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

Romans 12:2 reveals two important things about the Christian mind. First, there is something wrong with it; it must be “renewed, renovated, and completely changed for the better (Blue Letter Bible, Outline of Biblical Usage, 2020).” Second, without this renewal, the Christian will remain both conformed to the world and unable to know and obey God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will.

The renewal of our minds – required for our transformation into Kingdom citizens – is more challenging than most Christians recognize. We are born with a nature that works hard to interpret the things we hear and read in ways that will not disrupt our established paradigms. We prefer to trust existing interpretations of Scripture and are encouraged to do so by our teachers.

Holding fast to sound doctrine is important, but resistance to paradigm shifts can leave us short on the truth. Therefore, it is important to recognize that the combined doctrines of man fall short of explaining God and His kingdom. Our maturation as Christians requires a humble approach to learning. We would do well to maintain an objective consideration of God’s word and the vastness of its truth.

What if, instead of relying on comfortable interpretations, we accepted the word of God as it is written, allowing it to challenge our paradigms? What if, instead of applying assumptions of hyperbole or metaphor to every passage that threatens us, we wrestled to grasp the depth of God’s word? With these challenges in mind, we offer a case in point from two statements found in John’s first epistle:

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 1John 3:9

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 1John 5:18

Taken literally, the Holy Spirit (through John) claims that every Christian does not and cannot sin, because he has been born of God, because he keeps himself (i.e., attends to carefully, takes care of, guards), and because the wicked one has no influence over him. Take a moment to consider this claim literally; resist the temptation to explain it away. The implications are astounding!! Read the rest of this entry »

The renewing of our mind exchanges dependence on our carnal mind with subjection to the mind of Christ. Consider that for a moment. Born with the mind of our flesh, we find ourselves at enmity with God; reborn of Christ, we now also have His mind (1Corinthians 2:16).

And the battle for our transformation begins!

We are being transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2), and the Holy Spirit is our transformer (2Corinthians 3:18). However, we cannot afford to be passive participants in this ongoing process. Based on personal experience and the testimony of others, I am confident that the renewal of our minds requires our cooperation.

We, born-again believers in Jesus Christ, are responsible for choosing the mind to which we turn. This is a continuous responsibility that particularly proves itself in the face of danger, confusion, offense, aggravation, etc.

This matter of the minds is challenging, to say the least. Thank goodness, God has given us an abundance of instruction. Here’s one I discovered just the other day.

Commit your works to the LORD,
And your thoughts will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

Does this verse strike you as odd (as it first did me)? Shouldn’t we have our thoughts established before we set out to work? Once again, we find that God’s ways and thoughts are above our own.

In Ephesians 2:10, we learn that God “created [us] in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Knowing the end from the beginning, God has carefully created and orchestrated our every good work.

With this knowledge in hand, Read the rest of this entry »

…it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given… blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear… Matthew 13:11-17

The children of God have been given eyes to see and ears to hear. Constrained in our earthly body, we tend to underestimate this gift and ability. We hope and pray the following will help provide a proper estimation and exercise of God’s grace – particularly as it relates to our relationships and fellowships.

Because of His great love, God has saved and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7). From there, we might enjoy His perspective of all that is going on around us… or we might choose not to. It is our responsibility to observe, process, and respond to our environment and all its activity from the heavenly perspective. Doing so exercises the mind of Christ, which we have (1Corinthians 2:16).

To lay hold of this grace, we must first believe the heavenly perspective is available, and then we must choose it (an act of our will). Some may hesitate, fearing the temptation of haughtiness. Such a fear should not be ignored. We must not think that we are sufficient for these things, but reckon that our sufficiency is from God (2Corinthians 3:5-6). We must remain humble, and allow the Holy Spirit to deal with our flesh (another reason daily communion with God, who is a consuming fire, is important).

Indeed, those who know the grace of God from the perspective of God are not concerned with their personal rights, nor easily distracted by injustice done to them. They see beyond these things, into eternity. They have been set free from temporal matters and considerations. Read the rest of this entry »

Grace is appropriated through faith for the renewing of our minds – that we might be obedient to the faith and experience the perfecting of our faith through the work of grace.

This is not a play on words; it is the way we mature as children of God.

The grace I am thinking of:

  • The Father working in us (Philippians 2:13);
  • Jesus making us (Matthew 4:19); and,
  • The Holy Spirit transforming us (2Corinthians 3:18).

Isn’t it amazing and incredibly encouraging that each person of the Godhead has taken responsibility for our spiritual development and progress!!

So, how do we appropriate this inward grace? We do so by choosing to join the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work they are doing (note: “choosing” is the operative word).

How does that happen? What can one do to engage in the sanctifying, transforming, and faith-increasing work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? How does one respond to their invitation of a good work, done in us?

We do so by practicing the grace-empowered disciplines God has provided!

