Jimmy Evans - The Three Challenges of Change
Karen and I were set free by this. Psalm 107:20 says this. God sent his word to heal us and to deliver us from all of our destruction. Our testimony is, we were deceived people trying to impose fallen beliefs on each other, fighting like cats and dogs, and what saved us was the truth of the word of God. That's what saved our marriage. Let me ask you another question. How did you learn about marriage? Who taught you about marriage? Your parents' marriage, society? Because if your thinking about marriage came from anything other than this, you're in bondage. I come from generations of chauvinism in my family.
When Karen and I got married. My dad was a little chauvinistic, but my granddad in my family in general, men were better than women, and men were served by women. I thought, "That's of the Lord, I want one of those". That's what I thought. I just thought, "I love that". My granddad, this is the truth, my granddad never did anything for himself. My grandmother waited on him hand and foot. She just served him constantly, and my grandmother was just a real servant kind of a heart. But my granddad never dialed the telephone for himself, never cooked, never did chores around the house. When he wanted more coffee, he thumped his coffee cup and she got him more coffee. See, nonverbal commands are the ultimate in women training.
See, when you really have your wife trained, you don't even have to say it. You just have a nonverbal command. One time, I was trying to train Karen and I thumped my tea glass, and she said, "You'd better be killin' a fly, pal". Why did I marry a woman who you can't train? My mother, I was with my mother last week and she was telling me a story about my great-grandfather. And my great-grandfather, my granddad's dad, was a bootlegger in Tennessee. And he fled the law. He had a still and made whiskey and sold it in Tennessee. And he fled the law in the middle of the night, 'cause they were on to him and they were trying to arrest him and shut him down.
Well, my grandfather was one of, I think it was nine children. And my grandfather's mother had died around the time he was born. And my grandfather started drinking whiskey and smoking when he was five years old. My granddad died when he was my age because his health was just a wreck. I loved him, I thought he was the sweetest man on Earth. My family... there was just a fallen thinking to them. So, when Karen and I got married, I inherited my beliefs about marriage from a bootlegger's son. The most powerful influence on my life was my grandfather. And my beliefs about women, and my beliefs about marriage, came from a bootlegger's son. And I was trying to impose that on Karen. And I believed that she was wrong and that she was the problem.
Let me say something, because Jimmy Evans' mind had not been conformed to this, I was in bondage and I was the problem. If your thinking about marriage and the opposite sex did not come from here, you are deceived and you're in bondage. Many of you came from generations of cursed relationships, cursed marriages, of sexism, whether it was a man dominating a woman or a woman dominating a man. You came out of that. Are you gonna be the generation that breaks out of that, or are you gonna be the generation that keeps it going? I wanna be the generation that breaks out, and I become free and pass that onto my children. I don't want my grandchildren to stand up one day and say, "Well, I got my beliefs from a bootlegger's grandson", you know, whatever. I want them to say I got my beliefs about marriage from my pappy.
Where did you get your beliefs? Where'd you get your beliefs about yourself? Some of you struggle with your self-esteem. If you knew what God thought about you, you would never struggle with self-esteem again. You're the apple of his eye. You were worth dying for. If Jesus only died for you, he would die for you. And the devil needs you to hate yourself so that you walk around not believing that God has a great destiny for your life. Because I want to tell you something, God created you to do something great in this life. And he loves you more than you could ever comprehend. See, the way we think about God, and other people, and ourselves affects everything, everything, everything. And I look back 43 years ago to when Karen and I got married, I was just under the influence of so much toxic thinking about God, and women, and marriage, and myself. And I look to today and I thank God that the word of God has set my free, and this has transformed my mind, and my marriage, and my relationship with God, and my relationship with myself.
So, I'm asking you, where did you get your beliefs? I'm challenging you, where did you get your beliefs about anything? If you didn't get 'em from here, you're deceived and you're in bondage. True. How do you get set free? By admitting that you're wrong. Jesus' message, by the way, when Jesus preached during his earthly ministry, John 4:17, from that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". That kind of sounds like a religious thing. Kind of sounds like a negative thing. The word repent in the Greek language is the word, metanoia. It means, meta means change, and noia means mind. Repent means change your thinking. That's all it means. Just change your thinking. Listen what Jesus said, "Change your thinking for the kingdom of heaven is at hand".
Let me say this another way. If you would change the way you think, everything God has for ya, you would get it right here. Everything that God has for you is right in front of you. If you would just change your thinking, you could have everything God wants for you. Repent, the kingdom of heaven is sitting here waiting on ya. It's just the way you think that is keeping you from what God wants. And so, the freedom that we need in our lives begins just by a simple confession that says, "God, I don't know. I don't know. I need you to teach me because I don't know". And that is the prayer that God honors. That is the beginning of freedom. And this is, by the way, the Pharisees did not do that. When Jesus told the Pharisees the truth about themselves, they wanted to kill him. That was their response.
