Renew Your Mind

The latest article posted in the Studies section is A Roadblock to Understanding. It’s an examination of an all too common, exclusively Christian, spiritual condition I have labeled Cluttered Mind Disorder, or simply CMD.

The solution presented in the study for this very real malady is to make a storage locker in your mind for the purpose of holding your pre-born-again attitudes and beliefs. The idea is to keep them in the locker until the Holy Spirit determines whether they should be deleted or returned for active service in aiding your understanding of the word of God.

In the Study, I describe your old beliefs and attitudes as pillars. The practice of placing them in a locker is not just an exercise, and it’s not merely a suggestion, it’s actually an important part of the process of renewing your mind. I believe this for the simple reason that the renewal process is severely impaired as long as your old, worldly attitudes and beliefs are given a rightful place in your mind. In fact, they can be such an impediment that renewal may never take place.

A Great Misconception

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say there’s a good chance that you thought of renewing your mind (as expressed by Paul in Romans 12:2) as the process of eliminating from your mind those long-standing attitudes and beliefs, what I’m calling pillars. You might have also thought that your mind, if you are born again, was not regenerated when you were saved … that only your heart, and not your soul, were renewed. Given those conditions, it can easily be concluded that your mind was in need of regeneration after you were born again. Since I’m already out pretty far on the proverbial limb, I might as well admit to having another view of that doctrine. Here’s what I believe.

  1. Your spiritual being consists of two parts, the spirit (often called the heart) and the soul (also referred to as the mind).
  2. Your entire spiritual being, spirit and soul, were regenerated when you were born again.
  3. Regeneration can only be accomplished by God. It can never be accomplished by an act of men and women.
  4. The natural state, or condition, of your heart and soul before you were saved was that they were fleshly … they agreed with the flesh … and they acted to carry out the desires of the flesh without question or hesitation.
  5. Your new spiritual state after being saved is for your heart and soul to no longer be set or bound to the flesh (the body) … that is, they are no longer physically oriented …you have been given a new spiritual being … one that seeks to carry out the desires of the Holy Spirit.

So, you ask, “If my spiritual being is completely saved, and my mind is included, why are the old pillars of fleshly, worldly attitudes and beliefs firmly entrenched in my mind?” The answer: You allowed them back into your mind … in some cases, you actually invited them … and it all happened without you even being aware.

Your flesh is devious and persistent. It wants, no it demands, to be fed. Its food consists of things like anger, greed, manipulation and lusting of every kind … everything that is contrary to God’s ways. These ways are called the passions and desires of the flesh, and they are as familiar to you as your life … and not only you, but to all of us who have been saved … these attitudes and beliefs once formed the basis for the way we all once lived our lives. In fact, the mind of a newly saved person is so conditioned to yielding to the demands of the flesh, it can easily be fooled into doing so. And here’s the kicker … the fleshly actions you commit are so familiar to you … you are so used to doing them … they aren’t even cause for alarm.

Keep in mind that when you were saved, your memory was not wiped away. You well remember the old ways. They were the natural way for your entire life. Little wonder that it is so easy to allow the old behavior, the old pillars, to come back in. Renewing of your mind, then, is not a process of regeneration, only God can do that. Instead, renewing the mind is a job of reconditioning. It is accomplished by actively, consciously and diligently choosing to deny the pressure from the flesh until a change in the condition of your mind takes place … until the natural condition of the mind is to respond willingly and obediently to the desires of the Holy Spirit.

The belief that seems to be widespread in the church today that the mind is not rejuvenated at the time of repentance and receipt of the Holy Spirit is truly a great misconception. You must be careful what you understand the Bible is saying, and you must be certain of the Biblical veracity of all in which you place your belief. And you should question everything that comes from another person, including everything I write in this blog. Do not take anything for granted … check everything out for yourself, and come to your own understanding. Your spiritual well-being, and that of the congregation you are part of, as well as the spiritual development of the entire body of Christ depends on it.

Do Not Love the World

Consider the following verses.

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:14-16)

To love the things of the world is to accept them. When you do, they will shape and determine all of your attitudes and beliefs. They become worldly pillars in your mind. In A Roadblock to Understanding, I talk about two kinds of pillars … physical and spiritual. They can also be referred to as belonging to the realm of the flesh or of the Spirit. The flesh, also called the body, is totally aligned to the world and its lusts. This is what is being spoken of in verse sixteen above.

It is the body (the flesh), the physical part of your being, that is not regenerated when you are born again. In it resides all the desires of the world. John says that the things of the world fall into three categories: the lust of the flesh; the lust of the eyes; and the boastful pride of life.

Your flesh is demanding, controlling and manipulating. It commands satisfaction … and it does not stop demanding, even after you’re saved. It wants what it sees, and it wants to be lifted up for what it has. In short, it wants to be fed … literally and figuratively. Unsaved persons are said to be fleshly because they live their lives indulging the flesh.

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:3)

Please note that the mind of an unsaved person is in agreement with the flesh. However it is not the mind, but the flesh (the body), that is being served.

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)

However, as a born again person, you have received a new spirit, that is a new heart and a new soul, i.e., the mind. Your mind-set has been changed to one of being fixed on the Spirit. The flesh, on the other hand, continues to make its lustful demands through the mind. When this happens, your mind is faced with a conflict … whether to obey the old desire of the flesh or the new way of the Spirit. If your mind is filled with physical, fleshly, pillars it can be easily persuaded to go along with the fleshly demand. It is, after all, the familiar way, and it was, or seemed to be, very satisfying. If your fleshly pillars had been put into a locker, the fleshly demands that are sure to come would find no partner in your mind.