For example, we are encouraged by Paul to set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2). This is a process and a challenge. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2Corinthians 3:5). To join in His process for the (re)setting of our mind:

  1. We must choose to hear Colossians 3:2 as God’s word for each of His children (Romans 10:17). That requires the disciplines of Bible study and prayer.
  2. We must choose obedience to the faith that now resides in our heart (Romans 1:5).
  3. We must choose to meditate on His word (another discipline), that faith and desire would increase.
  4. We must choose to commit our way to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, trusting them to bring our transformation to pass (Psalm 37:5).
  5. We must choose to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting when opportunities present themselves for the work of faith (James 2:22).

We must choose! Choosing is a big part of spiritual discipline! Read the rest of this entry »

I am afraid we are going to step on some toes with this article. Please don’t let a little toe pain put you off. Your carnal mind will try to distract you with offense and excuse. As an ally of the world, it will do what it can to prevent or limit your consideration of what follows.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

The first thing we have to ask ourselves about this passage is whether or not it contains commands or electives. This decision is important, so engage your mind. Reckon it to yourself. If you agree that every imperative statement in the Bible is a command, then say to yourself, “Self, God commands us to seek those things which are above, and to set our mind on them. Furthermore, He commands us to not set our mind on things on the earth.”

Next, we must decide: What is the difference between setting our mind on things above and on the things on this earth? Is it a gulf, a gully, or a hard line? In other words, is there some gray area between the two, where we can let our minds play? As you make this decision, be careful to differentiate between what your carnal mind is trying to tell you and what you believe from your heart to be true. I suspect the answer here may be different for different people, but be careful; gray areas often equate to compromise.

Next question: How and when do we set our minds? Does this automatically happen, or is some discipline required? Minds are set at the very beginning of our day. First thing.

So, what are you watching? What are you reading?

Ouch? Sorry, sometimes the truth hurts. I write from experience. Read the rest of this entry »

I met a young man the other day who runs a successful executive coaching business. This is not unusual; there are many men and women running successful executive coaching businesses. What intrigues me about this young man is the uniqueness of his approach. He operates fundamentally and foundationally from the exercise of discernment and the application of truth – discerning what is false and apply the truth to close unhealthy gaps.

As best as I can tell, this young man does not dilute, wrap, or compromise his operating model with secular and humanistic schemes. It is the purest kingdom approach to business coaching I have ever encountered. It is inspiring…

And challenging.

God used this young man and our conversation to challenge me on two fronts. First, He reminded me that the fear of conflict is unhealthy, and particularly so when it inhibits our sharing the truth with someone. We are encouraged to commit our way to the LORD, trusting Him to accomplish what He intends (Psalm 37:5). I must stop avoiding conflicts that sharing the truth might create.

I prefer to believe that my resistance in this area comes from genuine concern that I might injure someone with my version and presentation of the truth. This is a poor excuse for conflict avoidance. Am I willing to deprive someone of the truth and its freedom in order to maintain a sense of peace between us? That is not Christian love; it is cowardice.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear (timidity, fearfulness, cowardice), but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2Timothy 1:7

I must allow the Holy Spirit to transform me into a surrendered instrument of the Father’s grace – dying to myself for my brother’s sake.

God also used this young man and our conversation to challenge me regarding gaps in my own life – to vigorously seek and destroy the deceptions I have allowed. This conviction contains two applications:

  1. Leaders are responsible to God for helping others discover and overcome the deceptions of their carnal mind. We cannot effectively call or lead someone out of deception when we are willing to accommodate it in our own lives.
  2. Transformation requires the stripping away of our conditional responses to God’s offers of grace.

This second application requires some explanation. One of my heart’s strongest desires is to experience the “greater than life” with others. Jesus promised such a life to all who would believe in Him (John 14:12). The result of that life is the glory of our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), through the good works we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

The “greater than life” is what we were created for!

The Holy Spirit will transform us for this life, through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2, 2Corinthians 3:18), but only as we submit to His work. With God, “conditional submission” is an oxymoron; our conditions clog up the flow of God’s grace.

To be transformed into agents of transformation, we must join the Holy Spirit in searching out our conditional responses to God’s grace, and take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5). This prayer should help:

Search me, oh God, and know my mind;

Try me and know my self-deceptions;

Expose the wicked thoughts that are hidden in my subconscious;

Lead me to freedom by the truth of your word.

God bless you with grace for the exercise of discernment and the application of truth – for yourself and those in your spheres of influence. Please pray the same for me.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

The carnal mind has one primary objective (maintain control) and one primary method for achieving it (deception). One of its greatest and necessary deceptions is its passivity, even to the point of apparent non-existence. The carnal mind works diligently to remain undetected.

Satan and the world use our carnal mind to inhibit our relationship with God and conform us to their evil ways. Now get this: Together, they form an alliance that is more destructive than either would be separately. I am confident that even now they are working hard to minimize your consideration of the danger. Please don’t let that happen. Fight back!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Committing our ways to the LORD is a process of incremental victories whereby our will is submitted to His. Failure along the way is not so much taking back control as it is never truly giving it up to begin with. Our carnal mind is far more adept and agile at deception than we imagine. It benefits from our perception of progress and it is practiced at building a false sense of security.