So, let me talk about the challenges of change. Submit to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is head of the church, and he is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be their own husband's in everything. Husbands, love your wife just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
So, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Lord does the church. I've been a marriage counselor for 34 years, and I've never one time read that to a person in having marriage problems and gotten anything other than disgust. And by my Christians. When you have a woman struggling, and by the way, that begins with the very important sentence. It says, "Submit to one another in the fear of God". Wives, here's how to do that. Husbands, here's how to do that. Ephesians five does not tell women to submit to men, and men to rule over women. That's not what it says. It says, "Men, here's how you submit to your wife. Women, here's how you submit to your husband".
Again, Karen and I never talk about who the boss is in our family, because Jesus is the boss in our family. Everything we do is under the authority of Jesus. So, listen to me. So, when you read Ephesians five, there's just like giving, just like tithing. I've never preached on tithing anybody applauded. But I've literally seen people get beet red and just get up and leave. Talking about tithing. That's the most hated scripture. The second most hated is that right there about marriage. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. I just love it, 'cause I know it just makes everybody mad. Men, lay your lives down and you serve her as Christ did the church. You nourish and cherish her as you would your own body.
See, here's the interesting thing about that scripture. We love what it says about our spouse. Every man's thinking, "That's heaven, Jimmy, for my wife to treat me like that". Every woman says, "That's heaven for me to have a sacrificial husband who nourishes". Amen, you all agree. We love what it says about our spouse. We just don't like what it says about us. I've never read this to anybody and they said, "Pastor Jimmy, thank you, that settles it for me. I love that". I read this and they look at me and it's kind of like, you don't understand. I accidentally married the devil's ex-wife. Helping just make her mad. So, let me tell you the challenges of change. Using Ephesians five as an example of a scripture that we don't like, and there are many of 'em. Forgiveness, serving, giving, whatever. There's a lot of scriptures we just don't like.
Here are the challenges of changing our mind and conforming our mind to the word of God.
Number one, the word of God offends our natural minds and is foolish to us. It offends us. Just like the Jews, Jesus turned to the Jews and told them the absolute truth. And they got mad and wanted to kill him. Jesus got killed because he told truth to a society that didn't wanna hear it. That's the truth. It offends our minds.
1 Corinthians 2:14. Again, the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God for their foolishness to him. They're foolish. Submission is foolish to the natural mind. Sacrifice and service, laying your life down for your spouse is foolish. Giving is foolishness. Forgiving is foolishness. It's all foolish to our natural mind. That's the challenge of change is because this is so offensive to our natural mindset and the way that we think. The world simply doesn't think the way God thinks. This is the way God thinks right here. Have you ever said to a four-year-old child, you need to go pick up your toys now. Have you ever had a four-year-old say, "That makes sense to me". You know, Mom and Dad, I'm just a four-year-old kid. I need a lot of help here. I have very limited life experience. You obviously have a lot of experience that I can draw from. And can I say, "Anytime you see me doing something I should be doing, will you tell me? 'Cause I need someone like you speaking into my life. And I'm just thankful that God gave me a Mom and Dad like you. Love you guys. Love you guys".
Is that what happens when you tell a four-year-old go pick up your toys? Children are offended a hundred times a day. Go pick up your toys. They're all day long, they're offended. Why? Because their natural mind, let me say this. Is it right to teach them responsibility? Is it right to say, "Now, you go make up with your sister". That's right, okay. All day long, parents are telling children right things. They're offended all day long. And when they turn teenagers, it gets 10 times worse. 'Cause now they're geniuses. You say, "I want you to do this and this". I know that. I've like been on the web all day. I got like 300 likes. I was never like that. Being a parent just means offending your child all the time by being a good parent. You're telling them the truth. Why don't they receive it? 'Cause they're foolish. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. It's gotten real quiet in here, right? I know your children may be with you but, okay. And for the teenagers here, that didn't apply to you. I know you're not like that. They're foolish.
So, the truth doesn't make any sense to 'em, but a loving parent says it to 'em to protect 'em. Right? So, when God offends us, is he being a loving parent telling us truth to protect us? You bet he is. And why don't we listen to it? Because we're foolish and we have fallen minds. And he says, "I want you to be a giver. I want you to be generous. I want you to be a forgiver. I want you to love your enemies. Husbands, I want you to love that wife I gave you the way I love the church. I want you to lay your life down for her. Women, I want you to honor that man you have there. He represents me in your home".
