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*Series: *What’s On Your Mind?
*Sermon:* Changing Your Mind
*Scripture:* Romans 12:2
In Jeremiah 13:23 God asked a question of the people of Israel.
He asked, “Can a leopard change his spots?”
It wasn’t a riddle, it was a question meant to spur their thinking about change.
Here's a question many people wrestle with: Can a person change?
I'm talking genuine, honest-to-goodness change from the inside out.
From insecure to secure.
From lazy to industrious.
From dishonest to honest.
From perpetually angry to consistently peaceful.
From pessimistic to optimistic.
From selfish to generous.
Can a person really change?
Well, can a leopard change his spots?
God’s answer to Israel was, “Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”
Does God not believe that people can change?
Sure He does.
But the leopard can’t change his spots by himself.
Change can happen, but radical change doesn't happen by sheer strength of will.
Most people are so trapped in their habits and behaviors that they begin each day chained to yesterday, doomed to repeat the same mistakes again and again.
It doesn't have to be this way, but it is—because change does not come easily.
It takes three things to experience lasting change, and most people aren't willing to invest in these three areas.
• Change takes time.
• Change takes effort.
• Change takes strategy.
*Change takes time**,* but we would rather be changed instantly.
Most of us want to be different in some area of our lives, but we want to be different now, not later.
Most of us who are flabby want to be physically fit, but we don't want to wait the 6 months it takes to get in shape.
Most people who are in debt want to be out of debt today.
And most of us who are impatient want to be patient, and we want it RIGHT NOW!
*Change takes effort**,* but too often we would rather that change be imposed on us.
We don't want to have to make the tough choices required for change; we would rather have those choices made for us.
For many years I had simply let my walking regiment slide.
Day after day I would push it further and further to the back of my to-do list.
Then the doctor told me that I needed to either start walking 30 minutes a day or my blood pressure, blood sugars and other problems would make my life worse than the 30 minute walk.
Most of us don’t do what we need to do unless we are forced to do it.
Change takes effort.
It requires making decisions that we don't want to make.
It requires saying "no" when we want to say "yes"...and saying "yes" when we would rather say "no."
People don't change because change takes effort.
Let me ask you a question.
If there were a "Christian" pill that had the ability to change you into a kind and generous and thoughtful and loving and courageous Christian, would you take it?
Most of us would, because most of us really want to be good.
The reason we're not as good as we should be, or as good as we could be, is because change isn't as easy as taking a pill—it takes effort.
Also, *change takes a strategy*.
I don’t know about you, but every time I mention to someone that I’m ready to lose some weight, or get in shape, I get a dozen different recommendations of different diets, and exercise regimens that they’ve heard are the newest and bestest.
By the time I’ve tried to figure out which one I want to use I’m out of the mood and ready for some ice cream on the couch.
My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t feel the need to find the newest and bestest, she just picks one and sticks to it and loses 30 pounds.
I haven’t lost anything.
Change takes time, effort and strategy, and because of this, change doesn't happen easily and it doesn't happen often.
But the Christian life is all about change.
It's all about transformation.
God's plan is not just to save us from eternal punishment, his plan is to change us, transform us, from the sinful creatures that we are into the image of his Son.
He wants Christ to be formed in us; he wants us to be like Jesus.
It doesn't happen in an instant—it takes time.
It isn't imposed on us—it requires effort on our part.
And, most of all, it takes an effective strategy.
That's what we'll talk about today: one key component to the Biblical strategy for change is found in Romans 12:2.
*Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.**
(Romans 12:2) *
Paul is saying, "If you want to change, renew your mind.
Think new thoughts."
The first challenge is in not conforming to the pattern of this world—to stop thinking like the world thinks.
How does the world think?
Well, for starters, it says that this world is all there is, that our material, physical existence is all we can expect.
It says that the world is a bad place and that is getting worse.
It says that the hope of our future is dependent upon our economic prosperity and our political situation.
The world says that the definition of right and wrong changes not only from age to age, but from region to region.
What was wrong in one place and time could be right in another place and time.
The world says that everything revolves around you, and that your job is to look out for your own interests above everyone else's.
I could go on and on.
We must learn to discern.
We must identify worldly discern between how the world teaches us to think and how God teaches us to think.
Here's a test.
If a line of thought leads to hopelessness and despair, is that thought from God?
If a line of thought leads to a greater understanding of the love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, power, holiness, and majesty of God, is that thought from God?
Paul says, /be transformed by the renewing of your mind/.
This is how you change.
I’m not talking about the Power of Positive Thinking.
Norman Vincent Peale used to say, "Change your thoughts and you can change your world,” but the problem is that it sounds so much easier than it actually is.
It's not easy.
It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes strategy.
If you want to experience true transformation, you must learn to renew your mind according to the principles of God.
And you must understand that this will take time, this will take effort, and this will take planning on your part—a strategy.
I've heard people say, "I've tried that positive thinking nonsense and it didn't work."
Now, I want to make it clear.
I am not talking about positive thinking.
I am talking about renewing your mind through biblical thinking.
I also want to make it clear that this is not something you try for a couple of days.
It's not a magic trick that makes your problems go away.
It's a process of experiencing total and complete transformation, and it doesn't happen overnight.
It takes time.
And neither does it happen easily.
It takes effort.
And neither does it happen just by chance.
It takes a strategy.
Let's spend the next few minutes talking about this strategy.
Paul said, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
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