When our ways are truly submitted to God, there is no getting them back, short of a repeat (mini-) rebellion. This is not possible for those born of God, who have died to the sin. When this point of no-return occurs is beyond my understanding. However, it is valuable to recognize the seriousness of our commitments – that they be full and sincere – and that God does all we will allow to secure them, and us.
Read the rest of this entry »

Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16

Just the other day, I discovered – no, I was shown – that there has been a bit of lawlessness hidden away in my mind. I have seen the symptoms of it, but did not know they were connected to something so profoundly evil.

Understand me: I did not know the lawlessness was there until the Holy Spirit revealed it to me. It was small and carefully hidden.

Indeed, the symptoms themselves are minor to look at (i.e., no gross sin). Only those closest to me would have noticed them. In fact, the worst of them – a presumption of what is just and fair – would be accepted by the modern world; perhaps even encouraged and applauded.

But, thank God, I am not of this world.

Once the lawlessness was revealed, I began to understand the true ugliness and danger of it. At its heart was a self-centric perspective. In this case, the determination of justice and fairness were wrapped around my selfish opinions.

It has been a sobering and frightening revelation that these relatively minor symptoms were rooted in lawlessness; for lawlessness leads to deception and to our Godward love growing cold. The lawless are cursed to an eternity of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

That is my confession. Here is my profession of faith. Read the rest of this entry »

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2

Our minds have an appetite – for stimulation. The parallels to our body’s appetite for food are interesting.

If I never tasted chocolate ice cream, I would not have an appetite for it. There was a time when I craved chocolate ice cream. As I grew older, I had to give it up (or buy new pants).

It took a while for me to lose my craving, but with discipline, it eventually went away.

Furthermore, developing an appetite for healthy food is difficult for some. It takes time (and discipline), but eventually our bodies begin to appreciate broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc.

Our mind functions in much the same way. Somethings we think about are poisonous (like artificial sweeteners are to our bodies). Other things take up attention that should be directed elsewhere.

Developing new interests requires discipline – particularly when replacing those that we have had for a long time. It is nothing short of transformation by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It depends on the work of the Holy Spirit – our Transformer (2Corinthians 3:18).

Here is one example:

I used to enjoy listening to sports talk radio. Every time I got in my truck, that is what I would turn on. My mind had quite an appetite for sports news.

Some time ago – perhaps a year or so – I began listening to sermon podcasts when driving to meetings. Now, that is what I naturally turn to. My appetites have changed.

I know what you’re thinking: Who wants to listen to sermons all the time? That’s what my mind used to tell me, too. It took a while – and some discipline – but all things are possible through Christ Jesus.

It is important to recognize that we are in process. I still listen to sports talk radio – like I eat chocolate ice cream: Rarely and in the Lord’s moderation.

So, in the event that you too would like to change your mental appetite, here are some of the greatest sermons from the last 100 years (found on sermonindex.net).

Ten Shekels and a Shirt by Paris Reidhead

A Call To Repentance by Vance Havner

A Grain of Wheat by Major Ian Thomas

Blessedness of the Unoffended by T. Austin Sparks

Man’s Petty Kingdom by Art Katz

Men Marked by the Presence of God by Paul Washer

Kingdom of God is Not in Words by A.W. Tozer

Christ Magnified In Our Bodies by Leonard Ravenhill

The Apostate Church In America: The Cappuccino Church by E.A. Johnston

God bless you with a mind set on things above.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Our Heavenly Father desires nothing more for His children than for them to become fruitful citizens of His kingdom. Our contribution is ultimately for His glory; for His name’s sake. However, He loves us with a father’s love; a love that desires the best for His children.

When God calls us to more, it is important to consider how we are thinking about the call. Is it a burden to us, or a privilege? An obligation, or an opportunity? Are we dreading the journey, or looking forward to the adventure?

On April 18, 2009, my wife and I watched helplessly as firefighters did all they could to save the house we had lived in for most of our marriage – the home where we had raised our children. The fire, smoke and water destroyed practically everything. It could have been the beginnings of a burdensome tragedy.

As we stood watching this tragedy-in-progress, God whispered three things into our hearts,

“I am sovereign. Nothing happens outside of my will.”

“I am a good God, I love you, and I have a plan for you.”

“Reckon these things to be true.”

And so began God’s call to more. As we settled into our first temporary quarters (the Holiday Inn Express), we turned to our Heavenly Father. Beth began, “Father God, whatever you have for us in this, we receive it.”

Praise God for His encouragement, in the prayers of a godly wife!

This was the surrender our Father was looking for; and it opened the storehouse of Heaven. With one word (our “whatever”), we had entered into the purpose of Almighty God. Our tragedy immediately became an adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

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