Making Lasting Changes

Our verse for this series is Romans 12:2. God is transforming us from the inside out by changing the way we think. When our thinking is changed, then we will learn to know God’s will for our lives.

Our goal is to learn to make our mind mind! But how do we make a change that is lasting? Change always follows choices and it requires learning and facing the truth. We cannot have a positive change based on negative ideas, lies and mistrust. We have got to learn the truth. “Learn the truth and never reject it. Get wisdom, self-control, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). Pills and resolutions are not going to change us. Knowing the truth and facing the truth brings about change. The truth really does set you free. It can be uncomfortable and painful. We are like our ancestors before us, we want to hear things that make us feel good. We tend to avoid what we don't want to hear. We're broken and imperfect. As 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” Say it, “It's me that needs to change.” 

In your life, behind every self-defeating defect that makes it difficult for you to get along with others or whatever it may be, behind every self-defeating behavior, there is a lie that you are believing. This is why the first requirement for personal change is to learn the truth and face the truth about yourself. Learning to face the truth is the most loving thing you can do for yourself - and for others. Eph 4:15 (CSV) - “Love should always make us tell the truth.” Where do you get the truth? Go to the owner's manual, the Word of God, the Bible. God knows His purpose for you and He knows how He made you. God’s word is truth. As you learn God’s Word and your thinking changes, other parts of your life will change. When it comes to personal change, the Bible is the manual for resetting your life. It shows you the path, where you got off the path, how to get back on the path and how to stay on the path. Read the word everyday. It's like a mirror, revealing the good and the bad. So, how do we make changes in our lives that will last?

Lasting change requires a new way of thinking.

You are not what you think you are, but you are what you think. Ephesians 4:23, “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” What you think determines what you feel. All feelings start with a thought. How you feel determines how you act. You can't just change your feelings. You have to change your thoughts, discipline your mind. This is repentance. The Greek word for repentance is metanoya. It means to change your mind. Do a 180. “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Choosing is the beginning of changing. When you change the way you think and you begin to think God‘s thoughts, when you begin to put on the mind of Christ and think like He does your defects will come to light and you will see them in a totally different way. In fact, defects are often strengths that are being misused. For instance, if you have a gift of discernment, it can be misused in the form of judgment. If you are detail-oriented, a misuse can be pickiness or a desire to control. Defects are often attempts to meet unmet needs. Needs are legitimate but meeting them has to be done in the right way. 

Lasting change requires community and coaching.

Have you ever seen a football player that can’t be stopped without a team tackle? The guys trying to bring him down need help. We need help. We can't do it by ourselves. We need to join a small group and serve on a team. We need to get good counsel from mature believers and we should find a mentor. Ephesians 4:25 tells us to stop the lies and tell the truth. We are connected to each other. Another version says we belong to each other. The moment you tell somebody else about your truth, you get instant power and relief. Proverbs 28:13 drives the point home,  “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.” In fact, you can try to hide them but you can't. Others already see them. We spend energy trying to cover up things to no avail. Our biggest hurdle to holiness is to look good. We need to build relationships with people and see ourselves and our situations through their eyes. “By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We need those who keep us accountable. We all need coaches. A coach helps you maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Magnify the strengths so that your weaknesses are forgotten. Moses mentored Joshua and Elijah mentored Elisha. Timothy had the Apostle Paul  and of course, Jesus mentored the disciples.We all need mentors and we should also be speaking into the lives of others.

Lasting change requires the Holy Spirit.

We cannot change with human energy alone. We need God. Laws and rules cannot change us. Zechariah 4:6 instructs us - “‘You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful.” We cannot transform ourselves on our own power.  We didn't collect hangups and habits overnight and we won't get rid of all of them at once, but as we commit to learn His word and to submit ourselves to others for coaching and mentoring, God changes us daily to be more and more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). How serious are you about changing for the better in your life? How serious are you about changing those parts of your personality that irritate you? How interested are you in no longer being a victim of fear and worry? 

You can change with God’s Word, with help from your community, and with the help of the Holy Spirit. Put these into practice. We're not perfect and some changes we need to make are very painful. But learn the truth and face the truth. Allow your church to come alongside and let’s see what happens. Change the way you think. Mindset matters.