Pastor Vince brought a terrific message this week as part of a series leading to Easter. The theme of resurrection, and of new life, this week found its focus on the “renewing of our minds (Ephesians 4:23).”
As Christ has risen to a new life, so too are we to be lifted again. This in the body, but also in the spirit, and in the mind. But all too often we despair. We make assumptions that our lives, struggles, and trials are somehow fixed. We see that our old nature is “who we are,” and as such have no real expectation of things ever being different. This is clearly a case of “stinking thinking,” and it is self-limiting. Proverbs 23:7 makes this clear, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he . . .”
The pastor noted, however, that this is not the case. Ephesians 4: 8 proclaims, “Wherefore he saith, When he [Christ] ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” God, in Jesus’ resurrection overcame death. He led us away from the captivity of Hell, but also from the captivity of our own self-limiting.
Satan (whose name indicates that he is one who opposes and obstructs) wants us to be self-limited. He wants us to believe that we are bound to sin, bound to fail, bound to suffer. He is a deceiver, we saw this in Eden. His lies are just that, lies. The power that raised Jesus from the tomb, now raises us. The devil has no power. It is the Gospel, and the power of the resurrected Jesus which (as in Matthew 16:18) the “gates of hell” will not be able to withstand. Note here in our battle for the mind, that Satan (and hell’s gates) cannot prevail (and gates are a defensive weapon). The real power is on our side. Let that thought help “renew your mind.”
Any suffering we experience is temporary. Jesus was three days dead, but ROSE! We too shall be lifted up. And these temporary trails are just that, temporary. God is sovereign. Even in the case of Job, Satan could not do anything without permission. The devil is not the master of circumstances.
So in this battle for the mind, we need to be steadfast. Yes we mess up, yes we daydream instead of focus, yes we even backslide. But this does not mean we are “unchanged” by the resurrection. Our changing of our mindset, is like the rest of our change in Christ. To repent means to “turn around” to go another way. Our minds can do likewise. Romans 8:11 tells us, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” To our mortal bodies and our minds. The battle is to “love the Lord our God, with all our mind, heart, and strength” – our whole renewed being.
Too much of our 21st Century world view is linked to scientific determinism. If A , then B. All things are predictable, all things are set by laws of nature and physics. But the resurrection of the son of the Nain widow, of the daughter of Jarius, of Lazarus, and of Christ Himself, show us otherwise. We need not say like Lazarus’ sister, “its too late, now he [I] smells.” But rather, like Lazarus we are to “come forth.”
Let us not succumb to the assaults of our own “old voice,” but “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”