Pt. 1 – The Mind
We are told that once we meet Jesus everything will change. We have heard it and perhaps quoted it ourselves, “Behold old things have passed away and all things are new” and “if any man is in Christ he is a new creature.”
But my question is what should change? What should be transformed when we come into a relationship with Christ?
The reason I ask that question is because the truth is I don’t see that much change in people who claim to have met Christ. They still act the same, behave the same, react the same, attitudes remain the same, desire remain the same, goals remain the same. So what is supposed to change?
Now before we get too far in this let me acknowledge that I realize that it is human nature to fight change! We do not like it. We avoid it. We do our best to keep everything the same.
Mark Twain said it like this, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.”
But the truth is that whether we like it or not we are changing and we must change. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Max Depree. He said, "In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."
When we talk about change one of the golden passages of Scripture that is always quoted and referenced is Isaiah 43:18 – 19. This portion of Scripture is powerful, but just as important is that it also reveals the position that God takes toward transformation or change.
This passage says, “18Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
He desires and wants to bring a new thing into our lives. But in order to do a new think He must bring change into our lives to get rid of the old things.
How many of you would agree that we need change? How many would be honest enough to say I need change? The challenge with that admission is that until we become dissatisfied with where we are we will never willingly change. We must hate where we are to get to where we need to be. It has to be more than lip service and become desperation for something different. So let me ask you again how many would be honest enough to say I need change?
The good news is that God desires to bring transformation into our lives, so He will help us. So for the next three weeks we are going to deal with three key areas that I believe that we need to see change. These are three areas that when we claim to have met Jesus we should see significant change in.
The first area that we should see and must see transformation in is our mind.
You know the standard texts:
2And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
2Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I believe that if we are to be transformed that transformation must begin in our mind. We must think differently than we thought before we met Jesus! That is why Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 to be renewed in our minds so that we won’t act like we acted before we met Jesus. That is why Jesus himself said that we are to love God with all of our mind! Our mind, our thoughts are crucial to our transformation.
“Whatever you hold in your mind will tend to occur in your life. If you continue to believe as you have always believed, you will continue to act as you have always acted. If you continue to act as you have always acted, you will continue to get what you have always gotten. If you want different results in your life or your work, all you have to do is change your mind.”
God desires to transform our mind in four areas:
A. What we think about. (Thought life.)
Let me share a scary thought with you. According to Matt. 9:4 Jesus knew the thoughts of the Pharisees. We think our thought life is off limits to God. However, He constantly walks through our mind and our thoughts!
1. Philippians 4:8 teaches us what we are supposed to think about!
8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Does this sound like your thought life? What do you think about? What clouds your mind? Are there areas of your thought life that would not fit into these descriptions . . . pure, honorable, lovely, good report?
2. II Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us our responsibility for our thought life.
3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh 4(for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds), 5casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;
In other words, we have the ability to control our thought life by the power of God that works in us if we will access that power.
We should be aware of every idea or imagination in our mind and if it doesn’t line up with God’s Word we should banish it from our minds.
Most of our problem in our thought life is due to the material that we place there through our eyes and ears. As long as we continue to place questionable material in our mind we will continue to struggle with our thought life.
Is it any wonder that we think more like the world than like God when you realize that by the time you were 18 years old you saw 180,000 beer commercials and 80,000 murders on television.
In a recent report on the media the average child between the ages of 2 to 18 is exposed to 5 ½ hours a day to the media and those between 12 and 13 average 8 hours each day. In the October 1998, Tribune a survey revealed that, “More than 60% of people aged 14 to 30 would give up food before giving up music.”
And then we struggle with our thought life and wonder why.
We expose our mind to the Bible only occasionally. Barna recently discovered that, “Bible reading during a typical week drops as age drops: 58% of Elders (Builders and Seniors); 47% of Boomers; 42% of Busters and 32% of Mosaics read the Bible in a typical week.
