How to Maintain or Tune Up Your Spiritual Mind Part 2 Romans 12:1-2
One thing I really like about the country is, especially farm country, is the old barns. Maybe because years ago my grandmother bought a barn next store to my parents house and converted it into a nice home. I like it because it has the traditional Dutch Gambrel roof. And after my grandmother passed away we live in the house for a number of years before we bought a home in Saratoga Springs. My brother and his wife presently own the home today. One thing Washington County, NY has plenty of is barns. I think one of the nicest barns I’ve ever seen is the big white one just up the road from the Wilson’s home owned by Parker’ Dairy Farm. It is a big barn which has been well maintained over the years and it has a fresh coat of white paint.
But as many picturessque barns there are in Washington county, there are probably more which have fallen into disrepair. Many have even collapsed into piles of rotten, broken lumber. In many ways I find this sad. I can’t help but imagine how proud those farmers were when the barns were brand new, just after they errected the structure. You can tell that those who built most of these barns did not skimp when they built these barns, because many of them have slate tile roofs. Sadly many of them now lay in ruin. What happen? Rather than being maintained over the years they were neglected. They probably lost a few roof tiles causing some leaks. These leaks would cause some of the wood to rot. That coupled with a lack of paint and repair, the old barns had no chance against the elements and eventually they fell to the ground in a pile.
Whether it is barn, a shed, a garage, or even a house, if you don’t maintain it, it’s just a matter of time before the elements attack and it falls to the ground. And likewise, if we don’t take care of ourself, certain aspects of our life can deteriorate of fall apart as well.
This is the second lesson in a series of lessons I namedA Personal Tune Up. In part one, I talk about our need to maintain or tune up our personal relationships. Here in Part 2, I would like to talk aboutTuning Up or Maintaining Our Spiritual Mind.
More often than not I find that too many people are crippled by what I call‘stinkin thinkin.’ I even find this prevalent among Christians.
This line of thinking can effect one’s attitude, one’s peace of mind, how one carries themselves throughout the day, and it has an effect on their image and reputation as precieved by others.
If someone were to go to those closest to you; family members, or those you work with, your neighbors, or even fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, how would they describe you? For some of us, this is a scarry thought.
I only bring this up because I believe that it’s important to maintain and even tune up how we think, our mental health. If you are like me, sometimes my mind thinks things that are not very helpful or benificial. I have heard this called‘stinkin thinkin.’It’s like those old building who have lost some roof tiles and the outside elements of the world have begun to have a negetive effect on us.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he makes some suggestion in chapter 12. I would like to read to you verses 1-2. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Paul makes two suggestions here. I plan on saving his first suggestion for another lesson. But today, I would like to focus more on verse 2. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
What Paul is saying here is stop letting the world and its way of thinking tear you down. Rather change your focus, change your thinking, renew it, maintain a wholesome thought pattern and you will know what God’s will is.
Just up the street from our church building there is a huge impressive looking barn. You can tell it was well built. But if you look at it today the walls are standing tall but the whole roof has collapsed into the barn. Rain and elements probably crept in through the roof and it rot the wooden beams causing it to fall. And like wise when we allow the influence of the world to creep into our minds it likewise has a damaging effect.
When we begin our Christian walk, committing our self to Christ, we are on top of the world. But over time something happens, for some the joy disappears, it becomes a chore just to go to church, some even fall away. Some of you here this morning know exactly what I am talking about. Maybe you lost that fire or that initial passion you had for Christ. You feel tired, and grouchy, or maybe even filled with anxiety because of your life and what’s going on out there in the world. The flame of faith is almost extinguished. But Why?
What has happened to smother your faith? I think the answer can be found here in verse 2. Priorities changed and just like the barn with a leaky roof the world is seeping back in, and its having a negative effect on your minds.
But wait, you are now a co-heir with Christ, a sinner saved by grace with the hope and promise of eternal life in heaven. So in Verse 2 Paul says, ‘Stop trying to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then(and only then) you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’
Do you remember Jesus’ parable about the man who sowed seed and it fell on different kinds of soil? You can read the Parable in Matthew 13. Jesus also goes on to explains its meaning. So as the story goes the farmers spreads his seed and it falls on different kinds of soil. I would like to read to you His explanation.18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.20The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.21But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.22The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.23But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
So here we again see the negative influence of the world. In verse 22. this person is a believer. But what chokes the life out him and causes him to become unfruitful? Jesus said that the worries of this world and deceitfulness of wealth mess with this man’s mind, and robs him of peace and joy, and brings him down like that old barn roof.
