In this study, we will discuss the transformation of the mind.
Second (Corinthians 5:17) says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." This transformation starts with the heart. When we realize that we have the disease of hard-heartedness, we must look to God for the cure. Spiritual surgery that pierces us with God's truth is necessary so that we can receive a new heart.
Once we have a new heart we realize this is only the start of a process of transformation that will last a lifetime. Along with needing a new heart, the Scriptures teach us that we need a transformed mind as well. God wants us to have a mind that is razor sharp, discerning, and quick to respond to His will. However, too often we can be dull-minded, allowing the razor's edge of our mind to become a ragged edge.
In this lesson, we will focus on how we can allow God to transform our minds daily.
What do you "think" about the most?
1. IS "WHAT WE THINK ABOUT" IMPORTANT TO GOD?
n Suppose Christ broke through the veil that separates the spiritual realm from the physical realm and audible said to you today, "I am going to require you to have my mind in all its fullness. However, I want people to know what a miracle of change I can work, so I am going to reveal to your church what your mind is like right now. Next Sunday, in your church, I am going to take over the morning service and play back for all to hear every thought you had this week."
n Would it frighten you or delight you if Christ revealed your thoughts to your church family? I don’t know about you, but I would be a little embarrassed.
n We unconsciously assume that our outer, physical, and visible actions are going to be the basis for our judgment. In the Bible, though, God places the emphasis on the inner, invisible actions of the mind. For example, we may protest that we have never committed adultery. Yet Jesus said, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt. 5:28). We may protest that we have never committed murder. Yet Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell" (Mt. 5:21, 22). We may protest that God doesn't care about our evil thoughts or our evil imaginations. He only cares about our sinful actions. Yet (Prov. 15:26) says, "The Lord detests the thoughts (not the actions) of the wicked…" Before God sent the great flood on the earth, (Gen. 8:21) says, "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."
n God is certainly concerned with our thought patterns. You see, the mind has always been more important to God than our outward actions. Most of us, at times, are satisfied if we appease the expectations of society and the requirements of God by our outer, visible actions. However, we must understand that God looks on the inner part of man as well as the outer part of man. In (1 Sam. 16:7), God said, as early as Samuel's day, that "man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." In other words, God looks at the mind.
2. AS A CHRISTIAN, DO YOU EXPERIENCE EVIL THOUGHTS (MARK 7:21)?
n Since we live in a sinful and negative world that is constantly bombarding us with unwholesome ideas, we do experience evil thoughts.
How often do you experience unwholesome thoughts?
Can Satan plant evil thoughts?
§ Yes. In (1 Chronicles 21), David took a census of Israel even though God did not advise him to do so. And because he did that, God sent a plague on Israel and 70,000 men died. -- Why did David take an unauthorized census? Where did he get the idea to do that? (1 Chron. 21:1) "Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel." Incited means to "stimulate or entice.” In other words, Satan planted a thought in David’s mind to do something that God did not approve of.
n In (Mt. 16:22), Peter rebuked Jesus for revealing that He must go to Jerusalem and be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Who incited Peter to discourage Jesus from going to the cross? Satan! (Mt. 16:22) Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Jesus knew that Satan was the one who planted the thought in Peter’s mind, which was designed to hinder Jesus from fulfilling His mission on the cross.
n Ananias and Sapphira, who were believers (v. 32), sold a piece of property to give to the apostles. However, before they gave the money, they decided to keep some of it for themselves. Because they lied to Spirit, and kept some of the money, they died. Where in the world did they get the idea to lie to the Spirit and keep some of the money? Satan! (Acts 5:3) Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart.”
n It is obvious from examining these passages that Satan can plant misleading thoughts in our minds. He entices us to do things that are contrary to the will of God. He is constantly planting evil thoughts in our minds hoping that we will meditate on them. Satan knows that if he can get our attention for five seconds with an evil or sinful thought, he may have our mind for five minutes. And the longer we entertain a poisonous desire, the longer we sin against God.
List some evil or misleading thoughts that Satan may throw your way?
n You don't need to go to church in order to be saved. All church people are hypocrites anyhow.
n You don't need to be baptized to be saved.
n It's all right to cheat on your spouse; no one will ever find out.
n During our anger, Satan tells us, "Go ahead get revenge."
n Your not a good Christian, look at all of the evil thoughts you have; you might as well give up on your faith, for God will never save a person like you.
