Wow… I honestly cannot believe this is happening but it is!!! Our very first Bible study. I thank God for His grace because it is only by His grace that you’re reading this right now. And I’m glad you’re a part of it. So, let’s get started! While reading through our previous posts, I noticed a phrase that was repeated continuously: Renew your mind. I know a lot of people like me must have wondered, “What does it really mean to renew your mind?” Well, I’m glad we are about to have this study together so we can know the answer and learn in practical terms what it means to renew your mind.
What does it mean to Renew Your Mind?
Sometime this year, I had an aunt who came by the house frequently. Each time she came around, I made sure that I had little or no contact with her because it seemed to me like she always had something “critical” to say about what I was doing. One of the main reasons why I stayed away was that she kept telling me that I needed to let the Holy Spirit brood over my life. “There’s need for you to renew your mind”, she said. In my heart, I was like, “What in the world is she talking about? Doesn’t she know that I have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus already and I study my Bible too? So, who is she to speak to me like I was headed in the wrong direction?”
These thoughts kept coming till I found myself resenting her in my heart. It wasn’t until recently that God opened my eyes to understand what she was trying to say to me. Let me start by saying that pride was what made me blind. I was so confident about having my walk with God all figured out that I started seeing her as the enemy. But for God’s mercies, I probably would still be walking blind and proud.
Being born again is just the first step and like a newborn, you need milk to grow and even though I had free access to that milk, I wasn’t really taking it to grow. I studied my Bible earnestly but my mind wasn’t really being renewed. So even though it seemed as though I was growing, I was indeed stuck at a level of growth because I was studying the Bible for the wrong reasons. But that’s something I will get into as we go on in subsequent studies. The point is that you can be one who studies your bible but if it doesn’t produce fruit in your life, then your mind is not being renewed. So, what then does it mean to renew your mind?
For the purpose of this study, we are going to be using our anchor scripture, Romans 12:2
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in His sight for you.”
One major responsibility of any new believer and even the older ones is to renew our minds consistently. To renew means to make something new again – completely change it from what it used to be to what it ought to be. So, if we put it in terms of what we are talking about here today, it’d be to change your mindset completely from what it used to be. Such transformation is usually so evident that people find it unbelievable. They find it difficult to reconcile who you used to be with who you are now.
When I first began my relationship with God, I had several friends and acquaintances, walk up to me and say, “This is not the Jessica I used to know. What happened to you?” The change was so evident that the people around me couldn’t deny it. And that is the way it is with God – He is always faithful, more than willing to transform you. He has this amazing way of making something messy so beautiful that people cannot deny its new-found beauty. However, a mind renewal can only take place when you choose to let Him have His way. Now, that we know what it means to renew your mind, the question that comes next is, Why? Is there really any reason to? I thought God loves me for who I am so why do I need to change my mindset?
Why You Need to Renew Your Mind…
I’ll tell you why this is so important. You need to renew your mind because it is corrupt. Yeah! It is corrupt. Ephesians 4:22 tells us, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception”
Those things you used to feed your heart with, corrupted it – making you deviate from what God would have you do to producing sinful actions. The more time you spend with someone or spending doing something, the more you start to become like that person or thing. Say you are someone who had self-esteem issues, your mind over time, became adapted to people’s opinions of who they think you are. Their opinions defined your identity and so unconsciously, you started letting fear limit you or pride cause you to try to put others down to feel good about yourself. Perhaps, you had an addiction to pornography and masturbation, you repeatedly exposed yourself to erotic materials and conversations, thus telling your brain that this is the way to have an orgasm.
And I should mention that your brain and your mind is pretty much the same thing. Or let’s say you used to be in an abusive relationship, the exposure to such abuse caused you to settle and accept that abuse is something that should be tolerated rather than walked away from. Another instance would be you in a dating scenario that had all the qualities of marriage in it… And several other scenarios like this!
But what similarity do all these examples have?
Your mindset!!! Each minute you spent in any of these scenarios I mentioned, went a long way in altering your mindset from the way things should be. It’s more like repeated actions and repeated exposure to a particular thing makes you believe that thing is the right way even when it isn’t. I may not have mentioned yours while illustrating but know that it is pretty much the same thing I am trying to say.
