Can Character Be Changed?

Question:  Can character be changed?  Can there be a return to good character if somebody was to fail Jesus?  If so, how?

Additional Details

Character is primarily taught by our parents…they are our major building force.  Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a good character.  The six pillars of character, according to universal values that define the qualities of a good person, are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. These are core. 
Look at King David and how he fell, how a leader failed.  As we look to our future, we know that our leaders will fail us somehow.
  So where should we trust and what in?
Personality and character are different things. People are born with certain traits or tendencies.  Some are shy while others are talkative. Some are extroverts and make good leaders.  Character is a learned from parents, teachers, friends, etc.  You are either honest or not, depending on how your belief system was orchestrated.

My Reply:
OK, your additional details don't match your original question…
Anyway, according to the Bible, the only quality of being "good" is accepting and being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. All the other stuff you mentioned are nice, but they don't constitute somebody who's "good" in God's eyes, and should thus be judged about the same by us as those who don't have those characteristics.

The parable of the Prodigal Son tells us that even when we fall away, even far and to the point of basically giving God the middle finger, He's awaiting our return, and when we do, He'll welcome us with open arms, even reinstating us to full-blown heirs.

King David was "a man after God's own heart". He was a great leader, but he was also human, and humans fail.

Our leaders today, many are liars, and those who aren't will fail us some time during their time in power, just as David did his people. I think that looking at the story of Daniel might help in answering your question. Daniel supported his leaders, and prayed for them, the kingdom, and himself in serving them. But He believed in and trusted God.  Also in the history of Daniel, his devout loyalty to the Lord influenced many of the kings/leaders and their decisions in leadership.

As for your original question, can you change? Yes, you can. Actually, the Bible tells us that just fact that you want to change shows that God is already working on you.  In fact, the Bible also tells us that we can change how we act, but if we're really to be changed, we have to be changed from the inside out.  So in other words, you can't truly change without God.  Sure, you can change some things about you, but you yourself cannot truly and fully change without God working on you from within.
For example, when explaining to youth about beauty, I'd often use the example of an egg. When you look at a fertilized bird egg, you may or may not know what sort of bird is inside.  All you know is that something's growing inside of it.  As it grows, the shell casing around the bird becomes too small to hold the bird, causing it to peck at it.  Soon you see the beak, then the head, maybe a foot, and before long, the whole bird will be out and its type will be fully exposed.  Then you have the other egg...the empty egg.  You may know the type of bird it originated from, but it's also obvious that there's nothing inside.  You may decorate it all up (as we do with Easter eggs), but either way, all it does it makes it look pretty...but it's still empty on the inside.
That's like religions versus Christianity.  Religions change a person from the outside-in (or try to).  Christianity, on the other hand, allows God to change a person from the inside out.
Notice, Buddhism, Scientology, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism, New name it.  They all tell you what to do in order to be better people, or to see yourself as right in God's eyes.  Some even tax on almost impossible tasks to accomplish what they think is needed to do this.  But all they do are make you look good on the outside, while leaving you empty on the inside.
God told us how to be right or good in His eyes, and that's to trust in, and enter into a relationship with, Jesus Christ, not by works but by faith.  When we accept Jesus, He sends God's very own spirit (the Holy Spirit) into us, and works from within us, like the live chicken in the egg.
And accepting Jesus not only changes our character, but even our whole mindset.  Let me explain.  When we're living according to sin, we're in the mindset of of sinning.  But when we have the mindset of Jesus Christ, we no longer even WANT to sin, but live to please Him.  But this isn't something we can do without Him, for even if we try to live for Him, if we don't belong to Him, we're again working from the outside-in, and we've already established that this doesn't work.

Our church is currently doing a series about change, and I'd like to share the first sermon of the series.  When you get to the page, click on the date: "09/12/10" titled "How to Start the Change Process".  If it doesn't help more in answering your question, it will help you know how to start the process of changing.

---Pastor Andy
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