I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).
In the new birth our spirits are transformed from darkness to light. The nature of sin is removed and replaced by the nature and life of God. A new motivation for living rises up from within. The things we once delighted in are replaced by an attraction to right living. And that’s where the challenge begins.
Before Christ we allowed our minds, emotions, wills and bodies to absorb habits that now bring regret if we participate in them. Paul said it to the believers in Rome this way: I am speaking in familiar human terms because of your natural limitations. For as you yielded your bodily members and faculties as servants to impurity and ever increasing lawlessness, so now yield your bodily members and faculties once for all as servants to righteousness (right being and doing) which leads to sanctification (Romans 6:19-Amplified).
Stubbornness, anger, malice (the desire for bad things to happen to people who do you wrong), self-centeredness, habits of fleshly lusts, sexual and otherwise, overeating to cover pain, overwork to escape dealing with relational issues, and perfectionism. All of these things come from a soul (mind, emotions and will) that must be subdued and brought to obedience to the Word!
The mind is renewed and the body submitted to God as a living sacrifice as we daily yielded ourselves to the Lordship of the Word, making a conscious decision to act on the Word when everything in you wants to go the other way!
Another important and often overlooked part of personal change and mind renewal is becoming involved in personal relationships with people. Our small groups here at Victory are gearing up to begin in September, and that is a great place to allow God to work in you. For real change to occur, the truth of the Word must be applied in the context of relating to others!
Notice James 5:16: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Confessing our sins relates us to God and restores our spiritual connection with Him. But confessing our faults to others disarms the darkness behind the fault by bringing it to the light. And this can happen in a small group you participate in weekly here at Victory.
We cannot grow in isolation. Growth happens when we relate to others and choose to love unconditionally. Just reading the Word and quoting verses won’t change you without practical application. That happens in relationship.
Once we are in relationship, there are four things we can do to foster mind renewal. First, we can relate to God my meditating in the Word. Find specific scripture that deal with your personal struggles with fear, anger, bitterness, jealousy, gossip, lust, or whatever, and read them and say them over and over. A visit with the Word by reading and meditating brings God’s presence into our daily grind.
Secondly, we can make a decision to put into practice what we read and meditate on personally. The Holy Spirit will bring back to our thoughts the things from the Bible that we read and meditate on privately. And when we are in relationship with others, the things we need to work on in our character seem to creep up! A small group time with others can help you root our fleshly life responses.
Thirdly, make a decision to ask yourself in every decision and choice today: what does the Word of God say about this situation. And, instead of doing what comes natural that you know is wrong, choose to do what God says. The Holy Spirit has a great way of empowering us to live as a Christ follower. And, being around others of like faith can encourage us to do the right thing.
Fourthly and lastly, the mind begins to get in sync with our spirit nature, the presence of God inside of us, when we instantly obey our conscience. The conscience is really the voice of our spirit speaking to us. And if our spirit nature is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then our conscience can be God speaking in our life details. Don’t ignore conscience! Obeying conscience is an important step in changing our thought life as we go through our day.
Mind renewal is a lifelong process that will only culminate when we get to heaven and are like Him! Work towards that end everyday! His life in me must rise up, and I must choose to say no to the old habits of thinking and living. When we say yes to the Word, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid with the power to say NO to the old habits that once ruled! He must increase; I must decrease!