Three Elements of the PURPOSE of TPM
Refinement of Faith, Mind renewal and Transformation
ELEMENT ONE: Refinement of our faith…
- When facing a trial or life difficulty, the goal is not to endure and get through it. Everyone gets through every trial no matter what they do. The purpose of the trial is the benefit it
- All we must do to get through every trial is just take the next breath.
- God uses the trial or difficulty in the same manner as a refiner uses the flame to purify the gold.
- The very fact that the Bible says our faith needs to be refined indicates that there is something impure about it.
- The suffering itself does not produce any negative emotion we may feel, but rather, it exposes what we believe.
- Since “… God is for us…” then nothing that comes upon on us can “… be against us,” even if the one doing the evil would be the enemy himself.
The intent of the PROCESS of TPM (the protocol we follow in a ministry session) is to provide “a means by which every believer can intentionally and purposefully cooperate with what God is doing in refining their faith, renewing their minds and transforming their lives.” The intent of the ministry process is not to make bad feelings go away, or even that we come to experience the peace of Christ. Both of these are outcomes. The intent is to provide us a means by which we may intentionally cooperate with what God is doing in us persuading us of the truth within our hearts. The TPM Process provides the framework and means for accomplishing this.
God’s primary means of refining our faith is through life difficulties. However, the greater purpose for doing TPM at all, goes far beyond the ministry session itself. The purpose of TPM is what God is doing in us to refine our faith, renew our minds and transform our lives. His primary medium for accomplishing this are all of the unavoidable life difficulties, trials and troubles we each encounter. Unfortunately, many people do not view their trials and tribulations as divinely appointed opportunities filled with benefit, but rather as something to endure and get through. Many people fail to realize that “getting through a trial” is not the goal nor does it even require any effort to do. The only trial that we will not get through is the one that kills us– and even then, we get through it, by passing through it on to Heaven.
We eventually get through even the most difficult of life’s circumstances despite anything we may or may not do. Striving and bearing down does not help in any way when it comes to getting through to the other side. All we must do to get through every trial is just take the next breath. It really is that simple. I did not just say that our difficulties are easy, I simply said that getting through them requires no effort. People think it helps them get through their difficult times by sleeping, drinking, drugging, sexing, entertaining, or even by prayer and fasting. The truth is we will get through the trial no matter what we do during them. But, getting through is not God’s purpose for having allowed it to occur. God uses the difficulty in the same manner as a refiner uses the flame to purify the gold. TPM provides us a way to cooperate with what God is doing during our difficulty and reap the rewards.
“How Much can you stand?”
Some mistakenly believe that God brings the trial upon us to see how much we can stand. The problem with this thinking is, we can stand anything that does not kill us, so God already knows this. God is certainly not testing us to see when we will fold since he has already promised that He will not give us more than we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). This thinking probably arose from out of a misunderstanding of the suffering of Job. Without question, it was Satan’s agenda to see how much Job could bear, but it was not God’s. Each time Satan asked permission to inflict trouble upon Job, God only allowed a limited measure. It was not God’s agenda to see how much Job could bear, but rather to refine his faith. At the end of the story the outcome was a more purified man, and not one who just withstood the test. (Ed Smith has written a 1000 page work about “dealing with the devil, without dealing with the devil.” There are two chapters on what God was doing in Job’s life.)
“Why ‘bad’ things happen to good people?”
The age old question as to why bad things happen to good people has been discussed beyond measure. It is not my intent to fully answer it here other than to point out the obvious. The basic answer to why we suffer is biblically simple. According to the Scriptures, God is refining our faith, renewing our minds, and transforming our lives. This is the obvious answer that the Bible gives.
The scriptures are filled with passages such as, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son …” (Rom. 8:28-29) “… momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” (2 Cor. 4:17) “… we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom. 5:3-5)
The teaching in TPM aligns itself with these passages and re-frames life’s difficulties and crises from something bad that must be endured, to the “refiner’s fire” in which the impurities of our faith are being exposed and removed; therefore, from this perspective, the fire is good even though it does not feel good.
This too is what is meant by the Scripture that says, “… if God is for us, who can be against us…” (Rom. 8:31). Life’s difficulties are understood as the primary means that God uses to refine our faith; the refining fire purifies the gold. The fire is hot, and there is often much pain involved, but getting through it is not something that we need to worry about. However, what we do while in the fire is paramount.
