You Must Renew Your Mind

At the new birth, God gives us a new spirit. It is a glorious truth worth exploration and meditation. He does not however, give us an entirely new mind. The seat of the mind is where our thoughts and perceptions are concentrated. It’s though the mind that we perceive life as it plays out in front of our eyes.

There is a necessary distinction that must be made as we process the dramatic change of the believer’s salvation. Think of a slave who is suddenly freed, or an orphan that is newly adopted. Legally their status has changed; for the slave is now free and has access and rights they did not before. The orphan now enjoys the love and privilege that comes through nurturing parents in a family. Now here is the distinction that we are going to look at; in both cases, their thoughts are still mostly the same as when they were slave or orphan. To be more specific, their memories weren’t erased, their self-perception wasn’t immediately changed, and their life experiences weren’t blotted out. They are beginning a new life and awaiting the new experiences that will enfold through it. In many ways, they are the same person they were before; the only difference is that they hold a new legal status.

Consider this testimony –

It’s a different universe…there is no human word to describe what it’s like; miserable, oppression…there is no love. I couldn’t tell my mother that I loved her because the only love I could express was love for the Regime. There was no love that I could express. It is the darkest place on the earth; there is no place like North Korea on the earth. It’s hard after you went through that hatred, that injustice. You fear that there is no compassion inside of you and no love…I experienced it, I hated everything. I couldn’t love people when they said, “Life is beautiful.” – Yeomi Park (North Korean defector)

In her testimony, she describes these feelings of fear, lack of compassion and love after her defection. She had not been trained in these things. They were completely foreign to her experiences and way of thinking. Those there were privilege of freedom to be had, and new experiences of love and relationship to encounter, the framework of thinking was mostly still the same.

Similarly, for new believers, they may experience thoughts and emotions more closely resembling their pre-salvation way of thinking than that of a follower of Jesus. Why is this important? If we don’t have a biblical understanding of the change that must take place after salvation, we may wake up discouraged in 15 years thinking this thing is sham. Certainly we wouldn’t be critical of Ms. Park, if after her defection, she exhibited patterns of thought or behavior that hearkened to her past experiences. We would be compassionate and patient. Why then do we hold ourselves to a demanding standard related to the new birth?

God’s part is to justify us through the cross of Jesus. But it doesn’t stop there. We have a real part too. Paul said it like this-

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

Our mind is clouded with the world. The world’s ways, fears, ideas, solutions, wisdom has established roots deep in the minds of humanity. This is our starting point: thinking like the world. Until that mind is renewed it will operate out of the mindset of the world. The glorious truth is that we don’t have to live there, under the world’s mindset, we can be transformed.

Here are some practical ways our mind is transformed:

  1. Fill our mind with the Word. The old adage, “What goes in must come out,” is quite true here. If we pour in the opinion of others, we will pour out the same. When we immerse our minds in the Word of God, the truths of God’s Word begin to show up in our lives. We will begin thinking differently, then feeling differently which leads to acting differently.
  2. Paul refers to the Word as that which “washes.” The bible has a trans-formative power that upends lies and wrong ideas about God, establishing new ones. We engage the word not stoically but through relationship. In other words, we talk to the Holy Spirit as we read.

The transformed mind sees the God differently. It sees people differently, including self. When it looks in the mirror, bible verses come to mind. Rather than seeing what the world sees, values and criticizes, we see what God sees and values. This is the fruit of the transformed mind. Looking at others, we view them through the lens of God’s word. This liberates us from relating others on the basis

A Life of the Spirit

Salvation is a miraculous event! The Bible says that at the time of Salvation, we become a “new creation”* and receive a “new spirit.”* At the moment of Salvation, our spirit is made righteous and now we can begin living a new life towards God. This gift is given to us freely, it’s given fully and it’s given instantly.

To walk in victory over sin we must understand the great inheritance that has been given to us by God. Imagine the person who has been freely given a great inheritance of wealth but never withdraws it from the account! Yet, this is what many believers do. To “walk in the spirit,”* is to access that wealth that is available to us by the Holy Spirit.

We’re called not just to a one-time event called “salvation,” but also to walk out our salvation by living in relationship with God. In other words, we don’t just say, “No,” to sin but we say, “Yes,” to God by doing His commands*. It’s important to understand that the impulses of sin do not go away but the believer has the power to effectively challenge and resist them by the indwelling Spirit.*

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Rom.8:5

Here’s a simple prayer to help get you started to set your mind; throughout the day, pray, “Holy Spirit, let me see what you see and feel what you feel about… ____________” (fill in the blank with whatever subject or situation you are facing). Take time to intentionally listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying, and over time your awareness will grow as your walk in the Spirit grows. Now you’re living a life according to the Spirit, drawing from your inheritance, and renewing your mind day by day.

(*2 Cor. 5:17; *Rom. 8:11, *8:5-11, *Jn. 15:10, *Rom 6:11)

Living to Christ

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. – Paul

I have been gripped with the truth that when I said yes to God I wasn’t saying yes to Christianity – I was saying yes to Christ. Christian culture in America is constantly searching for the formula. What is the formula to make my ministry work? What is the formula to make my marriage work? What is the formula for me to stop sinning? Millions of dollars are exchanged yearly in this country for the next formula to make us feel better. We’re spending money to change “emotions” but many times leaving our spirits untouched and unaffected. The truth is we’re not signed up for a method we’re signing up for a Man.

Paul says, “Christ lives in me.” I want to know what it means to live to Christ.

Ask yourself this question: “How much of my faith is cultural and formulaic?” E.g. based on spiritual discipline or acceptable outward action. Be honest with yourself. If we remove every aspect of our faith except Christ living in us and our relationship to Him, what are we left with?

Christianity isn’t simply a list of “do’s and don’ts“. Like a marriage wedding, salvation isn’t a one time event. Every day we must awake to the newness of life and seek to love more deeply and humbly. Christianity is a Man – Christ!

The believer must seek to fuel their life by developing and growing that relationship with the Man Jesus. At the core of a relationship is a “knowing”. A knowing that experiences the emotions and thoughts of another. For instance, a husband seeking to grow in relationship with his wife doesn’t simply find out more facts about her; he tenderly asks her, “What are you feeling? What is on your mind?”

Let us seek this kind of relationship with Christ. Ask Him, ask Him often, “What is on Your heart?”