pastorway November 26th, 2010
Paul told us in Ephesians 4 that we are not to walk like “the Gentiles” (ie. those without Christ) walk but are instead to walk in a manner that is fitting for saints. We are to walk like we have heard and learned the truth from Jesus. This means that as we come to faith in Christ we must first repent. We must put off our former way of life, turning from our sin and turning to Christ in faith.
Continuing on with that theme here in verse 23, Paul tells us that after we put off that former conduct, our “old man” that only grows more and more corrupt, then we are to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” This is a rich verse so we will take a few minutes today to take it apart, looking at the two phrases he uses.
Notice he does not say “act renewed.” It is not a command to learn about renewal or to start a renewal ministry or to find the secret of renewal. No. He says, be renenwed. And the way he says it the reader should already know how to be renewed and that their duty then is to actually “be renewed.”
When the Holy Spirit regenerates us we are indeed “born again.” Now we understand that when we repent and believe in Christ it is because we have been made a new creation. There is renewal. But being renewed in the spirit of our mind is not a one time act of renewal as when we are born again. This word means that from the time we repent and put on the new man (Eph 4:24), continuing through the rest of our life we are being renewed. It is the renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) as an ongoing part of the new walk of the new man in this new life.
So the Holy Spirit continually renews and refreshes us. But how? The Word of God read, heard, obeyed, memorized, and meditated upon is the tool that the Holy Spirit uses to renew us and conform us to the image of Christ. As we are renewed we are indeed transformed (Rom 12:1-2) and as we are transformed our lives prove that God’s will is perfect, acceptable, and holy.
Do you need reviving? Do you need to rekindle your love for Christ? Do you need to grow in grace and get beyond a dry stagnant place in your walk with Christ?
Get into the Word!
Is it that simple? Yes. It really is.
At times when things are dry and it seems as though God does not hear our prayers or care about us – during those times we often are fooled and deceived into thinking that the Word of God is dry we do not pick it up and read it. We fail to understand that the Word of God is alive, active, powerful, effective, and sufficient. Don’t believe me? Try me! The next time you find yourself in that place of spiritual barrenness – read your Bible. Anywhere. Just pick a book or chapter and read it. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind to the truth and just read.
The truth is that we cannot read the Word of God and remain the same. The Word in the hands of the Spirit is used to bring about a continuing renewal. And we all know that we need renewal as often as the Spirit will renew us.
In the Spirit of Your Mind
The second phrase in verse 23 tells us where we are to continually be renewed. In the spirit of our mind. Okay. What is that? Our spirit? Our soul? Our mind? What exactly is “the spirit of your mind.”
This is a phrase that refers to the inner man, the very deepest part of who we are that determines how we think and what we do. This is our heart of hearts. And this is what is renewed day by day through the power of the Spirit applying the Word to our lives.
This deepest part of who we are must be renewed. True saving faith and repentance will be followed with this ongoing renewal which in fact began when we put on the new man. It must continue, for who we are, the spirit of our mind, is still embodied in this fallen flesh. And while the spirit wars against the flesh and the flesh against the spirit it is here in the spirit of our mind that we will win or lose the battle. For the spirit of our mind is that inner man, that part of us that determines what it is that we want (desire) and therefore what we do. Our motives and desires flow from the spirit of our mind.
How interesting then that the contrast here in these verses is that of the difference between how those with and without Christ walk. The lost man walks in the futility of his mind. The repenter walks with the spirit of his mind being renewed over and over again!
Where before we were unable to desire and do what was pleasing to God, now with the Spirit’s help we are in our very inner man motivated and empowered to both want to do what is right, and to do it. We now have a moral capability that before we did not. Whereas we were dead in sin now we are alive to God. Where we were ambivalently apathetic toward righteousness now righteousness is what we crave as though it were as necessary for life as hunger or thirst.
Interesting also that the very thing that the Spirit uses to call us to this new life is what He uses to continually renew us in our inner man. The “gospel” is “the power of God to salvation.” The Word of God cleanses us, sanctifies us, renews us, transforms us, convicts us, breaks us, motivates us, and empowers us. The Word never returns void. It always accomplishes the purposes for which God sends it forth. The written Word of God presents and reveals to us the Living Word of God.
Jesus once rebuked the Pharisees saying that they searched the Scriptures for law after law to obey so that they might be saved, but He said of the Scriptures, “they testify of Me” (John 5:39). The Word does not give us eternal life through a system of obedience and good works. No. It is used by the Spirit to prove that we cannot save ourselves, that we need a Savior, and that that Savior is Jesus Christ! The Word in the hands of the Spirit calls us to Christ.
No wonder then that the devil started in the garden by casting doubt on the Word of God. “Did God really say?” Do not underestimate the Word of God!
So as we repent and believe in Him we enter that continuing process of being renewed over and over again until the final redemption of our bodies at our glorification. This renewal continues until our salvation is complete. Of course, in God’s eyes it is complete, for Jesus declared from the cross, “It is finished.” He even refers to glorification in the past tense in Romans 8:30. But for us this must be worked out in time. And the way that it is worked out is through our sanctification. It is through the Spirit renewing and transforming us daily to the image of Christ.
So the secret is out – if we want to be renewed we must only pick up and read our Bibles, with the mindset to hear and do what it says. How many self help books can we toss out now? Is it really that simple? Yes it is. Paul tells us as simply as he is able by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”