I am going to try something a little different in this month’s Langstaff Letters by doing a series on the renewing of the mind.
THE NEED FOR A RENEWED MIND
The biggest battle we face as individual Christians is: “The Battle of the Mind.” If the enemy controls our minds, what we think, how we respond, what occupies our minds, then he will control us to a large extent. So, the battle is for the mind of every believer.
When I was a young Christian, there was an older man who lived across the road from our church. He had many sayings, one of which was from Scripture: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, NKJV). How true that saying is.
HOW OUR MINDS ARE PROGRAMMED
Our minds, in many ways, are like computers. Just as a computer is programmed and fed information, our minds are programmed in many different ways. Let’s look at some ways this happens.
By Original Sin
Psalm 51:5 (NKJV) declares, “I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin, my mother conceived me.” In other words, we were all born with a sinful nature. There is no reason to believe that when David wrote those words, he was suggesting his mother did something wrong, such as adultery. No, it is simply meant that, like all of us, he had a fallen human nature.
Paul spells this out in his epistles, such as in Colossians 1:21 (NKJV), where he talks about how you were “once alienated and enemies in your mind.” All of us were born with a bias towards sin. You don’t have to train a child to do the wrong thing, but you do have to teach them to do the right thing.
So, we all have sin in our lives. Hence the need for the renewing of our minds.
By Childhood Training
There is an old saying, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” This applies to a child growing up where initially they are taught and learn things, either good or bad, by their parents and others. These things can include their teachers at school.
I was told when I was young to eat up my food. My mother would remind me of the starving children in Africa. I don’t know how these two related, but to this day, I am a member of the “clean plate club.” I still eat it all up.
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) declares, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Unfortunately, not all the training a child receives is good and righteous. Likewise, not all the experiences they have are good and righteous. Hence, the need for the renewing of our minds.
By Certain Traumatic Experiences
In 2 Samuel 4, there is a story about a man called Mephibosheth who became lame after falling when he was five years old. He remained lame for the rest of his life. Many people are like that and not just physically; they are wounded by experiences that often were not their fault.
I know what the effects of such experiences are on people. I was initially rejected at birth by my mother, who wanted a girl but had to settle for a boy. Thus, I needed a renewing of my mind as a result of that experience.
By Constant Volitional Action
Constant actions become habits, and they can become automatic responses in life. Now that’s not altogether a bad thing. After all, that is how we learn to do many things, including walking, eating, etc. However, when they are sinful actions, they produce a sinful lifestyle. It happens to all of us. For example, people learn to lie, and then they lie all the more. This concept applies to so many bad traits that mar our lives.
That is why the Bible reminds us that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NKJV). Hence, we need the renewal of our minds.
By Religious Tradition
We were probably taught things in our religious upbringing that are not always Biblically correct. Jesus encountered this in his times on earth. He spoke to the Pharisees of His day, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3, NKJV).
For example, I was taught that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit were not for today. I needed to have my mind renewed regarding this important Bible truth.
By Absorbing The Spirit of the World Around Us
Romans 12:2 (J.B. Philips) says, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mould your minds from within.” The world is constantly impacting our minds, and usually, it is like the story of the frog in the kettle. It is generally progressive. Take one example, films and language. In the late 1930s, in the film “Gone With the Wind,” there was a debate as to whether they could have Rhett Buttler say, “. . . I don’t give a damn.” Today, eighty years later, all sorts of coarse and crude language fill the movie screens.
I once saw a sign that said, “What you eat today, walks and talks tomorrow.” What you feed into your mind will eventually come out. “Garbage in, garbage out” is an old computer phrase that applies equally to our minds. We are bombarded by the world every day, and as a result, we need the renewing of our minds.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR MIND WHEN YOU BECOME A CHRISTIAN?
The answer – initially nothing! You were born again (John 3:3-8) in your spirit by the Spirit of Christ who dwells within us (Romans 8:8-11). From there, we begin a journey that includes the renewing of your mind. The reason being, our minds are still programmed to think in wrong and sinful ways and can be full of sins from our old life without Christ. Hence we need the renewing of our minds.
After we came to America in 1980, the time came for our eldest daughter Beth to apply for a driving license. When she went for the road test, she only did one thing wrong and failed. What was it? She drove on the wrong side of the road. You see, in Australia, they drive on the left side of the road. Beth had never driven in Australia but had absorbed the spirit of the land regarding driving on the road.
To use Australia and America as an example, when we came to America, we moved from one kingdom with its laws and practices to another kingdom with different laws and practices regarding driving, etc. Our minds needed to be renewed. Likewise, when we become Christians, Christ moves us from “the kingdom of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13, NASB). “It is one thing to get out of Egypt; it is another to get Eygpt out of you.” When we become believers, we begin to live in a new kingdom with different laws and standards.
THE CONSTANT NEED FOR THE RENEWING OF OUR MINDS
Now, the renewing of our minds is not just a once and for all experience. It is a constant ongoing process that continues through all of our lives. To illustrate this, let me share my own experience in driving. A year after I came to America, I was doing ministry in the Bahamas, where they drive as we did in Australia, on the road’s left side. My experience there fired up my old way of thinking. The day after I returned to America, I drove out on Highway 95 in Cambridge, Minnesota, and proceeded to drive down the left side of the road. Along came a truck towards me on the road. My immediate reaction was, “This stupid idiot is on the wrong side of the road.” In reality, I was the stupid idiot. We both swerved and missed each other by inches. By the way, I was driving a Pinto, which had the reputation of catching fire in a crash.
I realized that I constantly need the renewing of my mind, especially when the world sought to draw me back into the old ways of thinking.
GOD CAN RENEW YOUR MIND
God promises us in Hebrews 8:10 (NKJV), “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts.”
In the coming weeks, we will look at how we can experience the renewing of our minds. We will start by looking at how the enemy attacks our minds.
Remember, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, NKJV).