GS24-12 Step Into the Power of Right Believing

Step Into the Power of Right Believing
Bill Giovannetti
Let's get right into the Word of God today:

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).

One translation says, "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within..." (J.B. Phillips)

Today I want to talk about the power of remolding your mind; the power of that transformed, renewed mind - the "right believing" about who God is and how He sees you.

Over the years, my path has crossed with more people than I can count, each carrying their own story.

It's awesome to see so many stories go from darkness to light - with victories over anxiety, depression, fear, and destructive habits through renewing their minds to right believing.

I've also seen too many stories where someone stays stuck in their battles — battles against insecurities, disorders, and pervasive fear... they are stuck in their battles because their minds are conformed to this world's patterns of shame, guilt, and works-based thinking.

The difference comes down to whether you will renew your mind to believe the truth of how God sees you, or simply conform to the lies.

So my talk today is called: Step Into the Power of Right Believing
Paul says:

"I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who [go on believing in] him" (Ephesians 1:19).

That's the power of right believing.

I know what it means to step into "right believing", not just from witnessing it in others, but because I've personally experienced it myself... this transformation by the renewing of my mind.

So today, I'd like to share my own testimony about how I stepped out of a mindset of bondage to condemnation and guilt into right believing about the saving grace of God.

So let me rewind way back to a totally adorable, very cool little Italian kid growing up on the streets of Chicago.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

The Journey Begins: Growing Up in Church

I grew up in the church. In a small church in Chicago.

It's a different church now with a different name, but back in the day, it was called Grace Gospel Church.

I loved that church. I was there from birth till I was 20 years old. Everything I needed to know I learned at Grace Gospel. It was my second home. My friends were there. My spiritual mentors were there. My parents weren't there, though eventually my mom started going.

But the people of Grace Gospel planted the seeds of faith in me from a really early age.

But, without intending to, they also planted some weeds. Some really thorny, painful weeds.

Specifically, weeds like fear and shame and guilt and doubt. The nagging fear that I was stuck under the condemnation of God.

Yes, God loved me; I knew that. But God still scared me; I couldn't shake that.

I wasn't good enough.
I wasn't holy enough.
I wasn't obedient enough.
I wasn't religious enough.
I wasn't saved enough.
I wasn't ready enough for Judgment Day.

I worried about Judgment Day all the time.

That was in a time when everybody was sure Jesus was going to come in about a minute and a half, so I fully expected to meet my Maker really soon.

For me, Judgment Day meant God replaying a video on his giant cosmic plasma screen of all my secret sins in front of all the universe, shaming me beyond description.

I knew I wasn't worthy of him. So I always saw myself as a second class Christian.

I'd go to church and Sunday School week after week and get hit in the head with how bad I was, but God still loved me, but barely. I was on a tightrope with God. One wrong step, and I'd be lost forever.

This drove me nuts. I was uncertain. I was afraid of God. I was guilty. I was, I felt, unholy. I was stuck like this for years. I couldn't break free from it.

So God had to take me by the hand and walk me out of a wasteland of wrong believing all the way to the sunny highlands of right believing about what Jesus did for me and who he made me to be before God.

I can remember the day that happened.

The Encounter: A Moment of Transformation

The setting was my cavernous high school gym. I was a senior at Chicago's massive Lane Technical High School, with a student body over 5,000 at the time.

My gym coach was absent for the day, so we sat on hard wooden bleachers and used the hour as a study period.

I used it to chase down answers to my spiritual frustrations.

I'd brought a book with me about Satan.

Here's that book. I still have it.

Little did I know that the last part of that book shined a spotlight on my guilt and Christ's work on the Cross. Growing up in the church, as I did, I'd heard about the Cross a million times. But this time was different. It was the first time the death of Christ really clicked with me.

I suspect the reason is because the author framed the Cross within the topic of guilt—which happened to be my middle name. He explained how the devil's favorite tool was guilt. And how the devil screwed guilt into our backs as a handle to slam us around every once in a while.

I thought, "Who told this guy about me?"

As I sat on those hard wooden bleachers with some kids doing homework... Pick-up basketball games echoed in the background. The smell of old gym shoes, rubber basketballs, and sweat permeated my senses.

I sat there and I read these words:

We try so hard to please, God... But the harder we try the more we fail. The more we fail, the more we vow not to do it again.
Then Satan steps in and says, accusingly, "Too bad! God won't forgive you this time. You've had it. There is no more grace for you." Or if he sees that we're too smart to fall for that extreme line of reasoning, he'll say, "God may forgive you, but he can't forget how unreliable you are. You'll never be able to be used by God as fully as before."
It's that old "bird with the broken wing will never fly so high again" routine.
God does not want us to dwell on our sins, but rather on our forgiveness....
When you finally understand what Jesus Christ accomplished at the Cross, you realize that God never stops, forgiving you, even while you're in the process of sinning....
When Christ died on the cross, he took care of the sin problem forever. Another sacrifice will never be necessary. Why? Because of the value of the life of [Jesus] who is sacrificed....
I am sure that some of you reading this have allowed guilt to tie you in knots for years. You've just been waiting for God to lower the boom on you for some secret sin. That very guilt has produced an estrangement from your loving heavenly father. Can't you see how wonderful it would be to have him fold his great, strong arms of love around you and comfort and reassure you of his love and acceptance?
Let him do it now. He isn't angry with you, no matter how much you have let him down.  
(Hal Lindsey, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, 1972.)

As I read those words, my little high school heart was pounding.

My world narrowed to a single point—words on a page illuminated by God's own Spirit.

There, for the first time, the message of the Cross pierced through my guilt and shame.

I learned how my sins were lifted out of me that they might be transferred to Christ.

I discovered how this transfer was comprehensive—encompassing every moral failure, past, present, and future.

I read in wonder how the hammer of heaven pounded justice on the head of Christ, punishing him for my sins instead of punishing me.

And then I read about those wonderful words, IT IS FINISHED, the best words ever uttered on planet earth