THE NEED FOR THE RENEWING OF THE MIND
The will of God for His children is that we be "Christlike." As we have seen, Paul declares that the purpose of all of the ministries and the provisions of God is to bring us "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). In order to help the Romans understand how this transformation of life is accomplished, Paul wrote:
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. 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, acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).
When God created man, He gave him the ability to think and the privilege of choosing what he thinks about. Adam was created a spiritual being capable of having fellowship with God, and God gave him dominion over all the works of His hands. Adam was to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. In order to communicate with God and to fulfill God's directive, Adam must have possessed great spiritual and intellectual powers. After Adam's fall, man lost his spiritual awareness, and his mind was no longer dominated by his spirit, but by his senses; he became "carnally minded." This has been the condition of man ever since. As a sinner coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, I bring to him a mind controlled by the senses and filled with all of the ideas, biases, opinions, prejudices, hurts, fears, and experiences of my lifetime apart from God. When I receive the Lord Jesus Christ, I become a new creation:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; and behold, all things are become new (II Cor. 5:17).
When I was born the first time, I more or less had a "tabula rasa"--a blank tablet for a mind. From the time of my birth until the present, all kinds of ideas and impressions have been imprinted on my mind. When I was born again, converted, God for Christ's sake forgave my sins and imparted a new life to me. I was a new creation in Christ Jesus, old things pass away and all things become new. However, there was one thing that God did not do: He did not blot out my mind. The morning after I was converted, I awoke with the same head full of stuff that I had the night before I was converted, except I had a consciousness that I was a child of God. Instead of blotting out my memory and making my
mind a blank, God made provision for the renewing of my mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason Jesus told His disciples:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you (John 16:13-15).
Therefore, instead of blotting out our minds, God gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, to create the "mind of Christ" within us, and to enable us to become that which God has made us in Christ Jesus.
Paul sets forth this concept so eloquently in his letter to the Corinthians:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:9-16).
The wonderful things which God has prepared for us are not all in the future, but they are in the NOW, and the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals them to us and empowers us to receive them. Because we are part of the human family, partakers of human nature, we understand the intellectual and emotional and physical needs of people. But as children of God, we begin to understand spiritual things--those things related to the will and purposes of God--because we are partakers of His divine nature. We now have the mind of Christ.
THE NEED FOR THE RENEWING OF THE MIND
When we speak of the power of the mind, some begin to think of the various pop-psychologies that deal with the power of positive thinking. While many of these psychologies are based upon scriptural truth, they make man the master of his destiny. For the Christian, Jesus Christ becomes his master, and he allows the Holy Spirit within him to begin the renewal process through the power of the Word of God.
REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION
I believe there are two concepts that we need to keep constantly before us: 1) repentance (metanoeo) which means to "change your mind," and 2) confession (homologeo) which means to "speak the same thing." You repent; God forgives. You change your mind; God changes your heart. You confess; God regenerates. For a time, I refused God's claims upon my life. Then I repented, I changed my mind, and I confessed what God said about me. God had said that I was a sinner, and if I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior, I would be saved. I changed my mind about myself: I confessed I was a sinner, and I confessed that Jesus was my Lord and Savior, and I was saved. This is the process by which we receive the blessings of God: I change my mind from doubt to faith concerning my needs, and I confess that I receive them by faith, and I have them. For years, I felt that "to repent" meant only to be sorry for sin; however, I now feel that it is a necessary part of everyday Christian experience. James writes about temptation:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust [strong desire], and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14).
Sometimes we hear people say that you might as well commit a sin as to think about it. However, James says that we could not be tempted unless our minds were drawn away by a strong desire. Even Jesus was tempted by Satan: His mind was drawn away to think about bread, about kingdoms, about jumping off of temples. However, the temptation is not sin; but when the strong desire conceives, it brings forth sin. So, when my mind is drawn away, I repent--I
change my mind, and I confess the Word of God--"It is written." Just as Jesus
overcame temptation through repentance and confession, so we can overcome temptation in the same way.
In our discussion of the need for the renewing of the mind, we will consider the following scriptures:
1. The carnal mind is enmity against God (Rom.8:1).
2. Victories are won or lost in the mind (II Cor. 10:3).
3. Man is alienated from God through ignorance (Eph 4:17).
4. A Christian must arm himself with the mind of Christ
(I Pet. 4:1). See also Phil. 2:5-12.
5. The peace of God will keep our minds (Phil. 4:7-8).
6. One must gird up the loins of his mind (I Pet. 1:13).
7. One must put on the new man and be renewed in knowledge (Col. 3:9-17).
THE CARNAL MIND
One of the reasons for failure in our Christian life is that we try to live a spiritual life with a carnal mind. We try to apply carnal solutions to spiritual problems, or we try to use carnal means to achieve spiritual results. But Paul tells us:
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be
The carnal mind is the mind that is controlled by our human nature--a mind that follows what reason infers from the five senses. On the other hand, the spiritual mind, the mind of Christ, which results from being made a new creation in Christ Jesus at one's conversion patterns itself after the Word of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit.
THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, brings into focus the warfare that the Christian is engaged in--the weapons and the strongholds:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:3-5).
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul listed the weapons of our warfare as being the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and the shield of faith. In this scripture he tells us the weapons are for pulling down strongholds: for casting down imaginations, casting down high things, and bringing thoughts into captivity. The warfare is in, and for, the mind of the believer.
Paul lists three strongholds of the mind. The first, imaginations, hinders many Christians. In witnessing, we imagine defeat; in prayer, we imagine doubt; in love, we imagine rejection; in ability, we imagine weakness; in endeavors, we imagine failure--and on it goes. Before we even get to the front line of the battle, we are defeated by imaginations; Paul says we must cast them down.
Then, the high things that exalt themselves against our knowledge of God must also be pulled down. The weapons we have against these high things are the shield of faith, wherewith we can quench these fiery darts, and the very Word of God that the high thing challenges. Satan will even use scripture against our knowledge of scripture. Our empty wallets exalt themselves against our knowledge that God will supply all our needs. Our sickness exalts itself against our knowledge of God's wish for our health. Our weakness exalts itself against our knowledge that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Our lack exalts itself against our knowledge of His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Daily, Satan assaults our minds with his fiery darts; our shield, our faith, is our defense, and our sword, the Word--"It is written" is the one weapon that will put the enemy to flight.
Last, in order to guard our minds and our hearts, we must learn how to bring our thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Christ's desire was to do the will of the Father; we ought also desire to do the will of the Father which means we must bring our thoughts into His obedience, into harmony with the will of God. An old saying, "We cannot keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair" is very appropriate. We cannot keep thoughts from coming into our minds, but we do not have to meditate upon them. We do have the power to determine what we think about. Sometimes, as we read the Bible or pray, our minds are like a busy city intersection with thoughts, like cars, going every which way. We must bring these thoughts into captivity and keep them under the control of the peace of God (Phil. 4:7).
ALIENATED FROM GOD THROUGH IGNORANCE
Paul explained to the Ephesians that man is alienated from the life of God through his ignorance:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:17-24).
Paul points out that the problem with the unregenerate man is that his mind is filled with vanity (emptiness), his understanding of the true purpose of life is darkened, his ignorance of God's love and grace have alienated him from God, his sins no longer satisfy but have degraded him, and he is morally bankrupt. Paul warns the Christians that their lives are to be different: they have learned through Christ to put off the old nature and its attendant corruption, to allow the Holy Spirit to renew their minds, and to put on the new man who is a new creation in Christ Jesus. Notice that all of this "putting off the old" and "putting on the new" takes place in the mind of the believer. It is true that we meet Christ in a personal experience of salvation; however, Paul says that we also learn Christ by hearing Him and being taught by Him.
THE MIND OF CHRIST
Paul told the Corinthians that "we have the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16), and he challenged the Philippians to "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). The Apostle Peter admonishes the Christians by using the example of Christ:
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (I Peter 4:1).
From these scriptures we determine that the mind of Christ demands two responses from the believer: 1) the mind of Christ in the believer as described by Paul does not grasp at equality with God but chooses rather to be a servant; and 2) the mind of Christ in the believer as described by Peter reckons the believer to be dead to sin and alive to the will of God.
THE PEACE OF GOD
See the discussion under peace as a fruit of the Spirit (page 42).
GIRD UP THE LOINS OF YOUR MINDS
In an unusual image, Peter illustrates how important it is for the believer to discipline his mind:
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance
(I Peter 1:13-14).
In New Testament times, people wore long flowing robes. When they went into the fields to work, they would wrap their robes around them and tie them with a belt or sash so the robes would not catch on anything. Peter admonishes the Christians to gird up their minds so they do not catch on everything. I often ask in class, "What have you students been thinking about since I have been lecturing to you?" A speaker may speak around 200 to 300 words a minute; however, a person is able to think 600 to 800 words a minute. So, while a preacher is preaching or a teacher is teaching, the listener may tune in for a sentence or two and then travel the universe--it is no wonder people get so little out of a sermon or students do not comprehend a lecture. Their minds are not girded up, and they catch on everything. It takes a disciplined mind to listen. Therefore, Jesus admonished the disciples to:
Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given (Mark 4:24).
BE RENEWED IN KNOWLEDGE
One of Paul's favorite images is "put off the old man and put on the new man." In his letter to the Colossians he describes the new man as being,
Renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col. 3:10).
Notice that Paul sets forth both the process and the result: we are renewed by our knowledge of what the image of Christ is and we are renewed by the God who has created us in that image. Paul explains to Titus that all of this is due to the mercy of God:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord (Titus 3:5-6).
We have examined a few of the scriptures that show the power that the mind exerts on the behavior of the individual, and the importance of having the mind renewed by the Holy Spirit. Even though I am formulating our discussion of the renewing of the mind on a psychological model, I am not advocating any psychological system. I have chosen the mental constructs from psychoanalysis as the foundation on which to build a model for the Holy Spirit's work in the renewal of the mind in order that we may have a more or less familiar system upon which to base our inquiry.Go to TOP