At this point we have gained a better understanding of our heavenly citizenship, while also learning:
- What a worldview is;
- How a worldview is formed;
- The importance of being aware of our own worldview; and
- The need to develop a biblical worldview.
As pastors and leaders, it will be of great benefit to learn how to effectively teach, preach, and impart a biblical worldview. An essential element of this is creating an environment where the Holy Spirit is welcomed to do the work of renewal and transformation in individual lives.
A RENEWED MIND- CHANGING OUR WORLDVIEW
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2).
Sanctification is essential for the ongoing growth of every believer. As we have learned, sanctification is both a consecration of our life to God and a progressive cleansing from moral defilement.
But there is more to sanctification than developing good moral character. True sanctification is a process that incorporates the liberating truth of God’s Word, our faith to receive it, and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about change in the life of a believer.
Before receiving Christ, much of what we were and did was the result of being conformed to the world’s standards (we have already studied the many ways a carnal worldview is formed).
But after salvation, and through the ongoing work of sanctification, our worldview can be changed. As our worldview becomes more biblically based, we can more readily believe and obey the entire Word of God and better cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit.
Let us study this important aspect of the Christian life in a bit more detail.
LEVELS OF COMMUNICATION
Each person is made up of three parts: body, soul and spirit (1Thess 5:23.)
The “body” is our physical body. Our body uses the five senses – hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching – to communicate with the physical world we live in.
The “soul” is the place of our emotions (feelings), our will (the ability to choose) and our mind (intellect). Our personality comes from our soul. The soul is sometimes referred to as “the heart of man”. The soul provides another level of communication with the people and environment around us.
THE SPIRIT OF MAN
Though people can relate to one another at a physical level and through their soul, we are limited in our physical and intellectual ability to fully comprehend the things of God: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1Cor 2:9; see also Isa 55:8,9; Rom 11:33-36). Neither our body (“eye/ear”) nor our soul (“heart”) can fully understand God and His ways.
But God has also created each person with a spirit. The spirit of each person is dead in sin. But at salvation, the spirit is made alive by the Spirit of God (Rom 6:11,13; 1Cor 15:22; Eph 2:1,5; 1Pet 3:18).
Also at salvation, each person receives the Holy Spirit within (John 3:5-8; Acts 2:38,39). The Holy Spirit helps us to see, hear and comprehend the spiritual things that have been given to us by God. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1Cor 2:12).
Communication with God goes beyond the limits of human intellect or man’s wisdom. It is His Spirit teaching our spirit: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1Cor 2:13). As Christians, we have also been given the “mind of Christ” (1Cor 2:16) to assist us in understanding God.
Hallelujah! God has given us everything we need to know God, to commune with Him daily, and to live a godly and overcoming Christian life (2Pet 1:3). But oftentimes we need to learn how to receive and use what God has given to us.
God has said that those who walk by the Spirit are sons of God (Rom 8:12-17). As His sons, He has made it possible for us to communicate with God our Father. But as with any gift from God, we often must learn how to use what He has given us.
Jesus states, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). Most of us learned at a young age how to communicate physically and intellectually. But learning to communicate with God at a spiritual dimension can take time. Any hindrances to communion with God must be dealt with in our lives, and we must also grow in spiritual sensitivity.
THE NATURAL MAN
The Bible reveals that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). As a “fallen” humanity, all are blind to the spiritual truths of God.
The individual who rejects the gift of God in Christ and is not born again is referred to as a “natural man”: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14).
The natural man can understand only with his mind (soul). Therefore, he cannot receive or know the spiritual things of God.
THE SPIRITUAL MAN
However, when we are born again, the ability to understand the spiritual things of God is opened to us. The capacity to develop a biblical worldview is made possible because of the Holy Spirit’s work within us (1Cor 6:19). His work in reshaping our worldview is an essential part of our minds being renewed (Rom 12:2).
In order for our minds to be renewed, we must examine what we believe. We need to compare what we have learned from the world with what is taught by God. Our minds need to be renewed (changed) in those areas where an ungodly worldview has taken hold: “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:20-24).
When we are born again, our spirit is made alive and enabled to communicate with God. This communication is a two-way dialogue, in that we speak and He hears (Ps 4:3; 1John 5:14). Equally important is that when God speaks to us, we will have the ability to hear Him (1Cor 2:11-13; refs). Jesus said that we will be able to hear Him, and thus follow Him (John 10:27).
