READ: Philippians 4:4-8
One of my favorite scriptures in Romans 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."
We are not to be conformed to this world. The word world here refers to the spirit of the age, as in the set of ideas, beliefs, and pursuits. In other words, world refers to the popular worldview that rejects God and His revelation.
When we didn't believe in God, we are naturally conformed to the world (Ephesians 2:1–3). When we received Christ Jesus into our hearts, we declared that we are no longer conformed to this world because we no longer belong to the spirit of this age.
We have disengaged with the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Therefore, rather than continuing to conform to this world, we have to pursue to be transformed by having our minds renewed intentionally.
The mind is the key to our life. People who do not believe in our God and respond to Christian truth cannot discern spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14). The gospel is a call for the unbeliever to repent of sin and embrace Christ by faith. The Greek word translated "repentance" carries the notion of a change of mind.
Our thinking must be changed (transformed) from old, ungodly, stinking ways of thinking into new, godly ways of thinking. What we know in our minds to be true forms a conviction in our hearts of that truth, and that conviction in our hearts translates into action.
Therefore, we must first renew our minds.
The foolishness of trying to fix myself.
I used to wear myself out, trying to fix myself and do the self-improvement work in my strength. I found myself more frustrated in my Christian walk when I tried to do what it said, instead of allowing God to work it into me.
It became behavior modification instead of a heart change.
For example, if the Bible said, don't worry, I would try hard not to worry. When I found myself worrying and see that I was falling short with doing what the word said, I would feel defeated. That approach would often leave me wanting to give up.
I eventually came to the end of myself and learned this; God already loved me even when I was deep in sin and far away from Him. He had been chasing me down when I wasn't even looking for Him. So why is it that now that I recognize that He is what I need in my life, am trying to change myself, "perform" to win a gold star in heaven, and do everything perfectly?
He already knew I couldn't. That's why He gave us Jesus, who did. I often wonder how many people have given up on God and reverted to their old lifestyle because what they were doing was behavior modification and not heart transformation? (Matthew 15:8-9)
By our belief in Jesus, we are made right in God's eyes, and then we have access to grace and the Holy Spirit to do what God desires. It is by no credit of ourselves.
So, the approach then is an honest confession of sin and admitting when we feel that conviction of it. It is inviting God to work in us and transform us. Through prayer, reading the word, and putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, we begin to be transfigured into more of Jesus' likeness and image. God can use broken and messed up people when their hearts (not their behavior, rigidness, and uptightness) are fully souled out.
As mentioned in yesterday's email, what flows out of our mouth is a clear indication of what is going on in our hearts and mind. Our words reveal our condition. Therefore, to have a restored state, we have to start at the roots of how we think.
What's the difference between positive thinking in the Bible and the positive thinking ideas of this world?
One definition of positive thinking is "the act of reviewing thought processes to identify areas that need improvement, and then using the appropriate tools to change those thoughts in a positive, goal-oriented way." This is a good and necessary thing!
If our thoughts don't align with Philippians 4:4-8, we take each thought to God in prayer and keep on asking Him to renew our thought process until it does. In most cases, we're desperately in need of a perspective change, not more philosophical idea – a God perspective, not our own. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The difference with the "positive thinking" trend that is so popular right now is that there is a belief that there is some supernatural power in positive thinking. This is the belief of the false doctrine called the law of attraction.
The notion is that if a person thinks positively, they can change future outcomes and events. In his book The Power of Positive Thinking, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote: "When you expect the best, you release a magnetic force in your mind which by a law of attraction tends to bring the best to you." Of course, there is nothing biblical about one's mind emanating a "magnetic force" that pulls good things into one's orbit. James 1:17 says " Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." When good things happen in our lives, it's because it came from God, not ourselves. Usually a clear cut difference between the Bible and a false teaching is one gives glory to God and the other gives credit to oneself. One glories the Creator, the other makes idols out of the creation. (Romans 1:21-23) In fact, there is much unbiblical about such a notion. People cannot create their reality by fantasizing or thinking it into existence. In this age of rampant false doctrine and watered-down theology, the power of positive thinking has stood out as one of the more popular errors. False doctrines are similar in that they are human ideas masquerading as the truth.
If we want to better ourselves and make positive changes, we need to have more than the power of positive thinking and self-will. True spirituality will always start and end with our relationship with Christ. It is the Holy Spirit, who is the key to changing one's life, not our thoughts, and not our effort alone. As we actively yield to the Spirit, He will transform us. Rather, we should rely on what God has already given us through His Spirit: "We have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16), and we learn how Christ thinks by reading His Word and renewing our minds daily.
THIS WEEK: Ask God to begin to change your heart by renewing your mind. If there is anything in particular that is highlighted, read what it says concerning that subject in the Bible. (I.e. - if your battling with anxious thoughts, read what the word says about being anxious). Pray for God's perspective. Pray that your mind will become more like Philippians 4:4-8
Until next time,