Lessons in Growth Meditations: 18. Resurrection Mind Change
Rom 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Power through Revelation: I have a feeling that when we talk about power, as we have been doing in this Part as we consider the Christian life as a resurrected life, we rarely connect power to the mind or to our thinking, we tend to link it to physical power. But the fact is that when we receive ‘revelation’ it is because God communicates with us. When I speak or listen, energy is involved. If I was dead I would be unable to either speak or listen. Those two capabilities only operate when there is power, energy, life. You may never have thought of it like this, but when you came to Christ it was because God’s power was being used to communicate with you and the Holy Spirit convicted you of the truth. Yes, when you were born again, power was involved, the power of the presence of the now indwelling Holy Spirit, but before that, power was being experienced (even though we were almost certainly not aware of it) in the form of the communication.
The fact that many of us rarely if ever think of revelation as an expression of God’s power in us, means that we have a passive attitude towards our thinking and perhaps fail to realize how important our ‘thinking’ is and how important ‘revelation’ is.
Renewal & Transformation: In our verse above today, the apostle Paul says, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Now many times in writing these studies we face the fact that the Christian life is to be a life of change, a life of transformation, and Paul says that that transformation takes place as our mind is renewed.
Now what does that actually mean, for your mind to be renewed? Well, on the basis of my starting point so often these days – “God first!” – we must ask, what is God doing? In this respect He (the Holy Spirit) is seeking to teach us, to impart knowledge and understanding to us which will give us a new framework of understanding the world, a framework that starts from God and works out: God made this world and us in it with free will, and knowing we would exercise it to experience Sin, the Godhead agreed on the plan of salvation that would involve the Son of God coming to earth etc., etc.
Everything we now are flows from this. If you like, we might say that the framework for our lives today is that we are now redeemed sinners, empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit and directed by Jesus at the Father’s right hand, still exercising our free will to conform, as much as we are able, with the will of God. But that ‘renewing’ is important for us to understand what the will of God is. It is as Paul says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Renewal brings Understanding: As our mind is renewed, so we become more open to understanding what God’s will is and thus more open to His power flowing in us. The order appears to be as follows: i) He convicts us or imparts knowledge of our state that needs to be changed, ii) we submit to, or agree with that impartation of knowledge and desire to do it and so as we step out to do it, we find that iii) He empowers us to enable us to do the thing. Revelation – mind change – power impartation. God’s will is simply His desire for us, for our lives to conform to His design, the basic way for all humans to live plus the specific aspects of that which apply to me as a unique creation.
As I conform my life to His written word and allow His Holy Spirit to lead me in specific directions, so I will be conforming to His will for me. In the overall sense it will be the same as for you – not doing sinful things, ‘putting off’ the old life, as we’ve seen before, and clothing ourselves with the character of Jesus. However, in specific ways it will be different from your life for I am a different person to you with different gifts, talents and abilities and He will have different things on His heart for me to do in my life.
In my old life I was ‘dead’ to God and He seemed a million miles away and never available to me, but then He imparted His Holy Spirit into my life and a fresh power flowed in my ‘resurrected life’, a power that enabled communication. However, as with all aspects of my new life, it is a combination of His moving and my exercising my will to conform to His leading.
Our Activity: If we insert ‘YOU’ into those two Romans 12 verses we can see the call to us for us to exercise our will and make the effort to do what he says: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, (THAT YOU) offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (YOU) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but (YOU) be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” As we’ve said before, as we act to obey and conform to His desire, so He enables us, and power flows and changes us.
Thinking & Behavior: It is often said, ‘as a man thinks, so he is’. That simply means our thinking – our knowledge and understanding and wisdom – is the precursor to our behaviour, our words and our actions. So, as the mind things are changed, so do our words and our actions. We so often think our ‘behaviour’ is the important thing but the truth is that it is what goes on in our heads that triggers the behaviour. Perspective is important. Knowledge is important. Understanding is important. Wisdom is important. All these ‘mind things’ are what are behind our words and actions. Words and action never act independently.
So, as we near the end of this Part, let’s realize that ‘power’ for the resurrection life as I have been calling it, is not merely in our actions, it starts in our minds. His power is there to transform our minds as we open ourselves to Him, and those transformed minds result in transformed observable lives. Very well, before we move into the final Part, we will carry out a recap of the things we have considered in this Part and that is what we’ll do tomorrow.