The Renewed Mind: The First Critical Step


THE RENEWED MIND
The First Critical Step
As a CPR instructor, my desire for my students is for them to be vigilant, think through situations, and then perform the necessary actions to save a life. Consider this example: A person, who appears to be unconscious, is lying in the middle of a street in a puddle of water. What do I do? Our natural instinct is to run immediately to remove the individual from danger, which would include, dragging them out of the road. However, this is not the correct initial course of action in an emergency. There are several wrongs steps here, but the most vital step, is to think through the situation. Why? Some cause has left someone in the middle of a street. If you do not know the cause, it can put YOU unconscious in the middle of the street, also. This has actually happened in several scenarios. In one scenario, a downed power line, electrocuted the victim. The bystander did not check his surroundings and pause to think, prior to rushing forward to help the victim. This resulted in the rescuer stepping in water, which is a conductor of electricity, and the scene now had two victims of electric shock, instead of one. Thankfully, they both lived and learned a valuable lesson. I'm reminded of the many "shocking" moments in my life, where God has rescued me.  The rescuer had sincere, good intentions. Good intentions, is no substitute for accurate knowledge and proper thought, prior to our response in a crisis. However if I have knowledge, without the willingness to act, my knowledge is useless. It takes both, accurate knowledge (which we've been trained to apply), and good intentions.

It is even more important to know and think God's Word, prior to our decisions and our actions. The renewed mind is sometimes the overlooked vital initial step, which can mean the difference between spiritual life and death, particularly before we speak (Proverbs 18:21). I would know, because I'm just as guilty as anyone. I try to make it clear in my teachings, that I am always a student. We learn from one another, as iron sharpening iron, and we grow together. This is why I enjoy teaching. It motivates me to study God's Word to a greater depth and share what I have learned in my application of it. It adds pressure on me, to practice what I preach, and that's ok. I fall short, and I do it all the time! You know what? That's ok, too! It's certainly not my desire, but we are all a work in progress. Knowing this, we can be gentle and kind-hearted towards one another. One tremendous truth to recognize and hold in our minds, is that our faults will never surpass God's grace and great love for us! No matter how big our mistakes, God’s love is always bigger! We are probably all familiar with John 3:16.

Part of the Judean belief at the time Christ was on earth, was that the Messiah would destroy the Gentile world. They weren't aware of the great mystery, which God had hid from everyone, until the appointed time. They didn't know the Gentiles would be included in the promise. The religious authorities of the day, were focused on tradition, and focused on the image of how they believed their savior would appear. They were blinded to the truth.

Paul kept his mind renewed to the truth God revealed to him. He was honest, citing Christ as the source of his strength. Likewise, we have the revealed Word of God available to us to study, and remember. We are all included in what God accomplished in Christ. "Whosoever" of John 3:16, doesn't exclude people. God's Word is for all of us, who choose to believe. It's not exclusive to the preacher at the pulpit, the priest in the sanctuary, or the Reverend who's walked uprightly for years. I do have an admiration for those who try harder and give it all they've got to be their best for God. I want to be like those faithful in Christ. I endeavor to renew my mind as often as I can. An excellent way to be more like Christ, and others who walk a more upright walk than myself, is to be around them. The first critical step in living a better life, is thinking a better thought.

We all practically benefit from the renewal of our mind to God's Word, because it applies to all of us. Our society, at times, pushes an "all or nothing" mentality. We must have it all. We must be perfect or we are nothing at all. My husband cheerfully quotes Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, where he says, "If you ain't first, you're last!" It's funny to hear, but it simply isn't true. Christ is the only one, who has ever walked perfectly. We will do well to eliminate the "all or nothing" mentality from our minds. Christ walked perfectly, and it is because of what was wrought in CHRIST, that I can get back up when I fall, and try again. I can try as many times as I need. It is certainly not because of anything I have done, quite the contrary. I am insufficient. God is my sufficiency. It would take a very long time to recall everything I've ever done wrong. I bet my adversary, the accuser, could help me out. Thank GOD that's not what we are called to do. We are not called to renew our minds to ourselves and our insufficiency, or to remember the faults of others, and make darn well sure they never forget their mistakes. I don't want to be THAT person. I don't want to be the one who gets stuck in a mental rut, due to my mistakes, and I certainly don't want to waste valuable mental energy and time, remembering and reminding others of their mistakes. Our new life in Christ and our mind of Christ is not focused on what the world has done to us, not even on what we have done to ourselves. Our new life is one of glory, grace and beauty of what GOD has done FOR us! We are called to remember what God has done for us in Christ! We are called to remember His Word of life, which defeats our adversary's purpose to steal, kill and destroy. When we renew our minds, we are reminded of who we are IN CHRIST.

When we are born again, we have Christ "in us." However, to be "in Christ," is to renew our minds to who we are in Christ. We are reminded we are forgiven and loved. There are over 900 promises in the Word of God, to which, we can renew our mind. Another lie in the world today is that a workman of the Word, must be a "religious" person, who rarely messes up. NO and NO.  There are consequences for our mistakes, and this is a good reason to renew our minds. God's Word is for our protection and our stability. 

Isaiah 33:6 KJV
And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation:
the fear [respect] of the LORD is his treasure.

The very basic point of the New Testament, is that we had a need, and God met our need, in the accomplishments of Christ. Renewing our mind to our new life in Christ, is not a punishment. The renewal of our minds, is what sets us free from condemnation, bondage and fear. The whole point of renewing our mind, is NOT simply to show us what we're doing wrong. The point is to show us how to do what is right, and how to get back on our feet and try again faithfully. God knows very well, we fall. He also knows better than anyone how to get us back on our feet, and back on the right path. My desire to renew my mind to God's Word is motivated by God's great love for me, because He loved me first.

