Summary: We will see victory in the Christian life to the extent that we embrace God’s thoughts and abandon worldly patterns of thought.
In the Christian life there is perhaps no other doctrine which is more directly applicable or important than that of the renewal of the mind. Indeed, is it not the continual and ongoing process of the changing of the thought patterns and presuppositions of the believer that facilitate spiritual development? The battles of the spiritual realm are most often fought in the minds of believers as we leave behind carnal patterns of thought and embrace the thoughts of God. Then, through intentional spiritual disciplines, the Christ-centered thoughts of our minds manifest themselves through Christ-reflecting patterns of living. In what follows I will expand upon these themes by expositing what it very likely the best example and source of such themes in the entire Bible; Romans 12:1–2 and Ephesians 4:17–20.
If we are going to have victory in the Christian life as individuals and as a church then we must embrace the biblical concept of replacing our thoughts with the thoughts of God. In other words, we have to learn to be no conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our minds. How are we to avoid compromise in the Christian life apart from renewed thinking? How are we to live the Christian life in any substantive way if our minds are full of worldly, carnal, selfish, self-defeating, wrong-headed thoughts?
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2). When an individual or a congregation has the attitude of compromise in regard to spiritual values and truths, dark days are ahead. All who strive to be Christians feel a certain amount of pressure from the world. Through the strength that Christ gives, we can overcome the world and its temptations.
A man starting a fish business put out his sign that read, "Fresh Fish For Sale Today" and invited all to visit his place of business on opening day. Many came and congratulated him on his new business, but one suggested that he change his sign. "Why the ’Today’? It is today." So he removed the "Today". Someone else said, "Why, ’For Sale’? Everybody knows you have fish for sale--or else why the store?" The words "For Sale" came off the sign. Another said, "Why the word ’Fresh’? You are a man of integrity, that guarantees your fish to be fresh."
"Fresh" came off the sign. Only one word was left, "Fish" and one complained about it. "I smelled your fish two blocks away." The individual or congregation that tries to satisfy everybody ends up by pleasing nobody. If we start compromising, we will end up serving the devil. The man should have put up his sign and then stood by it. This is what we are to do in life. Accept God’s will for our lives and stand on His promises.
If we desire victory in the Christian life we must allow the Holy Spirit to change our very thought patterns. What we do proceeds from our will, our experiences, and most notably, from our thoughts.
This morning we will look at what the Bible has to say about the renewal of our minds; about the trading in of our carnal thoughts for the thoughts of God!
This morning we will go through the Scriptures and examine each of these in close detail to see exactly what the Apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is telling us the renewal of the mind and how we can apply that to our spiritual development.
Romans 12:1: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy: The Apostle Paul opens this section of his letter to the Romans not in exhortation of his apostolic authority or even with an admonishment toward pleasing the Lord.
The Apostle urges the readers of his letter toward a right response to the grace that God has poured out to believers. In light of what God has already done for us, he says; let us respond favorably to the call of God. Paul then expounds on that theme, giving it definition with regard to the renewal of the mind.
To offer your bodies as living sacrifices: In contrast the sacrificial system of the Temple, the apostle encourages believers to present themselves as a living sacrifice. In the Old Testament system the Israelites would sacrifice an animal to the Lord as a sign of their dedication and trust in Yahweh. The shedding of blood was a requirement for the remission of sins as a foreshadowing of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. As that system has been fulfilled in Christ, so now, we show our dedication and trust in Lord by way of offering a life that is lived set apart, sanctified, unto the Lord.