Jeremiah 13:23 – Can a man ever change?

Jeremiah 13:23 – “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” Here Jeremiah speaks to one of the most profound conditions of fallen man. Can anyone really change? O, this is a question that deserves some thought.

First it must be acknowledged that the natural man cannot change. We will forget for the moment the fact that he does not desire to change and we will ignore the fact that he loves his evil practices and his lusts and he eagerly wants to continue in them. For now I just want to talk about the natural man’s complete inability to change. The unbeliever cannot change anything about himself. O yes, a person can change locations and they can change their hair color and their style of running shoes, but the natural man is powerless to change anything within himself, anything of substance. He is trapped in the Cage, the place where his experiences, his environment, and his natural genetic makeup have put him. Thus “the Ethiopian” cannot change his skin, and everyone is born “an Ethiopian,” trapped in his skin. Everyone is born in a cage and is unable to change his behavior. So the first answer to Jeremiah’s question is: “No, the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, the leopard cannot change his spots, and the one who does evil is unable to do good.”

But what happens when God changes the Ethiopian’s skin? The Ethiopian cannot change his own skin, but God can change his skin and can make him new (2 Cor. 5:17). Thus God does the impossible every time a person comes to faith in Christ. The “Ethiopian” (that’s everyone of us) has been changed and thus he can now be transformed, because the Ethiopian has new skin. The Cage that contained and constrained him has been shattered and the chains have been loosed. When Christ sets you free (John 8:34-36), you become free to change and you also receive with your new skin a deep desire to be holy. Thus the believer begins to change from the first moments of their reborn life and he continues to grow and change as he draws closer to Christ. Therefore the believer can change and he or she will change, because the Cage has been shattered and because they have been born again to a living hope, which will certainly result in a changed life. Now, after God has changed his skin, the Ethiopian can begin to do good. SDG  rmb  4/9/2016

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