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A Renewed Mind
By David A. DePra
But you have not so learned Christ; If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That you 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 you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph. 4:20-24)
How does a person, "be renewed in the spirit of their mind?" Well, Paul has just told us in this same passage: YOU LEARN CHRIST.
The renewal of the mind is not a thing unto itself. This isn’t merely about improving your mind. Neither is it about learning new Bible facts. Rather, the renewing of the mind is about making it brand new through a growing knowledge of Jesus Christ.
If we understand nothing else about the renewing of the mind we MUST understand that this is accomplished solely by LEARNING CHRIST. The mind is renewed, and it is possible to put on the new man ONLY if we are learning Christ, and being set free by the Truth that is found in Him.
The New ManWe find this Truth about the renewing of our minds stated again in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians:
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Col 3:10)Again we see that the new man is, "renewed." But how? "In knowledge after the image of Him that created Him." The Truth RENEWS our mind with the knowledge of the Person, Jesus Christ. The mind cannot be renewed any other way. But what is this, "new man?" This is important to understand. We especially need to understand that YOU are not the new man – in other words, God doesn’t make you brand new by doing something to you so that you then look like Jesus. No. The new man is IN CHRIST – that is, the new man is the result of a person being IN CHRIST. Therefore, the new man is the UNION of the human spirit with that of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
You cannot be a new man unless you are IN CHRIST. You are a new man because you are IN HIM. There is absolutely nothing a Christian can know, that a Christian can be, or that a Christian can possess, except it is found in the Person of Jesus Christ. "We are COMPLETE IN HIM." (Col. 2:10) Thus, in Christ are ALL things that God has for us. Outside of Christ there is nothing that God has for us. Christ IS our very life.
The Bible uses a number of terms to describe the NEW MAN in Jesus Christ. Sometimes this is called the INNER MAN. Other times it is called a NEW CREATURE. Collectively, all who are in Christ have been baptized INTO Christ, and are the Body of Christ. But all of these terms refer to the union of our spirit with the Spirit of God. That creature is the NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST JESUS.
Christian people continue to try to make the natural man be the new man in Christ. We look to the flesh and the natural and wonder why we don’t see evidence that Christ is in us. We never will see it. Christ is in us by virtue of being one with us in our spirit. That union is the NEW MAN IN CHRIST JESUS.
According to Paul, this new man, "is renewed in knowledge after Him who created him." In other words, the means by which the new man is continually renewed is through the Truth – through knowing Jesus Christ. Paul says that if we are, "renewed in the spirit of our minds," that this will result in us PUTTING ON this new man – in other words, if we KNOW JESUS, this is going to enable us to walk in Him.
I don’t know how clearer or adamant God needs to be before Christian people begin to listen. Can we see that the most important thing in the Christian life – once we are saved – is that we LEARN CHRIST? That unless we are coming into a progressive knowledge of the Truth we cannot get far with God in His purposes?
And yet look what Christians are occupied with today: Signs, wonders, end-time prophecy, and all of these movements. Or we spend all of our time trying to evangelize the world, when the Body of Christ barely knows the Christ they are offering to everyone else.
The great need today is for people, first, to be taught that they need to learn Christ. Many don’t even know that. But second, they need to be taught the Truth in Jesus Christ. Leaving this aside opens the door for all of the heresy and error we have today.
How to Have Your Mind Renewed
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)
The key to the renewing of the mind is to present yourself a living sacrifice to God. You won’t find it any other way. You cannot study your way into a renewed mind. Why? Because you will be studying with an unrenewed mind – with a natural mind – and what you will conclude is the Truth will be tainted with that natural mind. No. You have to FIND GOD, and see Jesus Christ. This is accomplished only if you give yourself to Him.
There are people that try to say that if you just read and study your Bible that since it is the Word of God that it will renew your mind. Well, we certainly want to study and to base everything upon the Truth found in scripture. But the very Bible we read is telling us, right here in Romans 12, that the key to a renewed mind is to present ourselves to God a living sacrifice – study is not mentioned.