And what about the story of how Peter got out of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus? Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and he want to walk on water as well, in Matthew 14 starting with vs. 28 Peter said,28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29“Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Peter went down when he took his eyes off Jesus, and so do we.
It all comes down to what we think, or what we focus on. The writer of Proverbs said,“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” KJV Prov. 23:7
Let me read a few more verses to you from Scripture concerning our mind
Romans 8:5-7 “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
2 Corinthians 11:3. Paul wrote, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds maysomehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
Colossians 3:2Paul wrote “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
1 Peter 1:13“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
And as a reminder, in out text this morning Paul said, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Our mind and what we focus on is important to God. Here is where the rubber meets the road –We have a choice to make.Either you will live according to the Spirit, or the flesh. Will you let the things of this world get to you, or you will do your best to let go of those things and renew your mind with God’s help.
I believe that this is a choice that we have to make daily if not by the hour. Paul’s challenge is not to conform to the patterns, the sinful ways, the sinful thinking, of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of your minds.
Whether you realize it or not there is a battle going on to take control of your mind. Satan wants to get your mind all tangled up, with anxiety, confusion, problems, and concerns of this world with the hope of getting you to take your eyes off Jesus, so that you will start to sink just like Peter.
But the question is, are your going to let him do that to you? Are you going to allow him to use the things of this world to deceive you, choke you and make you unfruitful like the seed cast into the thistles? Please, do not allow Satan to do that to you.
I think Paul understood the spiritual battle going on for the control of your mind. And I believe he also knew how it would ultimately lead to victory or defeat in our daily life.
Psychologists tell us there are two simple rules concerning the mind: The Law of Concentration and the Law of Substitution. In theLaw of Concentrationthey tell us that whatever we dwell on, grows in our life experience and becomes part of us.
Sound familiar? “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”
In theLaw of Substitutionthey tell us that our conscious mind can only hold one thought at a time, where you can substitute or replace a positive thought for a negative thought, or replace a negative thought with a negative one..
What you feed your mind with ultimately be reflected in your life. And if you neglect spiritual food for the mind, you will end up living a Christian life which will be weak and ultimately defeated. Paul tells us that a conscious renewing of the mind,or regular maintenance program, can lead to a transformation into a Christ-like healthy mind.
We need to stop feeding our minds on things that pull us down and lead us into‘stinkin thinkin’,and start focusing on things that renew our mind, build us up, help us think healthy thoughts, strengthen our faith and will encourage others.
Paul says when we do this we will be able to better discern the will of God for our lives.
Practical Application Let me give you some very practical advice about renewing your mind and transforming your life. Most all of us heard the saying, ‘No pain – No gain.’ There are no shortcuts to spiritual growth or maturity. There is no easy route to renewing a mind and transforming a life – in fact at times it can be a hard and painful path. So here is my advice, gained from Scripture and from my own walk with God.
First– you must consciously surrender your thoughts and mental health to Christ, each day.( It’s part of ”Loving God will all our mind”) Even saying it out loud‘Today, it all about you Lord Jesus.’And then keeping a check on what you focus your mind on.(This is like checking out your roof and making sure there are no leaks or no roof tiles missing)
Secondly– pray daily and read something from God’s word, the Bible and thinking about what you’ve read. This is essential if you want to renew your mind. You have to know the will of God to be transformed. This will require disciplining yourself to take some time out each day, and it will require some determination because all sorts of things will demand that time. Talking to God each day should become a priority as well as spending time His Word. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Isn’t this peace of mind what you want?(Time spent in prayer and reading is like patching your roof when you start to see a problem develop, or painting the wood before the bad elements set in. It’s something that you should not put off.)
Third– be in a relationship with at least one other person to help you with your spiritual growth. Find someone you can trust, someone you can relate to and invite them to hold you accountable. Jesus never sent His disciples out on their own – He always sent them out two by two. When Thomas went off on his own he later doubted that Jesus rose from the dead. He had to wait another week to see the risen Christ, and he was rebuked for his unbelief. (This is like a friend who is will to help you patch your roof or paint your house before problems begin to deteriorate you house. Sometimes their encouragement can motivate you to do things you don’t feel like doing.)
Finally– you need to feed your mind with things that are wholesome. That means being careful of what you watch, what you read, what you listen to in the media and also what you say. In Philippians 4:8 Paul wrote,8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
If you fill your mind with the things of this world and focus on all the negative garbage going on, it will suck the life out you. Don’t let Satan destroy you in this manner. I don’t want to find you one day all crumpled up spiritually like one of those old barn on the side of the road. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”