This is the motive of our "good intentions," in spiritual matters. We are motivated by the love of and for God, as we renew our mind to the rightly divided Word. Thinking through situations, according to God's Word, and acting upon it, is God’s desire for our lives, on a much higher level. Why? Because He loves us and wants the best for us. God designed our minds to think and act according to His Word. His desire, according to His Word, is for us to be fully persuaded of His word to the point we believe it, and live it as our standard of life. A genuine commitment for learning and acting on the truth of God’s word, will prevent us from falling into traps of this world. How many people live in fear and condemnation because they THINK they have no value. How much better is it to think the TRUTH? How many people associate their worth with their job, their education, their status in society, their political role, their religious denomination or affiliation, their good deeds, their impressive talents and abilities, etc? What happens when we lose our job, when our education has been rendered obsolete by new technology, when the political mud slinging flies in the wrong direction, when church leadership makes a mistake, when our bones become fragile with age? We will either back down in fear when pressure of the world arises, or we will rush into a situation, based on a false mentality, and make it worse, rather than taking a moment to renew our mind to the TRUTH. Our value is not dependent on any thing in this world. We ALWAYS have value to God, because we are His precious children. His love is unfailing and all encompassing! Who wouldn't want to remember that? Who wouldn't want to renew their mind to the light, when there is so much darkness in this world? It's not simply that we do not want to renew our mind. The more likely reason is that we have an adversary, who works very hard to distract us from it. This means we have to be vigilant in guarding our thoughts, in order to become fully persuaded of the truth. Without being fully persuaded in our mind, we will be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14)

 

Psalm 27:11
Teach me thy way, O LORD,
and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

This is the prayer of a man after God’s own heart. The heart of a believer is to have their eyes of understanding opened to truth, even if it contradicts what they have been living. We can be honest and meek enough to recognize and receive the truth, and change our minds and our lives accordingly. The apostle Paul gave thanks to the believers at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ, those mature believers who made it their priority to receive God's Word and renew their minds to it habitually.





Romans 12:2
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, and acceptable,
and perfect, will of God.
When we renew our minds, we see God’s heart for us and we know Him better. Generally speaking, that is the purpose of life: To know our creator, to love God and keep his commandments is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).



I Corinthians 2:9-10
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things God hath prepared for them that love Him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: 
the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
The mind of the disciplined believer, who is focused on spiritual matters, is the mind to which God reveals the things the eye has not seen, neither ear heard. We can overcome any situation by not leaning unto our own understanding, but in all ways acknowledging God. We set our affections on things above.


Colossians 3:2
Set your affection on things above,
not on things on the earth.

To set your affection is to make it your soul’s sincere desire; to crave Godly thoughts over natural – man thoughts. Does the logic of God's Word dominate our decisions in our daily life? As we wrestle in spiritual matters, our renewed mind sets us up to act upon all the power and resources God had made readily available.


2 Corinthians 10:5
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
Renewing our mind is necessary to overcome spiritual obstacles.
2 Corinthians  10:3-4
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 strong holds)

This is what the Psalmist did:
Psalm 119:59-60
I thought on my ways,
and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
I made haste, and
delayed not to keep thy commandments.
He took the time to compare his life with God’s word. He saw he needed to change, so he lined his life up with the Word. “Haste” means to hurry. Figuratively it also means to be eager with excitement or enjoyment. We don’t want to just hear the Word. We want to do it and to understand it.


2 Timothy 2:7
Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

Understanding comes as we apply the knowledge we have learned faithfully and continually.  “Understanding” is the Greek word “sunesis” which means a mental putting together; intelligence; insight into anything; cleverness as shown in quickness of apprehension.

James 1:22
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

We focus our minds to consider the Word and become  doers of the Word and not hearers only. We do not ignore five-senses information, but we hold God’s Word as our standard of truth in our minds. We want to make God’s Word the basis by which we measure our thoughts.

Isaiah 55:7-9
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:
and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him;
and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.


Philippians 2:5
Let this mind be in you,
which was also in Christ Jesus:

Jesus Christ studied the Word and always did the will of his Father.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ,
he is a new creature:
old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.



There is great reason for excitement in the renewed mind! If we do not renew our minds, we may become so acclimated to our old way of thinking, that we do not recognize when we need help. That is where our brothers and sisters in Christ, step in to help us with wise counsel. 
I tell my CPR students that when they hear cartilage popping or ribs cracking, they simply need to check their position and technique. If both are correct, they need to continue, regardless of these sounds. The same principle can be applied in our daily lives. If our five-senses tell us something is wrong, we can check our thoughts and actions, with God's Word as our standard. If our lives line up with the Word, we simply continue on our path, or we can seek wise counsel if needed. As we are faithful to renew our minds to the truth of God’s word in every category of life, we will have peace.

Romans 8:5-6
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh;
but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death;
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

The word “life” in v. 6 is the Greek word “zoe”, which  means life in all of its manifestations and aspects. There is no aspect of life where we will not benefit from the renewed mind. The more victories we claim in life as we renew our minds, the quicker and sharper we become. Trained rescuers can act quickly to save a life in time of need. This is a skill acquired from repetitively performing actions, based on precise information and  specific steps. As a new nurse, I was slow in the beginning. It took time and repetition, performing the same steps I was taught, over and over again. Initially I had to think through each and every step. Eventually it became a habit. Likewise, we can discipline our minds to think according to God's Word and act upon it. The more we renew our minds according to the new man in Christ, the less we desire the old lifestyle.

God bless you and enjoy all the benefits and blessings of renewing your mind and living your new life in Christ!


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