All the truth of the Bible that offends us comes from a loving God. And we can either be children, immature, down here rejecting the word of God and trying to live based on our fallenness, or we can get to the point where the word of God doesn't offend us any longer because we say, "God, we want you to teach us". We admit that we need help. But the word of God offends our natural minds. It's always offensive to our natural minds. That's the first challenge of change. We have to get over the offensiveness of the word of God.
Number two, the word of God requires us to act in faith contrary to our feelings. It does, the word of God comes and says, "Act above your feelings". Well, what are my feelings? Fear. 2 Corinthians nine, going back to the issue of giving. 2 Corinthians nine says, "Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of compulsion". Listen to me. I know you wanna give. Everyone wants to give. Why don't we give? Fear. Fear ruled our home. Fear ruled our home. Why did I treat Karen the way I treated her? Well, deception, but fear. Fear if I did what the Bible said that it wouldn't work and it would make things worse. It was true of giving. It was true of the way I treated Karen. We both lived in fear.
And the word of God comes to us and it says, "By faith, act like God loves you". By faith, I know you may not feel like God loves you, but by faith, act as though you have a Father in heaven who cares about all your needs. Pray and believe in faith. By faith, forgive, believing it's the right thing to do and God will bless you for it. By faith, treat your spouse the way the word tells you to treat your spouse, and believe God that it's gonna work in your marriage and help your marriage. By faith. So, the word of God, the challenge of the word of God is it doesn't cater to our feelings, it acts contradictory to our feelings. But when we honor it, it comes true, and our fear becomes faith. It heals us.
Number three, the word of God contradicts our deeply held beliefs we believe are true. The Pharisees believed that they were better than everybody else. That's what they believed. The Jews who believed in Jesus believed that they were the pinnacle of freedom on the Earth, and if everyone believed like them, they would be the pinnacle of freedom. And by the way, the Pharisees had memorized the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, the Pentateuch. They knew it, they could recite it. And Jesus said, "If you're my disciples, you'll abide in my word, and you'll know the truth and the truth will make you free". They're like, did he just tell me that I needed to abide in the word? I am the word, baby. Just tell me a verse, I'll quote it to you. And you're telling me that I need more of the word?
Jesus said, "Exactly. You're mean spirited and you kill people. You need more love. And you may know the Bible, but if you don't know about love, you don't know truth". See, we have deeply held beliefs that may be wrong. And the word of God comes to us, and the word of God is respecter of no person. It's just gonna tell us the truth. It's gonna tell us the truth about God, other people, ourselves. And it's going to, in many cases, contradict deeply held beliefs that we have. And let me say this. So, I'm a preacher and I'm a student of the Bible. And someone said, "Well, Pastor Jimmy, is all of your theology correct"? Maybe, I hope. But I don't believe that I am the pinnacle of truth on the Earth. I believe that this is. And if God want to correct me, I make it real easy for him. If there's anything, Lord, in my life that I'm deceived about, I want you to reveal it to me. Holy Spirit, you're the spirit of truth.
The number one condition of being set free is a teachable spirit. Jesus said, "If you're my disciples indeed, you will know the truth, you'll abide the word, and you'll know the truth and the truth will make you free". The word, disciple, is the Greek word, mathetes. It means learner, a learner. A teachable spirit is simply a spirit that comes to God and says, "I want you to teach me, I don't know. I'm a clean sheet of paper". Related to everything I believe, I want every thought in my mind to conform to this.
The worse marriage in the world is two deceived people trying to impose their deception on each other. And I just described most marriages. The most beautiful marriage in the world is two people who have been conformed to the word of God, completely unified under the word of God, because they're both thinking in union with God. That's our marriage. We're not perfect. But when you take our marriage today versus our marriage 43 years ago, Karen and I have been transformed by the word of God because we sit at the feet of God asking him to teach us, both individually together.
Jesus was saying to the Pharisees, "If you're really my disciples, it will be proved by your teachable spirit. If you're really a learner, you're gonna abide in my word".
Here's another thing that is a condition of being set free, is a commitment to the word of God as the standard of truth in our lives. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a source of truth. This is the standard of truth on the Earth. This is the book that all other books are measured by. I don't care if a man says it, I don't care if a movie says it, I don't care if a so-called expert says it, if it disagrees with this, I'm choosing this over every other source of truth. This is the source of truth. But I'm so thankful that we based our parenting on an eternal standard of truth. And I'm thankful that our grandchildren are being raised the same way. But if we would have chosen a worldly source of information, that source would have changed 15 times. And we would have wasted our parenting on an unreliable source of information. This is the standard of truth. The third is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the word of God. John 1:12, in the beginning was the word. The word was with God. The word was with God and he was in the beginning with God. Jesus Christ is the word of God. This is the life. It is a part of the spirit of Christ that dwells within us.