The phrase renewing of the mind appears in several places throughout the Bible. In Romans 12:2, we read – 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. And again in Ephesians 4:23 it reads, – be renewed in the spirit of your minds.
What does the renewing of your mind mean?
The great theologian Matthew Henry said, “Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind, a change not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul.”
Conversion, according to Strong’s Concordance, is the turning from idolatry to the true God. We can make idols out of almost anything, including people, money, sex … So when we turn from these things, to God, we are converted.
In Acts 15, we see an account of the Apostle Paul traveling to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the lost. Starting in verse 1, some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren.
In the prior passage, we see some men who are trying to add works to salvation, when it is through Christ alone that we are saved. Paul and Barnabas leave these men and go to Phoenicia and Samaria and celebrate the “conversion” of the Gentiles. The first part of the renewing process.
What does renewing of your mind look like?
Now the second part of the renewing process, according to Henry, is sanctification. Strong defines sanctification as, to separate from profane things and dedicate to God. While conversion is the work of the Lord, sanctification requires some effort on our part.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, the Apostle Paul writes, For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality. So we must put in some effort in order that we might abstain from sexual immorality. The best approach to this is presented by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:18 – Flee from sexual immorality. Avoid those places where we will be tempted, and when (not if) temptations come, flee.
There is a tremendous example of resisting temptation in Genesis 39. Joseph is approached by his master’s wife who tells him, “Come to bed with me!” Joseph refuses her advances, day after day. Then, reading in Genesis 39:11 ~ One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. Joseph didn’t give temptation a chance to ensnare him.
How do we approach renewing our minds?
Two final suggestions, from scripture, on defending ourselves from attack.
- Meditate on the things of God. Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
- Spend more time in God’s Word. Psalm 119:11 – I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Relying on the power that Jesus provides us, through faith in His finished work on the cross, we can be victorious over sin. Fighting the battle on a daily basis. 2 Corinthians 4:16 – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
~ a BeFreeinChrist writing ~