The Renewed Mind
It is clear then, that defeating fear by building a strong believing mind and putting our trust in God requires a new way of thinking. Instead of understanding fear from a purely human point of view, we must learn to evaluate it from a spiritual perspective and believe that God is bigger than any problems we may face. This change of mind, this change of believing, this change of perspective comes about by understanding that the bible is God's word. As we read the bible with this understanding and apply the principles we learn, we go through a process called the renewed mind.
And be not conformed [suschēmatizo] 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.
Conformed is the Greek word suschēmatizō, a derivative of schēma, and means to conform to the same pattern, to conform to, to fashion yourself according to. Our English word schematic comes from this Greek word. We are not to fashion ourselves, model ourselves, conform ourselves to the schematics of this world. Television, movies, newspapers, magazines, literature, education and everything else in the world fashions and conforms us to this world. We are not to be conformed, fashioned or modelled according to the schematics and purposes of this world.
Easy enough to say, but what does that mean? We live in the world, so we can't just ignore it. This isn't about finding a quiet island somewhere and opting out of life. Jesus Christ didn't ignore life. This doesn't mean we ignore education and can't watch movies. That isn't what it means. The devil is the god of this world, a position he has held since Genesis chapter 3 when man fell from the position God had given him. Since then, everything in the world conforms to the god of this world's agendas and purposes. Religion, education, the traditions of men, media - everything in the world contrives to conform men's minds to the political, religious, ethical, moral and spiritualist systems of this world. We are not to be moulded into this filth.
We can't avoid the world, so what do we do? What mechanics are involved? What actual steps can we take to ensure we're not conformed to this world? We don't have to guess, just carry on reading because the verse tells us.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed [metamorphoō] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
In contrast to being fashioned to the world, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Transformed is the Greek word metamorphoō, from which we get our English word metamorphosis, describing the change in form from a caterpillar to a butterfly. To be transformed then implies a complete change in our thoughts, a process by which our thoughts actually change form.
Caterpillars are regarded by many as pests because all they do is eat. Some species even have two mouths so they can devour more. After metamorphosis, however, caterpillars change from being devouring pests to butterflies that pollinate and spread life everywhere they go. This is the figure of speech God employed to illustrate the change we can enjoy if we renew our minds.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that ye put on [enduō] the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Conversation in verse 22 simply means behaviour. Our former conversation or behaviour refers to our manner of life before we were born again, when we were just body and soul, without spirit, dead in the devil's world, without God and without hope. That is what the bible refers to as our old man, our old ways. To put on is enduō in the Greek, which means to clothe. This is something we do. We put it on, we renew our minds, it is something we do, not something God does for us.
Briefly then, to renew the mind is to develop a totally new way of thinking. Now, why would we want to do this?
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Heart refers to the innermost part of your being, that from which your believing emanates, that from which your believing comes. Our believing determines what we manifest in life - whether it is positive believing or whether it is fear - and believing comes from the heart. Here is an excellent translation of Proverbs 4:23.
Above all that heart must be guarded, for out of it are the sources of all outflow of all life.
How we build our heart, how we build our believing is with our thoughts. We can be anything we want in life simply by believing. The god of this world knows this, so he does all he can to make us afraid. No one can go beyond what they are taught, so if all we know is the fear the world breeds, that is all we will manifest. If all we watch is television and all we read are newspapers, magazines, and the world's literature, then that is all we will think, that is all that will be in our heads and in our hearts. We will have been fashioned and conformed to this world. However, we can choose to put different thoughts into our minds, the thoughts of the bible. If we do, instead of being conformed to the world, we will be transformed as we renew our minds and learn to believe God and thereby prove his good, acceptable, and perfect will.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The devil, the god of this world, comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy. Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Which life do you want? One is the way of death, the other is the way of life. One is the course of this world, the other is the way of God. It's our choice, it is up to us which life we live. Both are available, and we can have either. If we are fashioned and conformed to the world, we will live a life that's really not worth living, regardless of how much money we make. Life with God isn't about making money, it's about having all your need met. If we renew our minds, we experience God's good, acceptable, and perfect will by enjoying a more abundant life. If this sounds good, then get your mind out of the world and renew your mind with God's thoughts. Yes, that's right, learning to think the bible is learning to think like God, because the bible consists entirely of his thoughts.
