If you are like me, you grew up hearing the phrase “Can a leopard change his spots?”
This is something I have even used myself when describing someone who was cheating or being deceitful in some way.
It was not until recently when we were studying Jeremiah that I discovered the phrase actually came from God’s word. Jeremiah 13:23 (NIV).
Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.
What was God trying to say? Is he saying if you are a sinner, you will always be a sinner–there is no hope for you? NO!
We are sinners and will continue to make wrong decisions until the day we leave these fleshly bodies, but Jesus is our source of hope. He paid the price and took on ALL of our sins so we could have a relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
God is trying to make a point. As humans, because God gave us intelligence and the freedom of choice, we think we have the power and ability to govern our own lives and we are self-sufficient apart from God. When in fact, we are reliant on God for everything. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the sun that rises and sets each day.
Reflect on this quote from A. W. Towzer’s book, The Knowledge of The Holy, “Probably the hardest thought of all of our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. Commonly, we represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world, but the God who worketh all things needs no help and no helpers.”
Without God we cannot even produce the desire to change our character let alone do anything good for anyone else as Philippians 2:13 (AMPC) tells us.
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
Paul puts it like this in Romans 7:15-18 (AMPC)
For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns]. Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]
My intention in this writing is to give you hope. For me, it gives me confidence in knowing God himself is working in me to create the desires. It is God producing the power and making a way for me to live out His plan for my life. Knowing He takes an interest in me at all is pretty amazing!
I am forever grateful He did not leave me where he found me, He sees my heart and knows me better than I know myself. God is not limited by time or space. I love that He can see the finished product of me!
God has provided all that is needed, but the choice is still yours and mine. God can change anything!