06-09-2013 message by Pastor Rich Doebler
Last week we talked about The peace of God…which will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Peace is important, but it’s only part of what God wants to do!
Peace is good, but God also wants to unleash his power within you. Why? So you can be changed…so you can live differently—better than before. (See Phil 2:13.)
This is huge! God comes not only to bring you inner peace—to calm you down in the midst of your troubled circumstances—he also comes to effect a change in you! He wants to give you the power (the ability) to do something about circumstances that should be changed. God wants to enable you to respond to or deal with those circumstances.
In other words, God isn’t only interested in changing your attitude (to a peace-filled perspective), he is interested in transforming your behavior. Remember, if you have the God of peace, you also have the God of power.
Romans 12:2 (NIV) 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (VOICE) 2 Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind…
Some are happy if God just helps them feel better—like a big Prozac dispenser in the sky. They’re not all that interested in the discipline, the sacrifice, the commitment and work required to make a change in their lifestyle or their behavior.
But God is interested in far more than how you feel. He doesn’t merely want to anesthetize you so you don’t feel any emotional pain, God wants to empower you so you can DO something different.
Pain management is a big part of the medical field these days, especially in terminal cases and hospice care. Pain clinics…medication…therapy—all to reduce pain or cope with pain. And when there are no options left for healing, reducing pain is a compassionate course of treatment.
But if you break your leg, you wouldn’t want your doctor merely managing the pain. “Wow! That must really hurt! But don’t worry, take these pills—this extra-strength ibuprofin. It will numb the pain.”
Would you be satisfied with that? Of course not! You’d want your doctor to reset the bone in its proper place; you’d want him to put on a brace or splint to stabilize the bone so it could heal.
Reducing the pain is good; healing is better!
God wants to reduce your pain, but even more he wants to heal your heart and mind.
He doesn’t want a bunch of zombies—anesthetized, doped up creatures who stagger through life unfeeling, unmotivated, apathetic and dead to the needs around them—disconnected people who are quite content in their peaceful state of mind, unaffected by trouble—but also ineffective in the world.
No! God wants people with hearts and minds guarded by his peace—so they can be people of power to rise above troubles and difficulties and challenges.
People who are content, but ALSO people who…
- are changed from the inside out;
- are set free from their past;
- are willing to pay the price to do something.
- are able to impact their world;
- live lives of purpose and direction;
We’re talking about a radical change in our behavior—so our old ways and habits are replaced by new behaviors.
We’re talking about a total transformation in our nature—so our human instincts are replaced by godly impulses. Our old nature—sinful nature—dies out…and we acquire a new nature.
We’re talking about gaining an entirely new attitude, a heavenly perspective—because the devil wants to impose his lies on us; he wants to limit us by his deceptions. If the devil can tie us to our past experiences, he will! He will use our past guilt, failures, and disappointments to hold us down.
It’s like trying to run a race wearing cement shoes!
Heb 12:1 …let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…
Life changes stem from what God does deep inside our hearts and minds. This is deeper than a psychological “behavior modification”; it goes beyond good intentions—way beyond.
How often do we make promises to change, even try to change? How often do we try to break bad habits—only to fail? Like the Country Western song sung by Vince Gill: “Give me just a one more last chance / Before you say we’re through / I know I drive you crazy baby / It’s the best that I can do…”
Another song someone told me about by Waylon Jennings: “The devil made me do it the first time the second time I done it on my own.” It’s the way we are—our old, sinful nature lurks just beneath the surface. It may be “crucified,” but it keeps trying to rise up and resurrect itself.
So we need ongoing growth—change from the inside out. We need a spiritual transformation! Transformation happens when… (not necessarily in this sequence—it varies)
1. We stop being shaped by the world.
Romans 12:2 (NCV) 2 Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking…
“World” carries the idea of “this age…what’s in…the current fashion…what’s trending.”
We have two basic choices:
(1) Either be conformed to and shaped by the world and its thinking—its views and perspective OR
(2) be transformed (completely and radically changed) by allowing God to give you a new mind—a totally new way of thinking, a completely different perspective.
2. We realize our condition.
Awakened by the Holy Spirit, we gain a realization of our sin and understand our weakness.
Real change in behavior—radical transformation in your nature—begins in the core of your being, in the depths of your soul, on a spiritual level.
Our society has become desensitized to the horrors of sin. Media has saturated the culture with Hollywood murders, scandals, and promiscuity. Society has elevated tolerance to the highest virture—If we’re not tolerant we’re accused of prejudice and bigotry. We’re taught that there are no absolutes—that what is wrong for one may be right for another: “If it feels good, do it…If it’s true for you, it’s not for me.”