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.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
How you forsake your thoughts is to quit being conformed to this world. How you return to God is by reading and studying his word and thinking his thoughts instead. If we take this action, God promises to forgive us for everything we've ever done, regardless of how terrible we were, and we will go out with joy, be led forth with peace, and the mountains and the hills will break forth before us into singing.
Here is a very simple example of how we can renew our minds. According to God's word we are blameless and we have been made lovely and acceptable.
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted [lovely and acceptable] in the beloved.
God tells us we are blameless and
that he thinks of us as lovely and acceptable. God doesn't say we are
faultless, but rather that despite our faults we are blameless.
According to God, we are blameless and lovely and acceptable. Now, is
that how you think of yourself? Is that how the world thinks of you? Is
that what television tells you? Is that what you read in newspapers? Are
you taught this in school or at university? Do you read this in books?
Do you hear this at the movies? I think you get the idea!
So what do we do when we feel unworthy, when we feel less than lovely, when we feel guilty, when we feel garbage about ourselves? We have a choice to make. We can put aside our old thoughts and decide to think God's thoughts. How we do that is by memorising Ephesians 1:4 and 6 and quoting them to ourselves until we start believing God's word rather than what the world teaches us about ourselves. That's how you renew your mind.
Let's now consider another aspect of this. As there is obviously work involved, is renewing the mind painful? Does renewing the mind cause warts to grow on your head? Does replacing your old thoughts with new ones make your ears bleed? Not at all, quite the opposite, if you think God's word day and night your life will be like a tree planted by rivers of water and you will enjoy a fruitful life.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
If this is what you want, it is time to put your televisions, newspapers, magazines and computer games aside, and pick up a bible and start reading. To give us more of a feel for what it means to renew our minds, to see its simplicity and its benefits, let's look at a record where Jesus Christ renewed his mind in an extremely challenging situation.
As far as we know, only two humans have ever faced the devil in a direct face to face confrontation - Eve and Jesus Christ. Eve was seduced, man fell, and the devil became the god of this world. Jesus Christ, however, defeated the devil and reconciled man back to God. Why did Eve get taken down, and what was it that allowed Jesus Christ to prevail? The renewed mind is the simple answer. Eve thought she knew her bible, but she was wrong. She omitted a word from God's word, she added words, and finally she changed the word. Let's briefly compare her knowledge of scripture with what God actually said.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
How long would it take to memorise these two short verses? A few seconds? Two minutes? There really isn't too much work involved in memorising these scriptures. Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die. How difficult is that to memorise? It's not difficult. However, look at Eve's response to the serpent.
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Eve omitted the word freely, she added the words neither shall ye touch it, and she changed the word from thou shalt surely die to lest ye die. Eve thought she knew her bible. Eve was religious, but she did not retain God's word clearly in her mind. Perhaps she watched too much television, I don't know, but for some reason she did not keep her mind in God's word and she became hazy on the details. She neglected the word and when she needed it, it was not there.
Eve did not know God's word, she only thought she knew it, and consequently the devil tricked her out of what was hers. Man died spiritually, and that death still affects us all to this day. That was why man needed a redeemer, someone to pay the price to purchase us back from the god of this world. Jesus Christ was that redeemer. In his face to face confrontation, he defeated the devil with three simple and easy to memorise scriptures.
And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Unlike Eve, Jesus Christ knew the word, and those three easy to memorise scriptures were powerful enough to defeat the devil in a face to face confrontation. Think about that. Want some power in your life? The renewed mind is the key to power.
To sum up, God taught his word to Eve. The devil contradicted God's word and attempted to get Eve to doubt it. As she had become hazy on the details, she was easily seduced and defeated. Jesus Christ was taught God's word. As he was clear on the scriptures, he was not seduced and he was victorious. So how does all this relate to us today in the 21st Century? Can we learn anything from this in a practical sense that we can apply in our lives? Well, let's look at a few simple 21st Century real life examples.
