The Difference Between Doing and Bearing
Transformation is the expected outcome of mind renewal
- Transformation is the expected outcome of mind renewal: “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2) and the fruit of the Holy Spirit is the expected outcome of transformation.
- It is through faith that we overcome, since “… whatever is born of God, overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—even our faith” (1 Jo.5:4).
- Controlling our behavior is not victory; it is self-effort and requires our constant attention. As soon as we succumb to temptation, the battle is lost.
- Trying hard to mimic the life of Christ is not transformation.
- Peace follows truth in the same way that anxiety, fear, worry, and turmoil follow lies.
- True victory requires no maintenance on our part since it is only realized when the battle is over. God’s victory is His victory that He graciously offers those who believe.
Too often we are trying to “do the fruit” as opposed to “bearing the fruit.” God desires that we be transformed into the likeness of Christ, as opposed to our trying to conform ourselves by mimicking His behavior. Transformation is the work of God and cannot be accomplished in our own strength or by our own effort. We can learn the truth intellectually , and set our minds to doing it (as can any unbeliever), but true mind renewal that transforms us is a work of God that always produces the natural expression of His fruit (Rom. 12:2).
This fruit of the Spirit is a by-product of knowing His truth experientially within our hearts or, more specifically, living in the Spirit or walking in faith. This faith is a gift from God and not something we can muster up. It is not accomplished by trying harder to believe, but rather a gift granted by God. It is through this faith that we overcome, since “… whatever is born of God, overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—even our faith” (1 Jo.5:4).
This ongoing victory that God offers differs from what is typically seen: people striving to overcome sin through controlled behavior. For many people, victory is viewed as staying ahead of the enemy, not succumbing to his schemes, but always one sin away from defeat. Controlling our behavior is not victory; it is self-effort and requires our constant attention. As soon as we succumb to temptation, the battle is lost and victory eludes us. True victory requires no maintenance on our part since it is only realized when the battle is over. God’s victory is His victory that He graciously offers those who believe.
In the natural world, true victory follows only after the battle and struggle have ceased. Victory is the absence of struggle. No army waves a victory flag while still engaging in the battle. The victory flag is waved because the battle has been won. The presence of a struggle in a believer’s life is evidence of unbelief (or believing something contrary to the truth) and a failure to know and embrace the victory we have already been given. The victory the apostles described is attained through faith and not through struggle or battle. When we believe the truth in our hearts (faith), we will cease to struggle, and we will enter His rest.
In the same way we do not have to try hard to live out the lies we believe; we do not require any more effort to live out the truth once we are transformed. Our minds were created by God to function in this manner. When we believe something with the heart (lie or truth), we will not have to put any effort into living out this belief. We will feel whatever this belief feels like and act it out effortlessly. To the degree that we know the truth in our hearts we will experience the victory that the Lord has provided.
Because this is the truth, we do not need to strive to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit. When we know the truth in our hearts, this same truth will be transform us by the renewing of our minds. We will not need to try to act loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled, rather, we will be these things. The fruit of the Spirit will be the natural and expected outcome of the transformation that has resulted from a refined faith and mind renewal. Transformation is maintenance-free, and it requires nothing on our part to sustain it. It is wholly a work of God.
God wants to grant us the faith which leads to victory that does not require our effort to maintain. He wants to renew our mind and transform our lives by the truth that we come to believe within our hearts. We cannot do anything to produce this renewal on our own, but we can submit ourselves to His work and move into a position to receive it. We do this by taking ownership of all we feel and believe, without blaming others or our circumstances for our emotional pain, and looking to Him for freedom.
When we are in a position to receive, He will grant us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him…” and thereby, “… open the eyes of our heart…” to know the truth (Eph. 1:17-18). He is not withholding anything from us since He has already blessed us with “every spiritual blessing…” (Eph. 1:3), but is only waiting on use to “draw near..” to Him so He may give us all He has for us (Jam. 4:8).
Performance-based spirituality is not true transformation.
- Denial, suppression, and repression of emotions is not spiritual; it is merely controlled behavior, which is the basis for all other world religions. Performance-based spirituality is something believers and unbelievers alike are capable of doing.
- We do not live the Christian life by trying to act like Jesus, but by being transformed into His likeness.
- “…Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… [and] may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance” (Col. 3:15, Thes. 3:16)
- Peace follows truth in the same way that anxiety, fear, worry, and turmoil follow lies.
- If the lack of peace is because of sin, then confession and repentance of sin should result in peace. What if this does not work?
- The lies we harbored short-circuit our joy and peace with anxiety, fear, despair, etc. There is no way around the fact that we will feel whatever we believe.
- The difference between our doing the fruit and being the fruit are all contingent upon our having been persuaded by the Spirit of the truth within my heart and believing it with absolute certainty. This is victory! Even our faith!
Many of us have been instructed to simply believe God, stand on the truth, do the right thing (obedience) and act as we should, ignoring our feelings. The problem with this is that most people can deny their feelings and perform well, but this is not transformation. The denial, suppression, and repression of emotions is not spiritual; it is merely controlled behavior, which is the basis for all other world religions. Performance-based spirituality is something believers and unbelievers alike are capable of doing.
True spirituality comes through experiencing God’s power and being able to act appropriately as an expected outcome of what Jesus is doing in our lives. We do not live the Christian life by trying to act like Jesus, but by being transformed into His likeness. We know this transformation is occurring when we see the fruit of His Spirit increasingly and effortlessly being expressed through our lives.
The Peace of Christ Should Be Ruling in Our Hearts
The Scripture is clear where it says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” (Col. 3:15) and that we should experience “… peace in every circumstance” (2 Thess. 3:16) God wants His peace to rule in our hearts and us to have peace in every circumstance of life, but his only comes about when the lies we experientially believed have been replaced with God’s truth.
Peace follows truth in the same way that anxiety, fear, worry, and turmoil follow lies. If the Spirit indwells us then there should be evidence of His presence. This evidence is the fruit of the Spirit. Peace is one of the fruit that should be present in “…every circumstance.” If His peace is not evident, then it is not because the “Lord of Peace Himself..” is not very willing to grant it. Something is hindering this from happening. Someone will say, “It is because of our sins.” If this is so, then when we confess and repent of our sin, we should immediately have peace. What do we do if after our confession and repenting, we still do not have peace? We may need to look more carefully for other possible causes.
Someone once said to me, “Even though I love the Lord and have placed my trust in Him for eternal life, and am doing my best to resist temptation and quickly confessing every sin, I still rarely feel any joy or peace.” I had the opportunity to pray with this person using the TPM Process and we discovered that his absence of joy was because he was feeling what he believed. The lies he harbored were short-circuiting his joy and peace with anxiety, fear, and despair. His salvation was secure, but his belief crippled him in his spiritual walk. As he exposed and identified one lie after the other, the Spirit persuaded his heart of the truth, and transformation followed. Peace replaced the negative emotions being produced by the lies. There is no way around the principle that we feel whatever we believe.
The Apostle Paul declared, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Some people may interpret this passage as, “Work hard, deny what you are feeling, do the right thing, and try harder to believe.” But when the passage is allowed to speak for itself, we can read:
“Crucified with Christ—DONE DEAL! I am no longer the one doing the living, since I am DEAD. However, I have Christ living in me through the indwelling Spirit. So the transformed life I live now is by faith—that is, having been persuaded by the Spirit of the truth within my heart and believing it with absolute certainty. When I know the truth in this manner, the outcome is a maintenance-free victory that bears His fruit. This is victory, the difference between doing and bearing the fruit!