Do you identify yourself as a Christian? OR Rather do you identify yourself to Christianity?
Every December when you come close to another year, comes out many lists from your conscious and probably sub-conscious mind!
Rom.12:2 : “Do not conform any longer….BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind.”
We have probably heard this quite a lot. Ever since I was a teenager this verse was such a nightmare for me- it used to plunge me into more despair and discouragement because I could never stop conforming. So that meant I could not see any big change inside of me, even after all my spiritual experiences.
2 Cor.5:17 would make no sense to me, because I am still experiencing anger (if not worsen), lust, shyness to share the gospel of Christ, boredom in prayer-time, super-interest while reading or watching fiction stories/movies & playing sport games; difficulty in maintaining ‘Daily Quiet Time’, unable to smile during odd/tough situations, no joy seeing my neighbour blessed more, panic when my savings account balance is dried by mid-month, no ‘over-flowing offerings’ to donate to church/charity, etc to name just a few. So am I not that kind of ‘carnal believer’ still? The only evident changes I sensed in my ‘renewed’ Christian life was like I myself changed my name, sang harmony parts, could lead singing with some music, could speak ‘new tongues’ often, began seeing some visions, prophetical words, scarcely some supernatural goose-bumps giving spiritual experiences. But inside of me there was still the same struggles going on and most dangerously I began the art of ‘Playing church’ or spiritual activities- thus birthing hypocrisy.
I tell you from my experiences, this is the very danger you may have to go through, especially if you are part of a Pentecostal/ Charismatic/ New-generation local church. You can never stay normal because it will amount to ‘lukewarm experience.’ You’ve either got to be among the super-spiritual believers/worship-team/leadership circle or else you are the ‘backslidden doomed lot’. In the latter case then you will feel every sermon points, exhortations were aimed at you from the pulpit or fellow-members even.
I could only hear “be renewed, be changed and be transformed” “DO this… DON’T ever do that…” from the pulpits, but How to get it practically done or its dynamics was never clearly taught. So now where lays the real solution? “So the proportionate solution might be like 60:40 between me & God i.e. majority I have to rectify and then rest God will take care of!” (Ratio subject to change from time to circumstances) And innumerable times I have cycled in the route of conviction, guilt-trip (self-pity), confession and ‘resolutions’. This was my Christian journey till I recently heard a man of God regarding the briefing of a certain verse.
Eph. 4:23 (KJV) and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, which means there’s a spirit (Gk-pneuma) to your mind (Gk-nooce)or in other words a Spirit which controls your mind.
So the real issue is TO BE RENEWED (Gk: anan-nehoo) IN THE SPIRIT OF MY MIND; which is equivalent to a renovation/ complete change in The Spirit person in MY MIND.
To make it moreclear, the man of God said INSTEAD OF REPLACING THE TO-DO LIST, I NEED A CHANGE IN THE SPIRIT PERSON WHO IS IMPLEMENTING THE LIST. Simply put, I did not need another new list of ‘holy things’ to do for RENEWING my mind, but I needed a New Mind Spirit Himself and the list would follow in place by itself then.
A change in the administrator, instead of adding up instructions/resolutions.
If the power of attorney transfer has not happened in the MIND level, I will continue in the darkness of ignorance because my decision-making ‘person’ has not changed and is still in the former state of affairs i.e. Ignorance of God (darkened understanding) because the heart is still hardened (the head-office of spiritual living). Eph.4:18 says “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”
Ignorance of what? NO! It is rather an ignorance of whom? If you are ignorant of the person, it is blinding your understanding (reasoning) of who should be in control, and leads to follow the vanity of mind. 1 Peter 1:13-14 says “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”
Our dark blinded human Spirit as said in Ephesians cannot know the Holy God. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21. So as a ‘Christian’, do you know the person of Christ well enough to follow Him & glorify Him 24/7? If not, what you glorify is NOT CHRIST, but just another religious philosophy (e.g.-Christianity)!
You cannot replace a person with a list of his/her!
Peter was an emotional and impulsive man. John 18:10-11 proves that even after being with Master Jesus for three and half years and in spite of warning from the Lord (Matt.26:41) even that very night also – he attempted for murder and went on to deny Jesus. Later he went back to fishing (I have heard many say of it as ‘back-sliding’, even though I don’t see any proof for it in the following verses!)
