What Does It Mean to Renew Your Mind?
by Denise Pass
Sitting in the dark corner of my sunroom that I affectionately called my “worship room,” my thoughts overwhelmed me. Struggling to breathe as I tried to cry silently enough so no one else would hear, the sound of carpet crunching underneath my daughter’s footsteps snapped me out of my trance. “Mom—don’t cry. It’s ok. You are Ai Wei De.” I looked up at her and smiled.
This name was more than a nickname. It was the beginning of a shift in my mindset. I had studied the life of Gladys Aylward with my children. She was a missionary to China who had rescued hundreds of children who had affectionately named her “Ai Wei De,” which means virtuous woman. In that moment as my daughter called me by that name, I realized that my struggles in my own mind, which stemmed from our overwhelming situation, were in fact a mission.
We renew our mind when we become aware of our thoughts.
Our thoughts matter. A lot. Proverbs 4:23 (GNT) says, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” With 70,000+ thoughts a day, tracking our thoughts might seem an unlikely endeavor. But patterns of thoughts can begin to emerge. Negative thoughts need to be reined in before they become actions.
We renew our mind by changing the narrative in our mind.
Instead of ruminating on the hard places and the negative narrative in our minds, we can meditate on God’s Word. We can shift the conversation in our mind to God’s purpose in the pain rather than contemplating and commiserating on negative thoughts. This is something we get to choose even though our thoughts can be so powerful that we feel we cannot. “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23, NLT). Finding Scripture verses that speak truth to the lies pumping through our brains begins to renew our mindset so that we learn to think righteously, not just positively. But renewing our mind is a process.
We renew our mind when we think like Jesus.
The phrase, “What would Jesus do?” was popularized originally in 1896 by Pastor Charles Sheldon in a sermon series he did that challenged people to behave like Jesus. I have adapted this phrase to “What would Jesus think?” 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us that we have the mind of Christ. “For, ‘Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?’ But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16, NLT). As in present tense. As in the heritage for all those who are in Christ. We get to choose what we think on. And Jesus showed us how to think like Him.
We renew our mind when we think on the things of God.
The culture around us shapes us to think about what matters to man. It did not make sense to Peter that Jesus had to die. So, Peter rebuked Jesus. And Jesus rebuked Peter. “But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man’” (Matthew 16:23, ESV). Learning to think like Jesus depends on what our mindset is fixed upon. Are our thoughts geared toward our will, or God’s?
We renew our mind when we think according to the Spirit, rather than the flesh.
We are indoctrinated all our days to be wired toward the flesh. But walking in the Spirit is possible in Christ. Paul tutored us in Romans 8 about the challenge of walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh. That word, “mindset,” is the Greek word phroneō, the same word found in Matthew 16:23, above. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5, NIV). What we desire reveals what our mindset is fixed upon.
We renew our mind by seeing where our thoughts don’t lineup with God’s.
The renewal of our minds is not a one-time endeavor. It is a perpetual dependence on God’s thoughts over our own. But we need to recognize that God’s thoughts are higher than ours and submit our thoughts to His. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8–9, ESV). As we recognize that our thoughts are not in line with Christ’s, we simply need to repent and ask God to help us in our thoughts. Repentance is the key to mind renewal. We are repenting of believing our thoughts over God’s.
We renew our mind
That day as I sat in the corner, thinking there was no way I could ever get over the fog of depression that clouded my view or that my circumstances would ever change, my thoughts shifted with my daughter’s sweet words. My problems were a mission. Would I accept the mission to face my thoughts biblically? Would I see my circumstances as something God allowed and would guide me through? My own thoughts were not what God’s Word said about me. I did not have to be ruled by my thoughts. I could rule over my thoughts with God’s Word. God promises peace to those who will fix their thoughts on Him rather than on their troubles. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT).
Biblical mindset coach, author, speaker, worship leader, podcaster and mom to five, Denise Pass has an MA in biblical exposition, is the author of Make Up Your Mind, Shame Off You and The Bible Tribe Journal, and serves on the P31 COMPEL and First 5 writing teams. Connect with Denise: www.denisepass.com or https://www.youtube.com/denisepass_seeingdeep