Walk By the Spirit

Your lifestyle as a born again believer is to be a reflection of your newly regenerated spirit, and the desires of the Holy Spirit within you.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16-17)

What then should your reaction be to the desires of the flesh that find their way into your mind? Paul says you should sacrifice them … that is deny them … put them out of your mind.

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [the flesh and its lustful desires] a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual [reasonable — KJV] service of worship.

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-3)

Denying the flesh is done in your mind. This is extremely difficult to do as long as your old fleshly pillars that re-entered are allowed to remain in their established, familiar places. Putting the fleshly pillars in your mind into a locker prevents them from influencing your decisions. Your mind is renewed when it no longer is conditioned to yield to the desires of the flesh. Allowing the fleshly pillars to remain while you attempt to grow in obedience to the Spirit is counterproductive at best, and spiritually demoralizing at worst.

The outcome of attempting to walk in sanctification by denying the demands of the flesh, while allowing the lustful pillars of the things and the ways of the world to continue to stand in your mind, will only result in failure. In other words, the outcome will be worldly behavior. Another way to say that is, “You’re going to sin … a lot.”

Applying the Duality Principle

The idea of believers acting pretty much as they did before being saved has found broad acceptance in the church. It has led to a description of such individuals as being carnal Christians. This expression flies directly in the face of what Christian behavior is meant to be.

Put a red apple in your refrigerator, and it will be red when you have it for lunch the next day. The point is that it isn’t red one day, and another color the next. That’s what the adjective does in that phrase red apple … it means that the apple is red, not changeable. Likewise, the expression, carnal Christian, does not refer to a Christian who occasionally falls into sin, but one who IS carnal … a CARNAL Christian. However, a saved person has been spiritually renewed, and is no longer carnal … no longer worldly … they have become Spiritual, that is, of the Holy Spirit. While a believer may mistakenly yield to a fleshly desire on occasion, this is no longer their character.

How do I know this to be so? Because of the Principle of Duality. A red apple cannot be yellow while it is red. An object that is going up cannot be going down at the same time. Neither can a believer who has become the righteousness of Christ be an unbeliever bound to obey the lusts of the flesh. The believer is spiritually motivated by the Holy Spirit, the unbeliever is physically driven by the flesh. A person cannot be both spiritually and physically oriented at the same time. Therefore, it is impossible for a person to be a carnal Christian.

The Bible tells us we are made up of three parts … spirit, soul and body.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:22-24)

Duality tells us that our universe consists of two-part counterparts. I’ve described them as falling into one of two camps … spiritual or physical. How can the human makeup consist of three parts, while remaining in harmony with the principle of duality? Here’s how: The spirit (heart) and the soul (mind) are both spiritual components … the body (flesh) is physical. So there are three parts, but only two natures.

The Old Testament tells us we are to return to the Lord (repent) with all of our heart and all of our soul … our spiritual part.

9 Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers;

10 if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul. (Deuteronomy 30:9-10)

Here, and in several other  passages of the Old Testament, is an expression of New Testament repentance to salvation in a nutshell. When you were saved, you returned to the Lord with all your heart and soul, and you moved out of a world under a curse into a kingdom of blessings. In other words, you became a new spiritual being. It is the entirety of your spiritual side, the heart and the soul, that is regenerated. It is the body, that is the flesh, that is not.

Therefore, as we discussed earlier, renewing of your mind is not the same thing as the regeneration of your mind. Your soul, which includes your mind, is made new, along with the rest of your spiritual being, at the time of repentance. The renewing of your mind is accomplished by the repeated practice of not allowing the demands of the flesh to control your mind. Paul calls this process sanctification.

As a believer, it is not necessary for you to endure the anguish of losing to the flesh time and again because its fleshly pillars have been permitted to regain a foothold in your mind. You can achieve mastery over the desires of the flesh by actively engaging in the renewing of your mind. This process is greatly enhanced by employing a locker in your mind to hold your fleshly pillars consisting of your old attitudes and beliefs.

Renewing the mind requires work and sacrifice on your part. The Old Testament says it this way:

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

7 If you do well [sacrifice the flesh], will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

Cain’s countenance had fallen because God did not accept his sacrifice. It was from the work of his hands, while his brother’s was a sacrifice of flesh, not his own, but the flesh of a substitutionary animal. By the sacrifice of the animal, Abel offered his sinful flesh to God. Born again Christians are to do the same thing. The difference is that the sacrifice is spiritual … the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.

That is the way the mind is renewed. Putting your old attitudes and beliefs in a locker in your mind greatly enhances the process. You don’t have to be a new believer to enjoy the benefits of a storage locker for your fleshly pillars. Take the CMD cure, create a locker in you mind. Not only will you be free to renew you mind … you’ll enjoy the great added bonus of an increased ability to understand the Bible.

That’s my Viewpoint, what’s yours? Whether the same or different, I would like to hear from you. It’s all right for us to have differing viewpoints. Having dissimilar points of view hasn’t been a problem for the body of Christ. Resolving differences has. Most conflicts over doctrines, practices or beliefs usually end in arguments and divisions. It should not be that way. It need not be that way. Only we can make the necessary changes.

Your viewpoint is welcome and encouraged. You can post your views in the comment box below. If there is no Comment Box, please click on Leave a comment at the bottom of the article.

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