Re-scripting Your Life, Part 6
Let the renewal process begin!
Now that we have a basic understanding of the problem and the challenges that must be overcome, we can begin the process of renewing our minds. The most important part of this process is getting the right starting point. The Apostle Paul experienced this process full-on immediately after his conversion. He had to go from completely thinking about life through the grid of Law-based righteousness to thinking through the new grid of Grace (see Romans chapters 6-8). For Paul, this was as close to a 180 degree shift as could be imagined.
If you study Paul’s conversion experience, you will notice that he started off with a bang of zeal for evangelism for his new found truth that Jesus was the very Messiah that he had been looking for. He preached to everyone he looked at! However, if you read the account in the book of Acts, he had a less than stellar effect on the people he was trying to minister to. He caused stress and strife and was asked to leave town for a while and let things settle down. Immediately after he does this, the account says that the church in Jerusalem experienced peace! Paul doesn’t return to the scene of the church movement until many years later (see Acts 9). We don’t know much about what he was doing during this time in his life in ministry, but I am surmising that one of the things that Jesus was taking him through was the process of renewing the mind so he could effectively minister this powerful truth to the rest of the Body of Christ when his time to re-enter the race came about.
Total Disclosure of Grace
Until the ministry of the Apostle Paul, the full revelation of what God’s amazing gift of grace would do to human restoration was unexplored territory. The gospel message of forgiveness and eternal salvation was in full swing within days after Pentecost but the message of how this Gospel would affect the mind of man that was damaged in the Fall was not on the evangelistic agendas. The coming of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent infilling of The Spirit ushered in the promise of total healing for humanity: spirit, soul, and body. God created all three of these components and He is redeeming it all. Remember, Jesus came to seek and save “that” which was lost, not just those who were lost. Here are a few revelational verses of scripture that speak of the wholeness agenda of grace:
Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 1 Th 5:23
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Co 5:17
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Col 3:10
Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him? But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. 1 Co 2:16
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Rom 12:2
These are just a few of the verses in Paul’s writings (and other N.T. authors) that speak about the transformation of our entire being - especially the emphasis on having a new nature and a new mind. We will come back to some of these verses and unpack them more fully when we come to the process of renewal. With a new nature and new mind, we are now able to fully engage and embrace all that salvation affords us!
Our New (original) Nature
We are now going to shift our focus onto the practical mechanics of living from a new nature. When we accept the offer of salvation from Jesus, there is a replacement of natures - our sin nature is replaced with Jesus’s divine nature. In 2 Cor. 5:21 we are instructed that the cross of Jesus was the place of God’s total and complete reconciliation for humanity. At the cross, Jesus became sin for us so we could become the righteousness of God. This does not only mean that our sins were forgiven, but goes deeper to the root of sin- our sin nature was replaced with God’s divine nature. We become righteousness when we receive our new nature!
In 2 Peter 1:3-4, we find this truth laid out:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (NIV)
As born-again, spirit-filled believers, we became righteousness and are now enabled and empowered from within to participate in God’s divine nature. To participate means to take part in something - to be actively and vitally incorporated into the process. The Apostle Paul uses the term “in Christ” to express this.
We are now one with Jesus and our Heavenly Father and can participate in the life that they exist in- and this life is perfect and complete, lacking in nothing!
Just Like My Father
Jesus’s brief time on this planet was filled with amazing miracles and revelations of Father God. The core of Jesus’s mission was to fully re-present who Father God really is - His true nature. Jesus said that He and the Father were one. He told His disciples that if you see Him (Jesus) you are seeing the Father. The writer of Hebrews states, and He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature (Heb. 1:3 NASB). So, to understand God’s nature we need only to understand Jesus, and to understand our new nature we need only to understand Jesus. God’s act of salvation makes us as Jesus is, which makes us like God is - mankind created in the image and likeness of God is now restored.
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. (1 John 4:16,17 NASB emphasis added).
When Are We Most Like God? The Starting Point of Our New Nature
Of all the characterizations of God’s nature, the most basic is that God is Love. The love of God is an unfathomable concept but the physical demonstrations of His love help us understand what is at the core of God’s essence. The love of God is the unmovable constant that all truth about God and how we relate to Him is built upon. The key component of God’s love is a limitless supply of forgiveness; because in forgiveness we see how love is displayed to the world God created.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT) Love is expressed as an action of giving with the intention of forgiving the actions of humanity that separates us from God. Forgiveness is the primary focus of love, for if there is no forgiveness love cannot find a way to express itself.
Forgiveness is not a decision that God makes based on the worthiness of the one to be forgiven but it is the essence of what love is. Love and forgiveness are two sides of the same coin. The best way to understand this is to look at a biblical definition of love:
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:4-7 NASB)
More on the amazing power of love and forgiveness in the next post. Stay tuned and tune in!
by Pastor Jim Anan