I wish I could tell you that when you accept Christ as your Savior and Lord, that becoming a new creature means that your old ways of thinking and reacting and responding are instantly transformed. I wish I could tell you that if you have someone lay hands on you and pray for you that you will never again struggle with thoughts of worry, fear, doubt and unbelief, or selfishness, the default thought pattern of all human beings. Unfortunately, I've never seen it happen that way, leaving many new Christians feeling defeated and frustrated that they still struggle with their old ways after being born again.
When you are born again, the Word of God says that you are a new creation in Christ Jesus. We all know that nothing about your physical appearance instantly changes. You aren't suddenly thirty pounds lighter or free of all blemishes and scars. Obviously, we are not yet given new bodies. Likewise, our old way of thinking is not instantly transformed. The scripture has many verses that talk about the necessity of the soul, (mind, will and emotions), being restored, and the mind being renewed. (Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].) The scripture also tells us that the tool that the Holy Spirit uses to transform and renew us is the Word of God. (So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.)
Let's liken the salvation experience to getting a new computer, the latest, newest and fastest one on the market. The problem is, it's still loaded with old software. That's like you and me. We receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, yet we are still loaded with all the old ways of thinking and all of the old memories and experiences of our old life. The rest of our life we will be cooperating with the work of God through His Word to become transformed and renewed in our mind, will and emotions.
How does it work? Let's liken the renewing the mind process to changing a baby's diaper. What happens first? You notice that the diaper needs changed. Maybe you smell the evidence that the diaper needs changed. The same thing happens when you read God's Word. Eventually, something in the Word will reveal to you that you have some "stinking thinking". So, step one is, to recognize that God's Word is right and your way of thinking needs changing. It would make no sense to put a clean diaper right over a dirty diaper would it? Neither does it make sense to add the truth of God's Word on top of your old messed up way of thinking. Step two is to take off the old way of thinking. The Bible talks about taking off the old nature. There's a third step before you're ready to put on the new nature, the clean diaper, the new way of right, godly thinking. You can't just take off the dirty diaper and put on the clean one without washing the baby up. So it goes with your old ways of thinking. Step three is to bathe your mind in the Word. Got a fear problem? Wash in scriptures that tell you how to deal with fear. Are thoughts of unforgiveness, anger and bitterness tormenting you? Look up each of those words in a concordance and wash your mind in what God says about these things. Is our old nemesis, selfishness, troubling you? What does the Word of God say should be our attitude toward self? Taking the baby diapering analogy to the extreme, there are some issues that a quick swoosh with the baby wipe is all it takes, but other times the baby needs a whole bath. There have been old ways of habitually thinking that I've had to wash again and again and again in the Word and that I still have to deal with from time to time. Step four is to put on the new way of thinking, to receive the truth of God's Word in place of your wrong ways of thinking, to receive the mind of Christ. (Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion;And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another.)
Is this a once and for all process? No, it's a lifelong process. As long as you are in this world you will be living with the limits of this physical body, and as long as you are in this world you will also be having to cooperate with God and His Word in the renewing of your mind. But, you will notice change! You will start to see that fear no longer has the hold on you it used to have. You will notice that your first reaction to a frustrating circumstance is no longer one of negativity and defeat. You may even notice yourself being a bit more concerned about others and a bit less concerned about yourself! Yes, you will start seeing victory in areas you never thought you could change. But, the key to it all is, you've got to embrace, love, read and study the Word of God. It's the supernatural cleansing agent that God uses in this transformation process. Without it, it is impossible to renew the mind and restore the soul, but with it, you will start to notice that God's peace is ruling in your life more and more as your mind comes into agreement with His truth.
But, I struggle to read the Word, to understand it, to really love it, you may be thinking. Can I pray with you? God is willing and able to help you. Just leave me a comment.
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