“Leopards don’t change their spots.” This thoroughly pessimistic view of human nature often comes across as wisdom and discernment, but it’s actually little more than an excuse to hold a grudge. It’s true that many people never change. But it’s also true that many people do. The unchanging leopard is a poor picture of the human heart.
Change is at the core of the gospel. If it isn’t, the gospel isn’t very good news. It’s just disappointing news, and hardly worth the world’s attention. If people can’t change—truly, fundamentally change—then the gospel is kind of pointless. Perhaps it could get us to heaven, but it would be fruitless in the here and now. And we really need help in the here and now.
We can be grateful that God has given us the capacity to change, not just through incremental self-improvement baby steps, but in the depths of the heart. We really can become new creatures. Anyone who says otherwise—including those who babble about leopards and spots—is simply wrong. Embrace that capacity. Step into it wholeheartedly. Live as a new creation. The Spirit and the gospel are more than enough to transform you.
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