Beware of dogs [backbiters], beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
It is pretty clear that backbiting - bitching about someone behind their back - is something God says we should not do. However, the world promotes backbiting. Politicians, for example, do it all the time. Every soap opera on TV teaches you how to backbite, complain and bitch. It's practically impossible in our day and time to live a week without being drawn into bitching about someone behind their back. What do we do about it? Cry? Shout at them? Ignore it? No, we go to the word.
The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
The antidote to being drawn into backbiting and bitching is an angry face. If someone bitches to you about someone behind their back and tries to draw you into joining them, you don't have to say or do anything, just pull an angry face and that will shut them up. That's what the word says. Now, are you going to believe it? Are you prepared to be courageous and believe God and do what his word says?
If you want power in your life, learn, memorise, and apply God's word. When you are drawn into backbiting, for example, quote Proverbs 25:23 to yourself and put on an angry face. There is no need to write letters, send emails, quote scriptures, or confront people, just put on an angry face and that will deal with the problem. Try it and see.
How long does it take to memorise Proverbs 25:23? A few seconds? A minute? If you know this scripture, then you know how to deal with backbiting. If you find yourself in a backbiting situation, you can run Proverbs 25:23 through your mind and make a conscious decision to put on an angry face. That's renewing the mind in action. What other people do is up to them, but if they bitch to you, put your angry face on. If someone has a problem with someone else, they should go and sort it out with them in private, not go bitching behind their back.
Jesus Christ taught us how to deal with such matters as believers in our home churches. If someone needs sorting out the first thing you do is go and bitch about them behind their back, right? No, the first thing you do is go and have a quiet discussion, just the two of you in private and get it sorted out. If that doesn't get their attention, you publicly bitch about them all over Facebook, right? No, you confront them with one or two trusted witnesses again in private. If that doesn't sort the situation, you take it further and go see your home church leader who will then become responsible to sort it out. At no time does backbiting ever come into it.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
There are rules to life. Fire is lovely stuff, but if you don't control it, it will burn you or damage your property. If that happens, it's not God's fault, it's yours for not controlling it properly. If fire burns you, God isn't punishing you, it's your fault. You missed the mark somewhere, and that's what sin means, to miss the mark, that's all. Sin comes from a word meaning to miss the mark, as an archer missing his target. Bitching and complaining is missing the mark. Bitching and complaining carry consequences, not because God is punishing you, but because you missed the mark.
I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
The psalmist describes what happened when he bitched and complained. His spirit, his soul, his entire being was overwhelmed. That's what happens when you bitch and complain. That's just the nature of life, that's why God warns us about it in his word. What are we supposed to do instead of bitching and complaining?
1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Rather than bitch and complain, we should be thankful, we should give thanks, we should keep our minds thankful. That's hitting the mark, not missing it.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
If we think wonderful things, we will have plenty to be thankful for, life will be a joy, the trees will clap their hands and the mountains will break forth before us into singing. If we break God's word and go the world's way of bitching and complaining, well, we will be troubled and our souls will be overwhelmed. Jesus Christ resisted with the truth of God's word and he was victorious. We can do the same. That's renewing the mind, which is the key to power for abundant living.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
How you submit to God is to submit to his word, which is to renew your mind. If you renew your mind and apply the word, you will defeat the devil. If you want the garbage out of your life, if you want power in your life, if you want to be more than a conqueror in every situation, learn the word and do what it says. Let's look at another example.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
I think we all know that lying is wrong, that it is missing the mark. Would we lie to our children? Of course not. Oh? What about santa claus then? What about the tooth fairy? What about the easter bunny? The word says to put away lying. Are the traditions of men more important to you than doing God's word? Do you think it's okay with God to lie to your children? You can choose to renew your mind, go God's way and enjoy a more abundant life, or you can be conformed to this world and lie to your children because santa claus, the tooth fairy and the easter bunny are more important to you. Are the traditions of men more important to you than the truth? See how this works? Renewing the mind isn't difficult, but it does require moving away from the courses of this world. What do you think God meant when he commanded us to not be conformed to this world?
