The Word of God clearly reveals that as you think in your heart, so are you.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
If you can’t—or should I say won’t—change on the inside, then you aren’t going to see change on the outside. You can pray, beg God, and get other people to intercede for you all you want. They could even lay hands on you until they rub all the hair off the top of your head, but you aren’t going to see change in your life externally until you change internally.
Many people say, “But I do desire to change. I’ve done everything I know, yet it seems like things are just continually the same.” God’s Word is true. As you think in your heart, so are you. (Proverbs 23:7.) This is a law of God. Romans 8:6 confirms this truth, revealing that:
To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Before you take offense at my words, resenting and disagreeing with what I’m sharing, consider this truth. Of course, everyone has a bump in the road now and again, whether they are walking with the Lord or not. We live in a fallen world, and we have an enemy that comes against us. Not every single problem is a direct result of something flawed on the inside of us. However, if your overall life is spiraling downward, if nothing ever works and problems are all you seem to experience, then you should stop and consider that perhaps your inner man may need some work.
What Have You Planted?
People typically respond to tough circumstances and situations by blaming someone or something else. “It’s the color of my skin. It’s my family background. I was disadvantaged.” They’ll blame anybody. “This person mistreated me. It’s my employer who’s the jerk, not me.” It’s always somebody else’s fault.
However, the Word makes it clear that your experience, your surroundings—everything about you—is basically a result of the way you think. As you think in your heart, that’s the way it is. When you think spiritually minded thoughts, you get life and peace. When you don’t, you get death. (Romans 8:6.) You may not like that. You might be saying, “No, that’s not true,” but it is.
If I came over to your house to see your garden, I wouldn’t have had to be with you in the beginning when you sowed the seeds to know what you’ve planted. All I’d have to do is observe the plants that are growing up. If you have corn growing there, you planted corn. If there are peas, you sowed peas. You may claim that someone else came in and planted something in your garden you did not intend. However ultimately, it’s your responsibility to guard and protect your garden. Whatever is growing there is what you’ve planted or what you’ve allowed to be planted there.
Just as this is true in the natural realm, it’s true in the spiritual realm. Whatever is growing in the garden of your life is what you’ve planted or allowed to be planted in your heart. Before you can really see change, you must quit using excuses and blaming anybody and everybody else for what is wrong in your life. You have to stop saying, “It’s just fate,” or “bad luck,” or “nothing ever works for me.” Scripture reveals that as you think in your heart, that’s the way you’re going to be. (Proverbs 23:7.) If you think spiritually minded, your thoughts will produce life and peace. (Romans 8:6.)
The Knowledge of God
Second Peter 1:2 further substantiates the principle that your thought life produces a harvest in the natural realm, when it says:
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
Many people want grace and peace to be multiplied to them. They desire peace in their life, and they’re praying for it. They may even be asking other people to help them get it. Actually, they’re looking for peace to come externally—from outside them—into their circumstances. These words in 2 Peter 1:2 reveal that peace comes through the knowledge of God.
Peace in your life isn’t the absence of problems or challenging circumstances around you. God’s kind of peace is there even in the midst of a storm. It resides on the inside. Then, eventually, that peace on the inside of you will begin to change your circumstances on the outside.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.
2 Peter 1:3
This verse says that God’s divine power has (past tense) already given to us all things. Most people want God to just come with His power from the outside, in. They pray, “Oh Lord, stretch forth Your mighty hand and touch me!” They’re looking for God to send a spiritual bolt of lightning to hit them and then—BOOM—they’re healed, prospered, delivered, or whatever they need. However, this scripture says that all things that pertain to life and godliness come through the knowledge of God. This includes healing, prosperity, deliverance, joy, peace, success in business, good relationships, and anything else. Everything that pertains to life and godliness comes through the knowledge of God. This means that the born again Christian already has the peace of God in their spirit. As they renew their mind to who they are and what they have in Christ, they draw that peace out into their experience.
The dominant experience of your life is a reflection of the way you are thinking on the inside. (Proverbs 23:7.) Instead of looking for a change to take place externally in everybody and everything else around you, the first thing you need to do is recognize that change begins on the inside of you. This occurs according to the knowledge that you have of God. (2 Peter 1:2-3.)
This is a simple truth we are discovering, but it’s profound. In fact, most people miss it because it’s so simple, thinking, No, it must be more complex than that. My present reality can’t just be the result of not thinking properly about things. God’s Word is true. You can turn any circumstance in your life around by getting God’s perspective and starting to think His thoughts. Some people call this by different names, but I believe this is what the Bible calls faith.
Faith is simply seeing things from God’s perspective. When someone does something to you, instead of just reacting in the natural, physical realm, based on your emotions, faith considers, “What does God’s Word say?” So you take a scripture like Ephesians 6:12, which says that you aren’t wrestling…
…against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Instead of just focusing on the fact that a person has pushed your hot button, because of God’s knowledge that you have through His Word, you recognize that the devil can speak through people and use them to come against you. Instead of just seeing things in the natural, you have a different perspective because of the knowledge of God. You think differently on the inside. You realize that your struggle is not really with that person who is angry at you, but with the one who is resisting God who is inside you. Because of this, you are able to respond differently to these situations than other people do. You turn around and love those people who are against you instead of getting into strife, and it produces different results. All of this begins with you thinking differently.
