Before I share in detail some aspects of this great subject, I first want to draw your attention to a few basic verses concerning the believer’s use of the mind. The key verse is Romans 12:2, and we will spend much time with this scripture in the next study, but here we must start our path of exploration.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans12:2).
Now the pattern of “this world”, this age, the times in which we live, comes to us through the five senses. The media, our family and friends, the people with whom we work, present and defend a pattern that they expect us to follow. However the Word is clear: “Do not conform…” The positive action we must take is to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” We are told to renew the mind we have, not that we received a new mind at the new birth. Watchman Nee wisely observed: “How many of God’s children,although hitherto saved and possessed of a new life, still carry about them an old head. Nothing of their former theories, thought processes, or prejudices has been altered: only a Christian casing has been added.” The command of the Word is to renew the mind, to bring it back to the state of newness that God intended.
An interesting fact to note in passing is that the Greek word here translated “mind” appears only in Paul’s epistles, with three exceptions. Obviously God has much to say about the mind, especially in the Church Epistles addressed to believers today.
The key verse states that the result of renewing the mind will be to “test and approve what God’s will is…”. The test is by experiencing what the Word of God promises. Renewing the mind is a present tense, continuous action of walking on the Word of God. It is not possible to do this unless you have first renewed your mind to the Word. But when you do, you will test by actual experience, in reality, that the will of God is good, pleasing and perfect.
A similar statement about the mind is given in Ephesians:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds (Ephesians4:22-23).
Here the Greek text employs a different word for”renewed” (KJV), “new” (NIV) — a word meaning “rejuvenate”. Get some new life, anew zest into your mind. Notice also the words “put off” (verse 22) and “put on” (verse 24). The old deceitful desires which are corrupt have to be put off;the new attitudes of your mind which are “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (verse 24) have to be put on. Both actions imply work. These things did not automatically happen at salvation, but are something that you and I must do by an act of our wills. The balance of this passage gives clear direction in many areas of how to go about fulfilling the exhortation.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).
The human mind has the ability to concentrate on specific matters according to the will of the individual. Here we are commanded to concentrate on spiritual matters, for earthly things are no longer of interest to those who have died.Notice also verse 10 in this same passage: “And have put on the new self,which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Here the renewal of our minds is to revelation knowledge from God, not to senseknowledge or the reason of man. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (verse 16). The renewing of the mind is to fill it with what God says in His Word, so that the Word does “dwell richly” in you. Now you can walk and act upon it, and live the great life that God has made available for you.
Unless we renew our minds we are not going to enjoy our relationship, rights and privileges as sons and daughters of God. God said that we are justified,that we are sanctified, that we are redeemed; God said that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies; God said He shall supply all our need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus; God said He wished that above all things we may prosper and be in health as our soul prospers — all these tremendous truths of the Word will have no effect in our lives because we cannot apply them until we first renew our minds to what the Word declares. The statements are eternally true but will not become a reality to us until we renew our minds.
It is therefore imperative that we learn how to win the battle between the senses and the Word of God. It has been well said that there is a three-man committee of which you are the chairman. One is voting against the victorious life — that one is the knowledge gained by the five senses; another One is voting for your victorious life — that is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, one vote each way is a tie, and the chairman must cast the casting vote, and whichever way he votes wins the motion. So your vote does have value! You, as chairman, can vote on the side of the five senses — you do this every time you agree with the illusion of lack or the outward circumstances or the physical pain. On the other hand, you, as chairman, can vote on the side of the Word — you do this every time you renew your mind to that Word.
Perhaps I should make it clear that when I speak of renewing the mind to the Word of God, I do not refer to your ability to quote the Word from memory. Nor do I refer to just reading the Word — one has well said that it is not how often you have gone through the Word that counts, but how often the Word has gone through you! Nor do I refer to talking about the Word — in the city in which I live there are many people who gather once a week to talk about the Word, but as the old spiritual says, “Everybody talking about heaven ain’t going there!”Renewing the mind is the replacement of our old values with the attitudes,beliefs, and concepts of God as revealed in His Word.
We have seen then that Satan’s primary attack will be against the mind of the believer. The mind is the only territory over which you have complete control.You determine what you think about; you determine what you do.
Copyright © 1979 Peter Wade. Revised 1996.
The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the New International Version (NIV), Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.
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