As we set our minds and hearts upon the risen Lord and the Truth revealed in His Word, He transforms us to reflect His character through His Holy Spirit in us. We see this throughout the teachings of Jesus, the Word made flesh. For example, in John 15:4, He says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me.” Our ability to bear the fruit of God’s Kingdom comes about through the work of God’s Spirit in us as we abide [that is, rest] in Christ.
However, in many ways, the vine is not our natural habitat. A look at the headlines will show that we live in a world set against Christ, so if we are to rest in Him, we must know Him intimately. Discipleship must engage our minds with the powerful truth of God, lest we be driven by our emotions or the most recent practical trends to the neglect of biblical Truth. After all, the most practical thing one can do to accelerate our walk with God is to become grounded in the Word of God, because the Scriptures are where we see God’s character most clearly and receive our spiritual nourishment most abundantly.
Renewing your mind is a significant theme throughout Paul’s writings.
Romans 8:5-7, 9 – “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. … You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.”
Did you catch that we live by what we set our minds on? This is a principle that the Apostle Paul talks about in several other places as well:
Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
While the Spirit renews our minds, we have a role to play as well. The process of spiritual maturation is not passive. If we want to engage in the spiritual battle against sin and injustice, then we have to start with having a biblical knowledge of who God is and what pleases Him (theology is simply "the study of God's nature"). Then we will know what thoughts are obedient to Christ; then we will be able to test and approve God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.
The sum of the Christian life is not simply head knowledge of the things of God, but trusting Him does start with knowledge of Him. We all have a belief about God out of which we operate, a belief that deeply influences our thoughts and behaviors. So the question we should be asking is, "Is my belief about God biblical? Is my theology aligned with what God has revealed to us in writing and on the cross?" False or distorted theology will quickly fall by the wayside when crisis hits, adding extra burden and grief to the crisis because we feel that God has failed us. But true theology will give hope and light to dark places as we learn to walk with our Savior because He is worthy of our trust.
Many of us long in our hearts to learn to interpret and apply Scripture in the way God intends it, but we lack the discipline, resources, and guidance to do the study, research, and meditation on God’s Word that is required for us to deepen our knowledge of Him. The more our own knowledge of Him is deepened, the more able we are to minister to others out of an overflow of our love for Him.
As we renew our minds together through studying God’s Word and learning from the wisdom of more mature Believers, we grow exponentially in this process of becoming equipped leaders of God’s people. As we set our minds and hearts upon the risen Lord and the Truth revealed in His Word, He transforms us to reflect His character through His Holy Spirit in us. We see this throughout the teachings of Jesus, the Word made flesh. For example, in John 15:4, He says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
Our ability to bear the fruit of God’s Kingdom comes about through the work of God’s Spirit in us as we abide [that is, rest] in Christ.