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Let the Holy Spirit Change You

God has a plan to transform you

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: When we are born again, there are things to learn, and things to unlearn. This study will show you how the Holy Spirit can change you and your relationship with Jesus.

Part 3 of a 3-part series on “Successful Christian Living”

Part 1      Part 2


When we are born again, there are things to learn, and things to unlearn. Habits to form and habits to break. We are like babies in many ways. We crawl and we stumble as we learn how to walk. We fall, then we struggle to our feet and keep going.

We quickly learn that we can’t change on our own and that we need God’s help. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in.

The Holy Spirit

God’s Spirit Lives in You, another Bible study on our walk with God, explains that there is one God, not many gods (Mark 12:29). This study also points out that the Bible refers to God in three ways—as:

  • The Father (Galatians 1:1)
  • The Son, or Jesus (John 20:28)
  • The Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4)

The following passage refers to all three in the same sentence (the underlining is mine).

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkled by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:1-2

Since the Bible says God is one, yet it also refers to him as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, many people use the term “Trinity” to describe him as one being of three co-equal persons or aspects. Some describe him as being unique, with individuality and personality that is manifested in three persons.

When you became a believer, the Holy Spirit entered into you. When you think about it, that’s an amazing thing. God loves you and his Spirit lives within you. He is there to guide you, watch over you, transform you, correct you, and encourage you.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

God’s goal is to transform you — to help you become more like Christ

Being a follower of Jesus means much more than going to church or trying to live a good life. It means letting the Holy Spirit change you. Here’s one verse in which Paul wrote about God transforming us:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Here are three more verses that illustrate God’s desire for you to be transformed and renewed:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10)

What do you think?

1. What is the difference between acting religious and being transformed?

Related: God has plans for you

Related: Who Do You Think You Are?

Produce fruit

As God transforms you, he wants to help you change your attitudes and emotions, to help you grow what the Bible calls the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). Let’s read about this fruit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

God causes the fruit to grow.

God is interested in the type of person you become. He wants you to become fruitful.

How do we grow fruit? It’s actually God’s Holy Spirit—not us—who produces the fruit. The fruit grows as a result of the Spirit working within us.

We have a role to play.

Although God produces the fruit, there are things we can do to help our fruit grow. For example:

  • We can loosen or break up the soil of our hearts, allowing God’s roots to go deep. We can surrender to God’s will for our lives.
  • We can water the tree by reading the Bible, God’s word.
  • We can fertilize the ground by spending quality time with other believers and listening to sound teaching.
  • We can kill pests or bugs that would damage the fruit by fighting sin and resisting the devil.
  • We can allow God to prune our diseased hearts, ideas, attitudes, or behaviors that prevent healthy fruit from growing.
  • We can ask God to fill us with his Spirit. When we become believers, the Holy Spirit enters us. As we go through life, we can pray to grow closer to him—to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

Make it personal

2. What are things you can do to help healthy fruit grow in yourself?

3. What are the main things in your life that might prevent fruit from growing in you? What can you do to change this?

Remember to focus on changing on the inside.

The Bible tells us in many places how to live—how to overcome sin, how to have good relationships, how to help others, and how to tell others about Jesus. These are all important goals, but if we aren’t changing on the inside as well as on the outside, we are missing out on what really matters to God.

God wants to transform us on the inside, to help us become more like Jesus in our attitudes, our beliefs, and our love for others.

The religious leaders Jesus talked to didn’t understand this. They thought pleasing God meant acting right. Look at what Jesus said to them:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:25-28)

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us sometimes slip into the same behavior as the Pharisees. It’s easy to put on a good show, acting the way we think Christians should act, without dealing with the messiness inside our heart.

Make it personal

4. Do you sometimes find yourself focusing more on acting right instead of cleaning up inside? If so, describe a time when you did this.

5. Why do you think many of us focus more on our outward appearance and actions than on what’s going on inside of us?

6. Read Matthew 12:34. What does “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” mean?

7. This study focuses on changing on the inside. Does this mean we don’t need to worry about exercising self-control in our words and actions?

Related: Change yourself first

How willing are you to let God transform you?

How willing are you to cultivate your soil and let God produce fruit within you? If you are like most people, your old nature sometimes resists God’s Spirit. There may be some fruit you don’t want to grow—even if God says it is healthy.

For example, he may want to help you grow in patience, but you may be determined to be impatient. Or he may want to help you grow in kindness, and you may be determined not to be kind to someone—even though you know God’s ways are infinitely better than yours, and you know you are hurting yourself when you resist him.

Another way God wants to help us change is in our attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and values. Most of us come from a background or culture in which we have learned things that contradict what God says. As you open yourself up to God, he will lead you into truth.

If you find yourself wanting to be open to the Holy Spirit, but at the same time you are resisting him, ask him to help you change your attitude and cultivate your soil. Ask him for a clean heart. Follow David’s example by praying:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

Make it personal

8. God wants to produce fruit in you—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. How willing are you to cultivate your soil and let the Holy Spirit produce this fruit?

9. Pray for openness to cultivating your soil. Also pray for God to produce a large harvest of fruit in you.

Related: God’s love for you

Memory verse

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Personal application

1. What does God mean when he says you should be transformed?

2. What are reasons some people might not want to be transformed?

3. Do you agree with God’s desire to transform you? If so, write a prayer telling him that and asking for his help.

4. Write out Galatians 5:22-23.

5. Why do you think God wants you to grow the fruit of the Spirit?

6. This study says you should cultivate the fruit. What does that mean? How do you go about cultivating?

7. What mistake does this study say the Pharisees made?

8. What are ways you might be like the Pharisees? How can you avoid making these mistakes?

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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