Renewing the mind?
A portion of this Q&A was used as the basis of a Shoveletter, The Renewing of the Mind
I'm having a few doubts and difficulties right now. Is there anything on the Shack about renewing the mind? I remember somebody saying that it is Christ who does the renewing. I don't know, but I recognize that I've been conforming my thinking to this world, and I think I need a little transforming and renewing! Valerie
I have written a few things on the renewing of the mind and somehow have lost them!! I can remember looking for the articles, but I don't know what I did with them. Doggone it!!
I will have to do a much more thorough presentation of it, but let me throw a few thoughts your way ... as you shouldn't have to wait until such a time as that!! Haha
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 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 12:1-2
I do have something on the site dealing with Romans 12:1 (Living Sacrifice) at this address (and that's where I was going to add the stuff I lost), and it would be worth taking a look at as it directly precedes the verse about being transformed.
I always hear portions of this verse quoted as the how-to practicality of the grace life ... but I think some very obvious oversights are made to come up with such a common concept. Take a look at the language used in this half of the verse:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
Where is the action in "BE CONFORMED", "BE TRANSFORMED", and "THE RENEWING of your mind"? Are you following me here? Notice, it doesn't say, "Do not conform yourself to this world, but transform yourself by renewing your mind", but that's how we read it ... and that WOULD be a "how to" instruction. But the language is written as a state of BEING.
No, this does not make what Paul said to be meaningless drivel, but instead it forces us to consider the miraculous reality of Christ exactly where we live (and where we need it).
Do not be conformed to this world
Everything Paul wrote up to this point detailed the objections of the world's wisdom toward this life we have in Christ. This is the logic that is being pushed at us all day, every day. And the religious world has capitalized upon it, but has done so by veiling it with Christian lingo and especially Bible verses. There is only one reason why we even HEAR this passively phrased declaration: we have been given ears to hears!!
What does this statement do to me? It CONFIRMS the reality within me that needs to be reassured that I'm not crazy for questioning the BS going on all around me!! It touches me in the place of life that has been saying all along, "DON'T TAKE HEED TO THESE LYING DEMANDS!!" I especially need to hear this when I am the one repeating the lies back to myself or to others. These lies are all those fleshly objections to God's totally free made-in-Christ grace!!
but be transformed ...
This demands that the work is all of God!! In Galatians, Paul wrote this:
For we THROUGH THE SPIRIT, BY FAITH, ARE WAITING for the hope of righteousness. Galatians 5:5
Same thing being said in different words as Paul called up the imagery of Abraham's forced wait for the miraculous working of God to produce the fruit (Isaac) that He had promised!
"But be transformed" is a summary of the reality Paul described in Romans 8. What the law could not do Christ does IN us. It is all HIS doing because HE is our righteousness. Once again, WE HEAR THIS because of the Spirit who is in us.
The world's wisdom demands that we need to take care of business because it believes that nothing will happen unless WE do it. The logic of the fleshly mind scoffs at the absurdity that any real value is found in the expectation of God's promise. That old logic can accept a BALANCE between flesh and spirit, but it's nothing more than lip-service, which is the basis of religion.
"But be transformed" is like having it said, "Stand still and watch the deliverance of God!" Hmmm ... sounds like a scriptural theme, huh? :) The truth of the matter is that God IS and HAS BEEN working His deliverance in us the whole time. This is the meaning behind those "works prepared for us beforehand"
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
For we, just like Abraham, continue to question the true value and reality of the works God has us walking in because the perception based upon fleshly appearances demand that nothing is happening, nor ever will.
One more part to consider:
but be transformed BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND
Remember how I asked where the action was and then included this phrase? Ever notice that article "the" preceding "renewing" before? How is it that we so quickly read OVER it as if it's not there? As a verb of action we could say, "I need to renew my mind", but as written with that word "the" in front of it we would be hard-pressed to make an intelligible sentence.
