One of the most important tasks we are given as Christians is that of renewing the mind. Learning how to do this is crucial if we want to grow, both in love and power. Renewing the mind is the process of understanding what lies we believe and asking God to replace those lies or tear down those strongholds so He can replace them with His truth. But this means we must become good lie detectors.
I find that, often, the filters of my past or even of my emotions can make finding those lies challenging! After all, they are my lies and I have believed them for a long time. So I must both arm myself with the Word and seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit if I want to uproot whatever weeds have taken hold in my garden.
The first question seems easy but in some ways is the hardest. But in order to clear the decks between myself and my God, I need to know the answer.
Question #1: Who do I need to forgive?
This question has taken me along a pretty winding route. Sure, some familiar faces pop up regularly and I must take the time to release them again. But the Holy Spirit has also taken me to people in my childhood and even to incidents that seem small. The real key here is to believe what the Holy Spirit is telling you.
The first time I started to do this, the face of a girl from middle school popped out at me. She had shoved me across the gravel basketball court. My knees still bear the scars from sliding across the rocky surface. I think she did it because the boy she liked had a crush on me. His crush lasted all of ten minutes but her anger lasted a bit longer. Forgiving her was easy, easier than others I have needed to release. But when I was done, I felt a shift in my own heart.
With each person we forgive, we free ourselves from the invisible chains of our past. Forgiving others and letting go of our grudges is a crucial part of renewing the mind. Studies continue to show that forgiveness is key to mental and physical health. More than that, it puts us in a position to receive God’s blessing and grace.
Question #2: What lies do I believe about the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit?
We make all sorts of judgments based both on what we know intellectually and what we have experienced. I used to see God as a benign but distant figure, not unlike my own father. I used to see the Holy Spirit as unknowable. Certainly, He is mysterious, but I have since found that the Holy Spirit longs for us to seek Him as well as to show Himself to us. As for Jesus, sometimes I have been tempted to forget that He is a man, fully God yes, but also fully human.
Each time I ask the Lord to show me one of my misconceptions about who He is, I learn something new about Him and about myself. The process of renewing the mind takes self-awareness. We must learn to look deep within ourselves with the flashlight of the Spirit in order to root out anything that exalts itself above the knowledge of God.
Question #3: What lies do I believe about myself?
If you are human, then you believe something untrue about yourself. After all, isn’t that what happened back in the Garden of Eden? The serpent said to Eve, You will be like God. This was the deception. She already was like God. She was made in His image. Each of us is made in His image. This means we are eternal, creative, capable of love, and that we are crafted carefully by His loving hand. I imagine that most of us feel, at least at times, old, stupid, unlovable, and a mess.
Renewing the mind is about learning who we are in Christ. Anything that tells us that we can’t do the things God has called us to do, or that we are alone and worthless is a lie. The worst thing about these lies is how often we repeat them to ourselves. We pollute our own minds with lies! No wonder renewing the mind is such an important task.
Our belief system, or what we believe about God and ourselves, affects every we do and say. If I had the time, I would list out all of the lies that the Holy Spirit has carefully and gently corrected about who He is and who I am in His eyes. So many times we look for a giant miracle from God where He knocks some sense into us and frees us from our insecurities and anger. But the real path to freedom is just that; a path.
Just as the Israelites received just enough manna to get them through the day, so too, God uses one day at a time to lead us to those greener pastures. I sympathize with the Jews wandering in the desert. They wanted to be able to store up that bread so they didn’t have to go looking for it again the next day. They didn’t want the discipline of daily bread.
Neither do we. But this is how it works. Every day I must submit myself before the King. Every day, I must worship in spirit and in truth. And each morning, the Father, who has tenderly watched over me through the night, is eager to meet with me. He moves with me in rhythm with His grace, renewing the mind, body, and spirit of His daughter. And over the course of my life, He has affected every area of my life, cleansing, healing, and making all things new.
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