One day my wife put a copy of this book in my hands and said (with a wry smile) ‘You need to read this!’ But I found it extremely difficult to read; not because the words were difficult or the arguments complex. Just the opposite: it was all too clear and understandable. My wife was right: I needed to read it!
This isn’t another of those books on sanctification that leaves you on the floor as you realise how much change still needs to take place. The big difference is that it gets right to the heart of our problem and therefore offers a biblically strong way forward.
Chapter 7 is called ‘What stops you changing?’ and here the book really hits the buttons. It gives two principal reasons: a lack of responsibility, combined with a false sense of ability.
Too often we excuse our sin rather than taking full responsibility. Whether it be the actions (or lack of action) of others, our history, our character, or whatever, we so often fail to see the plank in our own eye.
Most of the time when I get angry it is because someone has crossed my path, contravened one of my private laws, or simply embarrassed me! But simply having that bubble burst is not enough to bring change; the next great barrier to change is our false sense of ability.
We say, ‘Sure, I need to change’. And yet we simply cannot change in our own strength, we need Christ and the power of his resurrection! Oh how I need to be reminded of that!
The rest of the book deals with our need for new affections, for a daily hunger for and dependence on Christ. Prayer, the Word of God, and Christian service, are all essential if we are to see real change in our lives.
Yet Chester adds another important ingredient - community. Don’t hide away in the corner. Don’t retreat until the change has happened, because change happens as we live together as Christians. How important then to be fully integrated into our local church!
Do get the book, but reading it won’t make you change unless you think through and carefully apply the scriptural principles.
Finally, like my wife, don’t pass it to someone else until you have fully read and digested it yourself!