can change the human heart, and that is God. God can change your life. It is possible.

There is a story in the Bible about a woman who got caught committing adultery. Some religious leaders found her and decided she ought to be executed for this. We don’t know what happened to the man she was with, but apparently he walked away free. But they brought this woman to Jesus and threw her down at His feet. Now, they didn’t really care about this woman. What they really were trying to do was to trap Jesus. They wanted to know what He would do.

They said to Him, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (John 8:4-5) Now, Jesus was on the horns of a dilemma here. If He said, “Stone her,” He would have been justified, technically, but that would have been pretty harsh. If He said, “Let her go,” then He would have been seen as being too lenient.

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Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, an author of more than 70 books, and an evangelist leading Harvest America, a live nationwide event streamed to thousands of host locations. Read more at Harvest.org.