We are looking at what it means to renew your mind according to Romans 12:2. We dissected this verse last week but it is not the only scripture that addresses this issue so what I am going to do is list some of the bible instructions God issued regarding the use of our minds & then I am going to look at practical applications.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus
Hebrews 3:1Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus
So the scriptures tell us that what we think about is important & we are to control our thoughts because ultimately our lives are governed by our thoughts. All sin begins as a thought that is allowed to grow. All confusion begins when we allow satan’s thinking into our minds, instead of God~thoughts because satan is the author of confusion.
James puts it most bluntly when he says: So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. [1:21]
In other words we have the ability to change the pattern of our thinking through scripture. Instead of the filthy, the carnal, the worldly we are to think on whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I think a great many Christians have never considered taking this instruction literally or acting on it but clearly these are not meant to be just pretty uplifting words but words of life that have the power to change us from the inside out.
If everything we are & do begins with our thoughts, then the power to direct our lives in godliness, righteousness, selflessness begins with our thought life.
I will give you an example of how this affects our thinking & impacts on our actions.
On April 12th, 1912, a man called John Harper boarded the Titanic with his 6 yr old daughter to answer an invitation to speak @ the Moody Church in Chicago.
He was a Scot, a Glaswegian & an evangelist.
When the Titanic began to go down he woke his daughter, wrapped her in a blanket & handed her into lifeboat 11 knowing he would never see her again. Harper then gave his lifejacket to someone else calling out: Women & children & unsaved people into the lifeboats. He prayed for the salvation of the terrified unsaved all around him on the upper deck until the Titanic went down & then he grabbed wreckage & swam from person to person asking: Are you saved? & as succinctly as possible gave them the gospel message before they died. He was a remarkable man & he fully understood Greater love hath no man…
How different to Captain Schettino of the Costa Concordia who, having grounded his vessel, saved himself while leaving many of his passengers to perish.
One thought as God thinks, thinking of others before himself. The other thought as the world thinks, thinking only of himself. Which one is worthy of emulating? Which one was more Christlike? Which would you rather be?
Science is finally catching up with the scriptures. Our thoughts are not ethereal. They are real & they have real consequences. They occupy *mental real estate.* In scientific terms this means that our thoughts give out epi~genetic signals that wire the brain & actually change our DNA. Where the mind goes the brain follows. What we focus our thoughts on, grows & influences our actions & the changes can be seen in our brains.
This should cause us to pause & carefully consider the sort of thought life we are cultivating for if we are allowing the world to dictate to our thoughts along the lines of: Trump will embroil the whole world in a nuclear disaster; my marriage is a mess; my kids hate me then you are wiring your brain according to worldly wisdom when Jesus very plainly said Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it fear. John 14:27
If you turn to Ecclesiastes 7:29 Solomon says this: But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.
God created you virtuous [Chayil:Strong, powerful, mighty, with abilities, efficient, able, wealthy, & forceful] Some translations use upright [yashar] which is a more correct translation. The implication is the same. You were created to reflect the image of God, absolutely perfect, but our choices lead us on a downward path.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end
We are designed to be able to access the goodness of God. If you don’t already then I would encourage you to develop a continual inward dialogue with the Holy Spirit. He’s your best friend. He will lead you into all Truth & so no matter what comes at you in the course of a day you can access His wisdom. Holy Spirit, how should I react to this? Holy Spirit, What should I say? Holy Spirit, would this please Jesus? You get the idea.
Now there are several other things I want to briefly discuss & the first involves our coming together as a church.
Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.
Now there are some very practical reasons for this instruction but the one I want to focus on is what happens physically when we gather together. Ephesians 4:3 says Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
I have heard Christians say some pretty bizarre things about unity & I have seen people turn fellowship & unity into a sort of idol. This is completely unbiblical & not at all what scripture is talking about because this unity is of the Spirit & not something we can create ourselves.
However… we have talked about how what we focus on & think about is what grows in us & it changes our DNA. What we focus on & grow affects our actions, so here is the interesting thing: When we arrive on Sunday morning we each arrive with a week’s worth of baggage & we each arrive as an individual. Each heart beats separately to its own rhythm. As we begin to praise & worship & to focus on Christ our physical bodies change until all our hearts begin to beat in sync ~ literally all our hearts beat as one! We become united in Christ! Not through our own efforts but because the Spirit within us brings us into unity for His sake. This has serious implications for our Love Walk, for our Church unity & for the body of Christ as a whole.
Lastly I would encourage us all to up the anti on our prayer life & here is why: when a Dr Newberg conducted an experiment @ Pennsylvania University on the effects of prayer on the brain he discovered some very interesting things.
When we speak or pray in an ordinary way our frontal lobe fires up & lots of extra activity can be discerned in this area of the brain. More circuits are created & gamma waves increase in prayer.
According to the mindvalleyacademy.com Gamma brain waves are the fastest brainwave frequency with the smallest amplitude. They are associated with the “feeling of blessings” reported by experienced meditators such as monks and nuns, and with peak concentration and extremely high levels of cognitive functioning.
Neuroscientists believe that gamma waves are able to link information from all parts of the brain.
The bottom line is if you want to be smarter, more peaceful, wiser, calmer & more blessed then increase your prayer life.
That is wonderful of course but something even more extraordinary happens when we pray in tongues. When we pray in tongues all that frontal lobe activity shuts down while the areas reflecting self~consciousness are still active. Tongue speakers have been found to be more emotionally stable & more positive than other people. Why?
I would suggest it is because the thought life is more God controlled, more focused on positives & far more likely to bring them into true unity & peace with the people in their lives. So when God tells us to renew our minds it is not just to help us live moral, upright lives. That is possible by sheer strength of will for some people. No. It is so He can bless us abundantly with all the goodness He desires for us ~ the abundant life Jesus promised. As we renew our minds we enter into a kingdom way of thinking that enables God to work effectively in our lives.
For more about the science of renewing your mind see Dr Caroline Leaf: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=dr+caroline+leaf