So we have nothing to counteract all the junk we place into our minds and we struggle. The Word of God is described as a cleaning agent in Ephesians 5:26. We are in fact washed by the water of His Word. That is why reading His word helps us transform our minds. That is why hearing His word is so crucial. According to Romans 10:17, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” You need to hear His word on a weekly basis so that it will produce faith in you.
We need His Word to help us wash the mess we allow into our minds. We must have a transformation of our thought life. Be more responsible for what you place in your mind. Whatsoever things are pure, think on these things.
We must follow the admonition of Colossians 3:2, “2Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.”
B. How We Think About Ourselves
We need to have a transformation in how we view and think about ourselves. In Romans 12:1-2 the Word tells us to renew our mind or allow our minds to be changed. But then right after that in Romans 12:3; 16 the writer deals with how we think about ourselves.
3For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.
16Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
Most of us think about ourselves in 1 of 2 ways, neither of these is correct:
1. Too High – We are proud. We think we are too good. We expect special treatment because we are better than everyone else. We strut and primp.
This also produces paranoia – We are so self aware and self absorbed that we think everyone is out get me, hurt me, they are talking about me. You are suspicious and untrusting. And because you view yourself as hurt you get hurt. We become a victim in our own minds and then judge everyone’s intentions and actions by that mindset.
2. Too Low – We see ourselves as a nobody. Useless, insignificant, ugly, fat, outcast, reject, low self-esteem.
We must change the way we think about ourselves. We need to understand that we are not better than anyone else. However, we can’t be trapped in low self-esteem because we are heirs and joint heirs with Christ. In other words we are royalty. That fact should make us feel good about ourselves, but should also cause us to be humble because we don’t deserve this.
C. Think About Others – We are too see each other as family.
You get to pick friends. You don’t get to pick family. But God also wants to change and transform how we think about others.
In Romans 2, we are given instructions on how we think about others. (Slide 13) Romans 12:10,13-15, 17-18“10Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.”13Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. 14Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. 15Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. 17Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. 18If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.
He desires to birth compassion on our hearts for others.
The appropriate attitude is revealed in an Ann Landers Column. “Dear Ann Landers: It happened again today. My two sons and I were in a shopping mall, and a total stranger felt the need to comment on the fact that my boys didn’t look anything alike. Apparently, my 6 year old decided it was time he explained the difference. "I’m adopted," he said. "That’s when you have the same family but not the same face."
We are all adopted. Too often we see each other as competition for attention. We see each other as foe rather than friend. We see each other as a burden rather than as a brother. However, God desires to transform the way you see others. He wants you to learn to see them as He sees them.
D. Think About Church
There are 3 ways most of you think about church.
1. Obligation – Have to attend; obligated because of habit or parent.
2. Maintenance – It is just the same old, same old. Same people doing the same thing.
3. Optional – Take it or leave it when something better comes along. No loyalty.
We must change our mind about church. We cannot attend out of obligation or as duty. To be able to be a part of your church is a privilege. It is a great honor and opportunity.
When you stop and realize that men have died for the right for you to attend, it will change you mindset.
We cannot view church as maintenance. We must attend expecting God to break in and move and bless. “The atmosphere of expectancy is the breeding ground of miracles.” We have to go anticipating something new.
Finally, it cannot be optional. We cannot allow church to become an option. The Bible commands us to meet together in Hebrews 10:25. We must begin to view church as our number one priority over work, play, dates, etc.
Our church is a place of life for us. We refuel and refire while at church. It is our lifeline.
A man becomes what he thinks:
Emerson said, "A man is what he thinks about all day long."
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius put it this way, "A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it."
William James said, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind."
In the Bible, we find: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."
The way we think will move us closer to Christ-likeness or further away from his image. We must renew our minds and allow a transformation to take place in the way we think, the way we view ourselves, others and the church. If we are to be transformed so that we can be transformers then we must change our mind!
Our prayer must be that of David in Psalms 26:2, “2Examine me, O
Jehovah, and prove me; Try my heart and my mind.”
Lay hands on head, call for those who are struggling with thought life, way they see others, themselves, the church.