When I was working at putting off my sinful anger a few years ago, I was taught these three steps of repentance. The most powerful for me was this step. This one step changed my attitude to this sin and allowed me to put to death the sin that was in me. I continue to return to this one step whenever I have problems with anger. This is the most powerful thing we can do for repentance: think God’s thoughts after Him.
What the Bible says about our mind
We can assume that we already recognize our need to change our heart about something (we’ve already determined to put off our sin), and we’ve seen that we are still dependent on the Holy Spirit to help us repent, but what more can we do to be able to complete our repentance? Here’s some important passages in this respect:
- Set your mind on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:2).
- Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, etc, think on these things (Phil 4:8).
- This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night (Josh 1:8).
- Blessed is the man [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night (Ps 1:1-2).
- Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Eph 4:23).
Obviously the Lord commands us to intentionally focus our mind, or meditate on what God has said in His law, and in the New Testament writings (Col 3:2, Phil 4:8). But Psalm 1:1-2 provides a benefit, that the one who does this is blessed (or happy). Joshua 1:8 elaborates, explaining that meditation on God’s word leads us to be careful to do what it says, and this in turn leads us to biblical prosperity and success. Psalm 1 also explains that the one who meditates on the Law day and night prospers “in all he does.”
The mind and its path to happiness
Psalm 19 gives us a number of other things that the word of God does for us, if we meditate on it. It revives our soul (Ps 19:7), it makes us wise (v8), it rejoices our heart and enlightens our eyes (v9). Because of these benefits, the word of God is to be desired more than gold, and they are sweeter than honey (Ps 19:10). Then the psalmist reaffirms that there is “great reward” in obedience (Ps 10:11).
From all this we see that the Bible affirms that happiness accompanies spiritual success and prosperity. This spiritual prosperity depends upon obedience and obedience comes from having our mind focused on what God says in His word. Or to trace it the other way, thinking about and meditating on God’s word will transform us (Rom 12:2a) by making us careful to do His will (Josh 1:8), which will allow us to test and approve of the will of God (Rom 12:2b), leading to delight in what God has said (Ps 1:2) resulting in happiness (Ps 1:1) and great reward (Ps 19:11).[shareable]Spiritual prosperity depends upon obedience and obedience comes from having our mind focused on what God says in His word.[/shareable]
Our part and our need
So, we are to be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph 4:23) in order to be transformed. Or to put it more plainly, repentance requires us to be renewed in our thinking about our heart and our actions. Notice that we are not to renew ourselves, but to “be renewed.” The phrase assumes someone is acting on us. This renewal is the work of the Holy Spirit as He illuminates His word to us. We don’t do this, He does it. Therefore, He acts on us and we need Him to do this.
But we also have a part. For the Lord to be able to do renew us and transform us, we need to be have His word in our mind. There are several ways to do this but the Bible provides two key ways: 1) meditate on the word of God and 2) read the word of God. These are large areas which we will consider a little later. For the moment, let’s consider how we can help this process by considering what our reading and memorization might tell us about specific sin we are working on.
Specific questions to consider
When we consider specific sin that we may be already convicted of and that we want to put off, there are certain questions we can ask that will help us grow in our appreciation of this sin.
The purpose of these questions is to help us grow our fear of God and our recognition of the sinfulness of sin. Ultimately the more the answers to these questions grip us, the smallest element of this sin or corruption that we detect in ourselves will become detestable
- What does God say about this sin?
- How does he describe those who sin in this way?
- What feelings does He have toward those who do this?
- What end will those who commit this sin have? Eternal? In this life?
- What examples does scripture give us of those who had this sin? What happened to them? Why?
Second, work to understand what instruction God gives those who are caught in this sin.
- What will please the Lord (2 Cor 5:9)?
- What instructions does the Bible give to those in this sin?
- Did anyone in scripture overcome this sin? How did they do it?
After you’ve done a study around these things, you’ll probably have one or two verses (perhaps more) that will stand out as particularly powerful to you. Take these verses and memorize them. Meditate on them and let the Lord continue to use them to change you as He applies it to your life.
This series of exercises is intended to set your thinking about this particular issue so that you think in accordance with what God thinks. If you’ve already resolved to put this sin behind you, you’ll find that knowing and thinking what God thinks is a powerful way to work with the Holy Spirit as He brings repentance and change to your life.[shareable]Knowing and thinking what God thinks is a powerful way to work with the Holy Spirit as He brings repentance and change to your life.[/shareable]
Finally, Use these truths to fuel your prayer life. When you see evil in yourself, confess it to the Lord. When you see good, thank Him for the work He is doing. When you understand something, give thanks for His illumination. As you do, you’ll find yourselves working out your salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is the Lord who is at work in you.
[reminder]What is the most transforming thought you’ve had?[/reminder]