According to Webster’s Dictionary conversion involves change. An example used to illustrate this is to “convert a wilderness into a garden.” This also applies “to making a spiritual change.”
We have this word "conversion" used in a few places in the Scriptures. "At the same time came the disciples unto Yahushua [Jesus], saying, Who is the
greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Yahushua called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:2-4, emphasis added). How does one become like a “little child” when you are already grown up and maybe even old?
We have all seen children that we should not be like – throwing temper tantrums, sassing their parents, making everyone around them nervous wrecks, etc. Certainly as grown-ups, we should not behave like this! Children should not even be allowed to behave like this! But what is there about little children that we need to become like? A little while ago my wife and I were baby-sitting three little grandchildren. The two older ones were busy playing in another part of the house and my wife and I were spending time with the two year old. Jesse had climbed unto the hassock and then suddenly threw himself off of it and into the arms of my shocked wife; totally without warning! Fortunately for Jesse, my wife was quick to react and caught him. Well that set the stage for the next half hour of him jumping off the hassock and into grandma’s arms. He had never done anything like this with us before. Complete trust in his grandma without any fear whatsoever. Is this what Yahushua had in mind when He referred to becoming “as little children?” I believe so. To have complete trust and confidence in Him and in His Father. “You believe [trust] in Elohim, believe [trust] also in Me” (John 14:1).
As adults we all have had experiences in our lives that hinder us from having complete trust in anybody. The Bible tells us “Trust you not in a friend, put you not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lies in thy bosom” (Mic. 7:5). There are many that we are not to put our trust or confidence in because it seems like sooner or later they will fail us; even those who may be very close to us. I wish that were not the case!
How do we have confidence and trust in someone? Confidence is a by-product of knowing someone. It is not something that we try to obtain. When we get to know people and what they are like, and if they have proven that they are honest, reliable, dependable and keep their word, we tend to have trust in them. Are they true to their word? Do they do what they say they will do? The more we know of them and see in them honesty, integrity, reliability and dependability, the more likely we are to have trust and confidence in them because they have proven themselves trustworthy.
We have seen politicians and others make promises and never carry out what they had promised. They not only lose our trust, but we can begin to think that everyone is like them, and we develop a certain mind-set. In this toxic environment, how can we possibly trust anyone? If we are not careful we become suspicious of everyone; including Elohim (God). As adults we, for the most part, have a mind-set that has been developed over the years prone to doubt and suspicion of people based on past experiences. When people let us down, we tend to lose confidence in them because they failed us, and it is hard to trust them again or maybe anyone else!
When America was first settled, it was common practice to trust people until they proved themselves untrustworthy, but in the world we live in today we do not trust people until they have proven themselves trustworthy. That is just the way it has become. Am I wrong in saying that? I for one do not want it to be that way!
I owned and operated a painting business my adult life. I painted houses and businesses for all those years without ever signing a contract. Not even a handshake in most cases. Just a verbal agreement between myself and for whomever I was painting or wallpapering. People entrusted to me with their greatest earthly possession and I never failed one of them. A man is only as good as his word. If his word is no good, neither will be his signature. My cousin was just like me. He was a building contractor. He built the biggest and nicest homes in the Mankato, Minnesota area all on a verbal agreement. We both had reputations, and we never had to look for work. Work found us. I greatly miss those days! I have learned a hard lesson over the last year; never to trust anyone that you do not know personally. I will always have a lawyer examine a contract before I sign it. It is such a shame it has to be that way. That is where we have come to in this world of sin! Evil is being permitted to come to full maturity before it and its originator are consumed in the "lake of fire." HalleluYah!
We are warned in the Scriptures to not put our trust in men. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help” (Ps. 146:3). But we are told to put our trust in Elohim. “It is better to trust in Yahuwah than to put confidence in man” (Ps. 118:8). It has been over ten years since I retired from painting and things are not going to get any better soon; they are only going to get worse as sin is allowed to come to maturity. But Elohim can be trusted for “Elohim is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” (Num 23:19). Elohim is as good as His word, unlike man!