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT’S WORK
The Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, is our Helper and lives within every believer. The Holy Spirit illuminates (brings understanding of) the truths of God’s Word and reveals to us the need to make corrections in our lives.
These corrections are part of the process of renewing our minds. A renewed mind does not simply have greater intellectual ability, but an ability to recognize and know the truth of God’s Word.
This process of renewal results in our transformation: “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2Cor 3:17,18).
When our minds are renewed, it affects our attitude and behavior, as we take off the “old man” and put on the “new man”. The result of this work of the Spirit will be fruit that can clearly be seen in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22,23).
TRANSFORMATION – A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW
As our minds are renewed, we are changed or transformed. Transformation can be defined as “a marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better”.
The Bible tells us that, in Christ, we are new creations. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2Cor 5:17).
The Holy Spirit lives in every believer to lead and guide them into truth. The Holy Spirit is sent to indwell (John 14:17), guide (John 16:13), teach (John 14:26) and empower (Gal 5:16,17) the believer.
The Holy Spirit helps believers to see the world as Jesus does. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-15; see also John 14:15-17, 25, 26; 15:26).
THE CONFLICT WITHIN
What a great gift we have been given in the Person of the Holy Spirit! He is there to help us continually, and desires that we live an overcoming Christian life.
But the Holy Spirit will not do His work in us against our will. Each of us must continually choose either to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or to rebel. We must choose either to be led by the Spirit of God, or to lean on our own understanding. We must either choose to obey the Word and be transformed, or to resist and stay as we are.
Sometimes this choice needs to be made many times in one day. The Holy Spirit is always present, always working within us to transform us more and more into the image of Jesus.
This process of transformation is not always easy. It can create a conflict or struggle within us. We want to do the Lord’s will; but our flesh also wants its own way. The apostle Paul put it this way: “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal 5:17).
The Bible reveals that the Spirit within us and our flesh (soul of man) are at war (Rom 7:23; 1Pet 2:11,12). Both the Spirit and our own soul want to influence our thoughts, actions and choices. God desires to lead us in His ways by His Spirit; the devil, the world and our own lusts want to draw us away from God.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal 5:16-18).
In a “natural man” (one who is not born-again) the spirit is dead, separated from God. So there is no battle against the Spirit in them, because the Spirit does not indwell them. The body and the soul do whatever seems desirable to do, as in the period of the Judges in Israel, when “…everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
But when we are born again, the Holy Spirit begins to work to influence us toward righteousness. In our immaturity, our soul (and often our body) will resist the Spirit. Our old habits or desires want to pull us back into sin. It can therefore be difficult to be led by the Spirit. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ” (1Cor 3:1).
This is one of the reasons it is so important that our minds be renewed by the Word of God. The more we know and understand God’s ways, the more we can recognize what is of Him and what is of our flesh. Each time we choose God’s ways over our fleshly desires, our spirit is strengthened! Slowly but surely, our spirit will desire agreement with the Holy Spirit more than with our own way. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2).
The continuing renewal of the mind strengthens us to choose to obey the Word of God. A renewed mind is more easily convicted and led by the Holy Spirit. Our old habits will fall away and be replaced by new habits of holiness. “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind , and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:20-24).
As the renewal process continues, our personal transformation becomes more obvious. “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Col 3:9,10). Eventually our mind and spirit come more into agreement, and our body (flesh) loses its influence.
This process of renewal and transformation is a process that begins at salvation, and is not completed until we have reached our eternal home (Rom 8:29,30; 1Cor 13:12; 2Cor 3:18).
PASTOR TO PASTOR
I hope you can clearly see, pastor, the importance of knowing the Word of God and of teaching it consistently and completely to your church. Each of us has elements of our worldview that are likely not in line with the Bible. Every one of us needs our mind renewed and our life transformed! That happens in conjunction with the truth of the living Word of God and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.
Let me remind you that this work of renewal and transformation is a lifelong process. I was recently asked, “Why does transformation take so long, and why is it so difficult? Why doesn’t God just do the work in us right away?”
My answer was, “That is a question that only God can answer; His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. But this I do know God wants us to obey Him as a free will expression of our love. Our choices are such an important ingredient in our relationship with God. While transformation may be a difficult journey, God has given us all of the tools, the authority and the power to succeed.”