Do you ever find yourself drifting back into old habits, thoughts, or attitudes? You really want to change and you thought you were doing “better”. Then, you wake up one day finding you’ve really made no real progress. Never coming to lasting change is the story of your life. You kick one habit only to pick up another. You stop smoking, but replace it with eating compulsively. The desire to do good is present, but you lack an ongoing knowledge of performing the good you want to do.
It is not like you haven’t tried. You’ve binged watched all the YouTube content available on the specific struggle you want to change. It has even been presented by “Christian” teachers and professors. Audible has spoken to you content honed into the specific battle you fight. The Google search bar knows what you’re going to ask before you even get the letters spelled out. It is the same old same old. When someone asks you how you’re doing, the “good” response you provide is really saying, I haven’t changed any since the last time you asked me that. The fight is still real and the contest is still raging.
Everybody seems to have the answer for your trial. “The best kept secret” all the teachers propose work for everyone else, but they aren’t changing you. What the gurus propose seems feasible and right. It will work, if I could just do it . . . but I’ve tried only to fail . .. yet again. I’m doomed. There’s no hope for me to be any different. Why should I keep trying, spinning my wheels, and going nowhere?
The frustrations you feel are not uncommon. One of the top influencers of all time conveyed the same message. Paul in Romans 7 found himself doing the same old same old. This realization didn’t cause him to give up or throw in the towel. Instead in Romans 12, he resolved transformation was possible. It was possible for him to change. He just wouldn’t change for a time, but it would be a total transformation. His readers understood the change would be so effective and lasting, you wouldn’t even be able to recognize him.
Lasting results are possible only by the renewing of your mind. There are four principles for renewing the mind located in 1 Thessalonians 5:3-18. This passage was written to a people who were surrounded by others saying “peace and safety” can be found in the way I tell you do things. The writer of 1 Thessalonians was warning followers of God not to listen to all the voices, but instead to listen for priority, place, protection, and provision. It is in these four distinctions that true transformation happens.
Priority – Be alert and be sober. Know what you are hearing and who you are hearing it from. Is the teaching founded upon God’s commandments and His way of doing things. Are you awake to sense (taste, touch, smell, hear, see) the real content of the message?
Place – Is there a place found to change your thinking? Unless your thinking is changed, your reasoning is different, and your mindset shifts; you will not experience freedom that lasts. You will still be “bound” by burdens that weigh you down and keep you “stuck”. Are you willing to yield your good thinking for God’s thinking that transforms?
Protection– The struggle to do better is real every day. What are you fighting with? What protection against the enemy do you wear? Do you have “positive thinking” as your protection or do you have confidence in God to fight your battles and win the victory? Is your thinking shielded by your expectation God will deliver you because he has set His love to rest on you?
Provision– Peace is the lasting transformation we long to have. We want rest and tranquility from the struggles and hardships we battle. Genuine transformation is only found by living connected to, taking in, and being filled by the supply of God in Christ Jesus. He is our peace, our transformation. He should be the source of our binging. His words should be in our ears and on our tongues at all times. We should search His Word to find out answers to all our questions.
Transformation that is constant and consistent is possible. As we walk through this life, we should be increasingly formed to the image of the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. We should be “branded” to look like Him. The example of Jesus we read in God’s Word showed he had the following:
- Priority of Love – Always being about His Father’s business.
- Place of Obedience – He demonstrated perfect obedience to the point of death – even death on a cross.
- Protected Belonging – He was always with the Father and knew the Father always heard him.
- Provided Blessing – He was always full because it was His meat to do the will of His Father.
Is lasting transformation something you want? Have all the attempts where you tried and saw no lasting benefit discouraged you? It is possible to begin again, even today. Nothing is impossible with God. With God all things are possible – even your lasting transformation. The church, a gathering of like-minded believers led by a man appointed by God, offers the best opportunity for transformation.
Faithful men, affectionately called Pastors, are ordained by God to instruct men and women so that their minds can be made new. The congregation comes together regularly to be taught about God, His work, His promises, His commandments, and His way of thinking by a pastor. There are others in the church like teachers and elders who God also uses to assist in proper understanding of God and His perfect plan.
The priority, place, protection, and provision of authentic transformation happens when you are not walking alone but instead you have a leader who is diligent, demonstrates a healthy knowledge of God’s word, and gives proper godly instruction. Esteem these pastors highly in their work because they are going after lasting transformation with you through their instruction. Do not refuse their instruction, even if you don’t agree with it. They are messengers of God who bring the Word of God. Search the scripture for yourself, God is able to help you understand.
If you are involved in a local church ask yourself these three questions to know if you are under leadership ordained by God to help you experience lasting transformation:
- Does my pastor work diligently among his congregation, the people he serves?
- Does my pastor have authority over me in his better knowledge and use of Scripture?
- Does my pastor give God’s instruction?
In 2 Timothy 4, we are warned in the last days people will search for leaders that teach and tell them what they want to hear that may not be accurate teaching. If you are in a congregation for a while, assess if you are in one of these congregations where the leaders are telling you what you want to hear instead of God’s Word. When you hear God’s word spoken and taught, does it create lasting change? Does your thinking change? If your leader is teaching truth and you do not experience lasting transformation, consider these questions when you hear God’s Word spoken:
- Do I focus on what is being said and sense how I should change?
- Do I have light to think differently and change my direction?
- Do I connect myself with confidence and expectation?
- Do I receive the rest and tranquility God provides?
Transformation that lasts is possible only by the renewing of your mind.
Written By: Anne Gurley