Read: Jeremiah 13:23; Acts 9:19-31; 1 Peter 1:23-25
Some of the words we who belong to Jesus use are very grand, so much so that what they mean can be hard to share with others. For instance, when we speak of being born again, John 3:3, what picture could we use to let others know what we are talking about when we use those words? I would like to share an example from the garden that paints a picture for me.
Several years ago, my husband bought a plant from one of our local stores. The label said it was cantaloupe. Yum! that is my favorite melon, and from the time that plant was in the ground, I envisioned picking ripe fruit right off the vine. However, it wasn't long before we noticed something strange. The vines that grew looked odd. Not like cantaloupe vines at all. Was it a different kind of cantaloupe? As the fruit began to slowly develop, we had our answer. Rats! It wasn't cantaloupe my heart's desire was "squashed." Literally so, since the plant turned out to be not melon at all but squash. It was mislabeled, and the truth was that nothing we could do could turn that squash into a cantaloupe. We could water it and care for its every need. We could tell it that its label said it was melon, but nothing anyone could do could ever turn that squash into a cantaloupe.
As I thought about this little incident, I remembered Jeremiah 13:23 that speaks of two other things that cannot change. An Ethiopian wasn't able to change his skin color, nor was a leopard able to remove or change its spots. Of course not. Those things we can see are part of the DNA that makes people and animals and even plants look the way they will look and have the characteristics that are given to them. God used those pictures to tell His people that they too had become so accustomed to their sin that they would not change.
Yet, praise God, total change is possible when we yield to God Who is able to give people a new birth, which gives them a new heart to serve and please Him, Ezekiel 36:26. The scriptures tell us that when we ask God to make us new that He does something miraculous on our behalf. He makes us new, giving us new desires and brand-new strength, 2 Corinthians 5:17. Peter says we are given this new birth with incorruptible seed, 1 Peter 1:23-25. God changes our spiritual DNA. Something only He can do.
Back to the squash plant. The only way I could have had melons on that plant would have been if I had attached them to the vines from the outside. There was nothing I could do to make that plant into a melon bearer.
In Acts 9, we meet Saul. A man bent on a mission, and everything he was doing was in opposition to Jesus' followers. Could such a man change? We know the answer is yes, but only God was able to do it. Is it any wonder that when Saul became a new creation that many believers were skeptical? They probably thought that he was like a squash plant that had been decorated on the outside with melons. I can understand why they were afraid that the change they saw wasn't the real thing. If what he said was a ruse, their lives were in danger. Yet, God had done for Saul what He has done for each of us who belong to Jesus. He has changed our leopard spots. He has done a supernatural work on our behalf, having changed us, beginning on the inside.
Ephesians 2:1-9 says this in a slightly different and wondrous way. God has made alive those of us who were dead in our sins and transgressions. We had nothing to do with His precious work, except to receive His gift, Ephesians 2:8-9. Another miraculous picture the scriptures give us of being made new is that He opens our blind eyes so we can see Him. Again, something only the precious Lord and Savior can do. Was it amazing when Jesus opened the eyes of the man born blind, John 9? Oh yes. Eyes that never had seen light, color or faces instantly saw everything. With that in mind, how miraculous was it that God gave Saul brand new eyes that could see Jesus for Who He truly was. In 2 Corinthians 4:6, Paul reminds us that God opening our eyes is as wondrous as His creation of light. Again, something that only God can do.
What can we say about our new birth? It is as impossible as watching a squash plant produce melons; but praise God. What is impossible with man is possible with God. Jesus said that when His disciples asked Him who could be saved, Matthew 19:25-26.