Posted by: pastortomvabeach | October 15, 2008

Thought For The Week October 19, 2008

We just finished our annual Missions Convention and it was a great week. We got to hear the heart’s cry of God through missionaries who serve around the world and right here at home. God’s heart constantly beats for those who have never heard the good news about His Son, Jesus Christ. Many of us were moved by the Holy Spirit on Sunday to linger at the altar seeking a real desperation for God’s presence and power in our lives again. I love it when the Lord shows up and reminds us of what is important.

Speaking of important, there is a segment in one of the Truth Project presentations that I would like to discuss briefly. In a video segment about philosophy and ethics R.C. Sproul speaks about the importance and primacy of “mind” in the Bible. He says there is a connection between the mind and the heart, but that many people today want to skip the mind part and go right for the feelings and experience. Could this be why so many Christians live shallow, non-victorious lives?

In Romans 12:2, Paul calls us to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds..” He does not say be transformed by feeling good or by finding your miracle or by joining the right church group. Now I never discount the supernatural working of God in our lives. I have personally experienced supernatural deliverance from some sinful and harmful habits. Nor do I question the importance of experiencing God’s presence or connecting with people who have solid Biblical faith. All of these are important. But Paul and others tell us over and over that the mind, the way we think, is the main passageway into right actions and right living. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Paul outlined doctrine for eleven chapters of Romans, then said “Be transformed” (in how you live) “by renewing your mind” (what you believe and think). Why? What you believe ultimately determines what you do and how you live. Rick Warren says all behavior is based on belief. If one cheats and lies, it’s because he believes this will cause less pain than being honest. It’s a lie, but he believes it. Adam and Even believed eating the forbidden fruit would bring them blessing. It was a lie but they believed it and acted so. When someone says, “I’m leaving my husband to marry another because I believe God wants me to be happy,” they are telling you the belief behind their behavior. It’s wrong, but they believe it.

Behind every sin is a lie. It starts with the mind. When you sin, you’re doing what you think is the best thing for you. You say, “I know God says to do that, but I’m going to do this.” What are you doing?
Believing a lie. Paul says that when we renew our minds we will prove (or live out) the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. We will stop believing lies and start acting according to the truth.

Now you may say, “I’m saved, I have a new heart, why do I need to renew my mind?” You are absolutely right. Your heart has been made new exactly as Paul has described in eleven chapters. Your old man is dead, you’ve been raised with Christ. In chapter 12, he exhorts, “because of the mercies of God…”, since God has poured out His grace, forgiven sin, given a new heart, then it only follows that we would allow Him to completely change the way we think (renew your mind) which produces Godly behavior.

This again makes me wonder whether so many Christians live below the level of holiness and blessing God has for them because they are more interested in exciting events and emotional experiences. We talk about “feeling” something rather than knowing the Someone behind the something. I don’t believe one has to have deep and perfect understanding of theology in order to be saved. The Bible says “by grace you were saved by faith.” You don’t have to know everything in order to believe. However, once one believes, the Word of God tells us to then begin to grow in learning and understanding all of God’s truth. This is what Paul meant in Ephesians where he said, “After I heard of your faith, I keep praying that the Lord will give you wisdom and…grow your understanding…so that you will know all He has for you.” (my paraphrase of Ephesians 1:15-19)

Beloved friends, feelings are wonderful but feelings don’t change us. Change happens when we stop believing what the world believes, the old way of thinking, and begin to believe what God believes. We find this in the Word of God. The more we saturate our minds with the Scripture, the more we think on what God says, the more our actions will reflect the character of God. Listen to a few more of Paul’s instructions. “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5); “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5); Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3)

The things we believe determine the way we think, and the way we think determines the way we act, and the way we act determines the way we feel. For some reason, we want to “feel” a certain way before we act, but the way of faith tells us “believe it and do it.” If you want to change your feelings, then change your beliefs (renew your mind), and act like you believe it. The feeling will follow! Looking for feelings is putting the cart before the horse. I am sure that the Lord will manifest His presence to us, stir our feelings with His deep and abiding love and compassion, and change us profoundly if we fill our minds with His truth and submit to His authority.

Psychologists define two simple laws dealing with the mind: The Law of Concentration and the Law of Substitution. The Law of Concentration says that whatever we dwell on grows in our life experience and becomes part of us (“as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7). The Law of Substitution says that we can only hold one conscious thought at a time and we can substitute a positive thought for a negative thought and vice versa.

How does this relate to what Paul says in Romans 12:2? What you put into your mind will ultimately be seen in how you live. Neglecting the truths of God, real spiritual food, will result in a life of weakness, sin, and defeat, hardly what one would call a Christian lifestyle. On the other hand, renewing the mind, substituting God’s truth for the lies the world gives, leads to an ongoing transformation into Christlikeness. II Corinthians 3:18, says, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” By feeding our minds on the truth we are being changed by God’s power, by His Spirit, into His image.

Here’s the question and challenge this week. What fills your thoughts? Is it Oprah and Nascar, Teen Magazine and Wall Street, pleasure and wealth, self-fulfillment and needless worry? Or is it treasure waiting in heaven; righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit; the city whose builder and maker is God; the nearness of Jesus’ return to earth? If you’ve wondered why you have such a difficult time finding victory as a Christian, you might want to start with your mind. Just a thought about thinking!

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