"The renewing" is a noun; as in, person, place or thing. I think it has been read as if it describes the course of action believers perform ... but that actually violates the passive "be transformed by ...". This is a call to the miraculous work of God, the hope of the very righteousness that God works within us.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet OUR INNER MAN IS BEING RENEWED DAY BY DAY. 2 Corinthians 4:16
There is no suggestion here that WE are the performers of this "being renewed", is there? This is a statement of the reality of the contrast between the constant decaying outward and the constant renewing inward. "Therefore we do not lose heart" Why not? Because of the reality of it, for God Himself is the sustainer of our hearts. Remember, this is the same man, who in this same letter had just said,
For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:6-10
God is the one who shone in our hearts! The treasure is Christ, but it is contained in earthen containers. "The surpassing greatness of the power WILL BE of God and not from ourselves." Notice the contrasting language used to describe how this affected Paul as an earthen vessel: "AFFLICTED IN EVERY WAY ... PERPLEXED ... PERSECUTED ... STRUCK DOWN ... ALWAYS CARRYING ABOUT IN THE BODY THE DYING OF JESUS,"
You know, if it were not for the reality of Christ that would be a very sad story! Somehow, the reality of the life of Jesus renewing his inner man made it so "that the life of Jesus also may be manifested". For though afflicted he was not crushed; though perplexed, not despairing; and so on. In other words, Paul counted on this miraculous renewing of his mind, which is his inner man. This renewing does not stop ... but our eyes can become clouded so that we think nothing is happening, and then we become discouraged so that we question God's non-stop work inside us.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Romans 12:2
This is a reinforcement of the miraculous work of Christ within us (as detailed in the whole letter of Romans up to that point) to simply wait upon the righteousness of God as it works itself out in our lives despite all the sneering and ridicule from all the Ishmael's of the world as its collective voice says, "Where is this 'miraculous' God who can't seem to bring about anything of real value in your life? What does Christ do for you ... really? Why can't you measure up to those who far outshine you?"
But Valerie, I tell you, don't listen to these lies, even when you are the one repeating them!! God is the one who renews your mind ... count on this faithful and consistent renewing, for it is Christ himself who IS this to you!! Stand still and watch the salvation of your God!!
Valerie, do you have any idea what it has done to me to have responded to your email? First of all, it thrilled me to share those thoughts with you ... but it didn't stop there. I was so encouraged and excited when I finally woke up this morning, for I was caught up in the reality of what I shared with you that I was following up with so many thoughts so fast that I could barely contain the sense of joy (and I was very tired because I even reset my alarm cutting it very close to make it on time to work). And this is fantastic, as I have been rather in the doldrums lately (though not depressed or anything). I had answered a few other emails in the past couple weeks, and finished off the already almost completed Shoveletter, but the thrill of writing and expressing was just kinda so-so. I couldn't wait to get home and follow up with some of the continued thoughts of reality from this morning. I was so excited about this life of Christ that I was flying through work this morning with a renewed fervor! All because you asked a question! :)
You know, we've listened to the rationale of the fleshly religious mind for so long that we often can't help shaking the suggestion that grace means we don't do anything ... as if we're left floundering around in nowhere land using grace as an excuse for all our bad decisions, etc, etc. Sound familiar? Guess whose reinterpretation that is? That is still the reasoning of the fleshly mind, for that old insanity cannot understand true life and freedom!
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Romans 12:2
Do you realize where this leaves us? FREE TO TRULY LIVE!! Now, we have often re-evaluated our past lives and have somehow remembered ourselves as being more free before we got all screwed up by religious legalism and even after that with those non-stop feelings that grace requires a constant effort on our part to examine every little thing we do for the old legalism!! But in this re-evaluation of that remembered "simple life" before Christ we have done the exact same thing that the Israelites did after they left Egypt. Do you remember that story? Oh yeah, as soon as they started experiencing problems they began remembering their former lives as if everything had been so good. Now, we read the story and can't imagine how they could have been so stinking short-sighted to have remembered how "good" Egypt was for them ... but the truth is that we truly do understand since we have often concluded the same. We have just forgotten.
Why is it that we possibly consider that those around us without Christ are living in some kind of freedom that we have long since lost? The truth is that the world around us is walking in ignorance and in darkness. And no, ignorance is NOT bliss. We only say that after we experience the hurts related to some new understanding. What we fail to take into consideration is how the basic principles of life in this world kept us bound to an existence of self-destruction ... whether we had chosen the religious "good" path or even the outwardly rebellious one. It made no difference.
Here's what I was considering this morning. The conformity of the world is the very essence of existence in the whole realm of humanity. It is not something that only SOME people get involved in, but it is the monster that holds total sway over all the sons and daughters of Adam. It is in Christ that the bonds have no effect ... for it is a different life by which we live! It makes no difference if those around you seem to gain a "freedom" that you don't have, it is only an illusion as everything outside Christ exists in the temporal flesh-life that is moment by moment decaying.
