Spirit & Soul: Renewing the Mind

By | 1 Mar 2022
Bil''s Joaquin Sorolla study thumbnail

The man who says he can, and the man who says he can’t, are both right.Charles Capps

So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls.James 1:21 AMP

You are a Spirit

You have been wonderfully born again. You are a new creation- a new creature, made by God Almighty.  But this new birth, this new creation is in your spirit man, your heart, (not your head or mind).  Human beings are 3-part beings.  We know we have a body.  We have a mind (though today, using that mind is not so common!)  But we are more; we have a spirit.  Or you could say, we are a spirit. To state it more accurately,you are a spirit, you have a soul (mind, will, emotions) and you live in a body.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely: and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Change Your Stinkin’ Thinkin’

What becomes difficult and often confusing for many Christ-followers is this: if I am truly a Christian, why do I still think ungodly things? The answer is simple, but the application takes real diligence.  We must renew our minds.  My own father teaching the Junior High School kids at church used to say: “You have to re-program your bio-computer.  You have to change your stinkin’ thinkin’.”

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:2

Acting Like Fools

We have all probably seen Christians act like fools.  I won’t ask you if you have (so I do not have to tell on myself!)  We have witnessed these people who say they love God, who say Jesus is their Savior and Lord, and yet act ugly.  This should not be so.

But why?  Why do Christ-followers not act like Christ?

The answer is simple: we must change the way we think.

A famous poet squarely nailed this idea:

Sow a thought, reap a choice.
Sow a choice, reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

It Begins with Your Thought-Life

It all begins with the thoughts, or you could say your thought-life.  Your thought-life is a pattern of thoughts we give place to, or dwell upon over and over.  Great athletes see themselves running a play, making a shot, or outmaneuvering an opponent.  They practice, yes, but even more than practice, they dwell on the move or action.

They literally see themselves doing it right!

What We Image, We Do

In high school, I played water polo. In my senior year, we were national champs.  Most of the team was composed of just a bunch of average guys who were worked and coached hard.

Except for two guys, Mike and David.

They were the top players on the West Coast.  Mike probably was the top high school water player in the nation.  These guys were muscular, powerful, and effective.  But far more than this,  they did something the rest of us did not do: they continually thought about the game.  David even had a regulation water polo goal in his backyard pool.  They ate, breathed, and thought about the game constantly.  It was not just the game, but how they imagined themselves playing the game.  Together they were an art form.

Marble-Playing Devil

I vividly remember a men’s breakfast where the senior pastor of the large church where I served as his associate was ministering. The topic was Christian growth and maturity. The pastor asked the whole group of maybe 300 men:

“How many of you played marbles as a boy?” he asked.

Virtually every hand in the auditorium went up.

Then he posed a follow-up question: How many of you play marbles now?

No hands went up (maybe a few who had young sons).

The pastor continued: Why? Did you have a marble-playing devil cast out of you? No, something happened to you: you grew up!

He then quoted this verse:

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.1 Corinthians 13:11

How do we grow up spiritually? We let the Word of God transform how we see the world.

Thirst for the Word to Grow

When my second son was about 6 months old, I often helped with early morning feedings.  Caleb would be bawling, he would be so hungry.  I would pick him up from his crib, change him, then carry him downstairs.  With him in one arm, I would get a bottle out of the fridge, put it in the microwave for a few moments, test it on my arm, then carry both baby and bottle to a chair in the living room.  As soon as I got positioned, I would give Caleb his bottle.  Boy, did he take the bottle!  It was like he inhaled it! Sometimes, I would have to get him a second one.

While feeding him, I would lay out my Bible in my lap and have my quiet time in the Word.  One day, I happened to be reading from 1 Peter:

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, (spiritual maturity) as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.1 Peter 2:1-3 (emphasis mine)

As I read, I looked at Caleb.

I looked at the text again.

I looked at my son.

Then back again at the verses.