Let's clarify something here regarding the renewed mind. Renewing the mind is not a destination. You cannot learn so much of God's word that you no longer need to renew your mind anymore. It isn't like climbing a mountain, or studying for a degree, or walking from John O'Groats to Lands End. There is no finish line. Renewing the mind is not a place where you can put your feet up and relax because you have arrived. Think of it in terms of daily food. You will need to eat as long as you live. If you quit renewing your mind, if you neglect God's word like Eve and go back to your television, you will slump back into your old man ways, most likely without even realising it.
Each and every day we have to continue to walk by the revealed word and will of God, the bible, and to do that we must learn it, we must renew our minds. This may be a continual process, but it isn't tedious, laborious or wearisome. Is enjoying a good meal every day wearisome? Not at all, good food is a joy, and so it is with God's word. It's a joy to renew the mind, it's a joy to have the strength to defeat anything that comes at you in life, it's a joy to be more than a conqueror in every situation. Let's look at another example.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
The world sells debt to us with glittering smiles, as if that's the only way we can get the things we need. God says he will supply all our need. So who is your god going to be from now on? The true God, who will supply all your need, or your credit card? Living a debt-free life with all your need met is very much a part of the more abundant life. The thief wants to steal that life from you, and is quite happy to dangle new cars, new computers and new clothes in front of you to get you into debt. Don't you believe that God will meet all your need? If God is going to supply all your need, you don't have to go into debt then, do you? Have you any idea how much misery is in the world because folks go into debt? It's missing the mark and it carries consequences. Someone once wrote: There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt. Have you any idea who it is lending you all that money so you will be in their debt? If you knew, you wouldn't touch it.
Next time you're tempted to spend money you don't have, quote Romans 13:8 to yourself and Philippians 4:19. They don't take very long to memorise. Next time you need something, will you trust God to meet your need, or will you put your trust in a piece of plastic? That's renewing the mind. Now yes, if you're in debt, God can part the oceans and lead you out of that slavery, but you're going to have to renew your mind and learn how to manage your money according to his word if you want his help. Let's look at one more example.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
We wouldn't steal anything, would we? Of course not. What about taking things home from work that don't belong to you? What about tampering with your electricity meter? What about buying goods you know have been stolen? What about salmon poaching? What about pirated movies, music and software? What about fare dodging? The world has an endless supply of things you can steal and an endless supply of reasons as to why you should do it. The masons know all about stealing.
You freemasons, do you think it is okay to steal all the best jobs and dish them out to other masons, putting everyone else out of work even though they would make better employees? Do you think it is okay with God to secretly break companies up and deliberately put them out of business so fellow masons with companies in communist China will benefit? Do you think it is okay with God to lie in court to keep guilty masons out of jail? You masons in politics, do you think it is okay with God to implement policies that poison and tax to death the very people who voted you into office and pay your wages?
I don't care what the jesuits tell you, or what the communist manifesto says, I'm telling you what God's word says, and if you don't change your lying stealing ways, you will pay for it. The communist manifesto may say it's okay to steal, the jesuits may tell you it's okay to steal, that the end justifies the means, but if you steal from life it will steal from you. That's just the way life is because what you sow in the ground is what you will get out of it.
Change, apologise to God, and do things his way, and you will be forgiven and everything God has will be made available to you. I don't care who you are or what you've done, or how big a player you are in the criminal and terrorist underworld, you can change your course at anytime. If you do, God will honour your believing and he will be there for you.
You may think you will be looked after in the new world order, but you are deceived. One world governance will not bring peace on earth, it will not bring an end to poverty, it will only bring the horrors described in the book of Revelation. You are betraying your own people for political ideals conjured up by the devil. You are being corrupted into traitors, liars and thieves for nothing more noble than a fistful of bribes. If you change, God will be there for you.
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
To renew the mind then, requires study of God's word, memorising scripture, and then doing it and living it. Anyone can do it, it isn't difficult or painful, and the benefits are out of this world.
Chapter 17 - Homesexuality: The Way of Life