by Gary F.
Last time, we established the importance of relying upon God to change the way we think. We absolutely need the Lord to reprogram our thought patterns, unlearn coping techniques and establish a godly thought life. This week, we will give specifics about the components necessary to having our minds renewed.
Also, in part 1, the importance obedience was taught. This is foundational not just for achieving a renewed mind but in all aspects of our walk of faith. Once we learn these truths, the Lord will hold us accountable for putting them into practice.
In the New Testament, Jesus gives us a rich picture of how this process of transformation takes place. In Mathew 9:17 Jesus teaches on the principle of the wineskins.
“Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
The English translation does not indicate any difference between the “new” wine and the “new” wineskins, but the Greek does. These are two different words with two different
intrinsic meanings. The first word used is νέος (NAY-os) meaning “new, or recently made”. Here “new” means a “new type, not being in existence for a long time.” Jesus said that it was foolish to put new (NAY-os) wine into old wineskins. The results would be burst wineskins and spilled wine.
This is the same Greek word used in 2 Cor 5:17,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Obviously, when we are born again, we still inhabit the same body. We have not changed into an alien life form with eight arms and six legs. That is not the “new creature” Paul is writing about.
Basically, we look the same but there has been an inner change that should affect every aspect of our being. Paul teaches that, before we are saved, we are (spiritually) dead. After our salvation experience, we are (spiritually) alive in Christ.
But because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (Eph. 2:4, 5)
The second Greek word used in Matt. 7:19 passage is καινός (kai-NOS). It is also translated as “new” but has a different emphasis. It means new in the sense of being unused. Jesus said that new (NAY-os) wine needed to be put into new (kai-NOS), wineskins.
Many people traditionally interpret this passage as a contrast between the old covenant and the new covenant. The comparison is made between the Law and Grace. The new covenant cannot fit into the constraints of the old. The new covenant in which the Holy Spirit resides within the believer requires a new environment, new standards. This is a legitimate interpretation of the text. However, there is another.
The Jewish people of Jesus’ day were excellent stewards of their limited resources. They could be termed “conservationists”. They would recycle and reuse materials as much and as often as possible. Wineskins were items that could be reinvigorated rather than simply trashing them.
When a wineskin had grown stiff and hard, rather than throwing it out, they would perform a simple process to make it like new. The used wineskin would be soaked in water. After several days of rehydration, they would take oil and massage it into the wineskin until it became soft and supple. They would, literally, “renew” the wineskin. Therefore, an old wineskin had become a “new” (kai-NOS) wineskin that was unused in its refreshed condition.
This process requiring water and oil typifies the necessary elements in order for renewal to take place within the mind of the Christian. Water is symbolic of the Word of God. In Eph. 5:26, Paul says that husbands are to wash their wives with “the water of the Word”. Oil is traditionally understood as being symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
In order to change, to be “transformed”, we must have our minds “renewed”. The Greek word in Rom. 12 is ἀνακαίνωσις (ana-kai-NO-sis) from the root word in Matt 9:17 .
“Ana” means again and “kainos” means new. This literally means “to make new again”.
Obviously, God does not remove our brain and replace it with a fresh, new one. That would be an amazing form of brainwashing. But this concept of “renewing our mind” is a process that actually changes the way we think.
The world has warped our thinking. We become stiff and unfit for the Kingdom of God. We cannot know His will because our minds cannot contain the revelation of it. It is only through the power of the Word of God and the energizing of the Holy Spirit that our minds can be renewed. These two elements, working together, are the essential ingredients necessary for true transformation to come to pass.
God has provided everything we need in order to change. Together, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are absolutely necessary for true change to take place. We must use these two tools if we are to know His will on this earth. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit must have free reign in our lives if we are to achieve His will in our lives and in this world.
The Word of God alone is not enough. The Holy Spirit alone is not enough. Both must be actively incorporated in order for true change (renewal) to take place. The old saying is true. “All Word and no Spirit, you dry up. All Spirit and no Word, you blow up. Both Word and Spirit, you grow up”.
Renewing the mind does not happen merely because one desires it. Renewing of the mind does not occur simply because one becomes a Christian. Renewing of the mind is a process begun with a deliberate decision to change – like the old joke about how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one but the light bulb must really want to change. As a Bible Believer, you must really want to change. It must be a desire followed by a decision supported by action, reinforced by a commitment.
If the mind of the believer is not renewed, transformation will not take place. If transformation does not take place, the will of God will never be known in the fullest measure. If the will of God is not fully known, we will live defeated, powerless lives, frustrated at our spiritual impotence and inability.