In previous articles, we have:

  1. Made the case for attaching enemy status to our carnal minds;
  2. Provided five ways for exposing the carnal mind’s deceptive practices;
  3. Recognized our responsibility in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ;
  4. Introduced the process of faith as God’s design for overcoming our carnal mind’s influence; and,
  5. Promised to introduce the disciplines God has provided to initiate and maximize His grace in the process of faith.

Begging your forgiveness, we have decided on a brief segue to share a relatively simple explanation of the relationship between our mind (or minds, should it come to that) and our faith. We will introduce the disciplines next time.

For those of you that require a summary statement:

Faith appropriates the grace of God that overcomes the influences of our carnal mind. This is accomplished throughout our lives as an iterative process – the process of faith – which is also an integral part of our ongoing salvation, transformation, sanctification, etc.

Now, for those interested in a layman’s humble explanation:

The Process of Faith and the Renewal of Our Minds

To begin, let me recognize that others may find exception to the following explanation. I think I would be surprised if someone did not. Much smarter theologians have explained it differently – and they don’t agree with each other. We are, it would seem, one of God’s most mysterious creations.

If you find yourself disagreeing, by all means, let me know what you think. In the meantime, don’t let disagreement get in the way of whatever blessing God may have for you here.

Before we are born again (as Jesus explains to Nicodemus in John 3), the physical organ we call “the brain” functions on behalf of our carnal mind and, to the extent that they influence that mind, on behalf of Satan and the world.

The mind and brain are not the same. The brain is the most incredible physical organ designed and created by God. Much has been written about the brain’s capabilities; we will not discuss those here.

In the most basic case, the brain processes sensory input, interacts with the mind concerning a response, and then directs the body in that response. Additionally, the brain is being programmed – beginning before birth – to respond automatically to external stimuli (e.g., smiling at a mother’s voice, shutting eyelids when something gets too close). These auto-responses can be self-protective, destructive, or neutral.

The mind functions at a higher level, in response to input from the brain and information that it retrieves from its storage cells. The mind gives direction to the brain both – and this is important – consciously and subconsciously. Our mind is where we think and reason; where we imagine and create. This too occurs consciously and subconsciously.

Generally speaking, thoughts are manifested physically in the brain through electronic impulses. Scientist have been able to map these impulses for decades. Repetition of interactions between the mind and brain create habits… and addictions.

Our paradigms (aka, mindsets, worldviews, etc.) are stored in, and function out of, our mind. Basically, paradigms filter our cognitive perceptions of the world and affect our responses to it. Renewing the mind (Romans 12:2) is equivalent to transforming our paradigms. It is worthwhile to note that repentance is, by definition, “a change of mind”.

Because the mind is at enmity with God (Romans 8:7) and cannot be trusted to carry out His instructions, it seems intuitive – though some may disagree – that God does not regularly speak to us through our carnal mind. Of course, He can and does – there are many examples in the Old and New Testament and in the testimony of individuals. However, it is not His preferred method of communication with mankind.

When we are born again of the seed of God (1John 3:9), our spirit comes to life, we are given a new heart, and God puts His Spirit within us (Ezekiel 36:25-27). Jesus also spoke of the Father and Himself coming to abide in us (John 14:23). It is to and through this new spiritual man that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit speak and guide us into the truth. This is critical to the process of faith; for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. That “word” is His rhema (the spoken word).

At this point, the work of God for our salvation (Philippians 2:12-13), transformation, sanctification, etc. has just begun. As we know from Romans 12:2, a big part of this work involves the renewing of our mind. NOTE: I am not prepared myself to say if the mind of Romans 12:2 is the carnal mind, the mind of the new man, or something else. I have heard men wiser than myself assert each these alternatives. Fortunately, that determination is not critical here.

It is important to note that the Scriptures do not speak of our being given a new mind. It also does not mention the brain. Based on my limited research, most agree that the soul of man includes the mind, will, and emotions. The fact that the soul is with us for eternity suggests that the mind is something that continues to exist and must be renewed for use in the kingdom of God.

The word of God (both rhema and logos) is the source of all truth – truth that makes us free from deception. It is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). It accomplishes all that God intends (Isaiah 55:11) – including the renewal of our minds and the resulting exposure and defeat of deception.

In this way, God’s word is a manifestation of His grace. As such, it must be appropriated by our faith in it. In other words, the renewal of our mind – and our overcoming the carnal mind – is impossible without faith. This requirement should not surprise us; our entire relationship with God is founded and depends on faith.

A closer look at the process of faith reveals the ingenuity of God’s design. Not only is the renewal of our minds dependent on our faith, but the opposite is also true. Because our mind controls our brain, which in turn controls the work of our physical bodies, faith is dependent on the renewal of the mind for the obedience and work that perfects it.

Our maturing in faith is accompanied by an increase in God’s grace to overcome and control our mind. As we increasingly choose the will of God, our mind is renewed and we are transformed. At the physical level, our brains are reprogrammed to respond differently to external stimuli (e.g., someone striking us on the cheek).

Indeed, the process of faith is the answer to the wonder of every Christian, “What must I do to overcome my carnal mind?”

Having discovered God’s provision for overcoming faith, we must now search out the question of application: “How do we participate with God in the process of faith?” That answer is found in something largely lost on the Western Church: The Disciplines of Faith. We hope to introduce those next week.

In the meantime, God bless you with a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him and His way for our continuing spiritual growth – by grace, through faith.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

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