If God renews our mind, it is certain that we are going to see that every word in scripture is the Truth. But there are thousands of people right now that all read the same Bible and have come to contrary conclusions about what they are reading. Why? Because they are not reading scripture with a renewed mind. They are reading it with a natural mind, and therefore, the Truth is brought down and adjusted accordingly. The only way in which we can see the Truth in the Word of God, and know we are seeing it, is if we SEE JESUS and LEARN Christ. And the only way we can do that is if we lose ourselves into His hands.
If you try to know the Truth, but stand aloof from surrender to Christ, you may have enough brains to form a semblance of sound Biblical doctrine. But at best, it will be a lifeless, academic theology. At worst, your OLD MAN will be the basis of your interpretation of the Bible. Paul says the old man is, "corrupt according to deceitful lusts." Thus, today, as never before, the Bible is being interpreted in a corrupt and deceitful way. Hardly anyone even cares anymore – and the apathy that abounds over Truth today is the greater sin.
Walk into your average church today, and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who cares about the Truth, or worse, who KNOWS to care about it. Or you may encounter a church that seems to care for the Truth, but then you discover that what they care about is THEIR Truth. They may be completely dedicated to their list of doctrines, to the point of threatening people with hell who do not comply. But most of these people have little or NO dedication to the Person of Jesus Christ. They have NOT learned Christ. What they have learned is a religion upon which they have pasted His name.
There is a big difference between dying for what you believe, and dying for Christ. Any heretic or member of a non-Christian religion can die for what they believe – doing so does not make it the Truth. But how many of us are really willing to die for Christ? I’m not talking about literal martyrdom. I’m talking about carrying a Cross. Well, according to Jesus, if we want to be His disciple – which means, "taught one," we are going to have to do exactly that. You cannot learn Christ unless God breaks in you the natural mind, and brings you into a whole new basis for living.
Note from Romans 12 the contrast Paul gives: Being conformed to the world is contrasted over and against being transformed by the renewing of the mind. Being conformed to this world is a matter of being conformed by the natural mind – it is the thinking, motivation, and goals, of the natural world. But we are supposed to be set free from that – and conformed to Christ. Clearly, Paul is saying that one or the other will ultimately govern us. We WILL be conformed to either the world, or to Christ. We will live for this world and seek to possess our lives for ourselves, or we will relinquish them into the hands of Christ. What determines our course? WE do. We decide what will govern us.
Today Christian people are taught to possess themselves for their own goals – and they are taught that God will help them. They are taught that the exact opposite of the Truth is the will of God. We have little clue as to what it really means to learn Christ. Learning Christ will break you apart and dismantle everything about yourself. But this is good news, not bad news. Or do you simply want to drift through life seeking God for THINGS? God would give us the TRUTH.
In this passage from Romans 12 you will likewise note that being transformed by the renewing of your mind is the key to knowing the will of God. Paul says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind SO THAT you mind prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. Of course. If our minds are renewed by the Truth we are going to know the Truth about so much, including the Truth about God’s will for us in specifics. This will come with the package of a renewed mind; with knowing Christ.
Here we see the key to knowing God’s will and to the Lord’s guidance. Rather than continually ask God to reveal to us HIS mind, through leadings, voices, or signs, the better way to find the will of God is for God to GIVE us His mind – by renewing ours through the Truth. Instead of always asking God to give us INFORMATION about His will, we should ask Him for a REVELATION of Jesus. Then we will know His will precisely because we are learning Christ.
If you read the NT, you will find relatively little teaching on the subject of Divine Guidance. Except for a few bits and pieces here and there, you don’t see a description of a normal Christian life that depicts Christians who are always asking God questions about His specific will, and then getting answers in the form of information and a distinct narrative. I say this because there are Christians today who portray their life in Christ exactly in those terms. To hear them tell it, they have a continual conversation coming at them from God. "The Lord told me to go over here….the Lord spoke to me….the Lord led me….I really FEEL as if God is saying….etc." I’m not saying these types of leadings are impossible – there are occasions when God will do that. But by and large it isn’t the way He leads people. God FIRST wants us to LEARN CHRIST – and as we do, we come to know His will.
