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Dear Partner,

In Jeremiah 13:23, the Lord asks the question, "Can the leopard change his spots?" The answer to the question is obviously no! The real issue is, "Can man, by his own effort, change his nature?" Man would like to think that he could. All false religion is based on the assumption that he can, but the whole purpose of God commanding Israel to keep the Law of Moses was to prove once and for all that man, no matter how hard he tries, cannot change his own heart. Man is born a sinner by nature. He may do a little better for a while through human effort, but eventually his true nature will be seen again.

In the past few months I have had the opportunity to minister overseas in Poland and South Africa. Believe it or not, theft is much more of a problem in those nations than it is in the USA. Although we have serious problems with theft here, I was astounded to see how the people in those nations have to guard even more diligently against people stealing from them. Many homes have masonry walls topped with razor wire surrounding the property to make it more difficult for thieves to break in. In addition, they have security alarm systems built into their homes and automobiles. In every city there are strict laws against theft, yet the crime is prevalent everywhere.

Man can pass laws against theft with severe penalties for breaking those laws and they will, perhaps, persuade a few people to refrain from stealing. That doesn't change the fact that they are still thieves in their heart! There is only one permanent solution to stop theft and that is man's nature has to be changed. Man cannot do it by his own effort no matter how hard he tries. Man can no more change his own nature than the leopard can change his spots. Only the gospel of Christ has the power to change man's nature:

Rom 1:16a  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

Let me tell you about a man I met in South Africa last month. His name is Freick. A good nickname for him would be "Eclipse" because he is physically such a large man that when he shows up he virtually blocks out the sun! Freick is in his thirties and only a couple of years ago he was one of the top gangsters in South Africa. He openly ran a house of gambling and prostitution. He also sold drugs out of the back room of that establishment. Freick was such a "bad guy" he even stole from other gangsters. The authorities were too intimidated by Freick to try and close him down. Freick was so bad that he was feared by crooks and the police alike.

One weekend an old friend from Freick's childhood invited him to go on a weekend hunting trip along with a group of other men. Freick had always enjoyed hunting and felt like he could use a break so he agreed to go off into the African bush country for a short safari. What Freick did not know, however, was that these men were all Christians. It was a hunting trip all right, but these men were hunting for "lost sheep" more than they were hunting for wild game. Freick heard the true gospel of Christ and felt the love of Christ pouring through these men all through that long weekend. Finally, the truth of the gospel penetrated Freick's heart and he was born again.

Sometimes I fear that we use that term "born again" too loosely. To be born again is to be literally born of God's Spirit. It is no less a birth than when we were first born physically from our mother's womb. At the new birth we receive a spirit which is born "of God" rather than a spirit which is "of the world." The POWER of the gospel is that it is able to do what man can not it changes man's nature!

1 Cor 2:12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Before the gospel came to Freick's heart, there was no power on earth that was able to get Freick to change his ways. He wasn't afraid of the police, other criminals, nothing! But the simple message of the cross did what nothing else could do. Only God has the power to change a leopard's spots, and only God has the power to change a human heart. When Freick was born again, the very nature of Christ entered into his heart. Christ's nature is love and love does no evil to its brother. No external laws were ever able to change Freick's behavior, but an internal law the law of Christ in Freick's heart changed his behavior in an instant.

Freick immediately closed down his criminal enterprises, made restitution everywhere that he could, and within just a few months began a prison ministry. Freick now preaches Christ to the same gangsters in prison that he, himself, used to steal from. Nobody on earth has more credibility with those people than Freick. Their attitude is, "If God can change Freick, then this gospel he is preaching MUST be true!"

What the whole world needs is the gospel of Jesus Christ! All of the laws in the world cannot stop the sin nature in man from manifesting itself. The ONLY answer is for man's nature to be changed by the power of the gospel! Sue and I want to thank you again for helping us send the gospel freely into 53 nations via the cassette tape ministry, and all over the world freely via the Internet.

Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter


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