Being changed into the image of Jesus
A miracle can happen to you, like the transformation that
happens when a worm is transformed into a butterfly
(2 Corinthians 3:18).
You may now be tempted to say, "What’s the use? If I can’t stop
the operation of God’s laws which are impelling me to do what I
don’t want to do, I might as well give up." But there is a way to
obey the Lord. You need to understand what it means to be a
partaker of the divine nature, and how to accomplish that; because
when you become a partaker, you will be able to do the good you
want to do, and won’t do what you hate. After all, Jesus didn’t
struggle as we do.
Let me give another example. Another huge truck is speeding
down the highway. A traffic jam lies ahead, and the truck driver
needs to stop the truck quickly. Does he open the door and drag
his foot on the pavement to stop the truck? Of course not. He
doesn’t have within himself the power to stop the truck. What he
does do is to decide to press the brake pedal, and then to act by
actually pressing it. This activates a powerful brake system, which
has been provided for just such a purpose, and the truck comes to
a stop. The driver didn’t stop the truck by his own power, but he
did need to do the following:
• Recognize the problem.
• Believe in the brake system.
• Decide to activate the system.
• Act by physically pushing the brake pedal.
That was his job as the driver. If he didn't act, there would be a
mess. In this same way, in spiritual matters, we have to:
• Recognize the problem.
• Believe in the powerful provision Jesus has given us to
operation of God's laws against us.
• Use our willpower to decide to activate that provision.
• Act by praying.
As you can see, our willpower does have a part to play in our being
set free, but it is not the force or power that brings it about.
God has provided a “system” that has sufficient power to stop the
operation of God’s laws that are bringing destruction, frustration,
and failure into our life. However, before we can activate it, we first
understand more about how God’s laws cause us to do the things
that we hate.
When God created the spiritual realm, there were two possible
ways for a person to exist. If we align our lives with what brings
good things (we "obey the Law"), we receive good consequences
(blessings). When Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden in
obedience to God, life was good
Similarly, if we align our lives with what brings bad things (we
"disobey the Law"), we experience bad consequences.
Our “God-Wannabe” Arrives
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil, bad things resulted.
Satan’s temptation was:
“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes
will be opened and you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5, red
When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, there was planted in
mankind a tendency to want to take God’s place. This impulse is
exactly what got Satan kicked out of heaven.
This tendency to want to take God’s place and to run our own lives
still exists in all of humanity, because we are descendants of Adam
The New Testament refers to this tendency as our “flesh.”
However, the term “flesh” has a wide range of meaning, sometimes
including things that are not “bad,” such as our physical body.
Therefore, for the sake of clarity,
I am going to coin the term “God-wannabe” to refer to this
tendency in us to take God’s place.
We take God’s place whenever we judge another.
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not,
and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will
be forgiven (Luke 6:37).
God is the only one who has a right to judge; and so when we
judge another, we plant a “bad root” inside ourselves. This is
referred to as a “root of bitterness” in Hebrews 12:15.
Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of
God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause
trouble, and by this many become defiled;
Blessings always flow when we are aligned with God’s laws. All of
us are reaping blessings in certain areas of our life. We don't want
the blessings to stop. We want more of them. As we align
ourselves with the way the spiritual realm is constructed for
blessings, we receive blessings. Therefore it is important for us to
know how the spiritual realm works for blessing so that we can
receive more good.
What is called “sin” is doing something that will cause the spiritual
realm to bring about bad consequences. This is why God hates
sin: it brings destruction to the children who He loves.
We therefore need to understand how the spiritual realm works
against us when we sin, so that we can stop the bad things from
continuing to happen
in our lives.
When we sin, we set in motion God’s laws against us. We will
surely reap what we sow. We don’t sow corn and reap cotton. We
don’t sow sin and reap blessings. We sow sin and reap bad
consequences. There are, of course, many ways that we can sin,
and they all have consequences.
The most destructive consequences are the sinful behaviors that
we don’t want to do. We are impelled to do them by the operation
of God’s law; and as a result, our willpower is completely unable to
free us from this bondage. Paul reveals the answer to our bondage
to these consequences when he writes:
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from
this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ
our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25).
The System That Has Enough Power
For us to have victory over the destruction, frustration, pain, and
failure in our life, God had to provide a system that had sufficient
power. In fact, for us to be set free requires a miracle!
Jesus was sent by the Father to provide a way out for us. He came
to take away our sins. His blood is the only cure for sin, and sin is
what is causing us to do the things we hate. When we pray, as we
repent, forgive, and are forgiven, Jesus pays off our debt and
takes it upon Himself. The negative consequences resulting from
the sin will continue into eternity, but Jesus will take over bearing
the weight of that, and we are set free. For us, in regard to this
particular sin, it is as though we had never committed it. The bad
behavior going on in our life as a consequence of our sin ceases to
Even though Jesus paid the penalty for our sin when He died on
the cross 2,000 years ago, we need to do something to bring the
benefits of that provision into our lives. He has offered to pay our
debt for us, but we need to accept it in a specific circumstance. We
need to apply this provision purposefully to a particular sin for it to
have an effect. Only when we take specific action (we pray to
repent, forgive, and be forgiven), do we benefit from the provision
He has already made for forgiveness of our sins. In my previous
example, the truck driver had to press the brake pedal to engage
the powerful brake system built into the truck.
