Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:2 ESV
Sometimes — a lot of the time — when we feel that our problems are insurmountable and we are lost in the midst of them, we spend days and nights begging God to change our circumstances when the truth is, what really needs changing is us. Point blank. Period.
How we think, what we believe, and what we say are all reflections of who we think we are, of what’s really in our hearts. When we look at what’s coming out of our mouths in our conversations with loved ones and even in our talks with God, what do we see? Do our words reflect an out-of-balance focus on what we perceive to be the ideal plans for our lives — in other words, our plans — or an unhealthy obsession with our worldly status, or maybe too much value placed on what our friends think of us?
Usually, what comes to light is that the root of our problems has very little to do with things like the job market or our relationship status. It’s us. God needs to hit the reset button on our beings and restore our focus from our current positions in life to the purpose He has for our lives! But our purpose can’t be fulfilled or even defined until His new for us is established.
The new that will unfold as we allow God to give us a new mind — His mind.
A new heart — His heart.
And a new image — His image.
Ephesians 4:24 tells us to
Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
But the process of removing or taking something off that has been a part of you for longer than you can imagine is not an easy task. And I’m not just talking difficult. I’m talking painful! You know, the kind of pain that feels like someone is slowly ripping duct tape from the most delicate part of your skin. That kind of pain.
It’s amazing how comfortable we can become with ourselves. Even justifying our attitudes and behaviors when someone challenges us to change. If something we say rubs someone the wrong way, we tend to justify ourselves with excuses like, “That’s just my personality. This is how I am.”
But if your “I am” is not like the Great I Am, then somebody’s got to change, and it’s not Him.
A while back, I was invited to speak at a women’s conference. Ironically, the theme of the conference was “Be Brave, Be True, Be You.” When I first heard the theme I thought it sounded like a bumper sticker, but I was ready to roll with it. About a month before the conference, I set off to prepare by collecting verses on the topic. But something was different this time. The process was like walking through quicksand while having shackles clasped to my ankles. I wasn’t getting anywhere.
“Lord, what in the world is going on? Help me get this done,” I pleaded week after week as the conference date drew nearer.
Day after day, I painstakingly sifted through scriptures like “We are made in the image of Christ” (Genesis 1:26), “We are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and “We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath” (Deuteronomy 28:13). I wrote pages and pages of talking points, each ending up in the waste basket. “Help me, Lord!” I cried with a sense of desperation.
Then, as if the verbal declaration alone would snap me into a place of clarity and healing, I shouted, “I am made in the image of Christ. I am the head and not the tail. I am above and not beneath.” Allowing the words to linger in the air, anticipating some immediate revelatory change within, I continued to sit there. Nothing. Diverting my attention to the Bible and staring intently at the verses of Scripture I had just recited, I questioned, “What do these words even mean?”
I was reading all the right scriptures — even attempting to speak those same verses over my life — but for some reason, the words that I spoke fell flat. They felt like mere words without meaning or revelation. Something was clearly missing. There was a disconnect somewhere within me that didn’t allow the words to penetrate my heart and override the already established thoughts in my mind.
Laying the Bible down on the couch I walked over to the window and stared at the leaves that were beginning to change colors.
I prayed: “What’s wrong with me, Lord? I’m doing everything I know to do. Yet I feel like I’m just banging my head against the wall. At times, Lord, I feel like I move two steps forward in my relationship with you. Then other times I feel like I take ten steps backward, fighting the same stupid fight within my mind all over again. Jesus, You’re all I have, and I need You! I need Your help with this conference. I need Your help with my life. I need Your help with, well, me!”
It was a long while before I spoke again. Then, like a whisper spoken into the depth of my soul, I heard the Lord. “You read the Word, Kristi, but you don’t always believe the Word.”
