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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Principles for Personal Change: New Thinking

In review of Ephesians 4:23 it says, “Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes” (NLT).

Today’s verse comes from Ephesians 4:17-24, where Paul teaches me on living as children of light. He tells me that I am to live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

But this isn't what I've learned about Christ. Since I have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, I am to throw off my old sinful nature and my former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes. Put on my new nature, created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.

A natural tendency for people is to think their way away from God; leaving them "hopelessly confused." Intellectual pride, rationalizations, and excuses all keep people from God. I shouldn’t be surprised if people can't grasp the Good News. The Good News will seem foolish to those who forsake faith and rely on their own understanding.

People around me should be able to see a difference in how I live. I am to live as a person of light. Paul told the Ephesians to leave behind the old life of sin, since they were followers of Christ. Living the Christian life is a process. Although I have a new nature, I don't automatically think all good thoughts and express all right attitudes when I become new in Christ. But If I keep listening to God, I will be changing all the time. As I look back over the last year, do I see a process of change for the better in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions? Although change may be slow, it comes as I trust God to change me.

My old way of life before I believed in Christ is completely in the past now. I should therefore put it behind me, like old clothes to be thrown away. When I decided to accept Christ's gift of salvation, it is both a once-for-all-time decision as well as a daily conscious commitment. I am not to be driven by desire and impulse. I must put on a new nature, head in the new direction, and have the new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit gives me.

Change requires new thinking. In order to change, I must learn about God’s truth and start making good choices, but we also must change the way I think. The battle over sin starts in my mind, not in my behavior. The way I think determines the way I feel, and the way I feel determines the way I act. If I want to change the way I act, I start by changing the way I think. In addition, if I want to change the way I feel, I must start with the way I think. Think – Feel – Act For instance, I can say, “I need to love my family more,” but that isn’t going to work. Or someone can say, “I need to love my spouse more,” but that isn’t going to work. I can’t fight my way into a feeling. I must change the way I think about your family, about my wife, and that will change the way I feel, which will then change the way I act. The Bible says, “There must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23 NLT).

It can be summed up like this: I am not what I think I am, but rather, what I think, I am. The battle for sin, the battle to deal with those defects in my life that I don’t like, all start in my mind. If I want to change anything in my behavior or anything in my emotions, I start with my thoughts and my attitude. The renewal of my mind is related to the word “repentance.” Repentance has nothing to do with my behavior. It is about changing my mind, learning to think differently. “Repent” simply means to make a mental U-turn. It’s something I do in my mind, not with my behavior. Changing the way I think will then affect my emotions and affect my behavior. When I repent, I make a mental U-turn. I turn from guilt to forgiveness. I turn from purposelessness to purpose in life. I turn from no hope to new hope. I turn from frustration to freedom. I turn from darkness to light. I turn from hell to heaven. I turn from hatred to love. I also change the way that I think about God. He’s not mad at me; I’m deeply flawed, but I’m deeply loved. I change the way I think about me, I change the way I think about my family, and I change the way I think about my wife. I change the way I think about the world, I change the way I think about the economy, and I change the way I think about my past, my present, and my future. So being renewed in my mind means more than changing the way I think about God and Jesus; it also means I change the way I think about my own defects. The Bible tells us, “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 AMP).

Bottom Line:
Renew your thoughts and attitudes.

What this means to me:
There must be a renewal of my thoughts and attitudes. My life should reflect a change.

In summary, I need to change the way I think about things. Throw off the old ways and let the Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes. Living the Christian life will be a process. Trust God to change me. I need to daily make a conscious commitment. Change the way I act, by changing the way I think.

Father I pray for you to continue to have the Holy Spirit guide me in how I think. Thank you for all you provide. Thank you also for a good day at work yesterday. I pray that you help me organize and guide others. Give me clarity of thought, help me to respond rightly to others. Help me accomplish, complete and present the updated information about the equipment and labor for the move. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!

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