Begin by asking yourself what, if anything, is changing in your outlook toward life, especially in the way you think. The apostle Paul explained that "the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). That is why Jesus said no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him (John 6:44).
In other words, God must first act, through the power of His Spirit, to open your mind so you can begin to see the wisdom of His ways and the error of your own. Then you can begin the process of real repentance.
Why must God first open our minds to give us understanding? "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Jesus gives an example that illustrates why God must first open your mind to comprehend your need to yield yourself to Him and allow Him to assist you in changing your life.
"And the disciples came and said to Him, 'Why do You speak to them in parables?' He answered and said to them, 'Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given'" (Matthew 13:10-11). "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive'" (Matthew 13:13-14).
A similar example is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess'" (Luke 18:10-12).
The man knew the Scriptures. He could apply them to others and see their shortcomings. But he had little or no understanding of how much he needed to change.
That is the point of the parable. Jesus directed it to those "who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (Luke 18:9).
In contrast, notice how the tax collector responded. "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:13-14).
The tax collector correctly perceived that God, through the inspired words of the Scriptures, was explaining to him how he could change his own life. He got the point. God was working with him so he could correctly comprehend the Scriptures.
The first awakening to this need for personal change often results from discovering the truth of the Scriptures. As Paul explained to his converts, "God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).
If you understand what you are learning in this study course to the extent that you see the need to change your life and begin obeying God's commandments from the heart, God is working with you. He is drawing you toward Him. This incentive to yield your life to God is a gift you should appreciate. Pray for the strength and wisdom to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
The next lesson of this Bible study course will explain, in considerable detail, repentance and conversion. Be sure to study it thoroughly.