Little children however do not have those suspicions. Being suspicious and doubtful about someone’s honesty is not built into our natures from birth. Children are like the two-year-old grandson that leaps into his grandma’s arms without warning. That is the kind of childlike-trust that I believe Yahushua was talking about when He said unless we are converted and “become as little children, we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” We need to be converted or changed into that way of thinking – trusting Elohim as a child trusts people without any suspicions about His motives or whether He will fail us. To know Him so well, we can trust Him in any situation. To be like Job who said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Trust begets trust!
How does one come to trust Elohim in that manner? How does one get to trust anyone? By spending time with Him; lots of time with Him! By spending time reading and studying the Bible, meditating and memorization, and praying to Him; by having a personal on-going intimate relationship with Him. The picture you have in your mind about Elohim will determine what type of relationship you will have with Him. The Devil has sown many lies about Elohim in this world. Satan has slandered Yahuwah’s good name in such a way that many in this world fear Him and even hate Him. Many in this world who claim to be ministers of Yahuwah are spreading the lies that Satan began. The greatest lie that Satan and his disciples are spreading in this world today is that Yahuwah confines His enemies into a place called Hell where they are to be tortured throughout eternity. Please read my article on Hell, Satan’s Slanderous Lie. When we have our thinking changed or "converted" our relationship with Yahuwah will be changed as a result!
That is why we find written in Jeremiah these precious words. “Thus saith Yahuwah, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am Yahuwah [the LORD] which exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith Yahuwah” (Jer. 9:23-24, emphasis added). When we know Elohim as it is our privilege to know Him, we will trust Him as a small child trusts his parents. Trust in Elohim comes from understanding and knowing Him!
Another instance where the term “converted” is used in the Bible is found in the book of Luke. “But I [Yahushua] have prayed for thee [Peter], that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32, emphasis added). Yahushua had just said to His disciples “”All of you shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad [Zech. 13:7]. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. And Peter answered and said unto Him, Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended. Yahushua said unto him, Verily I say unto thee [Peter], That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. Peter said unto Him, Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee. Likewise also said the disciples” (Matt. 26:32-35). Peter was always speaking before he thought things through, and he was sincere in what he was saying just as all the other disciples were sincere. He was sincere in what he had told Yahushua. He was also very self-reliant or self-sufficient much like we are before we are “converted.” We say things that we really mean and then circumstances come along, and we fail miserably. This was just one of the times that Peter said something that he really meant and then failed when the test came. We are no different than Peter was, are we? Be honest! Do we also need to be "converted" from depending on ourselves to depending upon Elohim?
Yahushua knew what Peter was going to do, but He did not condemn him but told him that when he was “converted, to strengthen the brethren.” Yahushua did not come “into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). He had no condemnation for the woman that had been married five times, and the man with whom she was now living was not her husband (John 4:16-18). When we fail to do what we say we will do, as Peter did, we feel self-condemned along with Satan accusing us, and Elohim knows this. He wants us to be “converted” or changed from relying on our self (self-reliance) to relying on Him (Elohim-reliance) so that if we do fall, our faith will not fail!
When Peter denied Yahushua with swearing and with cursing, he remembered the words of Yahushua. “Then began he [Peter] to curse and swear, saying, I know not the man, And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the words of Yahushua, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And he [Peter] went out, and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:74-75, emphasis added). He could not believe what he had just done, and it broke his heart. His heart was broken and he was contrite.
The man who wrote Psalm 51 knew from personal experience what it was like to fail Elohim. He had been greatly blessed by Elohim in being made the king of the nation of Israel, Elohim’s people, but when he became self-reliant and not dependent on Elohim, he committed adultery and then murder to cover up the adultery. King David had been a man after Elohim’s Own heart (Acts 13:22). We find the following words written by David in response to his sins which had ordered the murder of his loyal soldier, Uriah the Hittite, and that would bring upon him the judgements of Elohim in the death of his son by Bathsheba and the revolt of another son and his eventual death. “The sacrifices [that are acceptable] of Elohim are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O Elohim, Thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17, emphasis added).