Whenever I mention “applying the blood of Jesus,” I will be Suppose some generous person placed $1,000 in my checking
referring to the process of repenting, forgiving, being
forgiven, having the “bad root” removed, and inviting Jesus
to come in and fill that place with His spirit.
account. When I write a check, I benefit from the money. As long
as I don't know about the money being there, or as long as I don't
believe it is there, or as long as I don't decide to make a withdrawal
and act by writing a check on that account, this money is of no
benefit to me. It could remain unused in my account until the day I
die. So it is with the gift God gave us in the sacrifice of Jesus. We
need to know that the provision is there. We also need to know
how to apply it to our real life struggles, and we need to act.
“Bad Roots” and “Bad Fruit”
When we sin and plant an area of wounding in our heart, the sin
dwelling in that area can be called a "bad root." By their very
nature, “bad roots” produce "bad fruit," whereas "good roots"
produce "good fruit."
"Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad
tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. A good tree cannot
bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. . .
Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew
The bad things that persist in our lives, including bad behavior, are
"bad fruit" from a "bad root." There is no “bad fruit” without a “bad
root” being present. A “bad root” always produces “bad fruit,” and
a “good root” always produces “good fruit.” The root produces
fruit after its own kind. There are no exceptions. Bad behavior
never comes from a “good root,” and good behavior never springs
from a “bad root.”
“Bad fruit” is compulsive, rigid, extreme, and beyond our
There Are Two Ways To Stop Bad Behavior
When we recognize undesirable behavior, we have probably
thought there was only one way of stopping it – with our
willpower. But it should now
be clear that there are two ways, because there are two possible
sources of the bad behavior: the psychological realm and the
spiritual realm. To stop the undesirable behavior we need to use
the "tool" that is effectual in that particular realm.
If we have "tried" (decided with our intellect) to change our
behavior by using our willpower (psychological realm), but the bad
behavior (“bad fruit”) has continued, we have simply been using
the wrong "tool." Since our willpower was ineffective, we now
know we are dealing with a spiritual problem and we need to use
the appropriate tool - the blood of Jesus. In the past we may have
thought the only option available was our willpower.
Our willpower and intellect are not trash, nor are they useless.
They are gifts that God gave to us to do certain things. But our
willpower’s area of authority is in the psychological realm, not the
spiritual realm. Both a watchmaker's screwdriver and a
sledgehammer have a purpose. One would not be very successful
in splitting wood with a watchmaker's screwdriver, nor be very
successful in repairing a watch with a sledgehammer. We need to
use the right tool for the job at hand.
Undesirable behaviors that have their source in the spiritual realm
are rigid, compelling, and powerful; and they resist our efforts to
overcome them. We are stuck, are at their mercy, and feel
Track Backward From-Fruit-To-Root
Once you realize that your willpower is impotent to stop certain bad
behavior, you can recognize that you are dealing with a spiritual
problem in your life (the bad behavior is “bad fruit”). Then you
must find the source (the “bad root”). You must track backward
from the “bad fruit” to the “bad root” (from the behavior to the
The following story illustrates how a person's bad behavior is
connected to sin. Mike had an angry father. When Mike was a little
boy, his father sinned against Mike by abusing him verbally and
physically. Mike hated the abuse and judged his father for it.
Mike's father used to lose his temper and beat Mike; and much to
his dismay, as an adult he found himself losing his temper and
beating his own son, just like his father did to him. Mike hates the
sinful behavior he is impelled to do, but he can't stop it, no matter
how hard he tries.
In truth, he is being powerfully impelled to do these sinful things
by the operation of God's law. He has a “bad root” (the Bitter Root
Judgment he made as a little boy) that is producing the “bad fruit”
(the present sinful behavior that he hates).
The Cure: Once You Identify The “Bad
Root,” You Need To Pray
Once you identify the “bad root,” you need to pray about it. There
is no other cure. Mike has judged his father; and the only way to
remove the “bad root” is to forgive his father and be forgiven by
Without prayer, (repenting, forgiving, and being forgiven) there is
no forgiveness of sin.
This is how the unchangeable laws of the spiritual realm work: if
we judge (plant a “bad root” of sin inside ourselves), we will suffer
because of the operation of God’s spiritual laws which always
bring negative consequences when we sin (we find ourselves
producing “bad fruit”).
However, when we forgive, we are forgiven; and the “bad root” is
removed and Jesus fills that place with His Spirit. Now we have a
“good root” inside ourselves.
When the “bad root” is gone, a bad tree no longer is present to
produce the “bad fruit.” An apple tree can illustrate this principle.
An apple tree bears apples. If we pick the fruit off an apple tree,
apples will grow back. The tree will not replace the apples we
picked with peaches, but with more apples. When we see an apple,
we know that it came from an apple tree, not a peach tree. When
the apple tree is removed, there are no more apples produced.
When the “bad root” is gone, a bad tree no longer exists to
produce the “bad fruit.”
To stop the bad cycle, the blood of Jesus needs to be applied to
the root rather than just to the fruit.
Please be aware that once our heart has been cleansed by Jesus,
and the reaping in the spiritual realm has been stopped, there may
still be some residual consequences in the world around us from
our previous sins. For instance, Mike's own children will likely still
be angry with him and will have judged him for his past abusive
behavior towards them. They are therefore wounded and will need
to be healed by Jesus. In addition, his past abusive behavior may
have led his wife to divorce him. Then, even though he has been
healed, his family may remain broken.