The Cross and Mind Renewal
Someone once asked, “Why didn’t the cross of Jesus take care of the impurities in our faith and renew our minds as it did with our hearts?” After all, Scripture states, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). So then, why weren’t our minds also made new?
The reason for this is simple. Through Christ I am a new creation—that is, my inner man. However, my thoughts and beliefs are not. I am a spirit person that uses my thoughts and beliefs as knowledge to live life and navigate from point to point, but I am not my beliefs or thoughts. I (the inner person) was made new in Christ, but my thinking was not.
The Non-redeemable Body
Not only are our thoughts and beliefs not who we are, were are not our bodies either. Our mind is being renewed with the truth, and we have a hope for a new glorified body, but the current body is non-redeemable and corrupt and will be replaced with the “imperishable” for “… this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). We (our new inner selves) were made new, but much of what we believed was unchanged and our body is destined to return to dust.
So we see that we hold our beliefs in our minds intellectually and with our hearts (when it comes to faith or heart belief), but we are not made up of what we believe or think. Our belief or thinking does not determine who we are. We are who God has made us whether we believe it or not. Our thinking has great bearing on how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us, including God, but this belief is not who we are.
When we came to Christ in faith, we—our spiritual beings—were made new; however, the death and resurrection of Christ did not change our belief or thinking as was our inner man changed. Our spirit was made brand new, but our mental faculties and all that it contained remained basically the same. On this side of the cross, we are new creatures destined to “…walk in a new way of life…” (Rom. 6:4) while our minds are being renewed and brought into alignment with the newness that has already occurred in our new selves.
What’s in Your Luggage?
Think of it this way. Our beliefs and thinking are like the luggage we are carrying with us on our life journey. Our luggage is not who we are, but it plays an important role in what we do and how we make the journey. Also, not all that we have packed in our luggage is needed or even profitable. Much of what we have in our bags are weighing us down and hindering our walk. When we came to Christ, we died with Him and were raised with Him as new creations (Rom. 6:1-10). However, when we were raised up with Christ (Col. 3) and came out of the tomb with Him—for the most part—we brought with us the same luggage we held before our death.
Before Christ, we were dead in our inner man because of sin. However, when Jesus died, we died with Him and died to SIN. Our old self ceased to exist. When Jesus was resurrected “by the power of the Father,” (Rom. 6) we too were raised up with Him and given life. We exchanged death, or our old self in Adam, with life, or our new self in Christ.
Jesus Came to Give Us Life and not to prop us up
Jesus said it clearly when He said, “I have come that you may have LIFE…” (Jo. 10:10). He did not come to encourage us to try harder, prop us up, or help us out. He came to give us life: a new self or a new heart. He gave us life because we were dead. With this life came His indwelling. He chose not only to give us a new heart (new man), but also to live in us by His Spirit.
So then, we are new creatures in Christ. We have passed from death into life. We have been given new hearts in which His Spirit dwells. Without question, some of our thinking changed right up front, but compared to what was left to be changed, it was minuscule for most of us. There is still much in our baggage that needs to be examined and eventually discarded.
Free Will Plays an Important Role
Salvation is different from mind renewal. Salvation occurs in a point in time where “…all things become new…” (Gal. 2:20). Salvation occurs when we believe with the heart that Jesus is the Lord, “…for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:10) When God persuades us of the truth of the Gospel within our hearts we believe. However, mind renewal is different from our inner rebirth, it is about the dispelling of lie-based belief we harbor and exchanging these lies for His truth. This is progressive and on going moment-by-moment throughout our life. Our minds are being renewed where as we are given new life and born of God into a new creation.
Mind renewal is a lie-by-lie and truth-by-truth process. It is also a choice-by-choice process of us exercising our will to position ourselves to receive. It took basically one truth of Jesus as our redemption and were saved and born again into new creatures, we are being transformed in our belief one lie at a time. Salvation occurred in the moment whereas, mind renewal occurs over the lifetime.
When we came to Christ and were born anew in Christ, we “… put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…” (Col.3:10) See the process? We put on the new self -done deal- this new self is being renewed to a true knowledge (on going process) coming into the awareness of the image of the one who created him. In other words, we are born of God and are like him, however, we do not what the truth is concerning this. So we are being renewed in our minds about what is.