When King David’s son, Absalom, was killed and the news of his death reached him, we read of King David’s reaction. “And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son Absalom! Would Elohim I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Sam. 18:33). It broke David’s heart even though his son had caused him much anguish and sorrow by his rebellion against him. I believe this gives us insight into how Yahuwah Elohim feels toward Satan who was His first angelic being that He and His Son had created. Someday Yahuwah Elohim will have to bring an end to Satan and his followers who had existed with Him for eons of time. He Who created us in His likeness has emotions and feelings just like He put within us.
The fall of Peter broke his heart and worked in him contrition and the needed correction (conversion). He was converted and learned to be Elohim-reliant and not self-reliant. Peter’s subsequent responses to Yahushua’s questions were much different in character from what they were before Peter failed. When Yahushua asked Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas [Peter], lovest thou Me more than these? He [Peter] saith unto him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:15). Three times Yahushua asked Peter that question and three times Peter gave a non-boastful response. Peter knew that Yahushua had good reason to question him, but Peter felt no condemnation from Yahushua. Peter had spent three plus years with Yahushua, and he had seen how Yahushua dealt with people, and he took courage knowing how his Master dealt with people. We can read the Bible and see for ourselves how Elohim and Yahushua have dealt with people and how They will deal with us when we find ourselves in similar circumstances.
Sometimes we must fall before we can walk. Yahushua had told Peter before the fall, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32, emphasis added). He prays for us also that our faith will not fail even though we may fail Elohim and His Son. Yahuwah does not condemn us when we fall. He is much like the parent teaching their child how to walk. When the child falls, the parent does not condemn the child; rather they encourage them to get back up and keep learning. Think of what joy it brings to the parents to see their child walking. So it is with our Elohim! We have a great Elohim and a wonderful Savior, Who continue to work with us through all our struggles and failures to bring us to where we do not fall and are truly converted; relying on Them to keep us from falling (Jude 24). It is Satan that condemns us when we fail; Elohim or Yahushua do not condemn us when we fall. Our own consciences condemn us. “She said, No man [condemns me], Lord. And Yahushua said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). He does not condemn us when we sin but encourages us to continue learning how to walk with Him.
It was not necessary in Peter’s case and probably not in ours to fall and fail Elohim. When Yahushua went to His disciples while He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He found them asleep. “And when He was at the place [Garden of Gethsemane], He said unto them. Pray that you enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40, emphasis added). How much different it might have been for Peter if he had prayed? How much different might it have been when we failed, if we had prayed before we entered into the temptation? If Peter had only realized his weakness, as we must also realize our weakness, and had fled to Elohim in prayer. In the Gospel of Matthew we read, “Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41, emphasis added).
Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Rome, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I . . . for to will is present with me [Peter said though all men forsake thee, I will not]; but how to perform that which is good I find not [Peter ended up doing the thing he said he would not do]” (Rom. 7:15, 18). Peter and Paul found themselves in the same dilemma so many of us have found ourselves in at times, but that is not the conclusion of the matter. Paul finishes his thoughts on the matter in Romans 8 when he discusses “the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yahushua [Christ Jesus]” and “the law of sin and death [our inherited, fallen, human nature]” (Rom. 8:2). Read my article entitled Under Law/Under Grace and the discussion of Romans 6 through 8.
We can be so thankful that we have a merciful and compassionate Savior. “For we have not an high priest Who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. [Yahushua knew what it was like to depend upon His Father and never let go His hold upon Him.] Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we can obtain mercy [when we fall], and find grace [Elohim’s power] to help us in time of need [to prevent further falling]” (Heb. 4:15-16, emphasis added). We must have the funds in our account in order to write a check. So it is with Elohim’s grace (power). When we realize our need we will follow what is written in Hebrews 4:15-16. And sometimes that need is only realized after we have fallen as Peter had!
“I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, emphasis added). “But Yahushua beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with Elohim all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26, emphasis added).