We can’t expect change for the better if we never see how devastated and ruined by sin we are! Change begins with an awakening by the Holy Spirit—a realization that sin has utterly destroyed your hope for a future. Often that recognition comes when you hit rock bottom. It’s when you finally see there is nothing you can do unless God comes to rescue you.
It’s when you understand that you are powerless to change. It’s when you finally recognize you’ll never change without God’s help. [All these words have to do with your mind, your thinking—a renewed mind is the first step to change.]
First three steps (of the Twelve Steps): (1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable; (2) We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity; (3) We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God…
Change begins deep within. When your mind is changed—when your thinking is changed—that’s the critical step to seeing actual life transformation, a radical change in behavior.
3. God gives us—and we accept—a new mind.
The NT word “repent” in the original language literally meant “to change your mind → [after] + [to perceive with the mind, to understand, to think, ponder, consider].”
Years ago I was a substitute school bus driver in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis—every day was a new adventure because every day I was trying to follow a map and pick up a bunch of kids.
One day I turned a block too soon, but when I realized what I had done, I kept going, thinking that I could catch the next corner and double back to the correct route. What I didn’t know was that I was in a subdivision of culdesacs, and there was nothing like a block or a rectangle in the whole area. I found myself on curvy roads, bending the wrong way with no options out. The more I tried, the more hopelessly I got lost.
Of course the 7th & 8th graders on the bus loved it. They were shouting at me, telling me which way to go, but I couldn’t trust them! We saw some kids on the opposite side of the street. They told me I should stop and pick them up, but I didn’t believe them. I missed about a third of the kids that day and got the rest to school about 20 minutes late. They loved it. They said, “Can you be our driver again tomorrow?”
I kept on going WHEN I SHOULD HAVE TURNED AROUND AND STARTED OVER. That is the essence of REPENTANCE—to change your mind, to stop going the way you’re going and do a 180 in the opposite direction!
REPENTANCE is action, but action requires a change of mind. It’s a cycle: right thinking lead to right actions and right actions reinforce right thinking.
If you want to change your life, let God change your mind—the way you understand, the things you know, how you process information, the ability to reason.
If you want to change your marriage…or your relationships with your kids…or your job prospects…or your health concerns…or the mess in your home, give God permission to come within—to have his way and to change your mind, to change your thinking.
Your mind leads the way to your behavior. How you think and what you believe affects the outcome of your life. Poison, toxic thoughts will lead to destruction. Scientists studied how to change behavior in walleyes. Put them in a big tank with minnows on the other side of a glass divider. The walleyes would crash into the barrier trying to grab a minnow. Each time they bruised their noses, they became a little more discouraged until finally they gave up completely. Then the scientists removed the glass divider, but the walleyes had learned to leave the minnows alone. The minnows could brush up against the walleyes noses but none were eaten. When your past, your upbringing, your disappointments bruise you enough, eventually you will think things like: “I could never do that. I’ll only get hurt. I was destined to fail…”
4. Take action. We must trust AND obey.
A mind soaking in positive, faith-filled thoughts, trusting the promises and the possibilities of God will lead to good things—and fulfill God’s purposes for your life.
“The Great Blondin” (Charles Blondin) was a famous tightrope walker from the 19th century. He gained notoriety in 1859 when he stretched a wire 1,100 feet across Niagara Falls and walked across, the crashing water far below. Then he did it blindfolded…sat in the middle of the wire, cooked and ate an omelet, then he stood on a chair with one leg of the chair balanced on the wire. He pushed a loaded wheelbarrel across. Then he turned to the cheering crowd: “Do you believe I can push the wheelbarrel across with a person in it.” Yes! We believe you can, they shouted. Then he turned to one person, “If you believe I can do it, get in.” When we really, truly believe—deep down in the core of our being—it’s more than an intellectual assent. Real belief leads to a full commitment. Belief must be more than academic; it must lead to action.
Men tried for years to break the 4-minute mile. In 1923 Paavo Nurmi ran the mile in 4:10.4. It wasn’t until 31 years later (1954) that Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile, doing it in 3:59.4. But once the barrier was broken, a number of others did it in quick succession. The world record itself was broken 5 times in just the next 10 years. Once people saw it could be done, they believed it was possible—and they rose to the level of what they believed. Change starts in the mind.
A man who thinks he can run a four-minute mile will train to achieve that goal. His actions stem from what he believes to be true.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Notes the “mind” words in the passage, words that have “nous” in them: thinking (nous)…understanding (dianoia)…ignorance (agnoia)…minds (nous)…
Result: We are transformed = it’s a metamorphosis into to something completely different (“transformers”); “transform” is “metamorphóō” → “to change into another form.”
A caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. A tadpole is transformed into a frog. A sinner is transformed into a saint. One who is shaped by the world is transformed by the power of God because his mind has been renewed.