Behind behavior, actions, attitudes, emotions, and habits are ways of thinking (construals) that encourage and strengthen them. To bring about deep change, we must change the way we think; our perspective, or way of seeing things.
The heart is a kind of storage bin where ways of thinking develop based on what is kept and cultivated in it (Matthew 12:34b-35). Transformation of life is a matter of the heart and mind. To change behavior, attitudes and emotions, we must challenge perspectives or ways of seeing things with counter-veiling viewpoints. But how do outlooks form? What shapes them? How does stuff get into the storage bin? And how do we clean it out and refill it?
Four sources that contribute to formation of perspectives or outlooks:
- Physical challenges (limitations or suffering)
- Personality (type A, etc…)
- Circumstantial (Specific trials or crises)
- Social (upbringing, parents, mentors)
* Merging of all four contributors occurs over time.
Examples of ways of looking at life:
- Stressed out/peaceful
God’s work of transformation:
Allow God to transform you by changing the way you think. God works to transform us at the deepest level and He has supplied the means:
Scripture and the Holy Spirit: Psalm 1; 119; James 1; Matthew 7; 2 Timothy 3:15-17
- Inspired by the Holy Spirit
- Applied by the Holy Spirit
- Reinforced by the community of the Spirit (the Church-the habitation of the Spirit)
Key question: How does Scripture fulfill this role?
Answer: through perspective formation; with vertical, eternal, God-centered truth —offering counter-veiling concerns, motivations and emotions. All Scripture is for this purpose—to get perspective! God’s perspective.
Five key passages describing the role of Scripture in spiritual transformation:
1. James 1:22-25
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”
My response to the word: Obedience as I intensely and continuously study it.
Result: “he will be blessed in what he does” (v. 25)
2. Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
My response to the word: Hearing and putting into practicing Christ’s words.
Result: Strong and stable in the face of life’s storms
3. Psalm 1:1-3
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
My response to the word: delighting and continuously deeply reflecting on it.
Result: Blessed, firmly planted and flourishing— Whatever he does prospers
4. II Timothy 3:15-17 (NLT)
“You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
My response to the word: to be taught and corrected regarding right and wrong
Result: Equipped for every good work
5. Deuteronomy 8:2-3
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
My response to the word: Recognize that I am sustained by God’s word
Result: Living a God-dependant life like I depend on food physically
A direct relationship to the work of the Holy Spirit through the mind.
Two mind-sets, ways of thinking or seeing things:
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.” (NLT)
1. Mind set on sinful nature/flesh
Death, hostile, insubordinate and displeasing to God (not vertical, eternal or God-centered). God is not welcomed.
2. Mind set on the Spirit
Life and peace
The key – (verse 9) We expect transformation if you have the Spirit.
- Verse 10 – Christ is in you
- Verse 11a – The Spirit is living in you
- Verse 11b – His Spirit who lives in you
Yet Romans 12:2; 13:14 remind us that it is a process and involves discipline. It is possible to get stuck on the horizontal perspective.
Main points to seek in Scripture:
- Kingdom concerns
- Kingdom motivations
- Kingdom emotions
Scripture confronts us with perspective that is:
- vertical (not stuck on the horizontal)
- eternal (not locked in the temporal)
- God-centered (not only about me)
Questions – How are you choosing to see things? How can you see things differently? All of Scripture is given for perspective formation and spiritual transformation. It’s not just information to fill our heads, but truth to change our hearts and minds—and feelings. It functions with a restraining role by offering counter-veiling perspective (see: Psalm 119:11).