We are starting a new series entitled: How to Renew Your Mind
Intro Story – Shots of pickle juice
When I was in (I think) the 6th grade, I had a couple of friends from school that I would hang out with. Well one day, we were in school and there was this other kid and he was telling us that his dad would let him drink beer and he would get drunk. I am fairly confident this kid was lying about this and just trying to look cool. Well it worked, we all thought he was REAL cool. And we wanted to be cool too. So we set out to get drunk. Just one problem, we didn’t have any beer. My mom doesn’t know this story.
So, one day we were at my friends house, and we were in his room and we were racking our brains figuring out what we should do to get drunk. Well for some reason, we got the idea that there was alcohol in pickle juice. (There’s not)
So we waited till my friend’s mom went to the bathroom, and my friend went and grabbed this giant tub of pickles that they had in the pantry. And we started taking “shots” of pickle juice. And you know what happened? We got “drunk” in our minds. We started saying things like “Can you feel that burn?” “Yeah man, I can feel that burn.” “Yeah I’ve got a real “BUZZ”, do you?” “Yeah man, I’m got a huge BUZZ.” And we convinced ourselves that we were drunk.
So we were roaming around the house bumping into stuff, and stumbling around, because we were convinced we were drunk.
Well, we decided we were gonna get SUPER drunk, so we went back into his room and we decided we were all gonna take 10 more “shots” of pickle juice. Can you guess what happened? – We all started vomiting pickle juice all over this kids room. (This poor mom.)
But it’s interesting to think about. Because we BELIEVED we were drunk, and so we felt drunk.
And it shows just how powerful your mind is. Everything you experience, good and bad, before you experience it, is colored and filtered through your own mental framework.
The first thing I’d like you to write if you’re taking notes this morning:
Most of life’s battles are won and lost in your mind.
Over the course of your life, you will suffer in your body. You’ll have broken bones, and you’ll get sick, you’ll experience pain, you’ll fall off a ladder, you’ll break a nail.
But the place the majority of us will suffer the most is in our mind. We’ll experience sorrow and grief and loneliness and anger and despair.
I think for many of us, this year has been a year when we’ve been confronted with just how toxic our minds can be. When left alone at home, without our usual creature comforts – friends, activities, movies, some of us have been delighted to find that what has come out of us has been joy, and peace, and contentment, and gratitude. But for most of us, if we’re being honest would have to admit that this year has exposed just how toxic our minds can be.
Well, scripture has a whole lot to say about our minds.
2 Corinthians 10
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. (2 Corinthians 10:3)
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (Military Term – the place where you’d hide military leaders during war) (2 Corinthians 10:4)
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Turn to your neighbor and say “I’m gettin’ my mind right.”
A few words on resources.
During this series, we’re going to be touching on lots of concepts, but we won’t be diving into nearly as much detail as we’d like because we’re limited to a 40 or so minute sermon. But there are SO many good resources that are available to you and we’ll try to point you to some along the way. And I’d like to point out 2 this morning.
- The First is “The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer. Excellent book.
- And the second is a new one and that’s “Winning the War in Your Mind” by Craig Groeschel.
If you’re a reader, I don’t need to tell you, but you’re almost always going to have some parts of books you agree with and other parts that you disagree with. Welcome to reading. But there’s so much good to be learned from these people, and if you come across a part you disagree with, let’s say someone believes that God brings illness into your life, and you don’t believe that, don’t panic. Just relax. Eat the meat, spit out the bones, move on with your life, and keep learning.
With that said, I highly recommend both of these books and I’m pulling from both of them this morning.
So here’s a point that we will be returning to in this series:
Our lives are always moving in the direction of our strongest thoughts.
Both science and scripture agree.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV)
If you always feel like you’re a victim, you will live your life as a victim. If instead you believe that you can overcome through the power of Christ within you, you will overcome.
This series is an invitation to think about what you think about.
