Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Transformed Mind

In April 2007 a powerful 8.1 magnitude earthquake in the region of the Solomon Islands shook loose a World War II torpedo boat which had rested on the ocean floor for over 60 years. The boat's hull was intact—explosives and all. Thankfully no other ships collided into it because it was identified and an expert bomb unit was deployed to detonate the torpedoes safely.

Experts believe the PT boat is just one of many pieces of military wreckage that pepper the coastline of the islands. This piece is particularly fascinating in that it's the same variety of military craft U.S. President John F. Kennedy commanded. Jay Waura of the National Disaster Management Office said, “We were amazed by this finding, as previously this wreckage had long been sitting under the sea and rusting in peace without anyone knowing about it.”[1]

When I read this story I was reminded of what the Bible says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Paul commands every believer not to allow the world to change them to adopt its agenda, values, norms priorities or expectations. The J.B. Phillips translation renders this verse, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you its own mold.”

Bad thoughts, wrong ideas, misconceptions and false assumptions are like dangerous wreckage lying dormant in our mind. If our minds are not transformed then these submerged hazards—ideas left over from the world’s influence—can resurface and threaten us later on. God is not interested in renewing most of your mind—not even 99% of your mind. He wants it all. He wants to pull down every remnant of your “pre-Christian” worldview and fill your mind with His word, His principles, His thoughts.

The way that we resist this brainwashing is to have our mind transformed, which in the original Greek is the word metamorphoo. From this compound word comes our word metamorphosis, which as we all learned in school is the same process whereby a caterpillar is turned into a butterfly. This word is used two other times in the NT in connection with Jesus transfiguration (Matt 17:2, Mark 9:2).

Metamorphosis denotes an inside-out change. What happens to the caterpillar in becoming a butterfly happens to our minds and then our actions follow. We are not changed by a 5-step program, behavior modification, or even attending church, but by letting the Word of God continually fill our minds. The more we marinate in the Word of God the more the things of this world are pushed out of our minds and we are conformed to God’s character and point of view.

David Jeremiah says, “The Word of God is like a dialysis machine for kidney patients that cleanses the blood of impurities. The Word of God actively working in our minds filters out the filth that we collect just by being under the world’s pressure and bombarding messages. The degree of worldliness in the church is a direct correlation to the amount of Bible reading and study that goes on by individuals in the church.”[2]  

Why do you think transformation takes place in the mind? Why do you think Paul used “mind” in this verse and not “soul” or “heart” or “will”? The reason is because you are what you think. Ideas have consequences and you behave on what you believe. Proverbs 4:23 in the TEV says, “Be careful how you think, your life is shaped by your thoughts.”

The reason why renewing the mind is so important is because all the issues of life flow outward from what we think. Thoughts become words and actions. Actions become habits. Habits become character and character becomes destiny. The mind is like a complex computer and the software that you feed into the system is what is going to come out—garbage in, garbage out.

The Gideon Bible Society has been distributing little New Testaments for years and there is no way to adequately measure the full impact of their ministry. I like to log on to their website periodically and read some of the amazing stories of transformation.

One missionary in Brazil entered a story about having his pocket picked by a thief in the market. When he arrived home the missionary discovered that little Gideon New Testament that was in his back pocket was gone. The missionary wrote, “He took something that looked like a wallet full of money only to discover, when he returned to his hiding place, that it was a copy of the New Testament.”

When the thief found that he’d stolen a Bible he threw it against the wall of his apartment. That night unable to sleep, the thief remembered the little book. He walked over to where it was and picked it up. His eyes lighted on one verse, “If any man be in Christ He is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). The drug addicted bandit spent the rest of the night reading the Bible and surrendered his heart to Christ. Today he is a Gideon and has dedicated his life to distributing the Word.[3]   

I don’t know anything that can cleanse the mind and change a sinner like the Word of God. That kind of transformation is available to each one of us, but here’s the catch. It’s up to you to program your mind with good, nourishing content. The Holy Spirit will not read the Bible to you and no one can start the transformation process except you.

[1] "Quake brings WWII PT boat up from ocean floor," Associated Press, 27 April 2007  <http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/04/27/quake.pt.boat.ap/index.html>
[2] David Jeremiah, Living By Faith: Romans, vol. 5 (San Diego: Turning Point, 2003), 15. 
[3] “A Stolen Opportunity,” <http://www.gideons.org/ChangedLives/ChangedLivesText.aspx?source={AFF22AD7-8899-438D-B334-16725C4C37B4}>  

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