In last weekend’s message, Pastor Lin Junxian taught that renewing or “renovating” one’s mind is integral in living out the promises of God. This requires a focus on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, and to actively engage one’s entire body in becoming more like Christ.
Lin Junxian, the associate pastor of City Harvest Church, began his message over the weekend of Nov 27 and 28 by quoting from Matthew 4:17 where Jesus preached, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.”
The word repentance in Greek is metanaeo, which means to change one’s mind or thinking. “God wants us to have a new mindset, or a whole new way of thinking, to live our lives from God’s Kingdom perspective,” Pastor Junxian told the congregation.
He went on to share a story about a man who was surprised to observe that circus elephant were restrained by a thin rope tied to their leg. The trainer explained that this same rope was used to restrain the elephants from a young age. Back then, whenever the young elephant tried to break free, this rope would tear into its skin, causing pain. This conditioned the elephants into believing that the rope could still restrain them when they could actually free themselves after they’ve grown bigger.
“Many times, we are like the elephants in this story: As Christians, we are born again, yet we are tied up by the lies from the past,” Pastor Junxian explained. “We forgot that Jesus came to set us free!”
ADOPTING THE MIND OF CHRIST
Philippians 2:5 encourages Christians to “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. Mind in Greek is the word phroneo, which refers to more than just cognitive reasoning or intellect. It refers to one’s view of God, people and things.
In Exodus, once God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, the first thing He gave them was the Ten Commandments. He knew that the Israelites had been living as slaves for 400 years, a span of four to five generations, and all they knew was a life of slavery. As a result, their mindset is one without hope, purpose or vision.
This “slavery mindset” meant that when they needed to resolve matters, they would simply resort to killing one another. Hence, the Ten Commandment taught them not kill. “God gave us His Word to renew our minds so that we no longer think like slaves, and we can live in true freedom and true victory in Jesus Christ,” Pastor Junxian declared.
THE BATTLE OF THE MIND
Apostle Paul understood that one of the hardest battles Christians need to fight is the battle of the mind. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul pleaded with the Romans to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. In Latin, renew is the word “renovare” where the word “renovate” comes from. It means to restructure what is old or malfunctioning. As one’s mind undergoes renovation, God is able to abide in it and restructure one’s thinking.
“God’s renovation work in our mind is not a one-time event—it happens daily! There are areas in our lives that need to be torn down, to be rebuilt,” Pastor reminded the congregation.
The pastor shared the story of his 68-year-old cell group member, June. Last year, she was diagnosed with an acute form of dengue fever. A few months later, the doctors also found abnormal tissues growing in her womb that was potentially malignant and had to be surgically removed. During that period, more investigative tests were carried out. With this sudden deterioration of her health, June started to suffer from panic attacks.
One day, while she was praying in her room, the Holy Spirit spoke to her saying “June, you have heard from all the doctors. You have heard all the recommendations. But June, what do I say to you?” Immediately, June repented before the Lord and decided to meditate on the price Jesus paid on the cross. One day, the Holy Spirit came into her room. The presence of God overwhelmed her and she broke down and surrendered herself to the Lord. When she left the room, all the panic attacks and depressive thoughts were lifted from her. Today, June is doing well both physically and emotionally.
Dallas Willard, a theologian wrote, “To live with a renewed mind is to live in the character and power of God.” If one wants to experience the power of God, then his thinking towards God and His promises must change. Pastor Junxian shared how this works.
1. Renewing Our Mind Requires Focus On The Word Of God
The will of God is the Word of God. Romans 12:2 writes that believers can examine the Word by living their lives according to the Word. Famous author AW Tozer once said, “Repentance isn’t only sorrow for past sins, it’s also a determination to now do the will of God as He reveals it to us.”
To put on the mind of Jesus, a believer first needs to know what God says is His will. “The more we read, the more we focus, the more we meditate on the Word of God, the more God becomes real to you,” Pastor Junxian shared. In 2 Peter 3:18, Apostle Peter teaches believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.
2. Renewing Our Mind Requires The Focus Of Our Whole Being
Renewing one’s mind is just the work of the brain—it involves the whole being of a person (Rom 12:1 AMP). Theologically, “renovare” refers to spiritual reformation. This involves living out a life with God through spiritual discipline. It involves the eyes to read the Bible, the mind to meditate, the mouth to pray and confess the Word of God, the hands to be lifted up in adoration and worship.
Pastor Junxian shared a powerful quote by American revivalist, Jonathan Edwards: “A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing. As the business of a soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be more like Christ.”
3. Renewing The Mind Requires Our Focus On The Holy Spirit
A person’s mind retains the images of their past even after they are saved. The way to let go of those images is to allow the Holy Spirit to transform his mind.
To welcome the Holy Spirit, He must be acknowledged, adored and communed with. A mind without the Holy Spirit is like a room shrouded in darkness. To renew the mind is to pull back the spiritual curtains, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate and transform the entire room.
The phrase to “set our mind” in Romans 8:5 means to focus on something, but it also means to “take the side of” someone. In this case, God is asking believers to take the side of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26).
Pastor Junxian recounted his early days as pastoral staff. One of his members berated him in the middle of the church’s fellowship area. Feeling crushed, Pastor Junxian prayed, confiding in God that he felt like he was not suited in the ministry. But as he prayed, he allowed the Holy Spirit to re-direct his mind to Scripture. He came to Joshua 1:6-9, where God told Joshua three times to “be strong and of good courage”. By the end of the prayer, Pastor Jun Xian’s prayer gradually shifted towards praying for the Holy Spirit to help him to be a good pastoral staff.
In conclusion, Pastor Junxian encouraged the church to continue to set their minds on God’s goodness, power and love and to renovate their thinking so that their hearts and minds may be God’s dwelling place.