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 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, ye 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 suddenly climbed unto the hassock and 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.
As adults we all have had experiences in our lives that hinder us from having complete trust in anybody. The Bible tells us “Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom” (Micah 7:5). There are many that we are not to put our trust or confidence in because it seems sooner or later they will fail us and 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 and 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, 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 promise. They not only lose our trust, but we can begin to think that everyone is like them. 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 previous 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 this country 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 prove themselves trustworthy. That is just the way it has become. Am I wrong in saying that?
Little children however do not have those suspicions. Suspicions are 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 “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 their motives. 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).
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 the Bible and praying to Him; by having a personal on-going relationship 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 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 is that Yahuwah confines His enemies into a place called Hell where they are to be tormented for eternity. Please read our article on Hell, Satan’s Slanderous Lie by clicking on the shaded area. When we have our thinking changed 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 that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am Yahuwah [the LORD] which exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith Yahuwah” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). When we know Elohim as it is our privilege to know Him, we will trust Him as a child trusts his parents. Trust in Elohim comes from understanding and knowing Him!
Another instance where the term “converted” was 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 [Zechariah 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” (Matthew 26:32-35). Peter was always speaking before he thought things through. He was sincere in what he told Yahushua. He was also very self-reliant 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 failed when the test came. We are no different than Peter was, are we? Be honest!
Yahushua Who knew what Peter was going to do, did not condemn him, but told him that when he was “converted, to strengthen the brethren.” Yahushua did 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 who she was now living with 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, and Elohim knows this. He wants us to be “converted” or changed from relying on self (self-reliance) to relying on Him (Elohim-reliance) so that we do not fall (Jude 24).
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 (Matthew 26:74-75, emphasis added).
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 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 these words written by David in response to his sins which had caused the death of his loyal soldier, Uriah the Hittite, and 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 of Elohim are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O Elohim, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 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 Samuel 18:33). It broke David’s heart even though his son had caused him much anguish and sorrow.
The fall of Peter broke his heart and worked in him the needed contrition and correction. He was converted and learned to be Elohim-reliant and not self-reliant. Peter’s 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 reply. Peter knew that Yahushua had good reason to question him, but Peter felt no condemnation from Yahushua.
Sometimes we must fall before we can walk straight. Yahushua had told Peter before the fall, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32). He prays for us also that our faith will not fail even though we may fail Elohim and His Son. Yahuwah does condemn us when we fall. He is much like the parent teaching their child how to walk. When the child falls we do not condemn the child; rather we encourage them to get back up and keep learning. Think of what joy it brings to the parents to see their child waliking. 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 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). How much different might it 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 flee to Elohim in prayer. In the Gospel of Matthew we read, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
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]” (Romans 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 chapter 8 when he discusses the “the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yahushua [Christ Jesus]” and “the law of sin and death [our inherited, fallen, human nature]” (Romans 8:2). To read our article on Under Law/Under Grace and the discussion of Romans chapters 6 through 8 click on the shaded area.
We can be so thankful that we have a merciful and compassionate “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. 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]” (Hebrews 4:15-16).