As we continue our series on being "transformed by the renewing of our minds," from Romans 12:1-2, I'd like to explore a few more reasons why mind renewal is so very important.
Mind renewal is critical because whoever directs and controls our thinking is ultimately the one who will direct and control our lives. In other words, how we think affects how we feel; how we feel influences our desires; and our desires finally produce our actions.
Therefore, if Satan can influence our thinking by keeping us immersed in our own natural, emotional way of responding, he has got us and he really doesn't have to do anything else. We've played right into his hands. He knows he'll win when we're consumed in our own problems, our own trials and our own circumstances, because then we'll be confused, discouraged and depressed. And this will immediately quench God's Spirit in us, and none of His Light or Love will be able to shine forth. We'll be forced to "live a lie." We must always realize that the battle is for our mind! Without a renewed mind, without the Mind of Christ in operation, we'll never be transformed into Christ's Image.
An Example: Humiliation
I have a friend back East, who for many years had trouble with her next door neighbor. After much prayer, she felt lead to go to her neighbor, apologize, and make things "right." For some reason, however, the neighbor would not accept her apology, but instead ridiculed and humiliated her.
For seven months, my dear friend carried this rejection and humiliation buried tight in her own heart, entertaining it, mulling it over and letting it totally consume her. By worldly standards, my friend was completely justified in being hurt and angry, but by God's standards, because she chose to hang on to these negative feelings (rather than release them to God), it quenched His Spirit in her heart. And as a result, she wasn't able to "show forth" God's Life (His Love). She wasn't able to "live the truth."
Thoughts of rejection and humiliation not only stayed with her, but they also began to motivate all her actions. Every time she passed by her neighbor's house, she would find herself angry "for no apparent reason." Every time she pulled into her own driveway and glanced over at the neighbor's dog, feelings of humiliation and resentment would completely overcome her, even though she wasn't consciously thinking about the situation at all.
This went on for seven long months, until an incident occurred between the two families that somewhat alleviated her hurt feelings. But had my friend been able that first night to "renew her mind" - to take every thought captive, to give her hurts to God, and by faith put on the Mind of Christ - she could have in time been freed and enabled to see the situation from God's perspective. Perhaps then she could have been a better witness of God's Life in the middle of the trial.
Can you see how Satan revels in our bondage to our own self-centered thoughts and emotions? At this point, he is directing, controlling and influencing our lives. This is why it's so critical to learn "how" to allow the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Christ to have full control of our minds, so that it will be God's Life coming forth from us and not our own.
Another reason it's so critical to daily renew our minds is that if there is no mind change, then there will be no life change either.
In other words, without a renewed mind our lives will remain the same as they've always been, no matter what we do or what we try. No matter how many Bible Studies we attend, no matter how many Scriptures we read, no matter how often we go to Church, no matter how much we pray and worship, if we don't have a mind change our lives will still have the same problems, the same failures, and the same defeats as they've always had.
An interesting Scripture that illustrates this point is Jeremiah 48:11, "Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity; therefore, his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed."
The Moabites were a people who were bent on "self preservation" at all costs. This is what "settled on his lees" means. These people had never been broken or emptied of themselves - their own thoughts, emotions and desires. They were out to protect themselves "at all costs." They would never allow themselves to "go into captivity." Therefore, their "taste" (which I see as their thinking) "remained the same," and their "scent" (which I see as the fragrance they emitted from their lives) "never changed."
II Corinthians 2:14-15 validates this: "Now thanks be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other, the savour of life unto life."
What I see God saying here is that if we have never been broken or emptied of our self life (our own thoughts, emotions and desires that are contrary to God's) and we are bent on preserving that self at all costs, then our thinking process is never going to be renewed, and certainly there won't be any transformation in our lives.
Lukewarmness and hardness seems to be so apparent among Christians today. Some are willfully refusing to change (or let themselves be broken) out of disobedience, stubbornness, and fear, but for many others, no life transformation is occurring because of just plain "ignorance." First of all, ignorance as to what the Mind of Christ is; next, ignorance as to how we renew our minds; and finally, ignorance as to how we put on the Mind of Christ.
This is exactly what happened to me for 20 years. I desperately wanted to live God's Life - to live the truth. But I didn't know how. One day I would be "up" and living the Christian life; the next day, down in the dumps, experiencing no victory at all. My life was an emotional roller coaster.
Friends would tell me, "Nancy, just read the Bible more." I did, and still there was no lasting change. They would tell me, "Just pray more." I did and still nothing changed my life. They would tell me, "Go to church more." I did and still nothing. "Go to this seminar. Go to that seminar." I did. I did. But still there was no lasting life transformation.
The reason there was never any consistent life change in me is because my "thinking process" was never touched or renewed. My Christian walk was erratic, because my responses were continually dependent upon how I felt, what I thought, how people responded to me and what my circumstances were. So one day I would be up and "full of God" because I felt great and Chuck and I were getting along. But the next, I would be down and "full of self" because I felt lousy, Chuck had said something horrible to me and things around me were out of control. I call this the Christian "yo-yo" syndrome.
It's very much like those fad diets we so often go on. With each diet, yes, we lose weight, but over time we most always seem to gain that weight back, and sometimes even more. The reason is that our basic eating habits have not been changed. And it's the same thing with our lives. If our basic thinking patterns are not changed, then our lives won't change either, no matter what we do.
Isaiah 59:10 graphically explains this, "We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men." [Note: "Eye" in the Scriptures often refers to our mental vision, our thinking process or our mind.]
The above Scripture describes me perfectly before I understood how to renew my mind. What I didn't understand then was that I had become enslaved and in bondage to my own self-centered negative thoughts and emotions. And I had to be willing to let go of that "self" before my whole thinking process could be changed and Godly actions could be produced.
Now, it's not fun to see the truth about ourselves. But the truth has to be revealed before we know exactly what to hand over to God.
Jeremiah 30:12 tells us that "our wounds (hurts, fears, doubts, guilt, etc.) are incurable," meaning that these things we hold on to won't go away on their own. In fact, they'll con-tinue to accumulate and motivate all our choices and, thus, our actions.
So, unless we learn to "deal," through the Mind of Christ, with each pain, each hurt, each insecurity, each instance of pride and unbelief as it occurs, we'll continue to act out of those things whether we realize it or not. Then, the same crumbling that has occurred before will continue to happen. Thus, there will be no healing, no renewal, and no transformation at all in our lives.
Therefore, a "mind change" is essential if there is ever to be any "life change" at all! "I beseech you 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 [how?] by the renewing of your mind, that ye many prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
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This article was excerpted from Nancy's study series on tape, Be Ye Transformed. This study is a sequel to The Way of Agape, which is now available as a textbook with its own workbook, as well as an audio and video tape series.