Now, if you have been honest, you know this is true. If you have gone on with God in any measure, you know that there are times and seasons in which you can pray yourself blue in the face, even in desperation, and God does NOT answer you – He does not give you the information you seek, or tell you what to do. He is just silent. It is possible to get frustrated over this, and even begin to feel condemned. But the question is: Why is God acting like this? The most probable answer is that rather than give you the information you seek, God wants to give you a revelation of Himself.
This is, by far, the thrust and focus of the NT. Rather than teach about leadings, and the voice of God in people’s head, or how people are supposed to feel when something is of God, the Word of God says very little about those things and cuts right to the quick: We need to LEARN CHRIST. We need to know God! And if we do, our minds will be renewed to where we have HIS MIND. And how many see that if we have HIS MIND then we are going to know His will on so much.
If God simply gave us information and facts and told us what to do, we would never come to know Him. There would need to be NO relationship with Him. We would never be changed, or have our minds renewed. But if God reveals Himself to us, then as a by-product of this Truth, we will know the will of God. Paul says so. And the Bible says so in a hundred different ways.
Romans 12 tells us the one way to PROVE or KNOW the will of God: Present your entire self to God without conditions attached. In other words, be absolutely dedicated – regardless of cost or whatever it may take – to God’s will. Then you will begin to know Christ, and know the will of God. It is this that will transform you through the renewing of your mind. Your mind will be renewed to a greater knowledge of Christ, and along with learning Christ will be the knowledge of God’s will for specific situations.
Do you want the will of God? You cannot have it apart from Christ. Thus, in order to know and receive the will of God, you have to give yourself to Christ, and then Christ can give Himself to you, and reveal Himself to you.
The Mind of Christ
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:5-13)
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16)
The MIND of which Paul speaks – the mind of Christ – is not the BRAINS of Christ. It is the attitude and motive of Christ TOWARDS GOD. That mind was one of total submission in faith. He lost His life into the hands of His Father, and let HIM decide. This is nothing more than the same Truth we saw from Romans 12. We have to lose our lives in order to find them.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (1 Pet 4:1-2)
The Truth behind this passage is that THE SIN of the human race is self-ownership. That is the sin that will cease if we surrender to God. Sure. And if there is one thing that suffering is geared to doing, it is to get us to relinquish self-ownership. If I submit to God in my suffering, the result is going to be that I will relinquish self-ownership, and therefore, "live the rest of my time in the flesh, not to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." This is a clear statement to the end that I will no longer be in charge, but God will govern me.
Do we want to have the mind of Christ? Then we have to allow God to do whatever is necessary to free us of our OWN MIND and motivation –which will entail suffering. It has to entail suffering because this is not something we can make happen just for the wanting. We need to be delivered and brought out through the dealing of God by the Cross.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:5-8)What does it mean to be, "spiritually minded?" Well, if it means nothing else, it means to be governed, directed, and to live in the Truth. The Spirit is called, "the Spirit of Truth." Thus, if you and I have any notion of, "walking in the Spirit," we are going to have to walk in the Truth.
Today, this whole idea of walking in the Spirit has been redefined. People think that to walk in the Spirit means to get leadings from God. Or to have visions. Or to have God speak to you. We have already seen the nonsense of even beginning to talk about these things unless we have learned Christ and know the Truth.
To have the mind of Christ, or to, "mind the things of the Spirit," means to be at one with God for His will and purposes. Could there be any other outcome of having your mind renewed according to the Truth?
To mind the things of the Spirit means to be governed by the Truth – which includes setting my whole mind and intention upon God’s will. This is nothing more than another way of saying that I will seek first the kingdom of God – God’s rule over all. You cannot escape the conclusion if you read this passage that anyone who is going to walk in the Spirit of God with a renewed mind is going to be brought to the place where they are one with God in purpose and mind. Is this not, once again, the result of surrender to God?
Later in Romans 8, Paul also wrote, "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14) The word there for, "led," means, "to be governed." Read the passage and this meaning will be more than obvious. Paul is talking about whether we are governed by the flesh or the Spirit. Those who are governed by the Spirit are the sons of God. This involves much more than any, "leadings."
