How do you renew your mind? We come to this question in this series on “Renewing your mind.” We have already looked at how our mind is programmed and consequently why it needs to be renewed. We also looked at how the enemy attacks our minds. Now it is time to look at how we renew our minds.
PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING THE RENEWING OF OUR MIND
This week we will look at the principles underlying the way to renew your mind. Then in next week’s Langstaff letter, we will look at the practices this involves.
Colossians 3:1-4 gives insight into how this works. We will pick up three main points.
POSITION YOURSELF IN CHRIST
This involves developing the right attitude and the correct mindset. Paul reminds us: “set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2, NKJV). Why? Because when you become a believer, “you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3, NKJV).
Dr. Hal Buamchan of the NorthStar Counseling Services in Chanhassen, MN, writes: “Realizing who we are in Christ and what it means to be a child of God is the basis for victorious living… People cannot consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with how they perceive themselves, nor can their feelings about themselves be any different from their perceptions about themselves. Therefore, a biblically accurate appreciation of who you are as a child of God becomes crucial to wholly living the Christian life that God intended. If you believe you are hopeless, worthless, defeated, or unwanted, life would undoubtedly be characterized by defeat, despair, and depression. In contrast, if you view yourself as God does: loved, chosen, wanted, and valuable, it would free you to feel joyful, accepted, significant and secure” (Northland News August 2011).
So, see yourself in a new way, think of yourself as God thinks of you. You are a child of God, and that is the beginning of the renewal of your mind.
PUT OFF THE OLD
To replace a light bulb, you have to take out the old one. By the way, I once heard about an article about “How Many Christians Does It Take To Change a Light Bulb?” (beliefnet.com). Some of the answers given were:
- Presbyterians: None – Lights will go on and off at predestined times.
- Roman Catholic: None – Candles only.
- Mormons: 5 – One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.
- Pentecostal: 10 – One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.
- Lutherans: None – Lutherans don’t believe in change.
- Amish: What’s a light bulb?
So you see, one way or another, you have to take out the old light bulb first if you are going to put in a new one. So it is with renewing your mind. That includes putting off the old (v 8). That is not a once and for all decision. It involves daily doses of death to the old ways our mind operated.
Let’s look at an example. Suppose you have problems because you think negative thoughts and consequently speak negatively. Those thoughts need to be put to death if you are going to begin to think positively and act accordingly. You have to “put off” many things. See the list of such things that Paul spells out in Colossians 3:8 (NKJV), “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language…”
The first step is to “put off these thoughts” by God’s grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit in accordance with His word through daily doses of death.
“Put off the old man” (i.e., old self) (Colossians 3:9, NKJV)
PUT ON THE NEW
Paul says in Colossians 3:10 (NKJV), “Put on the new man” (i.e., the new self). Now this involves the continual feeding of the new self. The goal is that we would have “the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5). Next time we will look at practical ways to do this.
THE NEED FOR PATIENCE
Whether it is “putting off the old ways” of thinking and “putting on the new ways,” we need to remember that it will probably take time. It has been pointed out that it takes at least 21 days to turn a thought into a habit. It takes time to reprogram your thought life. Remember the ideas taken from part 1 about the difficulties my daughter and I had driving on the right side of the road in the USA when we used to drive on the left in Australia. Be patient and things will change.
THE PROBLEM WE FACE
In Colossians 1:13 (NKJV), Paul reminds us that “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” It would be wonderful if we never had to face the old kingdom again, but until we get to heaven, it will always be there.
Consequently, believers will at times feel that they are being torn between two kingdoms, two ways of thinking and acting. A young Christian may especially feel that way.
James was aware of this problem in James 1:8, he wrote about the “double-minded man” who is unstable in all his ways. You will always be unstable if you have one foot in the old kingdom, the world of the old way of thinking, and one foot in the new Kingdom of God and a new way of thinking.
I liken it to a person wearing two hats at the same time. It not only doesn’t look right, but it also isn’t right, and it doesn’t work. It’s double-minded.
TO SUM IT UP
We need to:
- Position Ourselves in Christ: Have the mind of Christ.
- Put Off the Old: Put off the old way of thinking.
- Put on the New: Start thinking in accordance with God’s word and be patient.
More about this next time.