Christians can often be accused of speaking in “Christianese” by using words and phrases in a Christian context.
Christianese comes usually as phrases like “renew your mind!”, “take every thought captive!”, “I’ll pray for you!”
They can also be overused and even out-of-context Scriptures that betray an actual misunderstanding of the text, such as when a Christian is trying to accomplish something difficult and says, “I can do all things through He who strengthens me.”
So when a Christian says “renew your mind,” what does that actually mean, and why is it important for our lives?
This bit of Christianese is based on Romans 12:2, “Do 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.”
Many believers in Christ have likely heard the phrase “renew your mind” or Bible passages like this one, and may even talk about it conversationally.
But do we know what it even means? Or — an even better test of understanding — do we live this out daily?
Always start with what this means and why this is important:
1) Renewing our minds causes transformation:
The conjunction “but” in the scripture above tells us that transformational thinking starts when we renew our minds.
Renewing our minds causes an internal shift away from conforming to the pattern of this world. It’s God’s plan for us, in order to directly empower us to fulfill the prohibition (“Do not conform”).
2) Transforming in Christ is God’s answer to rising above the darkness:
This is essential, because we need to know that our efforts are worthwhile.
Just as a child makes more of an effort at being kind when they see the social benefits (and the consequences of mean-ness), humans in general are motivated when we understand outcomes.
Renewing our minds is a command, and the outcome of transformation is sure and eternally beneficial.
The warning about conforming to this world is serious business. When we become aware of the evil in darkness, we know a change must take place for us to experience the Light, and to keep us from re-conforming to darkness.
If we try to form a man-powered plan for holiness, we grow a mindset that often leads to legalism and imposing judgment of self or others. Self-righteousness didn’t work in the story of salvation; only Christ’s righteousness saves. So it is the same here.
Our flesh-hearts, our natural selves, are still going to look for ways to win without God.
We can deny this lie whispered by the enemy by embracing the power already available in Jesus. When we renew our minds, we are able to embrace that power.
3) Renewing our minds makes us able to perceive the will of God!
As mentioned at the beginning, one side effect of Christianese (speaking truth without fully understanding it and living it out) is the loss of Scriptural impact.
Another effect is that it can cause assumptions about the Bible or ourselves that are simply not true.
Many say honestly that we “just want to know the will of God” for our lives. A noble desire, indeed! But the way we speak about it most often sounds like knowing His Will is difficult and foreign, hard to perceive, hard to tap in to.
But what if someone told you that God through His Word has literally already given you the key to perceive His will?
And, just in case you wanted clarification, we are talking about that good, pleasing, perfect will that is directly from the mind of All-Knowing Jehovah?
According to Romans 12:2, the key is available to you, as a child of God. As His own, we are now invited into the Kingdom as family, not strangers. And as family, it is logical and brilliant to believe that God would give us special keys to unlock sacred entrances.
Here we have one of the most precious and life-altering keys. Let’s learn to use it!
4) Renewing our mind helps us in fighting spiritual warfare.
Next, we need to understand the mind. Our mind is amazing. The mind was designed by the same Creator who made our spirits and bodies. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14).
Our mind is that part of us, also called the soul, in which we have God-given control. Our responsibility is to assimilate what the Spirit speaks with our own spirit.
As a believer in Jesus, God will never leave you or forsake you. But as a current resident of this fallen world, the voices of darkness and your own earthly circumstances are also constant.
So, the mind is where the battle happens. The winner in every moment is either Light or darkness, depending on how we think, feel, and choose.
You are constantly thinking, constantly feeling. That’s already happening. You are also constantly making choices based on what you think about, and how you feel about that thought.
How does this relate to us, in our daily lives, to actually renew our minds?
By taking back the Truth, and abandoning the lie: In order to fulfill God’s good commission to renew your mind, you must understand that you are in control of your mind.
According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, a leading Christian neuroscientist, we as humans have the ability to live in superposition, which means the ability to be present in the moment, and observe ourselves at the same time.
We are made to self-regulate, self-evaluate. (Example: speaking with your child, while being mindful of the tone you are using, body language, etc.).