We’re going to conduct what I’m calling a “Thought Audit”. So as we go through these I want you to consider where you are on this scale.
Worried OR Peaceful
- (Examples of worried) – Oh no! The world is so bad. The way this country is going. Something bad might happen to my kids. I’m never gonna be enough.
- (Examples of peaceful) – Even if things are complicated. Casting your cares on God. I’m gonna trust God.
Negative OR Positive
- (Examples of negative) – Traffic was so slow on the freeway. I had to wait 12 whole minutes at the grocery store. Assuming the worst instead of believing the best.
- (Examples of positive) – Believing the best. Focusing on what’s right instead of what’s wrong. What’s wrong is always available; so is what’s right.
Worldly OR Spiritual
- (Examples of worldly) – What you have, what you wear, what you look like, who liked your post, how many followers you have, what everybody thinks about you.
- (Examples of Spiritual) – I’m going to make a positive impact on the world, I’m raising my family in the ways of the Lord. I am a conqueror through Christ. I can do it. Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.
What comes into your mind, comes out in your life.
Are you excited about the direction your thoughts are taking you?
You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind. (Joyce Meyer)
Spirit Soul and Body
So I want to talk to you briefly on the concept of Spirit, Soul, and Body. And let me just say that my pastor, Pastor Marshall has a huge knowledge base about this subject that I do not have. I have a decent understanding, I know enough for it to change your life. But if you’re wanting to dig deeper into the subject, I HIGHLY recommend you ask Pastor Marshall about it. On Tuesday night he does what he calls ‘Conversations’ where he answers questions that people have, and that would be a great opportunity to go more in-depth on the subject.
Ok here we go.
People are complicated. There are so many differences in us and how we see the world, and how we look and how we sound and how we act. Some of us are tall, some of us are short, some of you are skinny, the rest of us are a little fluffy. Out of the 7.6 billion people that are on the planet, not a single one of us is exactly like everybody else. I know people use the word ‘Snowflake’ as an insult, but it really is true that you are one-of-a-kind.
But when it comes to how God BUILT us, we’re all the same.
1 Thessalonians 5
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
Paul here is giving us a huge key to understanding other people, but more importantly, understanding ourself. You have a spirit. You have a soul. You have a body.
(Put up illustration)
Body and Soul Intro
Now the body is obvious. If you go look in a mirror, that’s the part you’re going to see.
The soul is also obvious. If you were gonna have a conversation with me, you’d be speaking to my soul. Which is the mental, emotional part of me. Some say “Mind, Will, and Emotions” and that’s good, which is true. But it also includes your conscience, and your personality.
So if I were to touch your physical body, you could feel that. If I snuck up on you and poked you with pin, you’d probably jump.
But I can also touch your soul with words. If I were to come up and wound you with my words, you’d feel that.
So it’s really pretty easy to understand your body and your soul. We’re in touch with them all day.
But then you have a spirit.
Your spirit is the part of you that God communicates with. And it’s the part of us that all the power and life of God flows through. So the life giving part of you is the spirit.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:6)
So they’re totally separate. And there’s no direct connection between the two.
You can’t in just a natural way SEE your spirit like you can your body. And you can’t in any natural way FEEL your spirit like you can your soul.
And this is one of the great problems of the Christian life.
The only way to SEE your spirit is by God revealing it to you. Which primarily happens through scripture— To take it, and believe it.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63)
So the words Jesus speaks ARE spirit.
So if you want to know what your spirit is like, you can’t just go by an emotion, or what you see in a mirror, you have to go to the words of God to find out.
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror (James 1:23)
and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1:24)
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom (he’s talking about the gospel of Jesus), and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:25)
So here James is saying that the gospel of Jesus is like a mirror, that you look in to see your spiritual face.
Think about this. You have never seen your own face. You can’t. You’ve always used some sort of reflection. And so here’s the thing: You trust the reflection. If you have something in your teeth in a mirror, you instantly believe that you have something in your teeth, even though you can’t see your teeth directly, because you trust the mirror.
