You’ll Never Change Anyone’s Mind about God

Author Greg Koukl Published on 10/01/2023

I want to tell you why you will never be able to change anyone’s mind on the truth of any spiritual issue.

This may sound strange coming from someone who has given his life for the defense of the true story of reality—the biblical story—and who, for nearly half a century, has worked to persuade critics that Christianity is worth thinking about. But it’s true. I have been powerless.

There’s a reason for what, at first glance, appears to be my personal ineptitude. I want you to consider what the biblical record says about our opposition—that is, the forces arrayed against us.

The devil, commanding spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12), employs demonic schemes to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9), blinding the minds of the unbelieving so they might not see the light of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). Thus, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

Paul tells Timothy that those in opposition to the gospel are in “the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:25–26). He therefore tells Timothy not to be quarrelsome, but to be patient and gentle with his opponents, “if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare.”

Did you notice something about that last passage? God is the active agent who clears away the deceptive demonic fog and brings people to repentance, not us. That’s why Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).

Of course, “flesh and blood”—the human element of the equation—is not inconsequential. We play a critical role, but we are not the decisive factor. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44).

In Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples the night he was betrayed, he told them that we testify. But we are not alone. The Spirit testifies along with our testimony (John 15:26–27). “The Spirit of truth,” he said, “will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8, 13).

Yes, we must prepare ourselves to give an answer (1 Pet. 3:15). Yes, we must engage opponents with gentleness and patience (2 Tim. 2:24–25). Yes, we must reason with others and explain and give evidence (Acts 17:2–3). But the Spirit is the one shouldering the burden of bringing others across the finish line. Not us.

So, here’s the takeaway. Do your homework. Be prepared. Make the most of the opportunities God gives you. And be nice (Col. 4:5–6). Then trust the Spirit to do what only he can do: change their rebellious hearts and grant them repentance in Christ.

In a certain sense, then, our responsibility is to be persuasive, but not to persuade. That task belongs to the One who is much more capable than you or I. We are the messengers, but it is the message—the gospel itself driven home by God’s Spirit—that is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).

That is why I said you will never be able to change someone’s mind on the truth of any spiritual issue. Let me repeat that again, with proper emphasis for clarity’s sake. That is why I said you will never be able to change someone’s mind on the truth of any spiritual issue. That is God’s job.

Here’s the calculus: 100% us and 100% God. We are 100% responsible for our side of the equation, and God is 100% responsible for his. We focus on our task, then we trust God to take it from there. He’s good for it. Are we?