That old saying that makes people wonder whether or not they are capable of changing basic parts of their personalities is stated well in the question of whether or not a leopard is capable of changing its spots. There is meaning in the question itself. The intent is that as unlikely as it is for a leopard to fundamentally change the appearance of its spots, so to human beings cannot alter basic parts of their personalities.
Since the leopard has no control over the basic elements of its own creation, it cannot do much about its own spots on an equally fundamental level. Sure, if it had the mental faculties to consider its spots and wanted to change them, a leopard could do some minor things from camouflage to injury to change its spots but would not be capable of changing them on a fundamental level.
The question is ultimately used to indicate that people are also incapable of changing fundamental things about their own personalities. They may be able to camouflage or alter by control of will the “spots” of their personalities that are considered flawed but are thought to not be able to change on a fundamental level. It remains assumed, for example, that an angry person can suppress anger by practice of will or by chemical means but remains fundamentally angry.
It is true that creatures cannot change fundamental parts of themselves when it is the creature trying to change the creation. For humans that would be the self attempting to fundamentally alter the self. However, when the creator is involved in the process, it does happen. Paul the apostle declared in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ”
Fundamental change of a person is possible. The potential exists for those who have faith in Jesus as the Christ. Paul also said in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” This was after he said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” in Romans 12:1. The first verse in the passage is listed second in this article because it is part of the fundamental of the potential for change.
The potential for change exists according to the commitment of the person walking in the spirit and not according to the lusts (desires) of their flesh. The ability to become transformed by the renewing of the mind can be limited by the free will God permits human beings to have. In other words, even a person saved by faith in the Gospel of Christ can be held back from their full potential of change by their own unyielding will. Everyone in Christ is at some point in the potential for change that exists. It is just that some hunger more to be like Christ than others. As the desire for service increases, so does the change.
This is all part of sanctification after salvation. One does not become more saved, but the setting apart for service does occur throughout a lifetime. It occurs throughout every moment of life from the moment faith in Jesus has been placed that gets one’s name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It is a progressive process that is affected by the will of the individual. Since this article is all about fundamental potentials when it comes to the possibility of changing the basic aspects of human personalities that are not Christlike, let us just leave with a few of the parameters that get plugged into this fundamental equation to make it work.
Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
First, the person must have faith in Christ as their Savior (John 14:6, John 3:16. Romans 10:9-10, John 4:24). Second, the will to do God’s WILL must come first (Luke 6:45-47, Mark 12:29-31, Romans 8:1). Third, the baptism in the Holy Ghost subsequent to salvation is a critical factor in a Christian’s life (Acts 2:38-39, Ephesians 5:17-18, John 14:26, Acts 19:1-6). Be sure to actually read the scriptures. Do not just discount or even accept my words. Read God’s word for yourself!
For something to work, elements have to be in place for it to work. One cannot reach the sum of four without at least having a 2+2, a 3+1 or even something like a 100-96. In the case of flawed human personality traits, the subtractive, or getting rid of, is often what is sought. However, sometimes the additive is what is needed (1 Peter 4:8, James 5:20).
Any potential for change exists solely at the foundational cornerstone of Jesus. People will either fall on him and let their old selves be broken, or he will fall on them and crush them into powder (Luke 20:17-18). What is your intent as far as service to Christ and not walking according to the desires of your own flesh are concerned?