I could give you hundreds of testimonies from my life and the lives of others who have personally experienced this truth. This is reality. The world is full of people who want change in their circumstances, but few recognize that the change begins on the inside of them.
At each of our Gospel Truth Seminars, I tell people about our Bible colleges. During my remarks, I often ask, “How many of you realize that there’s more? How many of you desire more and want change in your life?” It’s not unusual to see eighty to ninety percent of the crowd respond. Most of these are Christians—Spiritfilled believers—who recognize that there needs to be change in their lives. They aren’t satisfied with where they are and they want something more.
After all these people admit, “Yes, I want change,” I come back and ask, “What are you going to do to effect change? What is going to be any different?” One of the definitions of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, and expect different results. If you want something to change on the outside, then you’re going to have to start by changing something on the inside. You cannot keep the same internal thought processes and believe that your external circumstances will change. That, by definition, is insane! First of all, you must change in your heart. Then you’ll have to take some steps to cooperate with that change. Change isn’t going to come from the outside. It begins on the inside. If you want change in your life, then you’re going to have to do something differently in your spirit.
The moment I bring this up this truth, I instantly meet resistance because people are afraid to change. I’ve actually met people before who were in terrible, miserable situations, yet they had adjusted to them. They knew they could survive. It may not have been what they wanted—their dream or goal—but they had been in their situation a long time. They knew that they could survive, and they were afraid of failure should they try to change their reality.
If that’s you, one of the things that must happen in order to effect change in your life is you’re going to have to get to a place where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. You have to really reach a place where you say, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to see these changes externally happen in my life. I’m going to start changing the way I think. I’m going to start taking some risks.” Unless you’re willing to do these things, you’ll never see this external change.
The Bible relates the story of when the city of Samaria was surrounded and besieged by the Assyrian army. (See 2 Kings 6:24- 7:20.) The Samaritans were starving to the extent that they were eating their own children. Animal dung, being sold as food, was commanding a high price. This city was suffering terribly from the siege, drought, and famine. The people were just about to be completely destroyed, yet they couldn’t do anything about it because the Syrians had Samaria completely surrounded.
Four lepers sat at the gate of Samaria. As they talked to each other, they said, “How long are we going to sit here—until we die? If we stay here, we’ll die. If we go into the city, the famine will destroy us. Let’s go out to the Syrians. If they kill us, we’re just going to die here anyway. We don’t have anything to lose. Perhaps they’ll show us mercy.” (See 2 Kings 7:3-4.)
So these four lepers got up and went into the Syrian camp. It turned out that the Lord had already been there. He had caused the Syrians to hear a noise. They thought the Israelites had hired another nation to fight against them, so they had fled in terror, leaving behind all their food, animals, tents, provisions, gold, and silver. The Syrians had fled for their lives and left everything behind! These four lepers, who were facing starvation just a few minutes before, experienced a tremendous personal deliverance. They went out to the camp and discovered food that was still warm. They began to eat their fill. They found clothes, gold, and silver. After finding all these things, eventually they were the ones who brought the good news back to the city of Samaria. They became the heroes who actually proclaimed deliverance to the entire area. All this happened because four lepers, shunned by their city, sitting out at the gates, starving to death, finally made a decision. Even though their outlook seemed terrible, they declared, “We’ve got to do something. We’re going to die if we stay where we are. We must head in some direction.” So they considered their options. Even though this option to go to the enemy camp didn’t look real good, it was better than sitting still and dying. And because they did something different, they experienced tremendous deliverance.
Change Is Needed
Right now you may be dying like the four lepers. If not physically, then perhaps emotionally. You know you’re dying. Your marriage is falling apart. Things aren’t going right. You’re keenly aware that something is wrong. You know there’s more, yet you are fearful to take any steps because you’re afraid you might fail. If you would just look at things properly, you’d realize that you’re failing now. Even if you have a guaranteed income, live in a relatively nice house, and your circumstances are going well, if you aren’t satisfied and fulfilled in your heart, then you are dying on the inside and change is necessary. If you don’t wake up in the morning and feel like, “Praise God, another opportunity to do what the Lord has called me to do and make a difference in this world,” then whether you realize it or not, change is needed.
If you want different results, then you’re going to have to do something differently. To keep doing the same thing over and over again, while praying for different results, is insane. If you want different results, do something differently.
True change begins on the inside. You can sit there and pray for God to just supernaturally do something. Many people are praying to win the lottery, or have their circumstances change on some other roll of the dice. If that’s what you are believing for, you aren’t following God. That’s not the way He’s going to meet your need. The odds of that happening are millions to one. Nobody is going to walk into your office and out of the blue ask you to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. That’s not how life works. Change doesn’t happen that way. If you want change on the outside, it begins on the inside.