Dr Leaf also explains that the mind, our soul, is a gift and a responsibility at the same time.
We are charged by God to take the reins of this beautiful gift, and navigate it according to His Ways. We do that by daily aligning with who God is, who we are, and our redeemed purpose. We do this to combat the constant influx of lies and distraction coming from the darkness around us.
So how exactly do we “renew our minds?”
Pastor J.J at Elevation Church recently spoke on this topic.
By God’s grace he created a simple way to help us learn how to “change our minds.”
1) Renew your MOTIVES.
Pastor J.J. explains that the first thing we are called to shift is our motives.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world…”
The original language for the word “pattern” does not infer external, but internal. It’s one word in Greek that talks about “the aims and aspirations of this current age.”
The world is chasing things like success, significance, joy, and belonging in the wrong places, because of the motives that fuel the spiritual darkness. We have to reevaluate what motivates us, because that will dictate where we go to seek success, affirmation, peace, joy.
Chasing after what the world chases after will never lead to the Love our souls truly seek.
Proverbs 21:2 explains that “A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.” This tells us that we can be doing “all the right things for all the wrong reasons”.
We often ask God to help us change external things… And of course, there is a place for that.
But what if we stop and ask first, “Why am I doing these things that I keep doing?”
Impure motivations limit what God can do in your life. Eliminating these will free you to run toward the rewards of heaven.
If your motive is to impress people, then that’s the limit of the reward you can access (Matthew 6:2). If your motive is the overwhelming love and mercy of God and the goal is to honor Him, those heavenly rewards will cause you to access purpose and God-driven adventure that lifts you from the darkness, fueled by Light.
Do not miss out on the rewards God has for you. You align your motives first, to set a firm and pure foundation for shifting your soul, your mind.
“Don’t conform to the pattern of this world, but in view of all that God has done for you, don’t you think He’s worthy of you living your life for His honor?”
2) Renew your IDENTITY
“Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but think of yourselves with sober judgment,” (Romans 12:3).
Arrogance isn’t the opposite of humility. “Humility isn’t self-deprivation, but self-awareness.”
We cannot keep talking ourselves out of what God is speaking over our lives. Do not keep the lies of the enemy by repeating his whispers of inadequacies, shame, or past status.
Your status is defined by the Love God showed when He sent His Son to die for your restoration to Him. He has a purpose for you. And it is not functional if you live in the extremes of pride and self-accusation. It’s a vicious cycle when we don’t fill ourselves with the Word of God, and what it says about who we are.
“You are His child, you’re more than a conqueror, you are the righteousness of God in Christ… You can’t really modify your behavior without really addressing your identity.”
3) Renew your NETWORK
While this is a shift from internal to external, the network of people around us is what physically changes our thought life. If you constantly have negativity surrounding you, you will absolutely begin to shift into habits of mental pain and doubt.
Perhaps you need to “upgrade your network”. Seek people to fill your time with, who also seek transformation and believers to speak life over you.
On the other side, as far as it depends on you, seek to be a Life-giver. Speak Truth in Love. This requires you to start your networking at the Source — connecting daily to Jesus first.
This doesn’t mean to abandon the people around you. People aren’t perfect and everyone needs people to help us process discouragement and pain. This is about community, the network you choose to fill your life with on purpose, and have purposed relationship with.
You’ve also lived through multiple seasons, multiple stories. One of your purposes is to share what God has done so other people can experience the freedom you have found.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Part of the network renewing process is outward as well. Seek to use the gifts and graces you’ve received. The motion of acting out your gifts prevents the “immotion” of complacency to set in.
If you’re not sure what your gifts are, read our article on finding your spiritual gifts today.
4) Renew your DECISIONS
“In all these things, it all comes together in the little decisions that you and I make every single day.”
God is responsible for changing our hearts, but we must realize our responsibility to change (renew) our minds. When we understand His ways, His Love, His majesty, we can then make decisions that will align us with the Will of God.
We must be renewed to be transformed. Romans 8:29 says that “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
Renewal leads to transformation. We are intended to become “like Christ” — restored, empowered, representatives of Love Himself.
So what do you need to do to “renew your mind” today? Let us know in the comments section below!