Religion and superstition are two-sides of the same coin of the bondage by which humanity exists. This morning I captured the sense of this world's bondage in the form of two commonly-held practices, one religious one and one superstitious one. The religious: the practice of "crossing" oneself. The superstitious: "Knock on wood". The sign of the cross is used to ward off evil whether it be in the Catholic fashion or simply in "crossing" one's fingers for luck. The saying, "knock on wood", plays the same basic role.
Now, if you will realize how many MILLIONS of ways these practices are played out on a world-wide scale every single day you may begin to remember the sense of this ongoing bondage. The natural mind of man cannot move without it. It cannot make a decision without paying tribute to demands of the monster it always feels the need to satisfy!! Those damned principles of this world guide and form every moment of existence of those whose life is found in the damned Adam.
The religious/superstitious bondage of modern American life has been so well portrayed by the Seinfeld show that every time I watch it or even just remember a scene from it that I marvel at the intricately detailed system of checks and measures and laws, both written and unwritten. Humanity lives wrapped in a straight-jacket and confined to an insane asylum even though it claims to have gained certain measures of freedom. The truly free are despised by the world in bondage because it's bondage demands it. For it cannot give in to a freedom that makes its bondage known for what it is.
The illusion of this world presents only the appearance of life and of freedom through such practices as the crossing of the fingers or the knocking on wood. In doing so it establishes the appearance of a "spiritual" connection for it begs the monster not to bring evil but to bestow goodness. Remember, just because someone APPEARS to be living free does not make it so, for true freedom must come from within our very beings. And that can only happen if the life of God is our life.
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
I'll bet you just experienced some sense of religious "Christian" duty in reading those verses, didn't you? You know, before these phrases became religicized they were simple expressions of the living reality of our freedom in Christ. Yes, I mean FREEDOM!! No, no, Paul never insinuated the limitation of true freedom that has been constantly preached using these words, but was making the connection to the reality of our life in Christ with our very real lives. The reality of life in Christ has REMOVED us from the bondage of this world so that we no longer have to pay homage to its demands. To "live unto the Lord" is not a restriction, but is the demand that we are no longer restricted by this world's insincerity found in its "principled" living. Check out a similar verse in Romans that contains more of the fullness behind the other statements:
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. Romans 14:8
Statements of reality!! We are the Lord's!! The truth of the matter is that we DO "live unto the Lord". To "do all things to the glory of God" speaks of the absolute freedom by which we now live. You see, it NEVER, EVER said to TRY to do all things in a "glorifying" manner ... for that is the reinterpretation of the world. It is the "crossing of the fingers" of the religious mind, the knocking on wood of the superstitious as it still tries to do the right thing.
Instead, the boldness of the statement declares that we are so free that WHATEVER we do or do NOT do, even down to the highly disputed eating and drinking discussed in the Corinthian letter, WE DO IT TO GOD'S GLORY!!! Valerie, YOU ARE FREE!! Live as the free person you are!!
PS ... I may have more later. :) Let me know if it's too much.
Please...keep it coming as long as you can!! As I read this and then read it again, I feel as if I'm slowly re-awakening from the dead! Though sometimes I despair at ever being able to fully live in the freedom I've been given. It feels like the forces of bondage are too many and too strong...they are everywhere I go, everywhere I look. Something else...thinking about what I just wrote, I realize that the problem is not that the forces of bondage are too many or too strong. I think the truth is that when I do walk in my freedom, the people around me don't understand it. People hate it when you are free, because you live a different life. To avoid trouble, it is just easier to conform. In order to keep the good opinion of other people, I have to conform. In order to be a good wife, a good mother, a good employee, good sister, good friend -- I have to conform. Never, at any time in my life, am I ever free to live the way I feel I'm meant to, deep down inside. When you live as an individual, in the freedom that Christ has given, people call it selfish, people get hurt because you don't/won't do what they want you to do. Valerie
Ah yes, the fear of what others will think of me living as free. You are right, we cannot make those around us understand this freedom -- for it is outside the very framework of their reasoning. This comes only by revelation of God in their own hearts. Just remember that it is not up to you to try to make others understand why you live as you live. Do you realize what this implies? Your freedom is not hindered by the lack of outward expression. In other words, you are not bound to perform for the flesh nor are you bound to make it obvious that you will not perform. We have nothing to prove to ourselves or to each other regarding our freedom because we are, in fact, free.
We live in a world that is filled with rules and laws, but these are NOT our rules and laws. We have been freed and our hearts know that these things cannot bring about their intended purposes, but we can never convince the natural mind of this reality.
