Faith Refinement, Mind Renewal, Transformation and Maturity

by | Mar 23, 2017

TPM, Mind Renewal and Maturing in Our Faith

Key Concepts

  • Our belief can greatly hamper our walk with God. To the degree that our belief is impure or flawed, our usability decreases. We are dramatically limited by what we believe and, thus, what we feel. 
  • “… let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”(Jam. 1:4)

 

When a blacksmith decides he wants to fashion a new tool out of a piece of metal, he has several stages he must work through. First, he must begin with steel that is pure. If the metal he forges is impure, it will not produce a usable tool. If the metal is impure, he will need to melt it down so that the impurities will surface to the top so they can be removed. Once it is purified it is ready to be forged and made useful.

God also begins in this same place when working with us, as he prepares us for service. He must first purify our faith or belief. To the degree that our belief is impure or flawed, our usability decreases. We are dramatically limited by what we believe and, thus, what we feel. A lie-based belief will greatly hamper our walk with God.

 

The purification of our faith produces endurance.

Key Concepts

  • The refiner’s fire purifies our faith, bringing about mind renewal or a change of thinking that brings about transformation. It is here that we gain a measure of the quality character of endurance.
  • We do not need endurance in order to get through our trials, but rather it is a by-product of the “refiner’s fire” and an outcome of our refinement.
  • The endurance that the Spirit gives is not about us trying to be strong, bearing down under the pressure, trying to maintain, getting through it, holding up or continuing on. The endurance that the Spirit gives is what we have that allows us to rest “under His mighty hand” so we may do all of the above as we rest in the “power of His strength.” (1 Pet. 5:6, Eph. 6:10)
  • God not only wants to purify our faith, but He also wants to mature it; harden and temper it, making us useful for service.
  • It is the endurance we gained from the refinement of our faith that brings about this maturity.

 

 James the Apostle alluded to the refinement process when he wrote, “…the testing (refining) of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (Jam. 1:2-3, parenthesis mine).

Notice right up front that endurance is a by-product of the refining process and not the means for getting through it. This is an important point that we will enlarge upon shortly.  However, before we do, less continue with the analogy at hand. Once the metal is pure, it is ready to be fashioned into the shape of the tool the blacksmith has in mind. This is accomplished by heating the metal and hammering it into shape. Because the metal is free from impurities, it can “cooperate” with the heat and pounding being applied by the blacksmith.

 fire-manOnce the blacksmith has hammered out the newly-formed tool into the shape he purposed, he will harden the steel by re-heating it and then rapidly cooling it in water or oil. This process is called tempering or quenching the metal. This article does not allow for a more complete discussion of this very complicated process, but it is amazing how much of God’s creation, such as how metal can be worked, parallels the work He is doing in each of us.

 Even though the metal was purified, it needs to be shaped and hardened before put into service. The same is true for every believer. God wants to first purify our faith, but He also wants to harden and temper it, making us useful for service. Like the forged tool, unless our purified faith is shaped and hardened, its usefulness is limited.

 The refining of our faith or belief occurs in the fire and brings about mind renewal or a change of thinking. This change in our belief is the renewal that brings about transformation. It is here that we gain a measure of the quality character of endurance.

 The refining produces this endurance that allows us to sit patiently at the feet of Christ as he matures and tempers our refined faith. This endurance is like unto a fruit of the Spirit in that it is something that we bear because of the Spirit and not because we are producing it ourselves. The endurance that the Spirit gives is not about us trying to be strong, bearing down under the pressure, trying to maintain, getting through it, holding up or continuing on. The endurance that the Spirit gives is what we have that allows us to rest “under His mighty hand” so we may do all of the above in the “power of His strength.” (1 Pet. 5:6, Eph. 6:10) The fire reveals our weakness and in doing so we discover our strength, for “…power is made perfect in weakness…” (2 Cor.12:9)

 

Repentance is not turning from anything, but change of thinking that results in turning

Key Concepts

  • The New Testament Greek word that means “change of thinking” is the word metanoian.
  • Metanoian is often confusingly translated “repentance” suggesting a connotation of turning from sin —the Old Testament understanding of repentance and Law keeping. 
  • Metanoianis not our choosing to do something or the act of turning from anything, rather, it is what God grants that brings about a new thinking producing transformation. (2 Tim. 2:25-26)
  • When God persuades us of His truth within our hearts, “repentance —change of thinking— occurs that results in us moving in a new direction.

