“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).
“I Have a Dream» is the title of a speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights march in Washington D.C., on August 28, 1963. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the Constitution of the United States, both based on the Bible, emphasized the importance of bringing change to tear down discrimination to promote social integration. Dr. King courageously foresaw the day when people being equal would become a reality; when they would work together, regardless of their color or religion; when people would join in brotherhood. He uttered this speech with faith and hope, convinced that this change was imminent. Similar speeches have been made throughout history, emphasizing the possibility of change and the opportunity to make it happen. However, that dream is far from becoming a reality. We have to ask ourselves: Does the human race have the tools needed to change and to be uplifted?
Today’s Bible verse implies that as human beings, our ability to change is limited. One who is used to doing evil cannot change. Education, culture or psychotherapy can alter human behavior but they do not have enough power to completely renew the soul. They can do nothing to transform the nature of the human heart, much less to bring it to salvation.
Seeing his own limitations, the apostle Paul exclaimed, «O wretched man that I am! ‘(ho will deliver me from this body of death?» (Rom. 7:24). He was aware of the fact that, even if he wanted to do good, he could not do it, and he then mentioned the source of his strength when he said, «I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!» (v. 25).
Perhaps you are struggling with unhealthy habits. Perhaps you are trying to change your behavior or way of thinking. If this is the case, remember these words: «God has given us the power of choice; it is ours to exercise. We cannot change our hearts, we cannot control our thoughts, our impulses, our affections. . . . But we can . . . give Him our will; then He will work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus our whole nature will be brought under the control of Christ. Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in the life. By yielding up the will to Christ, we all ourselves with divine power. We receive strength from above to hold us steadfast. (The Ministry of Healing, ch.11, p. 176).