“Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” And, “set your mind on things above.”
We must distinguish between “mind” and “brain” in order to hear what the Scriptures say. This has nothing to do with inadequate understanding of peoples in Biblical times about the physiology of man. The Bible doesn’t distinguish the mind from the brain because the writers were ignorant of the function of the brain. They included in the word “mind” the motivations of the heart and understood, correctly, that the brain is an advanced physical computer system used by the soul to process information both spiritual and physical; something the modern world discusses in different terms because it does not share God’s worldview.
While it is true the brain can programmed or reprogrammed, the brain remains the servant of the mind and the mind remains the function of the soul. Efforts to program the brain as a means of altering a person certainly reveal behavior change, but they never result in transformation of the soul except as the soul accepts these changes. Because of the interrelatedness of the soul and the brain, modern science cannot distinguish between one and the other. Studies in brain patterns appear to communicate something to modern science only because its worldview doesn’t include the soul as the source of brain activity.
In any case, when God says He will renew the mind, He isn’t talking about brain surgery. He is going to do something in the soul that presents in brain patterns, but He isn’t going to pierce the skull with a probe or stimulate neurons to make the transformation take place.
To hear what God says about renewing the mind, we must begin with God’s worldview about “how things work in the spirit.” The brain is trainable as an organ, a powerful computer like none made by man, and it can become more efficient and effective in its operation, but this isn’t what God means by “setting the mind.”
Strength of Will ”Who controls your mind?” is a fair and telling question. The only answer is, “You control your mind.” That is not the best answer or a good answer. It is the only answer. Even when God helps you change your mind about something, there is nothing robotic about it. He can strengthen your will to make a better decision or position you so you have no alternatives…however, He doesn’t change your mind for you.
You Control Your Mind
You decide what you believe. The most telling thing about your thinking is your will. Not information, input, intellect, or even insight – you decide what you believe. Truth or error is a choice, and there are consequences to what you believe.
The strength of will to make right decisions guides you at the fountain sources of life. Amazingly, you may choose to believe receive a lie, believe a lie, and live a lie. This choice can be so fundamental that you lose all contact with the reality of who you are in terms of the person God created you to be.
At the extremes this reveals the differences between a Biblical worldview and one that excludes or dismisses the fundamentals of Scripture. For example, the viewpoint that a person who is born “male” is born that way by Divine design and intention escapes the mindset of modern science, and the explanation for why a male might choose to believe he should be female is very different. He is obviously not female, but modern science produces an explanation for his “gender selection” that removes right and wrong from the equation. It is, in any event, a “selection,” an act of will, based upon a lie about who he is and his created destiny. Biblically thinking people, then, oppose the normalization of this worldview, more because of how this perpetrates the lie than because they wish to control this person’s choice.
This is but one example of mind control issues. Even term “mind control” suggests a surrender of control, a choice of surrender to influence at some overwhelming level more than a takeover. What may occur when drugs or shock causes the brain to malfunction in any way does nothing to disprove the Bible’s view of the mind.
The brain is our advanced computer system for processing the information of this world received through the five senses. It also serves to process the input we receive through our spiritual senses, and the condition of our soul. Since the brain is part of this natural body that will be exchanged for a glorious immortal one because of the Cross and Resurrection, Paul celebrates this great resurrection promise because it includes an eternal improve even upon the amazing power of the human brain. It seems, in Paul’s understanding, that the mind will be vastly more efficient set free from the limitations of the human brain!
Even with keen revelation, we know in part and prophesy in part. Paul understands the limitations of the physical, the natural, upon the spiritual. He craves the greater, the eternal, and the release. He groans with all Creation for this release that will finally reveal the sons of God shrouded in flesh!
Within this present, natural condition, the greater discussion should be focused upon decision-making because that is the source of faith. When faith is strong, the will is strong, action is bold, and hesitation is limited. Even death fades as a determining force when faith is strong!