Well the revelation of who you are in Christ Jesus is the perfect reflection of what spiritual truth is.
You can’t go by how you feel to know what your body looks like. You can’t say “I FEEL like my makeup is done, and my hair is combed, and I’m ready to go.” No that wouldn’t work. Try doing your makeup without a mirror. That would be very difficult. You can’t go on feeling alone.
No you have to look in a mirror to see what your face looks like.
Well it’s the same thing with your spirit. You can’t just trust your feelings to show you what your spirit looks like. No you have to use the mirror of who you are in Christ revealed in scripture.
A Total Transformation
In you have been born again (that’s the phrase Jesus used), then you have been totally transformed.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Notice that this is past tense.
It’s already happened. When you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you became brand new. This isn’t going to happen for you SOMEDAY, no right now, present tense, you are a brand-new creation.
Now if you don’t understand what this looks like, you’re gonna be disappointed, and frustrated, and questioning if that really happened for you.
Your Body didn’t become new Because you can look in the mirror and tell that nothing changed about your physical body. Let’s say you have freckles, and then you receive Christ, then go home and look in the mirror, you’re still gonna have freckles. Let’s say you’re like most of us, and you could stand to lose a few pounds, well you’ll head home and look in the mirror and you’ll still need to lose a few pounds. Unless you ran home, and you live super far. Your body isn’t instantly replaced with a new body.
Your Soul didn’t become new If you were a brilliant scientist on your way to church, and then you receive Christ, you’ll still be a brilliant scientist on the way home. If you didn’t know how to do long division on the way to church, you wouldn’t instantly know how to do long division on the way home.
It’s Your Spirit So in what way is your old self GONE and you are BRAND NEW? Well that’s your spirit. And that’s not something you FEEL and it’s not something you see in a mirror.
Through the miracle of rebirth that happens when someone receives Christ, the change in their spirit is INSTANTANEOUS.
It’s not a process that begins, no it happens in an instant. Your spirit is brand new.
You are righteous, holy, full of faith, in perfect peace, every second of every day. IN YOUR SPIRIT.
And if you don’t understand that, you’re gonna look at your body, and you’re gonna FEEL your soul, and think “Hmm… Nothing changed.” And you might think “It didn’t work.” No, it’s your spirit.
When you receive Christ, your spirit is instantly as perfect, as mature, and as complete as Jesus is.
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)
Through rebirth, God sends the spirit of his son to live inside you. And the old spirit, that dead part of you is completely replaced.
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3)
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9)
Paul is saying that the “Spirit of Christ” lives in you. And there’s this constant battle of living by the spirit, or living by the flesh.
Look at what Paul says about the flesh.
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18)
So Paul says that there is nothing good about your sinful nature. Your flesh.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (Galatians 5:17)
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)
Your spirit is complete, whole, mature, in perfect peace all the time.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (Galatians 5:22)
gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:23)
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)
Your flesh is an anxious, angry, insecure, sinful pile of misery.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; (Galatians 5:19)
idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions (Galatians 5:20)
and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
It’s not a perfect illustration, but it’s decent to think of the flesh as the devil on your shoulder, and the spirit as the angel on your shoulder. One is wanting things contrary to things of God and the other is in perfect relationship with God.
“What does this have to do with renewing your mind?”
I’m so glad you asked. The answer is: EVERYTHING. The process of renewing your mind is the process of getting your mind in agreement with what is true about you in your spirit.
See your soul in neutral. It can go the way of the flesh. And it can go the way of the spirit.
Your soul has a “valve” on it, if you will. And it will be the determining factor whether you will live by the spirit or live by the flesh.
If you want that perfect, complete Spirit part of you to show up in your life then you have to get your mind in agreement with your spirit.
But if that valve on your soul stays closed to the things of the spirit, the spirit part of you will always be closed off.
If your mind only focuses on what it sees and what it feels, then you can live a completely defeated, sad, pathetic life while having God’s power living on the inside of you. And that’s a great tragedy.