When I go to work my company demands that I hold to its policy of core values. For me to "conform" means that I would adopt the delusional belief upon which the "values" structure is built. The end-result "values" are not really the problem as they present a picture of care and concern for those with whom you live and work. I can park my car in the designated area so that my customers are given preference, I can say "Hello" to those who enter my store, I can avoid making derogatory statements toward fellow employees ... but none of this has any effect upon the real person that I am. I know this because I am free, and therefore know it is total absurdity.
I would be conforming if I RATE myself according to such performance standards (and yes, I have found myself falling for those bogus comparisons more often than I would like to admit). But in living as a free man in Christ I can submit to THEIR peculiarities, THEIR set of standards by which they hope to somehow make themselves better. Contrary to the illusion that such a submission would equate to conformity an amazing awareness of freedom emerges within me. For I am only more and more convinced of the vast difference between real life and the thing I used to perceive of as life! I see so clearly the lies of the flesh displayed in all its deceit and hypocrisy by those who desperately cling to a "values" rating system by which they claim superiority while at the same time haunted by the knowledge that such values have never ever touched the reality of their beings.
Every time a new emphasis comes down the channels (or often an old one is being readdressed) I am given another picture into the rationale of the total desperation upon which humanity without Christ is built. As "customer service" means everything to business we are often subjected to demands and ultimatums of how we are to accomplish a real "care" for those we are to "put first". You see, everything preached by the authorities above us is claimed to actually be for the benefit of the customers when in actuality we all really know that the bottom line that keeps us all together is "What's in it for me?" Oh, but what a show emerges as one after another has professed love and concern for the customer above all. My oh my do they create a convincing illusion. But all one needs do is listen carefully to those same words to realize the hypocrisy behind it all. For the real lies are only muffled by the desperate need by those without real life to keep the illusion going. We have been made into that little boy who could not be fooled by the world around him as to the Emperor's lack of clothing!
One of the performance standards of my company demands we greet every single customer who comes within range. Now, the idea of recognizing people so that they feel welcomed is a noble thing indeed, but the illusion surfaces that a greeting really means a true connection. But since people crave the feeling that someone really cares for them a simple greeting is often accepted despite the obvious reality that these greetings are being paid for. The truth of the matter is that outside the life of God there is no real communion one with another, even though the facade suggests it is or can be achieved. The world has only experienced shadows of this real-life connection ... and every shadow demands the reality of Christ.
As I have often witnessed the official enforcing of the "greet everybody" value I have come to realize what I am truly seeing displayed before me. For I watch those who have done everything possible to AVOID any real personal contact trying to instruct others on the importance of what they themselves do NOT do. And since the rule demands that EVERY customer must be greeted it only serves to give the enforcers a guarantee that none of their underlings will be able to be able to claim fulfillment, so that they may judge anyone as falling short.
The real corker is when I have been addressed personally about the need to perform this rule by one who avoids it at all cost ... for all who work with me know that I am probably the most outgoing employee in the store. Did I learn how to truly "greet" people by THEIR enforcement? Give me a break, for if I was conforming myself to their values it would produce in me only a shallow illusion of such performance. In freedom, I will go out of my way to utter many hellos knowing that the utterance cannot bring the reality but that only the reality produces the real "greetings". It is THEIR rule, but it is no big deal to me to submit. The truth is that the enforcers have come to recognize a reality within me they simply cannot understand ... for such has been admitted more than a few times.
Are there times that I have refused to follow any of their specifics? You'd better believe it. :) There have been times I thought I might be fired over it, for I surely have caught hell from many of my fellow associates and department heads and managers. I have looked managers right in the face and told them I would not do what they asked. The "fun" part for me comes in holding them to THEIR OWN RULES ... which they know they are violating by making their demands. I of course may eventually get fired over my boldness, but the truth is that I am regarded very highly by many, both by those in my store and in many others. Most of the time my "freedom" is held in a quiet regard as I know I have nothing to prove, either to myself or to another. And as I mentioned earlier, I sometimes find myself adopting another's standards as the BASIS of my life, though it is mostly short-lived because the stink of hypocrisy usually slaps me back to reality rather quickly!! :)
Well, enough for now!
