October 6, 2014

Straying thoughts and a renewed mind

For most of us, the word “danger” brings to mind all sorts of physical threats, danger to our lives and threats to the well-being of our bodies. The biblical answer to these threats is to trust God with our bodies, as Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” He knows how to protect us from danger, and keep us should it strike.

However, that is not the only danger God warns His people against. He knows that we are also threatened by what is often called worldliness. While we so easily blame the allurements ‘out there’ this danger is actually from the inside, not from out there in the world. That is, I cannot say that all those temptations make me worldly. I could live on a deserted island and still be drawn away from God.

Worldliness is more about allowing myself to think as if I were not a Christian. Because I am a child of God, my life is to be characterized by faith in Him and by the new way life He gave me. The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Because of that renewal, which is sometimes called regeneration or the second birth, God also says to me, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

I once lived the same way as most of the world lives – for myself, for what made me look good, feel good, and profit in some way personally. Now God give me the “mind of Christ” and His new life that I might live for His glory and not my own. That is what it means to “not be conformed to this world” and to “be transformed by the renewal” of my mind.

This renewal happened once when I was saved. The renewal was a tiny bit like going through the carwash. However, as I live in this world, some of that dust from this world will cling to me if I am not aware of it, or if I fail to be careful of what my mind gets used for. If I think in those old ways and neglect to seek the will of God, then my life begins again to focus on me, myself, and I instead of on those things that are “good, acceptable and perfect.”

It happens. One of God’s people offered this prayer, which I also have prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23–24)

Worldliness is a constant snare and an easy trap to fall into, even to fall without realizing that I’ve fallen. I’m so thankful that God knows my heart better than I do. He can spot any “grievous way” (those words can also be translated as “pain, sorrow, or idol”) and whenever I take off in that direction, He can turn me around and get me back on track.

And He does. And I am so grateful.

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