Anything that isn’t God’s will at the moment becomes sin when you choose to go ahead and do it. And sin is an evidence that your heart isn’t right with God because if you love God, you will obey His Word. Even if you fail at any point, you’d quickly mend fences with Him. There’s no point beating around the bush. Even if you were motivated by guilt, pity or fear to do those things, it still is what it is – sin. God doesn’t produce guilt or fear in anyone, especially not His children.
So, if there is anything you should take from this part today, it should be that we all [no exceptions] have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. Hence, the need for the mind renewal! And trust me when I say that nobody is above this command. No matter how spiritually mature any believer gets, he or she must still recognize the need for a mind renewal. Without Jesus leading you, you can do nothing!!!
Here is another reason why you need to renew your mind
“I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me…” Romans 7:22-23
I know Paul wasn’t kidding when he told the Galatians about the battle in the mind. I have experienced this first hand and a lot of you reading this, have as well. You love God with all your heart and you want to please Him but there is this other force at war in you, telling you how pleasing that thing will be. As time progresses, your love for God is still there – your spirit is willing to please God but your body is already saying something else to you. It’s becoming weak; those “feel good” hormones start to send chills down your spine and before you realize yourself, you have already fallen to that thing you said you wouldn’t do. Sound familiar?
The devil hates us!!!
In fact, he hates us even more because we have chosen to identify with Christ and he won’t give up on pulling you back to where you used to be. So, don’t think to come to Christ is a time to relax and take joyful rides with no worries. Sure, there are no worries in Christ, but you are not dead yet which means that the temptation to go back to “the familiar” will present itself over and over again. The devil will keep trying to tempt you with that same thing God delivered you from through any means necessary just to discredit your testimony.
Several times over, I have been tempted to just drop my desire to honor Christ for a few minutes and go down on myself. After all, I can still go back and say sorry to God, yeah? It’s funny how our minds can deceive us [if we let it] and lead us what Jesus delivered us from. I have been tempted to go back to my past and just bury myself in all that seeming “fun”. But we all know the guilt that follows after the pleasure. The devil sure knows how to bring chains in the most attractive packages, deceiving even the most spiritually mature ones. So, please don’t think to come to Jesus is an excuse to sit back, cross-legged and getting spiritually overweight. You need to work out – renew your mind.
The devil will keep trying to tempt you with that same thing God delivered you from through any means necessary just to discredit your testimony.
Here’s what Jesus said
Jesus gave an illustration in Matthew and I think it will clear things up some more. He told us in Matthew 12 that when a demon leaves a person, that demon wanders around looking for a new person to inhabit. When he doesn’t find one, he comes back to check to see if “what used to be his house”, is empty. If he finds the house empty, he returns to that house – body, along with 7 other demons eviler than himself, to take back possession of that house. And that person is left in a worse state than before.
What does this tell me? It tells me that if I choose to sit back, feeling all safe because I’m saved and I use that as an excuse to get lazy, I most certainly will end up falling away from this new life to the old life Christ already delivered me from. If I don’t guard my heart by choosing to let my eyes and ears feed on just anything without checking its content, I just might fall back to a life of pornography, masturbation, gossip, malice, jealousy and the like. If I just let myself engage in unnecessary conversations with the men I used to date and sleep with, I just might fall back into their arms, then to their beds and back to abusive situations. Or if I keep letting people’s opinions determine my actions, I just might fall back to being an approval addict.
If I choose to sit back, feeling all safe because I’m saved and I use that as an excuse to get lazy, I most certainly will end up falling away from this new life to the old life Christ already delivered me from.
These things happen and we call them mistakes but mistakes can be avoided. This goes a long way to tell you how much you need to renew your mind and then guard it!!! I’m taking out time today to emphasize why you need to renew your mind so you’d know how important this is. It is the foundation you need and if you know anything about buildings, you’d know that the foundation is usually given the most attention. Let’s talk about how to renew your mind. And I’m pointing out these challenges not for you to get afraid or give up. It is for you to realize how much you need Jesus Christ.
How do you renew your mind?