The Forming of a Pearl
There is also a growth and maturity process that occurs as we live life and our lie-based belief is made manifest. Because of the painful injustices we experienced through life and the lies we embraced, we later have opportunity to experience Christ in ways we never could have known without the pain. Because we suffer, we get to know Him at a depth we never would have known Him otherwise. The Spirit takes the lies we believe, along with the damage suffered, and transforms them into an “eternal weight of glory…” (2 Cor. 4:17).
You might compare this to the oyster that engulfs a grain of sand. This grain of sand continually irritates him, resulting in the formation of the pearl of great value. Without the grain of sand, the oyster would have lived a life without irritation, but there never would have been a pearl.
Keep it Simple
This is not as hard to understand as it first appears. Jesus’ death made all things new in ME. I became a new creation, new self or new man. Again restating Paul’s words, “… if any man is in Christ, HE is a new creation…” with emphasis on the “he.” In another place, Paul said the same thing when he said that we “… have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Col. 3:10). We are new selves who are being renewed by a true knowledge. We ourselves are new (completed work), while our minds are being renewed (work in progress). The task at hand is to identify what is “truth” in me and what is not.
Problems with the DNA
I have been born of God. I am a “child of light” (1 Thes. 5:5). I am a partaker of His very own nature (2 Pet. 1:4). I have “…put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24). Nothing in me (that is in the true self) has any resemblance of my former self who was in Adam. Jesus’ [His] death took away my sins, and because I am IN HIM I am a new creation or a new man/self. I (the part that is me) was crucified with Christ, and I (the part that is me) died with Him. I (the part that is me) am a person or spirit man living in a body of flesh (that is not me), but that is only my “earthly tent” in which I temporarily dwell.
However, the DNA of this earthly tent can be traced all the way back to Adam. It was not changed by the cross and death of Christ. This body is as fallen as the rest of creation and is not redeemable. It will return to dust from which it was initially formed. However, I (the new self) will be resurrected and given a new body “not made with hands” that will be my eternal dwelling. My new body will have none of Adam’s DNA and will be glorified. My spirit man is already free of Adam’s DNA since it was born of God. God did not give birth to a fallen creature, but one who is totally in His image.
This temporary earthly body is not who I am, but only my earthly dwelling. The Apostle Paul referred to his earthly body as his “tent” or dwelling place where he lived while on this earth. He was looking forward to his new dwelling “not made with hands” (2 Cor. 5:1) that was awaiting him in heaven. So the death of Jesus did not impact my “tent,” but it did change me.
Before I am misunderstood in what I am proposing, I am TOTALLY responsible for whatever I do in this fallen body. Even though this body is not going to heaven with me, I am responsible for how it is used while upon this earth. I am required to “…. discipline my body and make it my slave…” (1 Cor. 9:27). The Scriptures are clear concerning this where it says, “…do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13).
This fallen body might be compared to my untrained dog that if left to its vices would gladly roam free through the neighborhood rummaging through everyone’s garbage cans. If left alone and unsupervised, it will chew up the sofa and defecate throughout the house. However, if this occurs no one is going to blame my dog, they are going to blame me. I am responsible for what it does. I can train it and demand that it act properly. When it refuses to comply I can punish it into compliance. This was a poor analogy, but I think I have made my point. I am not my dog, but it belongs to me and I am responsible for its behavior.
We are not our thoughts
Having said this, we are also not what we believe or the thoughts that we think. Our thoughts and belief are things we possess, but they are not who we are. In the same way the Cross did not change my earthly body, it did not change my beliefs. In the same way that I am not this physical body, I am not my thoughts or beliefs. However, in the same way that I need my body, I need my thoughts and beliefs in order to dwell and function upon the earth.
Beliefs are not what I am, but what I mentally possess. The truth I believe will go with me to heaven. Even in heaven, however, my belief is not who I am, but what I believe about who I am. Who I am remains constant even if I do not know the truth about it.
God made me a new man in Christ, and He is in the process of refining what I believe by allowing or bringing refining fire into my life to surface the impurities in my “gold” and remove them. This is where TPM can be applied. As life difficulties expose my impure faith (through my negative emotions), I can choose to intentionally and purposely cooperate with God by allowing Him to expose and remove the lies I believe that make my faith impure.
Like the refiner who heats up the gold and draws off the dross that rises to the top, my faith becomes more pure each time a measure of “dross” is removed. This purification process brings about mind renewal, and the result of a purified faith is spiritual transformation.
So then, “…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” I am a new person in Christ and all things have become new in my spirit man. However, my mind is being renewed into the knowledge of who I am in Him. I “… have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Col. 3:10).