There is a good chance that you’ve heard a pastor preach on the need to renew your mind. I know because I’ve heard a few of them. Would you like to go deeper than what you would hear on a Sunday morning? Yes, there is more to renewing your mind than a pep-talk on reading the Word of God? I’d like to share some insights into this wonderful mystery of renewing your mind.
Before we dive into the meat of the article, it’s a good idea to answer the question of “Why?”. I would like to give you an answer that you may not have heard. I’ll start by asking an odd question. Would you go into battle with outdated or under powered weapons or equipment? You probably would not do it because you’d get slaughtered.
Any experienced gamer or military person would know the importance of upgrading your equipment. It may look entertaining on YouTube or in the movies; however, it is not a good idea in the long run. Upgrades are necessary if you want to face new and stronger threats. How is this related to one’s wak with Jesus?
Are you aware that there is a spiritual battle waging around you? You do not need to actually see angels and demons to know it. The spirit realm and the natural world are not two seperate dimensions. They are actually intertwined. The impact of the spirit realm can be felt in our culture and can influence our perception of reality.
Here is what Paul says in Ephesians 6:11-13:
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.Ephesians 6:11-13
How are they attacking? It’s through the culture and ideology that surrounds us. It would be foolish to label everything in American culture as bad or under the dominion of these dark forces. There is still some good; however, it is getting drowned out these forces that feeds on hopelessness, despair and depression. For this reason, Paul told the Ephesians to put on the full armor of God. Combat is done through prayers of faith and the Word of God.
I could continue this train of thoughts by pointing to other Scriptures found in the Bible. How about James 4:6-8 that says mor than resist the devil? How about 1 Peter 5:7-9? In this letter, Peter says something quite similar. In all of this, we are not to be afraid. For God, Almighty is with the children of God.
Let’s get into the other part of this teaching. It is not enough to just go to Sunday morning church. As some of my pastors have told me, it’s like eating a full course meal only on Sunday. I’d be starving myself for no reason. Because I learned how to cook for myself, it is not hard to prepare a healthy breakfast and dinner.
Discipline is the key to eating healthy and one needs a lifestyle that supports it. The same principle applies to our walk Jesus. No, I am not talking about being under the Law and its regulations. I trained my appetites because I wanted to learn to cook and eat smart. I did not do it because I had to do it.
Do you see the difference? My desire to eat healthy is voluntary. The other way is obligatory and duty. You have to obey or else! Get it?
As followers of Jesus, we really can’t follow God in our own strength. We need the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us in our walk with Jesus. You and I will be surprised at all the things that God’s Spirit has done on our behalf and we knew it, not. Be not afraid to ask the Holy Spirit to make himself known to you!
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,2 Peter 1:3-5 NASB
I do hope that you read the last part of the above Scripture. You can’t acquire knowledge or anything else and not have a mind. Our mind is a gift from God and it is meant to help navigate the natural world. When it is used properly, it can be a powerful weapon in the hands of a believer. With our mind, we seek to understand what God is speaking through His Spirit.
I am not opposed to thinking my way through Scripture and discerning what the Holy Spirit is whispering to me. Why? It is because I can easily make mistakes or misinterpret what I am hearing. There is another problem and it lays at the heart of why our minds needs to be renewed.
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.1 Corinthians 2:14 NASB ’95
If you’re thinking that your mind is automatically renewed once you become a Christians then you are mistaken. Yes, you will definitely receive the Holy Spirit upon confession of faith. However, you are going to need to be retrained and learn the ways of God, the Father. Yes, it will take time. Here’s what Paul wrote in Romans 12:2. The Amplified spells it out.
2 And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].Romans 12:2 AMP
Do you recall my mentioning the need to discipline my appetites and train myself in the way of healthy cooking. It took time to do this! Guess what? The same principle applies to our walk with Jesus. I had to learn to consciously choose to read daily my Bible. It was not an easy thing to do, at first. I have my struggles and I still need to make that conscious choice to read or listen.
In my case, I will spend some time and listen to Nick Gumby’s Bible in One Year. It’s a great idea if you have poor vision or are pressed for time. With the Holy Spirit’s help, I’ve learned to make this a daily habit. However, there is more to discipline than just reading your Bible. How about taking the time to digest what you are reading or hearing.
Biblical meditation is not just repeating a specific verse. It’s taking the time to give careful thoughts to what God is saying in the pages of the Word of God. It also requires asking questions of the text and asking the Holy Spirit for insight. Don’t be afraid to ask God, “How does this apply to me, in my life?”
Here’s the fun part and it is likely the reason some people focus on a single verse. The more time that you spend with a truth of Scripture is the more likely that it will impact your heart and mind. Don’t just dwell on a Scripture! Engage God in a conversation about it. The more time that you spend with God in both prayer and daily Scripture,
Take the time to learn God’s heart on the issues that you are reading in the Bible or what’s happening around you. Do not be so certain that you know God’s heart on everything! It’s the heart filled with pride that learns nothing! Rather, it is a heart that is filled with humility and open to being taught.
It’s okay to have a different view on what you’re reading in the Bible. I, for one, did not begin with the same view as my Father. He was not bothered with my having a differnt viewpoint. As I came to learn more of God’s character and God’s unconditional love for me, it became easier to ask Jesus’ help in understanding God’s ways and humbly accepting it.
Don’t be afraid to ask God to help you in the areas that you’re struggling in. Don’t be surprised if God place you in a community of believers who can help you in your struggles! For this to happen, you need to do more than show up on Sunday. The writer of Hebrews 10:23-25 did a great job of spelling it out.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.Hebrews 10:23-25
Such a community can help the believer in learning the heart of the Father. It can also be used to challenge our own views. I was certainly challenged in this fashion and I did not always agree with what I hear. How did I handle this? Well, I did not run away. Rather, I talked to God about it and I sometime examine the Scriptures, itself. Keep in mind, I did not learn this approach, overnight.
It’s called spiritual maturity and God can help you. Yes, your local church community can help you in the learning process. At the same time, they could be benefiting from you. For this to happen, you need to develop a relationship with fellow believers. Psst, it takes time.