By letting God change the way you think. Sounds easy, yeah? But in practical terms, it’s not so easy. You see, God made us in such a way that we have the power to choose whose voice influences our actions – who we pay attention to. And usually, God doesn’t get the first look. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. The things that give us the most pleasure most times are opposite from what gives God pleasure. It’s more like we are so ahead of His plan – this is us leaning on our own understanding. We’d rather have it now than at the time God says we should have it and that’s what gets us into messy situations.
Take the lady who knows sex is for marriage only. Because of how exciting it feels in that moment, she damns the consequences and goes ahead anyway. Then, a few months later, she notices her period hasn’t come. Pregnancy test shows she has a baby on the way and then her heart tells her abortion is the right way to go. And then she loses her womb in the process or maybe dies. Does that in any way look like God’s plan for her life?
Let me break it down further.
In order to live the new life, you need to make up your mind to let the Holy Spirit lead you. The Holy Spirit is God living inside of you. And He is the only one that knows God’s heart – what God’s will is and how to walk in it. When you came to Christ, you became a new creature – washed with His blood and made clean. Old things – your past passed away. Everything sinful that you may have done died!!! And you received a clean slate. It may not look like it considering that fact that you are still in your old body but it takes faith to hold onto this truth and walk in it. However, that was only one side of the coin.
”He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
This goes to tell us that the new birth already happened the moment you accepted Christ as the Lord over your life but the new life isn’t a one-time thing. It is progressive – you growing every day. Like a newborn baby, your life begins once you stepped out of that place of encounter, baptized and ready to walk with God. Then the growth process starts. A malnourished baby ends up dead and in some cases, they remain alive but underdeveloped. The same can happen in matters of spiritual growth as well.
How else can you grow or rather live the new life except by the Spirit of God? The Holy Spirit is like the mother and the Word is the milk. The two go hand in hand. You can’t grow unless you let the Holy Spirit administer the milk to you in the right proportion. The Holy Spirit gives life. He is so important in this mind renewing process that I’m going to be talking about Him next. Without Him, there is no mind renewal. Actually, the difference between who you used to be and who you are now is the Holy Spirit. Take the Holy Spirit out of the equation and all that you’d be left with is the old you, struggling to please God, failing at it and then settling for the guilt that comes thereafter.
But the Holy Spirit can’t teach you if you are unwilling to make out time for Him.
Yeah! We all have used the “I’m so busy. I have so much to do” line. I’ve used it myself but the question someone asked that woke me up from a life full of excuses is this: “How busy are you that you don’t have time for the One who created you?” It’s just like telling your boss that you are busy and you can’t make out time for a meeting he requested. Do you think you’ll still have that job by Monday? So, why ignore God’s call? Without Him, you wouldn’t even be here. You are here because He wills it and he created you for a purpose so why get busy with other things without seeking Him first?
Sometimes, we don’t realize that our failure to achieve and live victoriously is knitted to our busy schedule. We spend all day chasing after things without seeking the God who’d eliminate the struggle. You don’t have to struggle to be free you know. Or wear fake garments of purity. Jesus already set you free. He paid in full but as long as you live in this fallen world, temptations will keep being hurled at you. Without the counsel and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you sure will fall. But you need to be willing to spend time – quality time with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
I know that no bond can be formed from a distance. Just like with your relationships, you deliberately have to make time to spend time with them so you can know them. So, it is pretty much the same principle which I will be talking about soon – building a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Let me end by saying this…
This is just an introduction to what I believe would be a power-packed series. So far, I have mentioned 3 keys – the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and your time. As a believer, you need to know how to study the Word and let the Holy Spirit teach you. But you must deliberately make out time for Him. It shouldn’t be a struggle if you really love God and want to start living as He’d have you live. There is so much you can do when you rely on the Holy Spirit but there is little you can achieve on your own. So, please check back here every Tuesday as we dig deep into this. God bless you and have a great week!
Action Point: I need to make a very important appeal to you. Don’t just depend on what I write down here. Take out the time to do a study on this verse, Romans 12:2. There is so much the Holy Spirit wants to teach you especially regarding the situation you may be going through right now. Feel free to drop your comments and questions. If it is private, send me a mail at email@example.com. Deliberately choose to spend time with God this week! God bless you and have a great week!
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sins and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Help me to deliberately spend time with you this week. That I may learn about you and grow in you. Amen.