3. HOW DO WE OBTAIN A HOLIER AND PURER MIND-SET?
TO HAVE A PURER AND HOLIER MIND-SET, WE MUST FIRST PURGE SIN FROM OUR LIVES.
§ According to an October 29, 1994, news story, a Chinese woman named Zhang Meihua began to suffer mysterious symptoms when she turned twenty. She was losing the ability to move her legs and arms. Doctors could not find the cause, and the symptoms continued. Two decades passed, and Zhang began to also suffer from chronic headaches. Again she sought help from the doctors. This time a CAT scan and an X-ray found the source of the woman's mysterious symptoms. A rusty pin was lodged in her head. The head of the pin was outside the skull, and the shaft penetrated into her brain. Doctors performed surgery and successfully extracted the pin. The news agency reported the doctors expressed amazement that the woman "could live for so long a time with a rusty pin stuck in her brain." After noting the position of the pin in her skull, they speculated that the pin had entered her skull sometime soon after birth and before her skull had hardened. Zhang, now fully recovered, said she "had no memory of being pierced by a pin in the head."
n Like the rusty pin in that woman's brain, sin that is lodge in our lives will cause us to have an unwholesome mind-set. "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled" (Tit. 1:15 NAS). If we allow sin to reign in our lives, then we will have a corrupted mind. Sin influences the way we think. Before we can have a purer and holier mind-set, we must purge sin from our lives.
SECOND, TO HAVE A PURER AND HOLIER MIND-SET, WE MUST GET RID OF UNWHOLESOME THOUGHTS AND REPLACE THEM WITH GOOD THOUGHTS.
§ "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Phil. 4:8). Paul is telling us that if we want a good, healthy mind-set, we must program our minds with thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. If we feed our minds with good things, we will have good thoughts.
§ Brethren, we are in a war--a battle of the mind. Every day we must fight off our evil thoughts and desires and focus on pure and wholesome thoughts. We must do what (2 Cor. 10:5) tells us to do: "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." In another words, the next time an unwholesome thought enters your mind, don't entertain it, don't delight in it, instead, immediately get rid of it and replace it with something pleasant and wholesome. Replace it with a godly thought.
§ In the early morning darkness of January 8, 1991, an Iraqi Scud missile streaked high over the Saudi Arabian desert, bound for the coalition forces allied against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But as the Scud raced across the night sky, it was fixed in the invisible spotlight of American radar. Sent rushing up to meet it was a 17- foot-long rocket called the Patriot. Three miles above the earth, the Patriot destroyed the Scud in an immense orange fireball. American forces also have stealth bombers that can evade enemy radar and smart bombs that hit their targets with pinpoint accuracy. But for all of our technology, we haven't a single military weapon that can destroy an evil thought before it penetrates the human heart.
§ Thankfully, God has given us weapon to defeat evil thoughts. The weapon He has given us is not called a "Patriot" missile. It is called the "No" missal. Every time an evil thought or evil desire penetrates through to our minds, we send the "No" missal to destroy it. The only thing we can do when an unwholesome thought enters our minds, is tell it "No" you are not welcomed here in God's temple. And then replace that negative thought with a good one.
LASTLY, TO HAVE A PURER AND HOLIER MIND-SET, WE MUST SET OUR MINDS ON SPIRITUAL THINGS.
§ "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:1-4).
§ As a young boy, I would sometimes go with my father and brother to a near by pond to hunt frogs. While stalking those green lepers, I was unaware of their unique visual powers, which enabled them to elude me so easily. Later I heard that the frog's optical field of perception is like a blackboard wiped clean, and that the only images it receives are objects that directly concern him -- such as his natural enemies or the food he needs for survival. Therefore these little creatures are never distracted by unimportant things, but are aware only of essentials and whatever may be dangerous to them.
§ I think we can learn a spiritual lesson from my froggiggen experience. In the Christian life we frequently become preoccupied with the vain things of the world. We allow our lives to become so cluttered with worldly things and thoughts that we lose our spiritual perspective. As Christians, we must start concentrating more on the eternal rather than the temporal. We must stop flooding our minds with earthly concerns, and start flooding our minds with spiritual concerns. We need to be like frogs who are only aware of the essential parts of life.
§ If we can start concentrating more on the spiritual sides of life, I guarantee you that our minds will be much purer in the sight of God.
1. What we think about is very important to God.
2. I hope and pray that our minds stay focused upon Christ and spiritual living.
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