In FreedomMinistry International, we focus upon building faith by strengthening the will. The common concept that the highest strength of will is the strength of will to survive misses the true mark by fathoms because it assumes a error built into the natural and avoids a truth constructed into the foundations of the spiritual. While the strength of will to survive is strong in natural terms, the ultimate strength of will is the strength of will to surrender. While you need to be strong to survive, you must surrender to be healed, saved, rescued, and redeemed!
So, to begin with the Bible’s viewpoint on transformation, we must begin with the strength of will to surrender and measure transformation with this standard.
Since you control your mind, your strength of will to surrender will determine the level of transformation you experience. That is why Paul says that making you body a sacrificial offering, by God’s mercies, is a first step to your worship, a pathway to breaking out of the mold of this natural world, and a beginning point for transformation that renews the will and reveals the “what-God-wants” of your destiny and Divine purpose. [See Romans 12:1,2.]
Mind and Will
Faith is a decision, not a blind leap into the dark. Faith accepts as true and valid something not yet seen or handled, a reality not discoverable by natural, physical sense and process. Faith is a decision to embrace a set of presuppositions, a way of thinking, a worldview that includes the reality of spirit. Faith receives and believes revelation. Faith grows as we expand this embrace to include more revelation.
Faith doesn’t grow by simply hearing because we can ignore or reject what we hear. Faith grows as revelation grows, as you believe what you receive. Faith matures by living what you believe; faith is tried or tested “by fire,” a test that is more valuable than gold. Faith is tested by the extent to which we implement or execute what we believe.
Faith has consequences. We either apply what we believe to how we think and, therefore, to how we behave, or we must go back and alter what we believe. We may dismiss or diminish what we believe in order to remain consistent with our chosen behavior, or we may develop and declare our faith by transforming our behavior to fit our faith.
Faith is a “strength of will” issue. Faith is a surrender issue, an issue of trust. Trust is the basis of love, the highest or ultimate expression of choice or will. So, now “faith, hope, and love all last forever, but the greatest of these is love.” Faith, hope, and love are all a matter of choice, decision, strength of will, but the ultimate choice is love. Passion is the basis for faith and hope.
The point is that strength of will has everything to do with function and fidelity of faith. Strength of will determines the capacity of the mind; the will determines mindset as a basis for attitude and action. The tests of love, hope, and faith reveal strength of will, and because the tests require strength of will to exercise and exert, tests strengthen the decisions and commitments we make.
In Level 3 of FreedomMinistry International, we discuss fullness of obedience. Having walked through removing limitations to the power of the Cross and the power of the Spirit, reaching for fullness of what the Cross provides and the Spirit empowers, we are better prepared to countenance fullness of obedience because we are better prepared to use fullness to produce fulfillment. If the provision and power of the Cross and Spirit doesn’t transform us internally to the extent they produce changed behavior, the fruit of personal change, we have learned to talk about something more than we have exercised the strength of will to believe something.
Jesus makes it clear that sown seed of the Word can be received in several very different ways with very different outcomes. Some Word just lies on top of the ground and is carried away by demons. Some Word takes shallow root but shrivels when tested. Some Word takes root but fails to change behavior or produce kingdom lifestyle because it is choked out by crowding cares and debilitating deceptions, even when it develops a “good ground” root system.
The seed is the Word of God, the revelation we dismiss or develop; the Seed is good, perfect, eternal. The success of kingdom living comes from a perfect, eternal source. The strength of will to receive and believe demands a strength of will to live what is received and believed: “faith without works is dead” means “what you believe is what you do.” Believer is as believer does.
Don’t get distracted by the argument about salvation by works or grace in this context. We aren’t earning something that we can only receive by accepting it as a gift, but we are kidding ourselves in an ultimate sense thinking we can believe one thing and live another! The issue isn’t the quality of the Word but the extent of revelation received, believed, and lived. Of course, in each case – love, faith, hope – the basis for their function is grace. That is, we are enabled to believe, love, and hope by God through the surrender of our will.