Believe: “To accept something as true. To feel sure of the truth. To expect or hope with confidence; to trust.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
It is so easy for us to believe what the Word of God says for someone else but not so easy when it comes to ourselves. It’s not that we doubt God’s Word, but sometimes how we feel about ourselves affects our belief. For instance, we can take a scripture that says something like, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14 NIV),” and disagree with the Word by telling ourselves that “If I’m so ‘fearfully and wonderfully made,’ then why am I such a failure in certain areas of my life?”
The battle in our minds is real. When we nurture negative and false ideas about our lives, solidified by the words we speak to ourselves and others, then often our attempts to embrace the truth of who we are based upon the Word of God can prove extremely difficult. At times, impossible.
When we realize we’re allowing negative thoughts to shape how we see ourselves and the world around us, then it’s time to make a change.
It’s important to discover not only how to speak right, but how to think right. And how to believe right. After all, belief is the link that ties trust and faith together. It’s impossible to have one without the other, because one is the other.
How can we get our words, thoughts, and beliefs about ourselves and how God sees us to line up with the Word of God? And how can we believe the words we tell ourselves and shore up our faith so that it doesn’t crash and burn so frequently?
Jesus alone carries the power to transform what we see, think, speak, and believe about who we are. When we cry out to Jesus with sincere hearts, He never fails to graciously lift us up with His loving hand.
We can begin the process of revelation and transformation by talking to God and asking Jesus:
- How do I allow Your Word to change how I feel about myself?
- How do I allow Your Word to change how I think about myself?
- And how do I see Your Word as more than just words on a page, but words that impact and empower as I speak them to myself?
Words come by way of three different sources: God, the enemy, and ourselves. We know that every word that comes out of the mouth of God is true (Numbers 23:19). And every word that comes out of the mouth of the enemy is a lie (John 8:44). And when it comes to us, well, many of us take on an either-or approach depending on which way the wind is blowing. The question we must ask is, whose word are we choosing to believe?
Words are power no matter where they originate. They have a huge impact on our perspective. And that perspective can either help our faith grow and increase, or our perspective on things can stunt or even sabotage our faith. We need to plug into the one true source of power, allowing the words we read, hear, and speak to fuel our faith, igniting change within our lives.
Back to my original question: how? How do we allow the Word of God to lift up off the physical pages of the Bible and plant into the recesses of our minds, transforming our old thoughts, attitudes, and issues of the heart?
There is a lamp in the corner of my office that I think of when I consider this question.
Not too long ago, I had tried to turn it on, but it didn’t work. I flipped the switch on and off a couple of times, but nothing. I changed the lightbulb. Nothing. I spun the lamp around, readjusted the bulb again, and, still, nothing. I was dumbfounded.
Then Chase got up from playing one of his video games, walked over to the lamp, picked up the cord, and plugged it into the wall outlet. He flipped the switch, and the light came on. Then, without speaking a single word, he turned around, walked back to his seat, and continued to play his game.
All that confusion, and I had forgotten to plug the stupid thing in.
A lamp is just a piece of furniture until it’s plugged into a power source. When light emanates from that lamp it brings forth more than light. It brings forth clarity, even life, into the room. In the same way, the words written on the pages of the Bible can feel like mere words until they are empowered by the Holy Spirit, making the Word alive. It’s the Holy Spirit who transforms mere words and touches something inside of us, miraculously conforming our minds into the mind of Christ and revamping our hearts to reflect the heart of God!
We often neglect to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit as the link that takes us from the old person to the new, but we need to remember that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) reproduces the life of Jesus in our own lives! That’s why He’s an integral part of our Christian walk. When we continually depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance, power, and direction, we will see the old ways of thinking, believing, and living transform into the new ways promised in Christ.
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Excerpted with permission from Talk Yourself Happy by Kristi Watts, copyright Kristi Watts.
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This year I want to look more like the Great I Am. How about you? I want to be transformed and that means instead of constantly begging God to change my circumstances when I’m in a mess, getting and staying plugged into Him and asking Him to change me. Let’s ask Him that today! Come join the conversation on our blog. We want to hear from you about speaking Scriptural truth over our lives. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full