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

Fear: Master It or Be Mastered By It

There’s this old story about a notorious criminal who is finally captured. He appears before the king to be brought to justice and the king presents him with two options, the man could either be hung by the gallows or choose what was behind an imposing, iron-clad door nearby. The criminal chooses the gallows, fearing that much worse must lay in wait behind the door. With the decision made, the sentence is pronounced and then the criminal asks the king what lay behind the door. “Freedom,” the king replies.

Fear

Often, fear of the unknown can be more debilitating than the actual threats that face us. We, like the criminal, can fall prey to the power of fear that binds up lives, rendering us immobile. I recently heard that fear, frequently described as anxiety in modern speak, is one of the primary reasons that people seek counseling, medication and all manner of help. I don’t blame them. It can be fearful when we feel that the future holds uncertain outcomes beyond our power to influence change.

The first usage of the word fear in scripture is actually a positive one. This surprised me.

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.[a] 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. (Gen. 9:1, 2)

After God reaffirms the mandate to humanity to be fruitful and fill the earth, He tells them that they were to be a source of fear to all the beasts and birds and fish etc. More importantly, the Lord affirms to Noah and his sons that they were to be the masters over the created order. Their dominion, their sphere of authority, would produce fear in these beasts. Fear was to follow authority.

Fear in connected to authority. When one is under authority, like the beasts under Noah, there is a healthy fear that is established. Not all fear is bad. For instance, scripture speaks often of the fear of the Lord. But that subject is beyond the length of this article.

However, the root of fear may be bound up in this issue of authority. Check out what Paul says in Romans chapter 8:

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Rom. 8:14-16)

Our starting place is this, “the spirit of bondage to fear.” “Fallen humanity begins with fear; it’s our natural state. The starting line for every person is bondage to fear. Why? Because we are not under the authority of God, we are under the authority of sin and death, we are serving a false god, therefore we are riddled with fear.

That’s both saddening and encouraging. It is encouraging to me because it means that I am not alone in my fear; I’m not the foregone basket case of despairing anxiety, and neither are you. The unredeemed are holed up with all the rest sailing on a ship named fear. Thankfully, that spirit of bondage is exactly what Christ has delivered us from. He has the power, and has exerted that power, to break us from the chains of fear delivering us into His glorious family. Through Christ our spirit of fear is exchanged for the Spirit of Adoption – here, we gain a new father, we gain a new master: Abba. We have a new identity and a new name. No longer under the authority of fear, we as children of God are under the authority of the Father.

Ok, so the reality is established that believers are not under the authority of fear, but of the Father. But why do I still struggle with feelings of fear?

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 Jn. 4:18)

John gives us insight into the quelling of fears. He notes that fear involves torment. To unlock a heart from fear requires perfect love. Note the quality here. Perfect love. This isn’t just any old love. It’s certainly not power or control or anything else. It’s only the love the Father can give. He is the source of this perfect, fear-obliterating love. We also see that there is a process involved to overcoming fear. It doesn’t happen immediately like the old advice tells us, “Just face your fears.”

Fear is rebutted as the believer gains confidence in their Father. Our source of authority is changed from bondage to the Father; from fear to freedom. As we believe that the Father is ourWinter Dawning Inspirations Snow Sunlight Wintr Sky Wallpaper Pictures Free life-giver our fear of death subsides. As we believe that our Father is our provider the fears of lack subside. As we believe that the Father is our judge our fear of condemnation flees. The quality of the love that the Father currently bestows upon is perfect; we still battle fear because we see and experience that love imperfectly.

A key to overcoming fear is to experience the Father in a deeper way. As we grow in the knowledge of God the grip of fear begins to loosen its hold upon our lives. Walking in freedom from fear is available for everyone in Christ. May the Lord grant us revelation of who He is and who we are in Him.