The Science of Transformation - Sermon Notes and Life Group Guide

#3 in Move Forward

It’s good to know the teachings of the Bible, but are they working for you? I want to help you develop strategies to actually live out the teachings in the Bible.

Week 1 review

  • Hope is confident expectation
  • Hope in the LORD
  • You can hope in the Lord because he will always be who he is

Week 2 review

  • You must be emotionally involved with the Word
Joshua 1:8 This book of instruction shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

The Science of Change

Is there science behind the process of transformation through mind renewal?

Romans 12:2 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.

It’s not magic, transformation doesn’t come from knowledge, it comes from changing the way you think. This week I want to look at how changing the way you think can produce actual effects on your physiology

God is smart, you don’t have to know the science behind transformation, but looking at it is encouraging to me.

Placebo / Nocebo Examples

1962 study in Japan on poison ivy

  • Researchers rubbed one forearm with a poison ivy leaf but told them the leaf was harmless
  • As a control they rubbed the child’s other forearm with a harmless leaf they claimed was poison ivy
  • All the children developed a rash on the arm they thought was poison ivy
  • 11 of the 13 children developed NO RASH where actual poison ivy touched them
  • Conclusion: thought in the form of expectation could have a greater effect on the body than the actual environment

This opened the door for a new field of study called psychoneuroimmunology, the effect of thought on the immune system

Asthma study - example of what’s called nocebo

  • 40 patients given an inhaler with just water but told it contained an irritant or allergen
  • Half of them experienced asthmatic symptoms, from just water
  • 12 of the 40 suffered full blown asthmatic attack
  • They were all given a new inhaler that was said to contain asthma medicine…they all improved
  • Conclusion: There is medical evidence that the patients respond to suggestion in a similar way to actual medicine or allergens

Dental patients

  • University of CA, San Francisco
  • 40 dental patients received placebos instead of pain medication who had just had their wisdom teeth removed
  • Most reported relief
  • Then they were given an antidote to morphine called mellaxone, which chemically blocks the receptor sites for morphine and endorphins. When the doctors administered this block, the pain returned. This proved that by taking the placebos, the patients had been creating their own endorphins.
  • This meant the relief they experienced wasn’t just in their minds, it was an actual physical occurrence.
  • Conclusion: The body was able to produce endorphins on its own that matched medicine designed to kill pain


  • Several studies with a placebo in depression research showed that patients on a placebo generated chemicals in their physiology to reverse depression
  • Conclusion: Thinking that you can get better from depression can actually heal depression just as well as taking a drug
  • These people were making their own natural anti-depressants


This led to a general conclusion in the medical field: Our bodies do have a natural intelligence to produce healing chemicals and compounds based on thought alone.

Some researchers took this into another realm of study…meditation. Something was developed called MR.

Mental Rehearsal - you’re taught combine clear intention with elevated emotion to give the body a sampling of the future experience. They would have patients try to experience the future event in the present moment.

Researchers gave this basic instruction; Make your inner thoughts more real than your outer environment, then the brain won’t know the difference between the two and will change as if the event has taken place. This has been proven to transform the body by activating new genes in new ways, producing epigenetic changes just as they imagined the future event as if it were real.

Mark 11 NIV 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

When you pray according to God’s word with consistency in what Jesus accomplished at the cross for you and in you, do you believe you’ve already received? Or are you waiting on God to give it to you?

This is why understanding your completeness in Christ and your New Covenant identity is vital, you must know that you are complete in him and he is withholding nothing from you.

So how does this apply to your life?

You have a life to live, you have goals to achieve, you have a calling to fulfill

You need to be able to, in your everyday life, exercise self control over your thoughts, your doubt, your fear, your weaknesses and turn to God in your heart in such a way where you position yourself to yield to his transformative grace for correction, instruction, strength in your inner man and the expression of his capacities or gifts toward others.

Do you have a consistent method to do that?

Whatever it is for you, meditation must be an integral part to stop at any point in any situation and yield to God’s influence and follow him.

Who wants that degree of maturity and transformation?

You need it...

  • when it’s time to go to work
  • when your spouse needs to know you love them
  • when your neighbor is in need
  • when God needs you to witness to or pray for someone
  • when God knocks at the door of your heart for a specific mission

How can you engage in this kind of transformation?

Keep in mind we’re not abandoning faith-righteousness or talking about dead works or getting into the strength of our flesh, we’re talking about the expectation to actually experience transformation through the renewing of the mind. One of the clearest examples of this process in action is in Joshua 1:8. How many times do you think Joshua went back to that process when he was facing a new tribe of giants that were bigger than the last ones?

Joshua’s Process

  1. Keep His instruction in your mouth
  2. Meditate on it day and night
  3. Do what is written
  4. Then you will be prosperous and have success

The process of transformation

I’ve combined what we learned from Joshua and what Jesus teaches about receiving what we believe

  • Define your desired future (obviously in agreement with the word of God and his promises)
    • This may be a goal, a passion, a calling, a behavior you want to change, etc...
  • See it as an actual possibility for you
    • Is it believable to you? 
  • Find scripture that affirms your expectation and meditate on it until it feels true about you
    • Meditation doesn’t make it happen, it makes it believable
  • Affirm that the transformed you that you imagined is the real you
    • In the beginning it’s hard to see yourself any other way, but keep at it
    • You’re transformed by the renewing of your mind
    • Since you have been raised with Christ, set your heart in things above…


  • You’ll begin to have hope that you can experience that change
  • You will begin to think thoughts that will lead you to that end
  • You will hear God’s leading more clearly
  • Your physiology will begin to respond
    • Meaning your physical and emotional desires will change

We’re all waiting for God to zap us but transformation doesn’t com for God tasing us, it comes from renewing your mind

If you don’t like this method, fine, but do something to renew your mind because your life may depend on it.