Don’t Stop At Changing What You Do. Change What You Believe.
Surrounded by the Colorado mountains, Lauryn Maloney-Gepfert is teaching people how to walk. Or rather, I should say, she is teaching people how to walk….again. The physician’s assistant developed a program called Neuroplastic Functional Training (NFT) and the results are nothing short of miraculous. People with debilitating injuries were beating insurmountable odds. Patients whose prognosis was lifelong paralysis, who were told that, at best, they might be able to feed themselves, were now fully functioning, walking, even getting up from the ground unassisted.
They relearned how to walk through Maloney-Gepfert’s whole person approach. She found that recovery was indeed possible, but it had to include all aspects of a person’s being. He method focuses on physical movement (the body), neuroplasticity (the brain), and one more element – the mind.
She explained that patients begin the healing with mental barriers that impede their recovery. These barriers inhibit the brain from changing and, as a result, keep the body from moving. Someone who hears she will never walk again and accepts that message inhibits her brain from relearning how to function.
Maloney-Gepfert discovered that what we believe about ourselves affects how our brain neurologically functions, which quite literally affects how we live. Our minds consciously choose what messages it accepts about ourselves, which changes ours brains, which changes how we live. In other words, a vital factor to whether a paralyzed patient will ever walk again is what she believes. Before she can go from immobile to fully functioning, she has to believe that she will walk again.
As I heard these miraculous stories, I thought of how much this applies to spiritual change. Our minds choose what we will believe, which changes how we think, and changes how we live.
Scripture tells us to be transformed not by making lists and resolutions, but by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2). Ephesians 4:23 tells us to be renewed in the spirit, or the attitude, of our minds.
This isn’t some kind of humanistic, “if I can see it I can be it” spirituality. It’s not pumping yourself up with a pep-talk. It’s total surrender, wholehearted dependence on what God has told us about who He is and who we are in Him.
Throughout Romans 6, the Apostle Paul wants us to know who we are as believers in union with Christ. We have been crucified with Christ. We are dead to sin. We have been raised to walk with newness of life. This is who we truly are.
Paul is telling us who we are in Christ to tell us who we must believe we are. We are to “reckon yourselves dead to sin….and not present our members as instruments of unrighteousness.” Why does he say that? If Christ made us free from sin, why do we have to “reckon ourselves dead to sin”?
Because what we believe changes what we do. Our Christian lives grow the same way they began – faith in God’s promises. Colossians 2:6 says that we must walk in Him as we received Him – by faith! We never “graduate” from faith. And we know that the “righteous will live by faith,” and “without faith it’s impossible to please God.”
We all have barriers to belief that keep us paralyzed, messages we have believed about God and ourselves that keep us from changing. We have to replace with new beliefs. We have to choose what we will believe.
So how do we do that? By abiding in the Word of God. By reading, studying, thinking on, and talking about the truths of Scripture and choosing to believe what the Lord – whose name is Faithful and True – has said.
Maybe you made some resolutions this year. Maybe this is the year you want to really change. Before you launch out to change what you do, take an inventory of what you believe. Changing what we do starts with changing what we believe. Because what you believe will change what you do.
Do you believe God loves you, that He will cause everything to work together for your good if you love Him and are called according to His purpose. When you do, it will change how you live.
Do you believe you are forgiven and free from sin, have every spiritual blessing in Christ, and predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ? When you do, it will change how you live.
Do you believe the Lord Jesus is sovereign over our lives and our world despite what we see, and that He is coming back? When you do, it will change how you live.
We don’t have to be paralyzed by our patterns. We can be renewed in the spirit of our minds the Word of God, and walk in our new identity (Gal 5:16). Let’s not stop at resolutions just to change what we do. Let’s change how we think and choose to believe what God has said. When we do, it will change how we live.