Written by: John Woodward
Article source: JOY! Magazine

A radical change of personal perspective has been coined “a paradigm shift”. Leadership consultant, Steven Covey, explains this concept: “The term paradigm shift was introduced by Thomas Kuhn in his highly influential landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn shows how almost every significant break-through in the field of scientific endeavour is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms. For Ptolemy, the great Egyptian astronomer, the earth was the centre of the universe. But Copernicus created a paradigm shift, and a great deal of resistance and persecution as well, by placing the sun at the centre. Suddenly, everything took on a different interpretation…

Seeing the world differently
“Whether they are instantaneous or developmental, paradigm shifts move us from one way of seeing the world to another. And those shifts create powerful change… The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, (and) test them against reality.”

How do you view the Christian life?
If your perspective has been distorted by tradition, rejection, or legalism, you’re in need of a biblical “paradigm shift”. A grace awakening would include these changes of perspective:

• Resources for living: Self-effort shifts to empowerment by the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:3).
• Perception of personal identity: Feelings/achievements-based identity shifts to a spiritual/Christ-centred identity (Eph 2:6,10).
• Acceptance by God: Performance-based acceptance shifts to grace-based acceptance (Eph 1:6).
• Work: “Doing in order to be” shifts to “being in order to do” (Col 2:6).
• Self-worth: Self-worth based on worldly values shifts to self-worth based on biblical values – being created in God’s image and redeemed by Christ’s precious blood (Gen 1:26,27; 1 Pet 1:18,19).
• Holiness: The believer is no longer just a “sinner saved by grace”, rather a saint who sometimes sins (1 Cor 1:2; 6:11).
• Ministry: The believer does not primarily “work for the Lord”, but rather cooperates with God through His strength and guidance (Gal 2:8).
• Christ’s offices: Christ is not only Saviour and Lord, but Saviour, Lord, and life (Rom 5:10).
• God’s law as a means of righteous conduct: The believer’s resource for godliness is not primarily an external code of rules, but rather the spiritually prompted, internal principle of the law of love (Rom 7:5,6; 13:8-10).

Biblical insights
The Galatians 2:20 paradigm is not grasped by biblical and theological study alone; it is revealed by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Cor 2:12). Biblical knowledge is not the same as biblical insight. How the Lord must yearn for us to fully appreciate the gracious blessings of life in Christ!

Trusting rather than trying
British preacher Stephen Olford observed, “The Avis philosophy (‘We try harder’) is fatal in the Christian life. We do not live the Christ-life by trying, but rather by trusting. When we try, it is self-effort, and we are bewitched; when we trust, it is Spirit-effort, and we are blessed.”

Liberated through Christ
Olford went on to recall his “paradigm shift” about the abundant life in Christ: “I recall when this truth became a reality in personal experience. I had already surrendered my life to Jesus Christ for the Christian ministry. While I waited to start my theological training, I spent weekends preaching in local churches. Every time I opened my mouth to speak, I was haunted by the memory of past defeats. Instead of turning to the Lord for deliverance, I tried to conquer the problem by self-effort. The result was disastrous! Instead of being liberated, I was paralysed. In desperation I went to hear a missionary on furlough give a series of studies on Romans. Expounding chapter 6, he paused to ask this question, ‘Is there someone here who is haunted by his past and defeated in his witness?’ I knew God was speaking to me, so I listened the more intently. Then he continued, ‘Do you know that such introspection is a violation of the principle of grace? God has condemned, crucified, and buried your ‘old self’. What right have you to visit the cemetery of your moral past and dig up the bones? Accept by faith what God has done and trust the Holy Spirit to liberate you to live the resurrection life in Christ.’ That was all I needed. I saw the foolishness and futility of self-effort, and the grace of God set me free!”

A Christ-centred approach
Can you say “amen” to Dr Olford’s discovery? Is your perception of the Christian life humanistic and feelings-based, or biblical and Christ-centred? Let’s dare to believe the Holy Spirit’s witness through the Word of God. As He unveils the riches of divine grace, shift your paradigm!

Praising the Lord
We praise You, oh God, for the full forgiveness we have through the cross of Christ. Deliver us from our own feeble attempts to gain victory and shift our perspective to fully appropriate Christ’s saving life. For Jesus’ sake, amen.

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Date published: 04/06/2024
Feature image: Image for illustrative purposes only. Artwork from www.freepik.com

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