 The Greek word that means “change of thinking” is the word metanoian. Almost always in the New Testament this same word is confusingly translated “repentance” often strongly suggesting a connotation of turning from sin —the Old Testament understanding of repentance and Law keeping. Metanoian is not our choosing to do something or the act of turning from anything, rather, it is what God does by granting new thinking that brings about change that has a natural outcome of moving us in a new direction. The idea that repentance is the act of our turning from sin, implies that we should be able to maintain our turning and thereby, cease from sin.  Metanoian is about mind renewal —change of thinking.  We see this clearly expressed in 2 Tim. 2:25-26 where God grants repentance resulting in the person coming to the knowledge of the truth and escaping the devil’s snare of deception. Notice that the outcome of “repentance”  is coming into the knowledge of the truth and not an action we do in turning. Notice also who grants this knowledge. When God persuades us of His truth within our hearts “repentance —change of thinking— occurs resulting in us moving in a new direction. The initiator and the one who brings it all about is God. Too often we send people out to repent of something without heart change. This is futile.

Concerning correcting wayward people the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to approach them “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” Notice that behavior and action occurs after change of thinking has been granted and not before. The person is not choosing to “repent” but only escapes after he has been granted a change of thinking (metanoian/repentance).

 

Enduring the Trials – Just Breath

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Mind Renewal and Maturity

Key Concepts

  • Mind renewal is a necessity for transformation, but it does not bring about maturity.
  • The “tempering” of our faith over time brings about an enduring maturity.
  • God is pleased to allow us to suffer for a time in order, not only to purify our faith, but also to strengthen and establish it. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:10).
  • We cannot grow into maturity without first having a renewed mind and purified faith.

 So we see that mind renewal is important for transformation, but it does not bring about maturity. Mind renewal is the exchange that occurs between us and the Spirit —the lies we believe exchanged for His truth. God not only refines our impure faith, He also hardens the purified “metal,” tempering it by reheating it repeatedly with additional fire. This tempering of our faith over time brings about an enduring maturity. God is pleased to allow us to suffer for a time in order, not only to purify our faith, but also to strengthen and establish it.

Peter said it this way, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:10). He also encourages us to remember that our suffering serves a divine, eternal purpose so we can rest in the hand of a faithful “Blacksmith” who knows what He is doing. Peter clarified this when he wrote, “…those who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Pet. 4:19).

Mind renewal occurs, moment by moment throughout life, as our lie-based beliefs are stirred up and we exchange these beliefs for His truth. This is where the mind is renewed and transformation follows. However, this is not maturity. Maturity comes over time as we endure the “fires” that the Lord either allows to come or brings into our lives, while living out the truth that we hold in our hearts. When we received the truth our minds were renewed by it and that portion of our faith is made pure, however, living out this truth in the midst of the fire tempers and establishes our faith. We cannot grow into maturity without a renewed mind and purified faith. The renewal  and refinement comes first, followed by maturity.

 

The purpose of endurance

Key Concepts

  • A purified faith produces endurance that, over time, brings about a maturity that is “…complete, lacking nothing.”
  • Maturity is the establishing—tempering—of the purified faith we possess.
  • Faith is first refined, which produces endurance, and endurance brings about maturity.
  • We are not given the quality of endurance so that we might muster it up in the midst of the trial in which we may find ourselves, but rather endurance is given so that it might bring about maturity so we are “…lacking in nothing.”
  • Everyone gets through every trial they face, but not all benefit from the fire. The benefit is the purification of our faith, mind renewal, transformation and ultimate maturity.

Looking again at the analogy of refinement and testing in James 1:3-4, we see that a purified faith produces endurance that, over time, brings about a maturity that is “…complete, lacking nothing.” Maturity is the establishing—tempering—of the purified faith we possess. We see that faith is first refined, which produces endurance, and endurance brings about maturity. Notice that we did not start with endurance to get through the testing, but rather endurance was the outcome of the testing and refinement.

We are not given the quality of endurance so that we might muster it up in the midst of the trial in which we may find ourselves, but rather endurance is given so that it may mature us so that we will be “…lacking in nothing.” Once we possess endurance we are told to “…let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  Do you see the difference in perspective here. One is we need endurance in order to bear up and get through a difficulty, whereas, the other is endurance accomplishing something within us in the midst of the fire.

How often do we hear people praying for endurance in order to get through some trial or difficulty? They have it backwards. God does not grant us endurance simply because we ask for it. Endurance is an outcome of a purified faith. What we should pray is, “God expose what I believe in my faith that is less than pure.” However, the answer to this prayer is the refining fire. Not many are willing to pray for this. Most of us just want the fire to go out.

It is easy to overlook that getting through our trials and difficulties is not the goal. This is an expected destiny. We will get through every trial, no matter what we do. If getting through the trial is our focus we will be greatly relieved by its passing, but the benefit the fire offered eludes us. Getting through a trial is inevitable. We all accomplishes this no matter what we do. Some people pray, read the Bible, fast, and cry out to God in order to get through their trials, while others get drunk, do drugs, have sex, entertain themselves, and some even hide out in a cave until the storm passes. It really doesn’t matter what our strategy may be for survival. We  will get through the trial no matter what we do. The question is this, did we benefit? Everyone gets through the trial, but not all benefit from the fire. The benefit is the purification of our faith.

