Can you change your mind?



I have a question regarding keeping your word. In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus talks about letting your yes be yes and your no be no. We need to keep our word and yes lying is sin (Revelation 21:8).

I do have a question regarding this though. In my case, someone asked me if I would eat a certain way for a certain period of time. I said I would but haven't followed through on it specifically. Is this a lie? Can I change my mind about the thing I said even though it doesn't affect the person that asked me? When is someone allowed to change their mind and when is it considered a sin?

This also had been making me worried a lot. The situation keeps running through my head and it constantly floods my mind all day and it doesn't leave my mind because I am so worried that it will condemn me. I have a hard time telling if it is just OCD worrying or really a true conviction. I don't know if it is sin or if I have the liberty to change my mind.

Thank you so much.


OCD is playing a role because you are trying to determine if something is right based on how you feel about the matter.

The basic question is whether you can change your mind after telling someone what you plan to do.

In his first letter, Paul laid out his travel plans. "But I will come to you after I go through Macedonia, for I am going through Macedonia; and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries" (I Corinthians 16:5-9). The wording in Greek indicates that Paul planned to make a brief stop in Corinth on his way to Macedonia and then on his return trip spend a longer amount of time in Corinth. Paul makes it clearer in his second letter. "In this confidence I intended at first to come to you, so that you might twice receive a blessing; that is, to pass your way into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be helped on my journey to Judea" (II Corinthians 1:15-16).

Despite his intentions, things didn't go the way Paul wanted them to go. A riot broke out in Ephesus, forcing Paul to leave earlier than he initially planned (Acts 19:21-41). "After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia" (Acts 20:1). Paul did not want to stop at Corinth so soon after he sent the first letter. He wanted the Corinthians to have time to deal with the problems before he arrived. "But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth" (II Corinthians 1:23). Paul knew that if he came while the problems were unresolved, he would have to take a firm hand. "But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful? This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all" (II Corinthians 2:1-3). Paul figured that with a bit more time, the issues would be resolved and he could spend his time in Corinth in joy.

So was Paul's changed plans a lie? Paul assures the Corinthians that he didn't make the plans from any uncertainty on his part. He firmly intended to go to Corinth first. Also, he wasn't involved in any double-speak as politicians use. "Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time? But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no" (II Corinthians 1:17-18). He didn't intend to tell the Corinthians his plans in such vague terms that no matter what happened, he could say that was what he meant to say. Nor did Paul layout his original plans for his own personal convenience. Going to Corinth first and then to Macedonia and then back to Corinth was longer and more inconvenient.

Finally, the last reason why Paul changed his travel plans occurred with Paul reached Troas after leaving Ephesus. "Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia" (II Corinthians 2:12-13). Normally, Paul would be delighted to find opportunities to preach the Gospel, but he was troubled about Titus. Likely, Titus is the person who delivered the first letter to the Corinthians and Paul expected to meet him in Troas to find out how the letter was received. That news would have been the deciding factor. But not finding Titus in Troas, Paul decided to continue on to Macedonia, and hopefully, Titus would find him there.

James taught that all plans have to allow for changing circumstances. "Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'" (James 4:15). Paul's plans changed because events happened that were out of Paul's control. At each point, Paul tried to adjust his plans to deal with the current circumstances to get the best result.

Thus, if I tell someone that I will arrive at 3 pm and I didn't make it because I had a flat tire or someone I know became sick and needed a ride to the hospital, I had not broken my word -- the Lord had other plans for me that I wasn't originally aware of.

In your case, I don't know if you said when you would eat in a certain way or for how long. If you left the starting time open, then you just haven't started it yet. If you later found out that this "eating a certain way" was actually not good for you then it is reasonable to make changes based on the new information that you received. However, if you didn't follow through because you didn't find it convenient or you only told the person that you would do it to get them to stop bothering you, then you didn't keep your word.


Thank you for responding. I did tell this person I would eat a certain way for a certain number of days so, yes, I should keep it. Thanks again!

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