Bad things are not good, but good is accomplished through the bad.
This is not to say that the bad things that happened were good in and of themselves; they very well may have been wicked and evil performed by depraved men. Nevertheless, “… if God is for us…” then nothing that comes upon on us can be against us, even if the one doing the evil is the enemy himself. When it comes to God’s beloved, everything that comes our way must pass through the hands of an omnipotent and omniscient God.
This is why it says, “… those also 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) and why we can with confidence “… humble [ourselves] under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt [us] at the proper time, casting all [our] anxiety on Him, because He cares for [us].” (1 Pet. 5:6) The Apostle Peter wrote, “These [trials, difficulties] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Pet. 1:6-7)
James the Apostle concurred when he wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing [refining] of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (Jam. 1:2-4)
Our suffering is not the reason we may feel what we feel.
We must also remember that any emotional pain that surfaces in the fire is only present because of our belief and not because of the suffering itself. We feel whatever we believe and not what is happening to us. This explains why Jesus did not express negative emotions the day he was crucified; he expressed, calm assurance, compassion, forgiveness, concern, and empathy. Jesus was operating in truth since His feelings were based on truth. Any emotional pain we feel during the refining fire is directly related to what we believe.
This is not to discount any physical pain we might feel if we were to be tortured or physically mistreated. If you give a man thirty lashes he will feel it. It is true that being beaten hurts. However, feeling fear, anxious, anger, helpless, etc. during the beating would only be present because of what a person believed. If he believed these truths in his heart: that he was called to suffer with Christ, that the Lord was with him in it, that God was well pleased with him, that he was blessed because of it, etc. then his emotions would reflect this belief.
God desires that we know the truth in our hearts and as an outcome of this; experiencing His fruit. The struggle in living the Christian life is directly rooted in our belief. The fruit —living out the truth— is His fruit and not our own. Our being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful and self controlled, is not accomplished by our doing them. When we try we typically find ourselves in a struggle. We are not called to do the fruit, but rather to bear it. Herein, is the good news.
Truth known in our hearts brought about through a purified faith, is lived as effortlessly as living the lies we have believed. It is no more difficult to live in the truth when we know it in the heart, as it is to live out the lies we believe with the heart. It is the same exact process.
Struggle ensues when I know the truth intellectually, but it runs contrary to the lies I believe in my heart. It requires much effort to try to live in the truth, when I believe a lie in the heart. This is the state of double-mindedness.
ELEMENT TWO: Renewing our minds…
- What we feel in any given moment is evidence of what we truly believe.
- When we believe the truth with our hearts, our emotions will reflect joy, peace, patience, endurance, hopefulness, assurance, confidence, etc.
- As we cooperate with God in His handiwork and not interfere with what He is doing, He will remove the “dross” from our impure “gold” and renew our minds resulting in transformation.
- Mind renewal is not correcting or repairing our thinking or belief, nor is it adding to something that already exists. It is an exchange or the replacing of something with that which did not exist before.
- Unless God grants us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation” we cannot enter into the knowledge of Him. Unless He “opens the eyes of our hearts” we cannot know the reality of the hope of His calling. (Eph. 1:17-18)
- We have not been called to go and try to act like Jesus. We are called to be transformed into His image (Rom. 8:29).
When we are passing through the refiner’s fire, what we believe will be exposed through our emotional response. What we feel in any given moment is evidence of what we believe with our hearts. When the truth is believed in the heart, our emotions will reflect joy, peace, patience, endurance, hopefulness, assurance, confidence, etc. If we believe lies we will feel alone, fearful, anxious, worried, overwhelmed, helpless, powerless, dejected, etc.
The writer of Hebrews said this regarding Jesus’ suffering, “… because of the joy set before Him, He endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2) In like fashion, if we believe the truth we should manifest what the Scriptures say we should feel in times of troubles, “…consider it all joy…” (Ja. 1:2) and “…rejoice in our tribulations…” (Rom. 5:4), and “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (Matt. 5:11). We will respond spontaneously with these positive emotions, to the degree that we experientially know in our hearts that “… God causes all things to work together…” (Rom. 8:28) and that “… God is for us, who [can be] against us?” (Rom. 8:31)
However, if we believe lies we very well may feel anxious, fearful, stressed, angered, hopeless, abandoned, overwhelmed, etc. With certainty, whatever we believe will be revealed since there is no other option. The fire makes it possible for us to see the dross on the surface of the molten gold needing God’s hand to remove it. It is crucial that we choose to cooperate with God by submitting to His handiwork and not interfering with what He is doing. As we comply, not only will He pull off the dross, He will reveal His perspective that will renew our minds resulting in transformation.