As our faith is purified, our endurance increases. Then as we encounter future difficulties and troubles we carry with us the endurance that we gained from the last fiery furnace. Each passing can potentially bring about more refinement and therefore more endurance.

 

The meaning of the word endurance

Key Concepts

  • More often than not the word translated “endurance” in the New Testament is interpreted to mean the act of enduring something, bearing up under the pressure and “biting the bullet” to get to the other side.  
  • Endurance is not something that we need before the trial, but rather what we get after it. “… knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…” (Ja. 1:3)  
  • Endurance is what God grants us as an outcome of our faith being purified. Like the fruit of the Spirit, endurance is produced by the Spirit and not something that we muster up ourselves.
  • If I am having to grit my teeth and bear up under my difficulty, then what I believe is not allowing me to view my trial from the Lord’s perspective.
  • The emotional pain we experience in any of our trials and tribulations is not because of the experience itself, but only because of our belief. We always feel whatever we believe and not what is happening to us or around us.

 

Like all terms translated from an ancient language, endurance should be primarily understood by the context in which it is found. The word translated endurance in the James 1:3 passage is hupomenó. The basic meaning is to “stay behind or tarry after.” If I may create a word picture it might be like a village on fire and all the people are running out for their lives. Some people are older and incapable of moving quickly and are endangered. Someone sees the problem and chooses to “stay behind and tarry” with those who need help. In the midst of the chaos the rescuer endures with patience with those less able.

More often than not the word translated “endurance” in the New Testament is interpreted to mean the act of enduring something, bearing up under the pressure and “biting the bullet” to get to the other side.  James the Apostle reveals that endurance is not something that we need before the trial, but rather what we get after it. We see that it is brought about through the refining or testing of our faith and granted by the work of the Spirit. “… knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…” (Ja. 1:3)  Here we see that endurance is not something that we muster up in the midst of our difficulty in order to get through the fire, but rather what we possess and are able to do without effort because of our refined faith. Endurance is something that God grants us as an outcome of our faith being purified like a fruit of the Spirit. Like the fruit, it is produced by the Spirit and not something that we muster up ourselves.

Struggle in the Christian life is always an indication of something out of sorts. If I am having to grit my teeth and bear up under my difficulty, then what I believe is not allowing me to see it from the Lord’s perspective and I am lacking in His gift of endurance. The emotional pain we experience in any of our trials and tribulations is not because of the experience itself, but only because of our belief. We always feel whatever we believe and not what is happening to us or around us. Our perspective of the event and how we interpret it, will determine how we will respond emotionally.

We see this in how Christ endured his suffering the day He was crucified. There is no evidence that He was afraid, worried, stressed, etc. Rather because of the “…joy set before Him” He endured the cross while despising its shame…” Jesus  perspective in truth allowed him to rest in confidence in what His Father was accomplishing in His suffering. When we know the truth in our hearts (our faith) we will endure with patience -be able to wait behind- during the difficulty that God is using to temper our faith.

 

Endurance is produced by the Spirit

Key Concepts

  • Endurance is the calm assurance that comes by way of our knowing the truth in our hearts, that allows us to sit still and be unmoved by what is going on around us.
  • The Lord’s discipline is one of the primary ways He refines our faith. Those who submit to this training will benefit by the fruit that will follow; those who resist will lose out.  “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness”(Heb. 12:11 underline is mine).

Endurance is very similar to one of the fruits of the Spirit—patience. Endurance is the calm assurance that comes by way of our knowing the truth in our hearts, that allows us to sit still and be unmoved by what is going on around us. We must not forget that this quality is produced by the Spirit and not from our bearing down and gritting our teeth. If we lack endurance, the answer is not to try harder or bear down to endure. Endurance is the outcome of a refined faith. A faith that has not been refined is a faith containing impurities. Since our faith is what we believe with the heart, then the impurities of our faith are the lies we believe.

This is why once we have a refined faith endurance follows. Endurance follows a tested and refined faith; it is not something we necessarily possess before we go into the flame, but rather the potential quality that emerges after the heat (See James 1:1-3). To the degree that our faith has been purified the quality of endurance will come about. Then as we encounter future difficulties and troubles we can carry with us the endurance that we gained from the last fiery furnace. Each passing can potentially bring about more refinement and therefore more endurance.

I say “potential quality” since our freewill cooperation is in play while we are being refined. The Hebrew writer sheds light on this reality where he says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11 underline is mine). The Lord’s discipline is one of the primary ways He refines our faith, bringing needed correction where our belief is less than pure. Those who submit to this training will benefit by the fruit that will follow; those who resist will lose out.