Just like we read in Galatians 5:22 – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
See, you have all of those working at 100% in your spirit, but if you don’t renew your mind, you’re never gonna see them.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)
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. (Romans 12:2)
Wow, so if you want your life to be “transformed”, that happens by renewing your mind.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. (Ephesians 4:17)
See, you have to start thinking spiritually, and not worldly.
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
The mind governed by the flesh is not necessarily SIN, it’s just of the world. Thinking all day about the news, what’s happening in the world around you. What are you FEELING, what are THINKING. – Paul says spending all day there is DEATH.
But to be spiritually minded, focusing on the things that you know are true in the spirit, that you are whole, you are forgiven, you are righteous, you are at peace, you are full of joy, EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL IT. That’s the key to life and peace according to Paul.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Did you know you can believe things that you can’t see? What do I mean?
- Well, take Africa for example. I’ve never been to Africa. I’ve never seen Africa. But I believe it’s there.
- I’ve never seen my own liver, but I’m fairly confident that I have one.
And in the same way, you come to believe that you are healed, whole mature, at peace, having perfect joy – even when you don’t see those things or feel those things, because you trust what scripture says about you.
The benefits to understanding this is absolutely huge. To understand that when you’re afraid, or depressed, or angry, that’s just a part of you. There’s another part of you that is always experiencing abundant life. So let’s say I’m feeling anxious. Anxiety is something lots of people struggle with, well if I understand that that’s just A PART of me that’s anxious, but there’s another part of me that’s in perfect peace all of the time, that is such a powerful thing to understand, because it empowers me to act on what I know is true about myself instead of just being a victim to whatever happens to be going on in my mind or my body.
We’re just getting started.
Closing Statement: Are you excited about the direction your thoughts are taking you? Most of life’s battles are won and lost in your mind, so scripture teaches you to take every thought captive. The primary way discipleship to Jesus takes place is through the renewing of your mind— a process of getting your mind in agreement with what is true in your spirit.
Which of course leads us to Jesus, I mean you wanna talk about a man who acted on what he KNEW was true, and not how he felt. Jesus experienced the whole range of human emotions, but fixing his eyes on what was true, he suffered and died, was brutally killed on the cross, but on the third day he rose again.
As we close service I want to give everyone both here and online an opportunity to invite Jesus into your life.
Maybe for you, you’ve never accepted Jesus as your savior. The most important decision you’ll make in your entire life is to start following Jesus, and to give your life to Him. There’s an amazing scripture in Romans 10 that says “If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you’ll be saved.”
Or maybe for you, the invitation is to come back home to Jesus. To recommit your life to him. The bible tells us that there’s nothing that can separate us from God’s love. So that means no matter where you are tonight, Jesus loves you, and welcomes you with open arms.
We don’t have to earn God’s love, we don’t have to deserve his love, all we have to do is accept it.
It would be my absolute honor to lead you in a prayer to invite Jesus into your life.
I want everyone to repeat this prayer with me.
Jesus – I thank you that you love me
I thank you that you died on the cross
And you rose again for me
I’m sorry I’ve sinned against you
Please forgive me
Come into my heart
And give me a brand new life
I thank you that you now live in me.
And I’ll follow you the rest of my days.
Put your hands together to encourage the people that just made that decision.
If that prayer was for you, I need you to do 3 things:
- Tell someone about the decision you made. Maybe that’s one of us pastors or a member of the host team or even the person who brought you, or if you’re watching online, there should be a button right there for you to click. We want to encourage you and help you along the journey of faith.
- Get a bible and begin to read it. We believe that when you do that, God will speak to you. And if you don’t have a bible, please let us know and it would be our pleasure to give you one.
- Become a part of a church. Gathering together to worship God and to learn about him is absolutely vital to your Christian faith.
Welcome to the family of God. One more time, let’s all encourage and clap for the people who have made that decision today.