As children of God we understand that the Christian life is not so much about knowing the rules, as it is knowing the Ruler. Every Christian should understand at that it’s basic level, the do’s and don’t’s of life are reflections of the heart of God, and not merely recipes for religious living. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:10 that his desire was, “that I may know Him.” To know the rules, but not the Ruler, to follow the Law of God in a way that doesn’t lead you to the God of the Law is to live with failing faith, worthless worship, and empty religion.
While I have not cornered the market, nor have I mastered the ministry, there are some things that I have learned along the way. One of the first realities to ever light the dark corners of my mind was the realization that the more I learned, the less I knew. I don’t remember who said it, (not me) but someone said, “true education was passing from an unconscious ignorance to a conscious ignorance.” That being true, I am certainly more ignorant than I’ve ever been, and most people who know me would give a resounding agreement. However, after 20 short years in the ministry, certain Biblical truths have been boiled down for me in very practical ways that have taught me how to conform my approach to living as a child of God. The reality is that when the “rules of God” become second nature, they are no longer rules, we’re just more like Jesus. When they are not second nature, we are given glimpses of the areas of our heart that are still living in the flesh.
If I were to give someone five basic principles for the transforming of the mind, and non-conformity to the world, these would be those principles. Each one is Biblical, and therefore the most practical way to function in the faith.
#1.) Never Think Outside the Book! – Always let the Bible do the thinking for you. One of the things that I tell the people that I pastor, is to never go to the scriptures with an opinion, you go there to get one. I am not speaking of being a mindless reader, but I am warning against being a clueless believer. I have always believed that the Word of God directly, or indirectly provides wisdom for every scenario in life. I haven’t found it all, but I know that it is there. God has given us a free mind, and then tells us what to think. He has given us a free will, and told us how to use it. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and Psalm 119 are powerhouse proofs and irrefutable evidence of this divine fact. The Word of God is saturated with the Wisdom of God, and man immediately begins to limit his mind, narrow his wisdom, and welcome his folly when he starts thinking differently than the Bible.
#2.) Never Follow Your Dreams, Always Follow the Lord! – No Christian has any business chasing anything self-directed. Jesus saved no man to live as he pleases; he saved men to live as they should, in complete surrender to the Will of Almighty God. Jesus made this plain when he said, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever would lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s the same shall find it.” We often forget that Jesus did not save man to go his own way, that was man’s problem in the first place. Jesus saved men to keep them from going their own way, and doing their own thing.
#3.) Don’t Live by What You Feel, Live by What You Know! – We often hear well-meaning people say something like, “You have to just follow your heart.” That’s not what the Lord says. The Lord said in Proverbs 28:26, “He that trusteth his own heart is a fool . . .” It is true that the Lord guides us, and governs us by letting “Peace rule in our hearts.” However He is not speaking of “emotional” peace, He is speaking of “spiritual peace.” God did not give us our emotions to be our thermostats, but our thermometers. They are reactions, not guides. Psalm 73 is a catalog of emotional reactions to the prosperity of the wicked and sinful. Asaph said, “my heart was grieved . . . nevertheless I am continually with thee . . . thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Emotional decisions are often the worst decisions, both from being too high as well as from being too low. When your emotions get the best of you, they often bring out the worst in you. People often sin as much in too much laughter, as they do in too much crying. (Furthermore this principle goes deep into dealing with issues like homosexuality, divorce, marriage, etc.)
#4.) Want What God Wants you to Want, and He’ll give you What you Want! – This is the secret to having the Lord say yes to every single request you will ever make. When you and I want what the Lord wants us to want, He will give us what we want. The problem is that we often want things He doesn’t want us to want. The scripture makes it plain that if we ask anything according to His will, (not ours) we will receive that. The very first step in getting what you want from God, is finding out what you’re supposed to want from God. Without question the Bible instructs us to let our requests be made known unto God; however every request is to be made underneath the will of the Lord.
#5.) Give God Your Best, and Let Him Handle the Rest. – The Bible says that whatsoever your hand finds to do, do all to the honor and glory of the Lord. Whether we are talking about time, talent, or treasure, the Lord, His work, and His Will is to be the object of our ultimate affection. Whether you are building a house, or walking onto a football field, you labor as unto God and not unto men, and leave all consequences up to Him. I believe the Bible teaches men to tithe, but more than that, the Bible teaches men to give to God what’s first! In other words, does your offering set the rest of your budget? Does your mortgage have to accommodate your offering or does your offering get what’s left over from your mortgage? Does your offering determine how much car you can afford, or does your offering come from what’s leftover from your car? The point of this is very simple. Spend your best energy, your best economy, and your best attention on the Lord, and trust Him to handle all of the other issues in life. (Matt 6:33)
All of that being said, I could add a few more but won’t. Essentially these might be called keys to conforming to the image of Christ, and being transformed by the renewing of your mind. The longer I pastor, the longer I study, and the longer I live, I can vouch, that these are most definitely changes worth making.