I have heard His voice. He has called me from death to life. I’ve trusted Him to forgive all my sins. I’ve gladly submitted to enter His teaching and learn from Him how to live to His glory. Now here I am, and He tells me that I am His workmanship and that the new person I am to become is His creation; and the works I am assigned to do are already prepared by Him before I even do them. What in the world am I supposed to do?
“Put on the new person!” But how do you put on a bundle of attitudes and emotions and practices that God has created? Here are the key questions for how to live the Christian life:
- How do you think in such a way that God will be the creator of your thoughts?
- How do you feel in such a way that God will be the creator of your feelings?
- How do you act in such a way that God will be the creator of your actions?
- How do you put on a new person created by God?
The answer is “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Eph. 4:23). This is the connection between the putting “off your old self” and putting “on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”.
The old person is corrupted by desires that are fueled and fired by deceit, by lies, by the absence of truth. When your mind is deceived, you can even love to drink poison. But the new person is created in righteousness and holiness that is fueled and fired by truth. Right attitudes and emotions and actions are born from true views of spiritual reality.
The key to all the assignments in the school of grace: “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” If your attitudes and emotions and practices come from the spirit of a renewed mind, they will be yours in one sense, but in a deeper sense they will be the creation of God in righteousness and holiness. And you will be able to say with one of the most advanced students in the school of grace, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). I did my assignments but really God did my assignments in me and through me.
How do we become renewed in the spirit of our mind? The answer is to fill the mind continually with truth about spiritual, eternal, heavenly reality. Paul says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor 4:16) How? “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18) Paul was renewed in the spirit of his mind by filling his mind with the unseen truths of eternity, so that the loud, garish deceitfulness of this world was pushed out.
We are to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:2-3)
Paul prays for us that “the eyes of your hearts [be] enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might” (Eph. 1:18-19). Why does he want us to see these things with the eyes of our hearts? Because this is what renews the spirit of the mind—when it is full of the truth of God’s power and promises.
Finally, Paul prayed for us to “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:18–19) Why?
Because when your mind is filled with the love of Christ and with all the fullness of God, then the spirit of your mind is renewed and freed from the deceit of the world. And out of that renewed mind come new attitudes and emotions and practices, that clothe you with righteousness and holiness. And this new person that you become is indeed the creation of God Himself, and to Him belongs all the glory forever and ever. Amen.
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