John 21:3-19 mentions a personal breakfast encounter of Jesus with Peter. Early that morning after a hard night of futile toil, the moment when Peter hears Jesus has come, he did not think twice to dive into the water to meet him first! How could he do that? Should not he have reserved himself with guilt & remorse as unworthy before the Lord? Jesus goes on to reveal his true identity as Ma-Peshach (‘I am Passover’- numerical value by the 153 fishes he gave them) to the disciples. After they ate the tasty breakfast Jesus prepared for them, He asks Peter 3 times “Do you love me?” but the third time the word used by Jesus, as in Greek, is Phileo (meaning to be a friend to or to be fond of personal attachment). Peter was hurt at hearing that, and replies “you have become acquainted OR you have come to know (a same Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse) that I phileo you.” Jesus foretells him later of the kind of death Peter will have to go through in his old age and then says “Follow me.”
This is the same Peter who becomes the key apostle, full of passion so willing to suffer for the Lord as you read 1 Peter 4:12-14. After being imprisoned several times in Jerusalem it is said in history that Peter and his wife with some others left to Babylon and ministered in the Jewish colonies there (where 1 Peter epistle was written). Eventually he went to Rome, where John Mark served as his translator. While there during the mad fury of Emperor Nero against Christians, Peter was also arrested. Concerning his last hours it is said that Peter when seeing his own wife being led out to die before him, rejoiced at her summons to the eternal home and called out to her by name and shouted “O thou, remember the Lord”. Historian Jowett wrote that Peter was cast out in a horrible dungeon in Rome called Mamertine for 9 months in utter darkness, manacled to a post. In spite of this, he converted his jailers Processus & Martinius and 47 others there. Origen , Tertullian and church historians state that he was dressed in a prison garb when he was led to execution to be crucified, where he said he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same way his master Lord Jesus was, so he pleaded to be crucified upside down in present Vatican Circus in February 22, AD 68 possibly (Ref. www.hope-of-israel.org/petdeath.htm)
So, what led him to this kind of a Transformation? Was it a rebuking exhortation and a new ‘To-do list’ given by Jesus at the breakfast encounter?
Titus 3:4-6 “But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, NOT because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
SANCTIFICATION AND RENEWAL– we see both are not done by ourselves, but by the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect [Or contemplate] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Not by enforcing another to-do list! It should happen by itself when i turn to my lord and seek to know him more by love daily, with the help of the holy spirit. Yes, I do not deny the need for good works, but it should come as a result of my renewed mind, or else I will not have offered a pleasing sacrifice by it because it did not follow the perfect will of God, therefore I lose my reward at the end of the day.
Galatians 5:16 “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
This is why you and I need the person of Holy Spirit to RENEW THE SPIRIT OF MY MIND DAILY. UNLESS I CO-OPERATE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR IT, HE CANNOT DO IT EITHER! That is the importance of a person rather than a thing (list of things), as only a person can help you TO CHANGE (e.g.- I have never heard of the ability of a university syllabus renewing any student daily, but I have heard of a good teacher able to do so!) Only the Holy Spirit can reveal and take you closer to the person of Jesus Christ to KNOW Him better. John 16:15 “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you”.
So, unless I know the person (Jesus Christ, instead of a list-of-holy things), I cannot love him better. Unless I love him better, I will not allow him (or anyone else) to change my life (i.e.-transformation by renewal of mind).
“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” This is how Jesus concludes his last prayer with His disciples before His arrest. Does it not speak something important?
If you are still feeling insensitive even after reading this, don’t yet worry. THERE IS STILL ROOM FOR HOPE. Just pray to the Father to do a deep-heart surgery within you- “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezek. 36: 26, 27). Just desire for the most crucial person of the Holy Spirit in your life now, while there is still time & grace available to you at the foot of that glorious Cross and cry out “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
PRAISE BE TO THE ALMIGHTY WHO HAS OFFERED ME HIMSELF TO RENEW ME AND TRANSFROM ME TO HIS GLORIOUS IMAGE! O HOW I LOVE JESUS!