To be governed by the Holy Spirit does not mean that we resentfully, or in defeated resignation, yield to God. No. Such attitudes are not the mind of Christ, nor possible if we have truly learned Christ. To be governed by the Holy Spirit means that we have seen the Truth and have been MADE TRUE. Thus, we more and more desire to be one with God and His purposes.
The natural mind has no Truth in it. That is why it is called the natural mind. Thus, what we are left with is our own perspective, formed by our pride, bias, fears, and desires – all adding up to how we interpret God, ourselves, and life. But if you will notice, a mind in which there is no Truth is not a TRUE MIND. In other words, everything we know outside of Christ is at some point a LIE.
I’m not saying that the natural mind cannot know true facts. But I am saying that a natural mind is a dark mind. It is one that CANNOT receive or know the things of God. (Read I Corinthians 2) Thus, no matter how many facts you pump into a natural mind, there is no enlightenment to God. At best, what you can do, is teach a natural mind RELIGION about God, and convince it that this is all there is.
The natural mind basically sees everything from the perspective of SELF. This happens automatically. We don’t plan it – it is all we can do, and most of us don’t even realize that SELF is determining our perspective. Most people are absolutely convinced that however they see things must be the Truth. Even when they admit they are wrong they are doing so because they are convinced that their revised perspective is now the right one.
Natural man basically perceives through the five senses, and when he does, he FEELS and REACTS – based on whatever is in him to receive and evaluate what he perceives. Thus, SELF is the standard and basis for Truth – SELF is that through which we perceive. This is our universe, and it is all we have to work with.
It is as if we are all born inside of a dark box. Because it is all we know we think that it is all there is to know. We spend our lives bouncing off the walls. Hidden from us is the fact that we are in a box, but more importantly, the fact that OUTSIDE of that box is an eternal God. Until God brings light, not only to show us we are in the box, but in order to set us free to get OUT of it into Christ, we have no hope.
Well, even after we are saved, it is possible to let the natural mind govern us – all the while thinking that we are spiritual. There are thousands of Christians who think that are walking in the Spirit who are fully in the natural. Never think that the natural cannot produce things that seem supernatural. The natural is Satan’s base of operation – and it includes the psychic realm.
The natural mind must be RENEWED through the learning of Christ – and if this happens, then we will have the spiritual mind, which is the mind of Christ. But if you consider what this requires you will see that to LEARN CHRIST will necessitate UNLEARNING the natural. That is why in order for any of this to happen we have to surrender to God. The power behind the natural mind is self-ownership.
When we surrender to God and present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, there is a death that takes place – it is death to our self-ownership. This, in turn, breaks the power of the natural mind. The result is that we begin to see the Truth.
God alone knows how to create a situation, wherein if we yield, will constitute the work of the Cross. Many times it consists of us having to face outward circumstances that conflict with God’s promises. These circumstances, if we deal with them only with our natural man, will incite emotions, thinking, and imaginations that are contrary to the Truth. The call upon us will be to believe the Truth.
This is often how we unlearn the natural and learn the spiritual, and certainly is how we mind the things of the spirit, rather than the natural. But don’t think of this as a TEST that, if you perform correctly, you have passed. No. That is never what God is getting at. Rather, it is a SCHOOL wherein you can learn Christ. We absolutely MUST adhere to the Truth about God, and to what He says in His Word, to the disregard of circumstances. I’m not saying that the circumstances aren’t real. But I am saying that God is true.
The Truth is the Truth regardless of whether I believe it, or regardless of whether it is coming to pass right now in my life. God must often first MAKE US TRUE – which is only accomplished by revealing Himself to us and through this renewing our minds. We are called to BE TRUE TO GOD, and while this often conflicts with our natural mind, when it does it is an indication that God wants to renew our minds so that we can become spiritually minded.
Being spiritually minded, having the mind of Christ, and having our minds renewed – all of these are the same thing. They are a matter of coming to where the Truth has made us true and we are now one in purpose with God.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Col 3:1-3)
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