Transformation – a renewed mind is key to living a life that is pleasing to God
Text: Ephesians 4:22-24
Supplemental Text: Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:10
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;” (Ephesians 4:22)
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Ephesians 4:23)
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)
Transformation is the key to becoming a Christian and living a life that is pleasing to God.
God did not save us and give us His Spirit and Grace, so that we could live in the same spiritually and morally corrupt manner as the lost. This is what He saved us from. And if we continue to act the same as we did then, we are not living lives that are pleasing to God; and we are not an effective witness to the lost about the love, mercy, and grace of God.
The way we live our lives is very important to God, because He desires that we live in a way that glorifies Him. It is important to our witnessing. We were made ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20), so that we could not only tell people about what God want to do for them, but they can look at us and see what He has done in our lives; and this gives them hope.
Transformation is a daily process. We are being changed into the Image of Christ (Romans 8:29); and this is God’s ultimate plan in our transformation. But this is not going to happen overnight. God is changing us from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).
It is important for us to understand that transformation can only occur by the action of God. Our positional transformation, from sinner to saint, cannot come from being born to saved parents; or by the will of the flesh; or by going to church; or from the church leaders. It is only by an act of God:
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)
As to our progressive transformation, the same principle is true, God does the work. (Read Hebrews 13:20-21; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.)
We can clearly see from these verses that it is God, not you, who does the transforming work in you. This is important to know, because we spend so much time and effort trying to change ourselves – only to end up frustrated and discouraged. Under our own influence we cannot and will not make the changes necessary to live a life that is pleasing to God. So we have to let Him work in us.
That may lead us to wonder what our part in transformation is. Although God does the work in us, we still have a vital part in our transformation, and it starts with us truly repenting.
Repentance is so much more than just saying to God: “I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me.”
Of course, this is very important, but it is not the full scope of repentance. True repentance is you recognizing your lost condition, and understanding that you have no way to come before God and meet His righteous demands based on your own merits. You confess before God that your ways are all wrong, and that He is right and true in all of His Ways. You acknowledge your need for Him; and you humbly ask Him to forgive and save you. Then you must turn from your ways and turn to His, to follow and serve Him with gladness of heart. If you have not truly repented, you cannot even begin to live a life that is pleasing to God! (See Philippians 2:13.)
The next step is that we have to believe God, that He has a better plan for our lives now and in the life to come (Jeremiah 29:11).
Then, we have to trust God that He does love us, and that He is willing and able to fulfill His Word to us (Romans 4:19-21).
Last, but not least, we have to submit to God. Total surrender in all aspects of our lives is a must, if we want to experience total transformation that leads to a life that is pleasing to God. We have to put away our way of doing things, and take heed to the ways of God. (Read Psalms 37:5-6; 119:9.)
There is a place and a key to our transformation and these can be found in the following verses:
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Ephesians 4:23)
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” (Colossians 3:10)
We can see clearly from these verses that transformation is a process of being renewed in the mind. The mind is the place; and a renewed way of thinking (with new knowledge from God) is key.
Our way of thinking is completely wrong. Due to the sin nature in us before our conversion, we formed a lifestyle of bad habits. Spiritually, we were non-existent; and morally, every thought in us was evil continually (Ephesians 2:1-3; Genesis 6:5). We were living wrong because we were thinking wrong.
You would think that since we now have a new nature and are aware of its ways, we should be able to discern God’s way of right and wrong living, and act upon it accordingly. But where the problem comes in is that we have thought wrong for so long, that our minds are still conditioned to the old way of thought – so we often fall back into old life-style habits. This is what we must change! In order to be conformed into the Image of Christ, and live a life that is pleasing to God – we must think like Christ, who thought like God. If our minds are not changed, more than likely, our lifestyles aren’t either.
To be renewed in the mind, you have to replace one way of thinking with another. This replacement does not mean putting the old way into storage. It means to totally eradicate it from your mind, and fill the empty space with new knowledge in line with God’s way of thinking. He has given to us a Bible full of knowledge to live by; and now it is our responsibility – by His Power – to take that knowledge, and embed it in our minds, and let it manifest itself in our lives.
What we spend our time thinking about, is what we will act out, at some point in our lives. I believe this is why the Apostle Paul told us to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8). Paul gives us the idea here that the person who has their mind filled with these things will act out these things.
That brings us to the point of this writing – the reason so many of us Christians are having problems in our lives, and falling back in to the same old habits – it is because we have not taken the time to renew our minds to the Word and the Ways of God. Going to church once a week, and reading our Bibles every so often, is not sufficient to meet our spiritual needs, and produce in us a transformation that will lead to a life that is pleasing to God.
We have to dig into the Word, read it, study it, meditate on it, pray over it, and do it. This will have to become a daily necessity to us, if we are serious about our walk with God.
The Word of God is vital to your transformation and spiritual growth and health. Keep the Word in front of you continually, and you’ll have more of the Word at work in you continually.
If you truly desire to live a life that is pleasing to God, then you will have to make God the focal point of your life, and renew your mind to His Word and His Ways. The only way to know God’s way of living a life for Him, is to see what He says about it in His Word. Then you meditate on it, pray about it, and enact it in your life. This principle works in any and every part of our lives – we just have to stop living for ourselves, and doing things from the world’s perspective; and start living for God, and doing things from His perspective.
I am not saying that once you start living for God, all your problems are going to disappear, and you will suddenly stop sinning. As long as the “old man,” the “flesh,” is around (and it will be, until physical death), the Christian is going to have problems and be tempted to sin. A careful study of your Bible will show that God’s people have had many problems throughout the ages; and some have even fallen into sin. So the truth of the matter is that all too often the Christian will have problems, and all too often will fall back into old habits that lead to sin. So I’m not saying that everything is going to go without flaw.
What I am saying is that once you realize the power and joy of living a life pleasing to God, you will want to experience more of it in your life. So you will begin to read and study the Word more often; and before you know it, you are ordering your life according to God’s desire, and not your own. You start to notice that there are fewer problems in your life. And the temptation to sin is there, but you fall into it less, because your transformed mind is now reconditioned by the Word of God to know the things that are pleasing to God, and the things that are not. And you are now able to make the choice that is pleasing to God, and fitting to your life.
One of the things I find most rewarding in this is that as you order your life to please God, you start to bear fruit that attracts others to the goodness of God. The joy in this is irreplaceable.
By being built up in the Word, rooted in the Word, and ultimately transformed in the mind by the Word – you are able to live a life that is pleasing to God.
We can say we are Christians, but until we have our minds transformed to think like Christians, we won’t act like Christians and live a life that is pleasing to God.
Closing thought: The more of God’s Word at work in me, transforming my mind; the more Christ flows out of me, transforming my life.