carnal mind, discerning the spirits, experience, good works, joy, mind, peace, prayer, rest, service, soul-life, spiritual flow, spiritual transformation, T.A. Sparks, the mind of Christ, the new self, the old self, thought life, walking by the spirit
This title might sound a bit simple to some, yet I was wondering whether it is always that easy for us to distinguish between our natural way of living and its spiritual counterpart which springs from Christ’s Life in us. Just lately I got aware of certain differences between my natural soul life’s powers and God’s supernatural powers we might receive through spiritual communion and fellowship with Him. Sometimes these two ways of living take turns within a few seconds and I am amazed at how different they really are! Even if our natural thinking, speaking, and doing is sophisticated, sooner or later we get exhausted if we remain on this level… UNLESS we can be sure of man’s approval and appreciation! If someone applauds, our soul receives new power and energy with which we can go on, even without God, and even without realizing that we left Him somehow behind.
We ought to know that life with God in New Covenantal times should take place primarily in the spiritual realm. Our unseen, newly born being inside of us may call on God at ANY time. We have access to heaven, so to speak, with our mind and thought life whenever we turn to Him. This occupation might also be called prayer. 😉 Nobody around us might know about our prayers, however, if we try to ask God and Jesus about our everyday thoughts and decisions more often, we will know that they do hear us and that they do answer, though most often not in these ways we have been used to when confronted with human beings. Just one observation about this that occurred to me – just now.
As I am wondering about what to write, I find myself most of the times pretty blank-minded. There is nothing worth reflecting upon and nothing that would be interesting to share with others, either. In such cases, and only then, God offers me to write a blog post “together”, an idea that makes me often grin, since I have nothing to offer Him but to type. If it is only a headline or a new thought of which I think I should expound, there will be no real trains of thoughts I can follow until He gives me some inspiration – in HIS time. Then I listen and jot down what comes to my mind – moment by moment. In the end, I look at my article or poem and wonder, “Who wrote that?” 🙄 As long as I am writing, the words feel alive, pictures come to mind and I am very interested in listening to God’s surprising guidance. But afterwards when I am done with publishing, I have problems big time to reread this stuff, which I have already forgotten, since it is all VERY boring to me. 😊
It was only yesterday as I read an article by T. Austin Sparks of which I am going to share an excerpt with you below. This entry deals with the question of how we are to renew our minds and of how we are being transformed into Christ’s image on a permanent basis exclusively by doing so. That means, no inner transformation through outward doing! Dear brothers and sisters, good works apart from God’s leading are still our own business and cannot change our hearts, either. They might be appreciated by human beings, but they are not pleasing in God’s eyes as we might realize when we cannot sense His approval as we do when we feel His peace, His joy, and our doing turns into effortless activity springing from a spiritual flow of divine origin.
We will take the one which now is the pivot upon which everything else revolves: “Be not fashioned according to this age (the word in the Authorised is “be not conformed to this world”), but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” There you have the reversing of an order. One line is being fashioned according to this age. The tense is that which means a progress, going on, being fashioned according to this age. The other line is being transformed by the renewing of the mind.
The difference there is twofold, one in the definite statement, and the other in the words used.
1) From the outward to the inward
In the first place it is clearly a change from the outward to the inward. “Fashioned according to this age” means definitely taking a pattern outside of yourself, to which you are conforming your life; an objective pattern by which you are being governed, regulated, influenced or controlled. The opposite, and the reverse, is “transformed by the renewing of the mind”, an inward thing. From the outward to the inward; from the pattern or the fashion of the world, to the renewed mind.
2) From the passing to the permanent
The word “fashion” in the Greek is simply something which relates to this world, that is passing. The word “schema” means something which comes as a mode, a fashion for the time, and passes. But the word “transformed” (“morphe” in the Greek) is not the passing fashion but the permanent form of a thing. So you change from something passing as a fashion, to something permanent as a form.
That is the very heart of this letter to the Romans. We might say, in a sense, so far as we are concerned, that it is the heart of the New Testament. There is a tremendous difference between fashioning or conforming to something outward, and transformation or transfiguration by something happening within, or something which has happened within.
The Renewal of the Mind
That brings us to the main matter: “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Thus the renewal of the mind is the key to everything. That is only saying in other words that the inwardness of things in relation to Christ is the key to everything; that things now in relation to the Lord have become basically and inclusively inward. Inasmuch as that is true, and we are living on that principle, along the line of the inward relationship with the Lord, we are being transformed.
We are not only being transformed in the matter of life and character, this chapter has especially to do with service, and ministry. Everything now, both in life and in service, is from within, and no longer from without. That is a thing which is needing so much stress. When we light upon that, we light upon an enormous factor, really a revolutionising factor. Those to whom that is in any way real, feel the tremendous strength of it, that everything now, both in life and in service, is from within.
May God keep us in His perfect peace as long as we listen to His guidance and give us restlessness in order to wake us up whenever we disregard His leading. Amen.