Christians claim to be submissive to the Word of God. They acknowledge that they are not ‘the finished article’. So when did the Bible last change your thinking or behaviour?
The development of one’s Christian character is effected by the Holy Spirit applying the Word of God to one’s thinking, speech and behaviour. It is called sanctification – ‘Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth’, prayed Jesus for His disciples in John 17:17.
Christians desire to be ‘fit for the Master’s use’ 2Timothy 2:21. Does the Lord use you? Are you open to His guidance? Does the Bible change you? Or are you beyond change? Some people’s views never change, which suggests that they don’t submit their thoughts to Scripture – ‘bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ’ 2Cor 10:5. When did the Bible last change your thinking?
Why don’t people change?
1. because they do not study their Bibles for themselves. Once a godly person sees the teaching of Scripture, his conscience is bound to it; but if a person rarely studies Scripture, it is unlikely to change him.
2. there is another reason. The fear of change and being thought unorthodox.
Many Christians are familiar with the concept of ministers and elders looking over their shoulder. They do not act freely, according to their own understanding and conscience because of what others might think. They are afraid of seeming to be unorthodox.
This is a recipé for disaster, curtailing one’s readiness to respond to the leading of Scripture.
So why does it happen? Usually because there is one person who pulls up others for what he perceives to be unorthodox. This person is rarely challenged in his thinking and may have ties to influential people, so that he has influence out of all proportion to his understanding. But he is orthodox! and this is all that matters. Rather, he is orthodox in the area he knows about, but he fails to see what others see and would like to act upon.
This ‘one man ruins all’ attitude is very common and very influential in the Christian church. ‘A little folly’ can ruin a reputation Ecc 10:1, but it can ruin a congregation and many other things.
It is time for individual Christians to remember their Christian liberty and to reclaim the liberty with which Christ has made them free. ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage’ Gal 5:1.
Unwillingness to change is a mark of a prejudiced person. Such people think that they know enough already and you cannot say anything to change their mind.
When one points out something that they did not know, if they begin to contradict it, it shows that they have taken no time to think about it but have immediately applied their prejudicial opinions to resist it.
Such people are too intelligent by half, so common that being ‘too clever by half’ or ‘too smart for one’s own good’ have become proverbial.
These people are so intelligent that you cannot tell them anything worth their attention, and certainly not to change their mind.
For this reason, many intelligent people are prejudicised. ‘Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools’ Rom 1:22, against which the apostle Paul in the same epistle warns his Christian brethren: ‘For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits’ Rom 11:25. This is so relevant that Paul repeats it in a more general context: ‘Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits’ Rom 12:16. In the former example Paul applied it to Gentile Christians boasting against unbelieving Jews, while in the latter example he generalised it to those who were high-minded. In each case, he is simply quoting the Proverbs of Solomon, the wisest of ordinary men Pro 26:5,12,16 and Pro 28:11.
On the other hand, real intelligence recognises the need to continually challenge one’s prejudices. It also learns from those of lesser intelligence how important it is to explain things simply and clearly for the understanding of the least able in one’s audience. It is proverbial that some teachers speak ‘over the heads’ of their hearers.
There is a vital role for language and communication in the improvement of the human condition. This is more than ‘education as the panacea for all ills’. One can be an educated heathen, but proper communication and humility would lead even such, as well as the arrogant and the prejudiced, to ‘the truth as it is in Jesus’ Eph 4:21. This is how Christians learn from Jesus – ‘if so be that you have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus’ Eph 4:20-21. Jesus offers to share our burden with Him: ‘Share My yoke and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls’ Mat 11:29.
17 Jan 2012: the implications of change.
15 Aug 2018: does the Bible change your eschatology?
24 Jan 2019: when did BBC Question Time last change your mind?
29 Nov 2019: Iain Dale of LBC thinks that asking when you changed your mind is ‘a most fantastic question’ about which he is writing in a chapter in his own forthcoming book.