Endurance is a steadfastness that keeps us focused on Jesus and on what He is doing so we might “…run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” (Heb. 12:2). We are not running to increase our endurance, but because we have endurance we can run. Because we have a calm assurance and can relax in the moment, we are able to focus on what God is doing and choose to cooperate with Him.

 

Jesus provides the model of a matured faith

Key Concepts

  • Jesus was the first to take this journey of faith and to finish it. He will bring us to completion as well.
  • Jesus is the originator of faith, the giver of faith and the source from which all faith comes.
  • We do not need endurance to get through the fire, but rather our endurance allows us to patiently submit to the work that God is doing in the midst of it.
  • Endurance is our ability to sit still as God does His work in us in the midst of the fire that tempers (hardens) and establishes us in our faith.
  • “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you”(1 Pet 5:10).

Notice that Jesus is the “author and perfecter” of our faith. The Greek word translated author is archégos. The English term “author” only captures an aspect of its original meaning. The word rightfully describes a person who is the original founder of a cause or movement. Not only was he the one who started the movement, but he currently maintains this position and continues on as the founding leader. Jesus was the first to take this journey of faith and to finish it. He will bring us to completion as well.

The Greek word for perfecter is teleioó which means to complete a task to the fullest measure, to finish completely, with nothing left undone. Jesus is the founder of faithnot just ours, but all faith. He is the originator of faith, the giver of faith and the source from which all faith comes. Jesus is also the one who will completely refine our faith and bring it to completion. All we have to do is sit still and relax as He goes about His work recognizing that, as the founder, He knows what He is doing.

Our possessing endurance is not so that we will get through the trial, but rather that we may benefit from the fire. We all get through our trials no matter what we may do. Getting through them is a given. We do not need endurance to get through the fire, but rather our endurance allows us to patiently submit to the work that God is doing in the midst of it. There is a big difference here. If our focus is on getting through the trial we will likely concentrate on ways to avoid the pain of the flames and miss the purpose and forego the benefit.

Endurance allows us to submit to and rest in the work that God is doing as He matures our faith over the long haul once it has been made pure. The initial fire is designed to purify what we believe and bring about mind renewal, and produces endurance.  Endurance is our ability to sit still as God does His work in us in the midst of the fire that tempers (hardens) and establishes us in our faith.

This is why once we possess endurance we can “let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Jam. 1:4) Notice that the endurance we possess is accomplishing something as opposed to what we are doing. Because we have endurance and are able to calmly rest in Him, God is able to do His work within us. The Apostle Peter said it this way: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Pet 5:10). No one likes to suffer but, without the “fire,” the iron never reaches the temperature needed for tempering.

 

Maturity is the Outcome of the Work Accomplished By Endurance

Key Concepts

  • “… let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”(Jam. 1:4)
  • The purification of our faith is a prerequisite for maturity. Without a purified faith, we cannot know maturity.
  • To the degree that our faith has been refined, it is ready for shaping and tempering. It is because we possess endurance that we can allow God to use it to complete its perfect work within us.
  • God is preparing us for service, but we first need to be purified and then tempered. Both are necessary so that God may “…equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen”(Heb 13:21).

 “… let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Jam. 1:4)

Notice in this passage that endurance is accomplishing something, that is, for those who “let it have its perfect result.” The word translated “perfect” here is the Greek word télos that means maturity, completion, the finishing of something, stretched to the full length, something fully accomplished. Endurance is how our faith is matured —telos. It is because we possess this endurance —the ability to rest in the midst of our chaotic situation while we submit to the work that God is doing tempering and shaping our faith, that we benefit. Endurance is not what we are mustering up, but what we possess as an outcome of the refining and purifying of our faith.

The purification of our faith is a prerequisite for this maturity. Without a purified faith, we cannot know maturity. Knowing the Scriptures intellectually will not bring about a purified or matured faith. Knowledge alone is attainable by anyone, believer or unbeliever, who sets his mind to attain it. Even the devil himself has a good working amount of Scripture committed to his memory. A purified faith is necessary before genuine maturity can come about.

Like working the metal before you temper the steel, it has to be purified. Raw metal contains much impurity. If this metal is forged in fire it will not hold up under the tempering that is needed to make it strong. Because of its impurities it will crack and break when it is worked over by the blacksmith. It has to be melted down and its impurities removed.

To the degree that our faith has been refined, it is ready for shaping and tempering. This maturing of our faith is the settling and establishing of this purified faith that occurs over the long haul as we rest in the work that God is bringing about. This place of rest is the “endurance” that was produced by the testing of our faith. It is because we possess endurance that we can allow God to use it to complete its perfect work within us.

Once it is made pure it can be worked with, heated, hammered and tempered. Steel with impurities will crack and shatter when tempered and will not be fit for service. God is preparing us for service, but we first need to be purified and then tempered. Both are necessary so that God may “…equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:21).

 

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