So don’t be distracted by discussions that leave you with the impression you are being “carried around” by grace when the operational outcome of grace is spiritual enabling, spiritual capacities, and empowerment to receive, believe, and live. Grace gives you something spiritual you lack naturally so you can live the revelation you receive and believe.
Change Your Mind
You control your mind, so you can change your mind. Ain’t easy – but you can experience it! You change your mind by consecration – the strength of will to surrender positions you for transformation “by the renewing of your mind.” You change to be changed.
People afraid of slavery or bondage shun surrender and submission because they fail to distinguish that they are opposites. The frustration of failing to change yourself gives way to the consecration of allowing God to do it.
Beware the humanism that says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” actually means, “Jesus will help me do whatever I set my mind to do.” Whatever you “set your mind to do” may occur, but it will never be a fulfillment of destiny and purpose. Fulfilling destiny and purpose cannot occur without surrender because it lies outside the closed system of the natural. You cannot even know the what-God-wants without a renewed mind let alone believe, receive, and live it!
Beware the more recent strategy of adding a changed mind onto your personal life as an after-market feature of christianism. Jesus will transform you in a way that alters your philosophy, but He will not transform you by offering you a new philosophical point of view. You cannot “formula-ize” faith into a mantra. No matter how many times you say the right thing, affirm the right thing, recognize the right thing, you will not think or live the right thing without spiritual transformation.
All that spiritual transformation can only come from the power of the Cross and Spirit. Jesus didn’t offer this transformation as an add-on, after-market improvement to your natural condition; He offered it to those willing to be crucified with Christ and live a crucified life!
Take the idea a writing a book about the leadership model, style, or dynamics of Jesus Christ, for example, and offering this treatment as a means of producing Christ-like motivations for leadership. A cosmic joke. An devilish giggle. A heavenly gasp.
Jesus as philosopher, philanthropist, and politician immediately runs aground in His identity and purpose: the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; the One who baptizes in Holy Spirit and fire; the Servant of all who laid down His life; the One who came to His own and His own received Him not.
You cannot offer the teachings of Jesus alongside Gandhi, Marx, and Socrates as a way of thinking because His way of thinking demands a transformed mind only available through the Cross and Spirit. Any and all efforts to mainstream Jesus end in pseudo-christianism. They fail and frustrate. They produce a “Christian” who is not like Christ.
So, Jesus provided a simple strategy for life-change that is based upon a surrender decision: repentance. Repentance is a Bible word, a kingdom word, a transformational word. Repentance is transformational because the kingdom is transformational; anything less is not Christian. Period.
So, repentance becomes the basic discipline of the kingdom life, not the procedure for kingdom birth alone. We tend to see repentance as the labor pains of birthing when God sees repentance as the inhale and exhale of kingdom atmosphere exchange, the breath of God for the breathing soul. In the spirit the mind is oxygenated by kingdom atmosphere, and the inhale reaches for God while the exhale releases carbon dioxide. Repentance appropriates oxygen and releases carbon dioxide from the spiritual bloodstream.
“I’m sorry” is confession. It says, “Please forgive or pardon me.” Repentance says, “I change to be changed.” Repentance is a matter of decision, the strength of will to surrender, the ultimate pivot of decision between opposing masters. “You cannot serve God and mammon. Love not the world or the stuff in the world. You are of your father, the devil.” More than a change of mind in the sense of “I got a better idea. Eureka!” It is a change of allegiance at the fountainhead of life.
So, a change of mind that produces a change of behavior requires an activity that goes deeper than the brain. Change of mind is a decision of the will; how strong the will is determines the depth of repentance that appropriates the power of the Cross and Spirit. Spiritual change always begins internally and manifests externally; no external change can effect internal change that results in spiritual transformation. We can’t impute our own righteousness into our spirit man; we must receive His imputed righteousness through surrender decisions.