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How can people change? Will it just happen or do they have to do something?


Thank you for contacting us with your thoughtful and very interesting question. It is important to think about how people change, because of course, we also change as we go through life, so as to become better and more mature people and more committed followers of Jesus.

From observation it doesn't appear that people 'just change'. We all have different personalities and sometimes different aspects of our personalities emerge as we grow older. Someone who said that he would never be a grumpy old man like his father may well turn into a grumpy old man himself! Without God's intervention, we will always act according to the strengths and weaknesses of our own personalities.

That is why two people can face the same difficulties and respond to them in entirely different ways. One may become very angry while another will be deeply depressed when things go wrong. Life experiences do change us; we learn through them. However, the way that we change depends on how we respond to our experiences. God allows that to happen because He has given us a very important gift - the power of choice. We can choose to do right or wrong and our choices change us forever.

Sadly, all human beings often make wrong choices. We damage ourselves and other people when we choose to be selfish or angry or self-pitying. Sometimes, we are so focused on ourselves that we don't even notice when we hurt and damage others.

That's why the Bible gives us an important command. Below are the words of Moses to the people of Israel. He is speaking for God.

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days". (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

We are called to choose God and to live in His way. As we have failed so often (the Bible calls this sin) we need God's forgiveness.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Forgiveness is only found by trusting in Jesus Christ and inviting Him to be our Lord and Saviour. He never refuses anyone.

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." (John 6:37)

The best news of all is that, not only does He give us forgiveness and a Heavenly home, but He gives us the power to change.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

By the power of His Holy Spirit, who comes to live in our hearts, God makes us a new person with new desires, joys and pleasures. We may still have a lot to learn, but because of the radical change inside us, our behaviour begins to change, and as long as we continue to walk humbly with God, we carry on changing for the better all our lives, until we enter Heaven.

The real truth is that we can't change until we have the power and grace of God to help us. That's why people intend to be a good, kind person but so often fail. I hope you will choose to be forgiven and changed by God.

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at

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