The short answer to how positive change happens in the Christian life is by renewing your mind. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words expands on the word “renewing” to describe it as “the adjustment of one’s moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God, which is designed to have a transforming effect upon one’s life.”
Now the way we renew our minds, freshen them up to a new way of thinking, open them up to thinking like the mind of God, is through a lifestyle of repentance. Repentance is a crucial piece of both accepting and living the gospel message.
Repentance (Gk. μετανοέω METANOEŌ. meta = change; noeo = to perceive, from the root nous (the mind); i.e. to change the perception in one’s mind) literally means to change one’s mind. When we first believed and embraced the gospel, we “metanoeō”; changed our mind of resistance to Christ and accepted His offer of forgiveness.
Jesus’ first proclamation of the gospel was, “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus was asking His hearers to change their minds about religion – about how to be right with God – and place their trust in the good news; His new message of forgiveness. He was asking them to join the new kingdom that He was announcing; the kingdom with Christ Himself as head.
But repentance is also key to moving forward after our conversion. As we live the Christian life, we continue in a lifestyle of “metanoeō”; changing our mind from our old way of thinking and choosing to agree with Christ about anger, gossip, lust, lying, and any number of sins.
These sins were once thought by us to varying degrees to be acceptable because we were interpreting the world though a “world-compatible” mind. But now we are interpreting the world through the grid of God’s thoughts, through our “God-compatible” mind. And this change from seeing the world through our old grid of thinking to seeing it with the mind of Christ takes some time and is an ongoing process as we practice abiding in Christ and His instructions to us.
As we repent (change our minds) and learn to live into our new nature, rejecting our old sinful ways, we experience what I call “lived truth”. We are beginning to live the truth about what God says about you and the world you live in rather than our old worldly ways. We used to think that:
- Wealth would bring us happiness.
- We could step on people to get to the top of …
- Anger would help us accomplish our goals.
- A small lie here and there is useful.
- We have no power to overcome the temptations in our life.
Now, we begin to live the truth about what God says about us and how we successfully operate in His world. And we now learn and believe and act on:
- The pursuit of wealth will let you down.
- Serving others rather than using others is the way of Christ.
- Anger does not accomplish the will of God or your goals.
- Lying never fits the need of the moment.
- You have a new righteous nature with the power to say “no” to temptation.
As we live into these truths, we will literally be changed people. Our actions will reflect our new and righteous nature. We will learn to trust God and His promises. It is all part of the process that we will continue to explore next time.