Book Review: How People Change

It’s the unspoken elephant in the room: why aren’t professing Christians, by and large, any different than non-Christians? We often struggle and fail at the same sins, have the same divorce rates, and generally don’t stand out as being more kind or loving than devoted moral adherants of other religions— despite our theology that we have been “born again.” Ask many, including pastors, the question, and the reply often comes down to some variant of “they aren’t trying hard enough” or “they aren’t really saved after all.”

But the question behind the question is “So, how do people really change— how does a person who has become a child of God actually become radically more loving, more peaceful, more self-controlled, in a way that isn’t mere psychology and that can’t be explained or experienced by a non-Christian?”

Few people can give a robust, Biblical, detailed explanation to this fundamental question. Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp can, and do, in this wonderful book. They give us a truly Biblical & congruent theology of how people change, and show us a path to meaningful personal change in our own lives.

The first five chapters lay a foundation for what real Biblical life change is and isn’t– they talk about how easy it is to substitute external change like formalism and activism for true change of the heart. They lay out the crucial understanding of our marriage to Christ, and how God designed real change to take place in the context of community. There is a lot of rich thought provoking truth on every page of these foundation chapters.

Next, they move onto their central Biblical picture of how God has designed change: that of the tree. They explain chapter by chapter that the “heat” of living in a fallen world brings out fallen human responses of sin and evil “thorns.” But as we turn to the cross of Christ and His presence we gain the ability to bear beautiful fruit, new supernatural responses to the same “heat” that before would only produce thorns.

True “fruit” only comes from the nourishment that God provides, and we need to be able to recognize the thorns and the fallen nature behind them to be able to choose Christ instead. This book is a wonderful Biblical mirror to hold in front of your soul, to be able to see yourself, the good and the bad, and see the work of God within. Highly recommended.

1 comment to Book Review: How People Change

  • Thanks for the review. I went through the curriculum that is also entitled “How People Change” just last year. It really helped me see the problem of my heart and how circumstances don’t cause me to sin, but the sin in my heart is exposed by those circumstances, whether good or bad. Good eye-opener for me!

    I’m adding your blog to my blog list.

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