Scientists, politicians, and psychologists, and most all of society, have explanations for human behavior. They explain both what is considered normal and deviant. Talk show hosts give their “spin” on why people behave certain ways, offering a myriad of cures for the ills of human society. But how can you explain the immediate, radical and permanent changes that take place in some people. I am a man, so I will use one of us as an example, but the following behavior could be true of anyone, regardless of gender. In describing this person prior to the radical change, I make no reference to national origin, religion, race, or social standing. I merely use a human illustration.
The man to which I refer has a sordid and wicked past with a host of vices. As a child he disrespected his parents, was rebellious and a habitual liar. He stole from his siblings and parents, used profane language and cheated in school. He began smoking at an early age and drank alcohol during his teenage years. He was a bully with a quick temper and would fight constantly. He stayed in trouble in school and with law enforcement. He had no regard for the laws of the land, constantly getting traffic citations and having car accidents. He was known to shoplift and loved looking at pornographic material. This person broke into a house and vandalized it, then robbed the elderly couple of most of their treasured heirlooms, as well as cash. He once snatched an old lady’s purse, knocked her down and fled the parking lot. In his late teens he began to experiment with drugs. Later he became a heavy user, and was dependent mainly on crack cocaine, and sometimes heroin.
He married a young lady who loved him dearly and hoped he would someday change his lifestyle. The honeymoon was short-lived and he soon began to be an abusive husband. His unchecked temper would cause him to unleash his anger on his wife. She would become a human punching bag. The beatings were constant. He was unfaithful to her during the first year of the marriage. Adultery became a way of life for him. She did not plan to become pregnant, and was horrified at the thought of bringing a baby into this lifestyle. However, she did get pregnant, and a beautiful, healthy little girl was born. For a time, her dad was loving and proud, but his behavior toward the baby quickly changed. He was harsh and impatient, showing little affection toward his daughter, and spent less and less time with her. He had drugs to buy, strip bars to frequent and women to seduce. He became a masterful gambler to help support his drug habit. He would do anything he had to do in order to get his daily fix of drugs, even murder. His drug addiction also led him into money laundering and racketeering. He continued to drink heavily, and He could not keep a job because of his lifestyle of debauchery.
As the man’s daughter began to near the teenage years, she was blossoming into an charming young girl. Her father, with lust in his heart, began to do the unthinkable. He began to sacrifice his own daughter’s innocence and purity, on the altar of his lust and perversion. A look here, a touch there, and before long he was sexually molesting his precious young daughter. He threatened to kill her and her mom if she told anyone. The young girl’s life was scarred forever. She suffered untold emotional damage as a result of her father violating her. Despite all the deviant behavior of this man, the family unit managed to remain intact.
As the man slowly began to acknowledge his dilemma, he sought help. He tried counseling, 12-step programs, and even checked himself into a voluntary drug/alcohol treatment program, at a hospital chemical dependency unit. He would seem to change his behavior for a short time, but he invariably reverted back to his old lifestyle. Each relapse only put him deeper into bondage. Nothing seemed to work. He was not a changed man, he only reformed for a brief period of time, but the old man was still very much in charge.
The man suffered continually from depression and other debilitating emotional breakdowns. One day as he sat on a park bench, contemplating suicide, and old high school classmate recognized him. After a short reunion, the friend could clearly see the shape his old friend was in. They talked a long time and each went their separate ways. The man came home as his wife was coming in from a hard day at work. His daughter sat staring into space. He informed them both he was going out for a while and back later on that night. He cleaned up and got dressed. As he walked to the front door, he said, “don’t worry about me, I’ll be back soon.”
About four hours later he walked back into the front door of his house a different man. He had a totally different look about him, and a peaceful calm radiated from his face. He was soft-spoken and kind in his demeanor. It was as though he had a metamorphosis and had been transformed into a completely different man. He sat down on the couch and gently took his wife’s hand and tearfully told her how sorry he was for what he had put her through. He said “I am so sorry, please forgive me. I have been wrong for so long. I am sorry for every time I hurt you, disappointed you and broke your heart. I will never, ever do it again.” She was very skeptical and hesitated to respond. But he seemed to be so different!
He gently rubbed her hand and leaned forward to embrace her with hot tears streaming down his face. Tears were something she had rarely seen. She could not believe what she was seeing and hearing. They embraced as he slid down onto the floor, to his knees. His teenage daughter looked at her father with fear and suspicion, as he turned toward her. He motioned with open arms for her to come near. Cynical, yet amazed at what she was seeing, she slowly came to her father’s side.
Still on both knees, he began to weep uncontrollably. Then he called her name and said, “honey, I first want to say how sorry I am for all the times I hurt you. I love you more than words can express; more than I ever imagined a father could love his child. I beg you to please find it in your heart to forgive me and let us begin again. Your daddy is different now. I am not the man that left this house four hours ago. I love you and I am so sorry.” The man appeared to be a changed man, but as the old adage puts it . . . time would tell.
Time did attest to the validity of his change. It has been twenty-six years since that night, and he has grown in his love and compassion toward his family and everyone he met. So how do you explain this radical and immediate change? The man has not reverted back to the old lifestyle even once. He has been a model husband, a hard worker and a loving, dedicated father. He is the most wonderful, warmhearted and sensitive man you can imagine. He has a wholesome relationship with his daughter now, and adores his two grandchildren. He spends every moment he can with them. He helps his neighbors and is kind to everyone he meets. In twenty-six years he has rarely even raised his voice, much less lost his temper, or use a vulgar word, not once! He has never touched another drop of alcohol since that night, in fact he hates the thought of it. He detests pornography and has never desired even once to take drugs again!
