So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls (James 1:21-NLT)
The Word has the power to produce deep and lasting change in the believer. The implanted word saves the soul or renews the mind. When it comes to us changing, we will not change until our belief system changes. Let me explain.
We have basically two kinds of thoughts; conscious thoughts, and underlying thought patterns which some term your belief system or your core values. The Bible calls this your conscience. These core beliefs, or belief system, or underlying patterns of thought operate almost automatically. And they are at work just under the conscious level and they motivate us in all of our behaviors; our actions, words, responses, how we see the world, how we see ourselves, how we treat others, and how we relate to God.
These deep underlying thoughts are what control us. And there is no personal change of lasting value until these underlying patterns of thinking change. Notice 2 Corinthians 10:3-6: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
The strongholds mentioned here are really fortresses of thought that are built up in these underlying thought patterns. The arguments mentioned are the patterns of thinking that precede behavior. These must be challenged and changed before we act differently.
The Word divides soul from spirit in us, and is able to analyze these underlying thoughts. For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12- Amplified).
Reading the Epistles in the New Testament will give you the will of God for the believer in most of the areas of life. If you’ll read them slowly and prayerfully, making a decision to line your lifestyle up with what you read, you will be challenged to change! Ask yourself while reading: is there an attitude or motive that I need to change; is there some sinful activity that I need to forsake; is there something that I’m not doing that I must begin to do; is there some promise here that I must embrace?
If you’ll do this, the power of the word of God will begin to change you. It will analyze your thoughts, your motives, your actions and reactions, your beliefs and all your conduct. It will detect wrong underlying patterns of thinking. The Word will convict you to change! The Holy Spirit will urge you and motivate you to challenge hurtful underlying patterns of thinking.
When I was a young Christian, God began to challenge my speech. I carried a habit from my before Christ days of criticizing others and of being a gossip. My words were negative and full of doubt and pessimism. As I read the New Testament and the book of Proverbs I saw that my words mean a lot to God; that I would be judged according to my words (Matthew 12); that my words guided my life like the rudder on the back of a great ship or the bit in the mouth of a horse (James 3); that my words were to be winsome and kind to others or I would grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4).
I became so convicted that I searched the scriptures about words. I ask God to help me change. I began to read scriptures about words over and over until the force of conviction inside of me about them was very strong. My belief system about words changed, and lastly my habits of speech were transformed.
What is God speaking to you about? What do you need to change to become more like Jesus? What about your life hurts others and yourself? Go to the Word. Let it speak. Let it convict. Let it woo you away from hurtful habits. The Word can transform you if you’ll let get down into your underlying thought patterns.
Tomorrow, I discuss the part that meditation in the Word plays in changing these underlying patterns of thinking. Meditation in the Word is the key to permanent life change!