Jim... I've just finished reading the Q&A regarding "renewing our minds"...it has helped me with seeing that it is all about God and not about me!...I am struggling with trusting God for everything...it seems like I would be "letting go" of all that is keeping me going??..hope this makes sense...did you (do you now..?) ever struggle with trusting God for it all?... thank you... jackie
Hello Jackie, thanks for writing! :)
Hey, I do understand the struggle you refer to for I also remember TRYING to TRUST, but I have come to see a basic contradiction implied in the very attempt. And yes, I will still get hit from time to time with a sense that I am not trusting God enough for some specific ... which only turns my focus toward a hopeless need of trusting Him more. Jackie, what I'm suggesting to you is that we are often getting drawn away from real faith into a substitute "attempt to stick our necks out to trust" kind of faith.
Remember when the disciples asked Jesus for more faith and how he responded with the mustard seed response? They were looking for that same sense of total trust that we often do. We've only learned to reinterpret the idea of "mustard seed faith" into some great secret of the Christian life, when in fact Jesus had shattered the fleshly quest for "more faith". I say this because instead of telling them how to get their faith "increased" he responded by demanding that the smallest "speck" of faith would move those mountains. While they were asking for more of the elusive God-stuff they hoped would bring them the miraculous realities Jesus spoke of, Jesus spun their religiously-learned perceptions around to show how far off they were from even understanding what faith really is!!
The truth is that you and I have ALREADY been set free from everything we thought kept us going. He has ALREADY given us a faith that blows away our previous perceptions of the "power of faith". This faith just doesn't operate as the flesh expects it should, which is the very thing Jesus told Thomas when he "believed" Jesus because of what he saw.
The very reality of faith working in you is that you believe Him ... even though everything still suggests that you don't believe Him for everything. In other words, while we're falling all over the place from trying to get "more" faith we usually miss the reality that our failure leaves us simply knowing that he is all we have!!
The faith we have received in Christ has set us free from all the expectations of "more". Faith is not a quantity of some elusive stuff, but is the reality of the very connection we have IN CHRIST. You were set free for freedom itself!!
Let me know if this helps at all.
Jim... Thank you so much for your reply..."yes" it does help.... Faith is like "manna"??? what I have "is sufficient" ?? actually this week I would say that I am dealing with fear/anxeities...you're right I do believe Him..."even though everything still suggests that I don't believe Him for everything"...but I'm coming to see that even though I do believe Him...I'm not sure I'm trusting Him...so I guess I should say I believe "in" Him...(but doesn't it say that even demons believe?...) Doubting Thomas?...didn't He say something like "blessed are those that don't see but believe?.." I'll have to look this up...but Thomas came to see Him didn't he?...I think I understand...but help my misunderstanding..."doesn't operate as the flesh expects it should"...???does my flesh expect faith to be "more than sufficient"??? an abundance?...overflowing?...so I would feel comfortable with it all?... I'm rambling but your comments stir my heart....thanks Jim... jackie
The faith you have is most certainly sufficient!! The question I would ask is: What is your expectation regarding what it means to "trust" God? What if your true being can do nothing BUT trust Him? What if it is only a fleshly distinction that attempts to divide trust and faith by continually posing one more reason why you might not be "trusting" Him?
The often MIS-used verse in James about demons believing has caused much turmoil in those who have been made alive in Christ. James was in no way trying to cause uncertainty in those who've been born of God, but was putting false religious professions in another light. You see, there has always been a false projection of life based upon religious appearances. The life that trusts in its own sense of rightness does whatever it can to validate itself among its peers, and in the "Christian" community will boast of its own "faith" or "believing". On the other hand, those who are made righteous in Christ find great difficulty in following along with its former need for validation.
Because of the life of Christ within us we know we believe, but we also find ourselves questioning our faith or "trust" when faced with that sense of comparison of those who trust the flesh. This is a good thing!! Those who truly believe will be the ones who question their faith when it is put under a microscope because inwardly they know that they have no righteousness of their own ... and that is what is being put upon the scales!! There is no doubt we can easily fall into the fleshly game of comparison ... but we simply don't weather well under it.
If you follow the direction James took in his letter he was making a point about the difference between life and religion. He was putting those false religious professions of the self-righteous game-players into their proper perspective as being nothing but hot air trying to puff itself up. His message to the believers was to recognize the falseness of empty words for what they were!! For those who stood upon their STATEMENTS of "faith" (not faith itself, for these had none) James demanded that this SPOKEN or CLAIMED faith would do no more than the similar "faith" of demons!! What can you learn from this? Don't be fooled by such wonderful professions and "testimonies" of "great faith" for you know it has no real substance!!
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