How do you change your life? How do you overcome that habit and break free from that destructive pattern of behavior? Do you know how to become more like Christ? What do you say to your friend who tells you, “I want to change, but I don’t know where to start?” Thankfully, the key to lasting change can be known. The apostle Paul says, “…Be transformed by the renewal of your minds” (Rom.12:2). The secret to all lasting transformation is the renewal of your mind. But what does renewing your mind really mean? Why is it necessary for change? And how does it actually happen?
What did Paul mean by “the renewal of your minds?” What is “mind-renewal?” Simply put, renewing your mind is the process of exchanging the lies for the truth. It’s the exchange of your natural way of thinking for God’s way of thinking. This means that renewing your mind is much more than knowing additional information or the power of positive thinking. There are some who think that the fundamental problem with the mind is that it doesn’t have the knowledge it needs. Therefore, simply more education is the natural conclusion to the perceived problem. All you need is to “know more” and you will become a better person. Some people think the problem with the mind is dwelling too much on negative thoughts instead of positive, but the Bible has a deeper diagnosis. It teaches that you need more than new information; your mind itself needs to be renewed. You need more than the power of positive thinking; you need the power of God’s way of thinking. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The Necessity of Renewing the Mind
In Ephesians 4:23, Paul says you must be “renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Now, what is “the spirit of your mind?” It’s the power or governing principle of your mind. Think of it this way – the human mind is like a movie theater. It doesn’t just have a screen of random images and thoughts; it has a projector that is set to run particular thoughts and images on that screen. This is what some call your “mindset,” and as a result of the fall, the human mind is set up to project lies instead of truth and false images instead of true images. This is the fundamental problem of the mind that needs to change through the “renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). This is why the Bible speaks of the mind needing to beset “on the things above” (Col.3:2) or “set on the things of the Spirit” (Rom.8:5). Lasting change must start with the mindset that directs what images or thoughts the mind projects.
This is not an optional step in the process of change; it’s the essential step. Mind-renewal is absolutely necessary to make any progress in the Christian life. Think of it this way – no mind change, no life change. Our manner of life is directly linked to the life of our mind. Your particular mindset about God, other people, yourself, situations, things, the future, etc. has a direct influence on how you will feel, speak and act. For example, the reason you may live for money or human approval is because of a lie that you believe about what money or the praise of people will bring you. The reason you may live in despair is because of a lie that you believe about your past or future, etc. But how does this work? How does the process of renewing the mind actually happen? What does it practically look like to set your mind on “the things of the Spirit?”
The Process of Renewing the Mind
The Bible compares renewing your mind with the process of changing your clothes. You first need to take off your old clothes (the lies) and change into your new clothes (the truth). This means through daily confession and repentance putting off the lies you are tempted to believe like, “I’m still the same person;I can’t change; I have to earn God’s grace; God has given up on me; today is going to be horrible day; more money is going to make me happy, etc.” Take the lies off and put on the truth such as, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; Jesus has died for all my sins; God is for me and not against me; I’m not trying to be a new creation, I am a new creation; Right now God is working all things together for my good, etc.” And in order to do all of this we must study the Bible and learn God’s truth. Your mind is the object of renewal, God’s truth is the instrument of renewal, and God’s Spirit of truth is the agent of renewal.
So, if you desire to be transformed and live like Christ, then you must give yourself to the pursuit of renewing your mind. What images or thoughts are running in your mind that is causing you to act in a certain way? What are you allowing to be projected? Christian, like Lazarus, Jesus has called you out of darkness and into the light and the grave clothes must come off. Put off the lies and put on the truth and watch the lasting transformation take place.