He is now full of love and compassion, where he used to be full of hate. He now loves every race; he used to be prejudiced and full of racism. He hasn’t broken into anyone’s home in twenty-six years. He does not gamble his money away any more. He is humble now, but he used to be proud and arrogant. He is generous now where he used to be greedy and selfish. He laughs and is full of joy, but he once was sad and miserable. He now enjoys life and looks forward to each new day. Before that night twenty-six years ago, he dreaded to wake up everyday. Many days he hoped he would not wake up. He had nothing to live for, now he lives life to its fullest, enjoying every moment of every day.
How do you explain this transformation from a wicked, vile man, to a loving, compassionate gentleman? Religion? No. More education? Not at all. Was it a change of environment? No, this change occurred not far from his own home. Reformation? No. Drug or alcohol treatment programs? No, they did not work. Was it social clubs, civic organizations, lodges or fraternities? No, it couldn’t not have been that, for he did not belong to any? Was it community work? No he did none. How then do you explain this amazing transformation of this man?
There is no secular or social explanation. There is no political answer. This man’s transformation came not from religion, nor reformation, but from a relationship. Yes, he had an old-fashioned salvation experience with Jesus Christ the son of God. You see his high school friend invited him to a little church where there was meeting in progress that the church calls a ‘revival’. This is where usually a visiting preacher comes in for a week or so, and preaches from the Bible in hopes of stirring or reviving the local congregation. They hope to be challenged and changed in their commitments to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his church. Often as believers are revived, unsaved, lost unbelievers are introduced to Jesus and his saving grace. This is exactly what brought about such an extraordinary change in this man’s life. He was born again of the Spirit of God. As the evangelist preached the gospel, he was convicted of his sins by the Holy Spirit, and realized his need of salvation. Understanding he could not save himself, he forsook his sins and called upon Jesus, the only one that could set him free from all the bondage and pain of his former lifestyle. It happened instantly, eternally, with many clear manifestations.
How do you know what happened to him was real? Look at his changed life. Ask the ones who lived with him before and after his experience with God. The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (1 Corinthians 5:17). You can tell a tree by the fruit it bears. The man’s heart changed, along with his desires, language, priorities and motives. His behavior changed when his beliefs changed. Everything about his life changed in a moment of time. There is not a political, sociological, secular, or educational endeavor that can make such a change. A very famous public figure in our nation once stated that is far more economical to send a person to college than to house them in prison. But yet the problem of the heart is not addressed. College graduates still steal, rob and rape. They are convicted of every conceivable crime. Education alone does not change the human heart. Neither can government handouts or social programs. Only Jesus Christ can change a human heart.
It has been said that people do what they do, because they are what they are. The Bible declares that we are sinners, and are in need of a Savior. Everything else has failed in America and around the world. Why do people not let God have a shot at fixing their shattered lives? I am firmly convinced the heart of the human problem is the problem with the human heart. The reason there is a crime problem in America is because there is a heart problem in America. I do not believe that changes in labels, words, flags or creeds will make a difference. Until the hearts of people change, this nation or world will not be changed.
When a person’s heart is changed, that person will no longer break into your house and steal your possessions. People would no longer kill each other, nor would they riot, protest and burn our cities. Vandalism and looting would cease if hearts were changed. Bribery and extortion would stop. Spousal and child abuse would stop, if hearts were changed. Corruption in politics would cease if hearts were changed. Gangs would be extinct. Violence, murder and school shootings would stop. The killing of millions of innocent babies would stop if hearts were changed. Guns would only be needed and used for hunting or competitive shooting matches, not personal protection. If hearts were changed, there would be no rape, incest, kidnaping, car theft, shoplifting, or burglary. The peddlers of pornography would be defunct. There would be no need to build more prisons. Law enforcement would have very little to do, and their jobs would be much safer. Teachers could once again teach effectively if little children came to school with respect for authority instilled in their hearts.
The old-timers used to say, “what is in the well comes up in the bucket.” America is reaping the consequences of a people who see no need of God in their lives. Atheists, Satanists, humanists and other Christ-rejecting entities, strut and boast of not needing a ‘god’ in their life. However it is a foolish person who says, there is no God, or “no, God.” This writer may not have much materially, nor be much in the eyes of socialites. I have no claims to perfection, except to my position in Jesus Christ. But the same thing that happened to the man in this story, happened to me as a seventeen year-old boy. I was born again, and received a new heart on a Sunday night in the Fall of 1971. I have not been all I could have been, nor should have been, but I have never been the same since the day Jesus saved my wretched soul.
I do not have religion, but I have a relationship. This world has seen enough religion. It needs to see people whose lives have been changed by the power of the blood that Jesus shed on an old rugged cross, called Calvary. I cannot explain it all, nor do I understand it all. But I am like the man who was born blind, and received his sight again. All I know is this, I used to be blind, and now I can see. Praise His holy name. Hallelujah what a Savior!
Are you tired of trying to be something you are not? Are you tired of reforming your life only to revert back to the same old way of living? Are you tired of lying your head on the pillow at night without any real peace and happiness? Is your life wrapped up in the here and now? Do you ever look beyond this short life to what lies ahead? Do you ever wonder what will happen to you, five seconds after your heart stops beating, and your lungs exhale their last breath? Where will you spend eternity? There are only two destinies, heaven or hell. Where you spend eternity depends on what you decide about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and his offer of salvation. He died, was buried and rose again to make it possible for you to have this heart change, that the man in the story and millions more have experienced.
If you know the Spirit of God is convicting (troubling) your heart about your sins, and if you will repent (be remorseful, change your mind about sin) and turn to God, and believe, by faith, in His son Jesus, you will be saved, and heaven will be your home for all eternity. You will experience peace and joy like you have never known. You will never be the same again.