Renewal: “Completing a Process” and “Making it Fresh and New”
The Bible declares that we will “… be transformed by the renewing of the mind.” (Rom. 12:2) The Greek word translated “renew” is the word anakaínōsis. It is formed from two words, aná that means “completing a process,” and the word kainō, that means to “make fresh or new.” Literally, it might be understood as that which is fresh and new, complete and not lacking. It is a finished work of the Holy Spirit that produces transformation. Mind renewal is not correcting or repairing our thinking or belief, nor is it adding to something that already exists; these are things that we –or any unbeliever could do– if we set our minds to doing it. Psychology calls this practice the process of cognitive restructuring. This has its value in its own context, but mind renewal brought about by the Holy Spirit goes far beyond this.
The Holy Spirit brings about something fresh and new, complete and not lacking — something that did not exist before. This is something created by Him that did not previously exist; even though the truth received may already be intellectually understood. The primary difference is in the new perspective or illumination of the truth that only the Holy Spirit provides. This new perspective is experiential; the truth that was known intellectually suddenly becomes belief of the heart. Only the Spirit can persuade us of the truth within our hearts.
Transformation: Bringing about that Which Did Not Exist Before
Mind renewal is what occurs in a ministry session when the Holy Spirit opens the “eyes of our heart” making the truth experientially known in our hearts. The mind renewal that the Spirit brings about results in transformation. Transformation is bringing about something that did not exist before.
The Apostle Paul expressed the necessity of this occurring when he wrote, “[may God] … give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones…” (Eph. 1:17-18) Unless God grants us a spirit of wisdom and revelation we cannot enter into the knowledge of Him. Unless He opens the eyes of our hearts we cannot know the reality of the hope of His calling. Trying harder to believe, putting out more effort, nor anything that we may do, will bring this about. This form of belief is wholly a work of God’s Spirit.
Mind Renewal Goes Beyond Being Bible Smart
Some people believe that their minds have been renewed since they can quote a bible verse that was memorized. The distinction between mind renewal and a memorized Bible verse is that the memorized verse provides no guarantee of transformation. We can apply ourselves to grow in the knowledge of the truth and become smarter, but being smarter is not transformation. Transformation is a work of God. Truth that transforms is truth that is known with the heart. Heart belief can only be accomplished through a work of God; memorizing a Bible verse is something anyone, both believer and unbeliever can do, if they set their mind to do so. Only God can persuade our hearts of the truth.
Learning what the Bible says is important …. as it is a step toward depositing the truth in the heart, but it does not mean transformation has occurred. Regarding salvation, we read, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14) This passage reveals the necessity of a person receiving the truth through his ears (intellect) so that it may be processed with the mind and eventually result in belief with the heart. So then, hearing the truth (knowledge) is a precursor to faith —heart belief— but it provides no guarantee of transformation apart from God’s persuasion.
We can believe what the Bible says about God’s endless love for us and yet not feel loved by Him. We may quote the passage that says, “God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son, that whosoever, believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life” (Jo. 3:16), and yet not believe it in our hearts. Unless this truth is believed in the heart, salvation will not occur. For it is “…with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness,” (Rom. 10:10).
Transformation is not trying to act like Jesus.
When we know the truth with our hearts (faith), we will no longer have to try to act like Jesus or mimic His behavior. The refining work of God, the subsequent mind renewal, and the transformation that follows, conforms us into His image (Rom. 8:29). When we know the truth from the heart, transformation brings about the effortless expression of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We can experience His fruit to the degree that we believe His truth in our hearts.
Too often we attempt to act like Jesus based upon what we intellectually know about Him, but this will only lead to eventual failure or a false sense of pride. We have not been called to go and try to act like Jesus. We are called to be transformed into His image (Rom. 8:29). We may be able to act like Jesus… in our own strength, but only God can transform us.
ELEMENT THREE: Transforming Our Lives…
- The Greek New Testament word translated “transformed” is metamorphoō. This word denotes change that occurs apart from one’s own strength or effort.
- Transformation requires no effort to maintain it, work at it, or perform it.
