Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could understand God’s mind concerning any problem or concerning the solution to a problem.
Let us turn to the Word of God in Romans 12:2. Here the Holy Spirit is speaking to our hearts, and I want you to listen very carefully – God is trying to speak to your heart ;‘‘Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.’’ We see here that God wants us to be transformed inwardly. He is speaking here about the renewing of our mind. We have considered, in one of the earlier studies, referring to Genesis 1, how the Word of God and the Holy Spirit moved over the chaotic earth and,how out of that chaotic situation produced order, form, beauty, light and every good thing until, at the end, God Himself could say, ‘this is excellent, this is very good’ (Gen. 1:26).
Do you know that is just a faint picture of what God wants to do in our life also; to take our chaotic, formless, and dark life and allow the Holy Spirit to work upon us; let the Word of God sink into us and change us inwardly so much that, at the end, He can look into our lives and say, ‘excellent’. In other words, we, who were such wretched, corrupt, and sinful creatures, full of bitterness, envy, and evil in so many forms, are so radically transformed by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit that we begin to manifest the nature of Christ Himself. That is the meaning of renewing of our minds. To put it in another way, God wants our mind to begin to think the ways He thinks.
When our minds are not renewed, even if we are born again and have our sins forgiven, we may still think the way worldly people think. Unfortunately this is true with a lot of believers, because they don’t grow. Their minds think exactly like the people in the world concerning money, pretty women, property, concerning position andhonour, and the way they look at their enemies and everything else. But God uses all these things in a different way.
What does it mean to be transformed? It means to be changed into the likeness of Christ. Where does it take place? It doesn’t take place in our physical appearance. God is not in the business of physically making us look like Jesus. That would be of no use. He is in the business of changing our inner character and life into the likeness of Christ.How does it happen? He does it through renewing our mind – changing our way of thinking. He makes us think the way He thinks through the Word of God.
In the Bible we have God’s way of thinking. If you want to know God’s way of thinking, read the Bible. If you want to know what God thinks of money, what God thinks of adultery, theft, cheating others, jealousy, selfishness or unselfishness, humility or pride, or any matter, just read the Bible. The answer is there. When Jesus came to earth, He was called the Word of God. We are told the Word became flesh.This means that if you want to know what God thinks about anything, about any subject, you got to look at the life of Jesus and you will have the answer!
There the Word of God is not just in a written form but manifested in human form as well. This is the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, they had God’s Word in the written form. There were the Ten Commandments written on two pieces of rock and there was The Law written on many scrolls of parchment. But when Jesus came, we had the Word of God in human form. It is much easier to read the Word of God in human form than it is to read the Word of God in a scroll of parchment or a book.
God wants to make each one of us demonstrations of the Word of God written in human form. How does that happen? – Through God renewing our way of thinking, so that we begin to think like He thinks. When we begin to think like He thinks, we begin to act like He would act. You see, our whole inner life controls our external behaviour, and that is why God’s Word says, ‘Don’t be conformed to the world.’
Now when we are born into the world, as little babies, we have no particular way of thinking. A new born baby is not worldly because it doesn’t have a worldly way of thinking – it is just born. But, as it grows, its nature develops – that evil corrupt nature it has inherited from Adam grows seeing the world around it; in the way people live selfishly; the way we are surrounded by people who tell lies. As that baby develops, its way of thinking becomes exactly like everybody else in the world; selfish, seeking its own, proud, arrogant, jealous of others who are better, and so many things like that. Therefore it harms others, hurts others.
But when Christ comes in, His desire for the born again believer is to change all that. A new birth is like a baby being born all over again. Now we should allow this new life to develop and take over our way of thinking so that we begin to think like God thinks. Gradually, as we allow our thinking – the patterns of thinking to change, we will find that, when we face life situations we know God’s answer to those problems.
Now, when you come to a crisis situation in your life, and you say ‘Oh God what shall I do, I want to know your will.’ You have come to a crossroad in life. You have to take this decision or that decision, but you don’t know what to do. Well, here it says in Romans 12:2 we can know God’s will in such a situation. Now if, during the years preceding your coming to that crossroad or that crisis, you had allowed the Holy Spirit through God’s word to change your way of thinking, at that crisis point in your life you will be able to ‘‘prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God’’(Rom. 12:2). But, if you had been a careless Christian and you had not cared to let the way of God change your way of thinking, you are going to come to that crisis in your life and not know what to do. You will have to run to some older godly brother asking for advice and maybe he can give you good advice.
But do you know that is the Old Testament way? In the Old Testament the only man who knew God’s will was the prophet, if he was a true prophet. They were very rare and sometimes, for centuries on end,there would be no true prophet. But if there happened to be a true prophet around, you will have to go to him and ask what to do in a particular situation. Even the kings had to go to the prophets. Then the prophet will find God’s will and tell the king or you, if you had asked him.
In the New Testament, the Bible says, ‘You don’t have to teach everyone his fellow citizens, saying, ‘Know the Lord’, because all will know me personally, from the least to the greatest’’ (Heb. 8:11). So one of the privileges we have (because the Holy Spirit, God Himself has now come to dwell in our hearts) is that from within we can know the mind of God without going to a prophet. You don’t have to go to a prophet now, or a pastor, or an elder to find the will of God. We see from Romans 12:2 that ‘If your mind is renewed, you can prove the will of God yourself.’ This is wonderful. You can have a direct hotline with God – a direct connection with God Himself.
It is very important that you don’t wait until a crisis comes before you begin to seek God. Some believers turn to God only when there is a crisis. And when things start to go smoothly they forget all about maintaining a close walk with God until the next crisis. Again they turn to God. Well, such believers are not going to grow. Whether there is a crisis or not, whether there are problems or not, we should develop this habit of opening our mind to be influenced by the teachings of God’s word, particularly from the New Testament.Then we begin to understand how God thinks, what God’s attitude towards different things is.
The Bible says we need to meditate on His Word. We also look at the life of Jesus Christ where that Word of God was demonstrated in human form. So, if we allow the Holy Spirit to show us, from the Scriptures, the beauty and glory of Jesus and the way He lived on earth, then we will have an understanding of what God is like. The Bible says that one of the purposes with which Jesus came to the earth was to explain the Father (Jn. 1:18). So, when you look at the life of Jesus Christ, you know what God the Father is like. When you read the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit shows us how Jesus lived, how Jesus reacted to different situations, how Jesus behaved in different circumstances and, gradually, we get that explanation in our own mind of what God is like. This way the Holy Spirit changes our way of thinking, if we submit to Him.
Gradually, the sinful person that you and I are, get changed into the likeness of Christ. Then, one day, when we face a crisis, when we come into a particular problem, we know almost immediately how Jesus would react here, how Jesus would behave, what decision Jesus would take. Then we take the same decision, and it is going to be right.
I want to invite you, if you have never done it before, from today to develop a habit of opening your mind to read God’s Word and meditate on it, allowing the Holy Spirit to show you the glory of Jesus in the Scripture, so that you can see how He reacted to situations, how He behaved towards His enemies, how He behaved towards people, how He conducted Himself. Pray saying, ‘Spirit of God, change me into that likeness.’ Then you will find the will of God in different situations without having to go to a prophet or a pastor.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.