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May 07, 2007

“The Renewing of Your Mind” Part III The Rewards

by Professor Robert J. Barth

Part III: The Rewards

The first step in “the renewing of your mind” is being “born again,” or born of the Holy Spirit. When we acknowledge that we have sinned and “come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) we must make a decision whether we will believe the truth of the Bible and put our faith in Jesus as the Christ, or whether we will reject the “great salvation” (Hebrews 1:3) He provided, and remain in our sins.

Even after receiving God’s free gift of eternal salvation through faith, we must make another choice to receive and believe who we are “in Christ” and “reckon,” or put to our account, that we are dead to the sinful carnal ways of the flesh and “alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11). While we do not physically die when we are “baptized [immersed or washed] into Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:3) and surrender to His lordship, our fleshly nature is crucified with Christ.

Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. (Romans 6:4-7)

If we believe this truth, we are risen with Christ and have a new nature—the nature of the Holy Spirit. The old nature has been crucified with Christ! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). Peter put it this way, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:4).

If the old nature is dead, why is there still the battle between the ways of the flesh and the ways of the Spirit? Why do we still fall short and sin? Why do we not always experience the victory over sin that Jesus died to give us?  The first reason is a lack of knowledge of the truth and believing it. It is also because of wrong thought patterns, wrong habits, wrong speaking, and the influences of the world.

That is why “the renewing of your mind” is so important! One cannot walk in the truth of the victory over sin if the “spirit of your mind” is not renewed.

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

By the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us we have the victory to resist sin, and to overcome the lusts of the flesh. Jesus told the disciples in the garden, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The Holy Spirit that dwells in each born again believer is stronger than the flesh! But, it is our choice whether we “walk after the Spirit” and “walk not after the flesh” (See Romans 8:1.).

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14)

As we “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) we will experience many rewards. We will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh and will experience a freedom from the bondage of sin. We will be Holy Spirit led rather than led by emotions, circumstances, or fears. We will “see” and be able to appropriate the promises of God in a life victorious in the Spirit, regardless of the circumstances.

To illustrate the point, consider all that the Apostle Paul experienced.

“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; … In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” (II Corinthians 11:24-27)

Yet, if he followed his own exhortation, he rejoiced in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), prayed (talked with God) without ceasing, and in everything gave thanks, for it “is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” to do this (I Thessalonians 5:17-18). Paul did not rejoice about his circumstances. He rejoiced in his relationship with the Lord while in those circumstances. He was content (at peace) in whatever circumstance, whether he was in plenty or in need and he knew he could “do all things through Christ which strengthened me” (Phil 4:11-13).

Now, that is a renewed mind! It is a mind that is focused on the nature of God and what He has done for us. It is a mind that is renewed by wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17) as a result of meditating on God’s Word. It is a mind that receives God’s grace (divine influence on the heart) to choose the ways of the Spirit rather than the ways of the flesh. It is a mind that is focused on the ways of God when what is happening around us makes it difficult or uncomfortable in the flesh.

But you might say, “This is not natural!” That is true. It is not natural according to the ways of the flesh, but it is natural according to the ways of the Spirit.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:14-16)

Paul did not walk according to the old desires of his flesh, but according to the new life in the Spirit that dwelled in him. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

The rewards of “the renewing of your mind” are great, both now and for eternity. The Apostle Paul summed up the rewards of being one with Christ this way, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22).

Continue to read, reread and meditate on Romans 6-8 so that you will better understand the rewards of “the renewing of your mind.”

The Rewards

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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