- The fruit of the Spirit is not something we try to do, but rather what we are. It is not our “do-ing the fruit”but rather “be-ing the fruit.”
- Much effort is expended by people trying to conform themselves to the truth as opposed to their being transformed by the truth.
- God is interested in transformation that He brings about and not in our ability to perform and conform ourselves to look like the truth.
The word for “transformed” in the New Testament Greek is metamorphoō. This word denotes change that occurs apart from one’s own strength or effort. Transformation occurs when the Holy Spirit provides truth in a ministry session. This results in a lie no longer feeling true and His perspective becomes a belief that is experientially fixed in our hearts.
This transformation is not something that we can accomplish on our own; it is wholly a work of God. It might be compared to the metamorphosis that occurs when a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. The butterfly does not expend any personal energy or effort in the transformation. However, he does prepare and position himself for the transformation that is coming. He eats leaves, finds a suitable place to spin a cocoon, and then waits.
Once transformation occurs, the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly, a new creation. It does not need to maintain its transformation; it is permanent. In similar fashion, the transformation that the Spirit brings about in our hearts is not accomplished through our self-effort, discipline or performance. Once transformation occurs, we do not have to maintain it, work at it, or perform it …. in the same way that the caterpillar-turned-butterfly does not have to stop acting like a caterpillar. The fruit of the Spirit is not something we try to do, but rather what we are. Trying to act like Jesus is really no different than the Buddhist trying to act like Buddha or the Muslim trying to act like Muhammad.
Transformation is the Outcome of God Bringing About Our Mind Renewal.
Romans 12:2 makes it clear that transformation is a byproduct of mind renewal; it is written, “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” In true mind renewal God takes what we know in Scripture and incorporates it into our daily lives in such a way that it is expressed effortlessly as the fruit of Holy Spirit. (See Galatians 5:22,23.) Again, transformation is not “do-ing the fruit” but rather “be-ing the fruit.” Bible knowledge is valuable, but, apart from the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the Word will fail to produce His fruit in us. We recognize this truth when reading about the religious leaders of Jesus’ day; they accumulated much biblical knowledge yet did not reflect the image or character of Christ. It is evident that they were not genuinely transformed and the truths they memorized were not deposited in their heart. Again, transformation is only achieved through God and sustained by God; no effort is required to attain it or live it out once it is established. Transformation is not trying to be like Jesus. Transformation is being like Jesus …. without trying.
Transforming Versus Conforming
Much effort is expended by people trying to conform themselves to the truth as opposed to their being transformed by the truth. God is interested in transformation that He brings about and not in our ability to perform and conform ourselves to look like the truth. These is a vast difference in the two.
Mind renewal is a work of God in the same fashion as the salvation of my soul. We can’t renew our minds any more than we can restore our hearts. Like the caterpillar, we can prepare for this work by growing in knowledge, positioning ourselves to receive, but transformation is a work of the Holy Spirit. This occurs as He illuminates the truth that we typically already know intellectually, resulting in it becoming experientially known in our hearts. This is the essence of living by faith – knowing the truth with absolute certainty − and walking in the Spirit, or as the Apostle Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body; I live by faith in the Son of God…” (Gal. 2:20 HCSB)
Unless God takes the truth that we know in our minds and illuminates it within our hearts, we cannot know the transformation that He has for us. The apostle Paul prayed for this for the Church in Ephesus when he prayed, “… [may] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” Eph. 1:17-18
So then, when the lies that are believed are exposed and the Holy Spirit replaces them with His truth, genuine transformation will always follow. As an outcome of this transformation, the person’s emotions will also change to match the truth. The initial transformation demonstrated in a TPM session is that the lie no longer feels true because the person receives and believes the truth. Only the Holy Spirit can cause a lie to stop feeling true. When the belief changes, the feelings follow. The pain the person felt was not the problem to be solved, but rather indicated the true problem – the lies the person believed. Pain follows lies and peace follows the truth.
This is your journey!
So, as you continue working through the training materials, apply yourself to learn the TPM process well. Become an expert in its application; however, do not stop there. Learn the principles that support what you will be doing. Know that TPM is not about pain resolution, but rather about embracing pain as a friend who will lead us to the real source of our discomfort. Resist the temptation to blame life and others for what we feel and take ownership of our emotions as flowing from what we believe. And then, most of all, re-frame life’s crises as the refiner’s fire purifying our faith and renewing your mind so that you might walk in genuine transformation.