All of the sudden, I got it!

To grow up, or you could say to grow out of childishness, immaturity, and foolish acting, we need the Word of God.  Caleb now is a man, 6’4″ tall, wrestles jujutsu, and has shoulders like volleyballs.

He has grown!!

Don’t be a Meathead

The key to growing out of carnality (a Bible term basically meaning we are acting like meatheads; immature, selfish, and acting the fool), is we must make a diet of the Word of God!

I have heard and used this preacher’s story more than once to help folks understand how to grow up, become mature, and stop acting the fool:

There was going to be a heavyweight championship bout by two of the best boxers.  They were of the same weight and size. Both were champions with many victories beating many tough fighters.

One guy was taken to a premium training camp.  He was given the best high protein meals, plenty of rest, muscle massage, physical therapy and all the best of training.

His opponent was locked up in a cold cell with just bread and water.

A month later they both were brought to the ring for the Big Fight!

Who do you think won the bout?

Without hesitation, everyone asked that question always chose the first fighter.


The guy who was starved did not stand a chance.

Feed Your Faith; Starve Your Doubts

One great man of God would say it this way:

Feed your faith and starve your doubts to death.Lester Sumrall

I was greatly privileged to sit under an extraordinary man of God at Bible college, Kenneth E Hagin.  Many times, I heard him say: “I have made it a practice to feed on the subject of faith and healing.”  Hagin was raised off his deathbed by faith in God’s promises as a teenager.  He was not supposed to see adulthood.  He passed away at the ripe old age of 86.

Important Application

I am addressing the subject of Spirit & Soul: Renewing the Mind, here because:

  1. We need it, and;
  2. If we hope to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ, impacting those around us with the wonderful Gospel (great news of God’s love & forgiveness) we must be Spirit-led.

We need to have God’s viewpoint about life.  We need to think the way He does about life.  This includes first and foremost how we see ourselves (please see my previous article about our identity in Christ). If we see ourselves as schmucks, it’s difficult to believe we can influence another man to be a Christ-follower like ourselves.

Your Nature Became New

Unfortunately, many mis-teach the subject or misrepresent mind-renewal, in my opinion.  What do I mean?  What I mean is preachers teach about how bad your natural man is without Christ.  True, we are sinners without Christ.  I was a quiet teenager.  I seemed like a pretty nice guy.  But inside me was envy, jealousy, and even hatred and the evil imaginations that come with them.  I needed to be saved!  But I did become saved- I became a new man on the inside.  Now I was no longer a sinner.  My nature became new.  I become a lover of God because He had first loved me (1 John 4:19).  My nature on the inside of me was now different.  I was a new creature in Christ.

Wake Up Your Mind to Who You are in Christ

Mind renewal is about waking up your mind to who you are now in Christ.  Mind renewal is not about trying to slay the old man.  My old man died.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:3-11 (emphasis mine)

To quote Charles Capps,

“I’m going to say this so many ways you get it!”

You’re Dead

My oldest son Zac was quite a character to raise.  Kids go through funny phases.  At about 11 years of age, Zac had this saying he would say, and he would sometimes say it to me.  He’d say: “You’re dead!” (probably quoting from some bully in a movie he had seen).  I did not particularly like him going around saying it. Around that time in my Bible reading, I came across Colossians 3:3 which states:

For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

I planned the next time Zac would make that tough-guy face and say to me “You’re dead,” I would simply respond with: “You’re right! I am dead, and my life is hidden with Christ in God!”

The plan worked like a charm!  Once I answered him this way, his face sort of dropped and he got quiet.  I do not believe he ever used that line on me again (maybe stopped it altogether).

Dead Men Commit No Crimes

Have you ever thought about it? Dead men commit no crimes!  What are you, what am I? We are walking dead men. I have been wonderfully 100% been joined to Jesus’ death on the Cross.  So have you.  His finished work on the cross is so complete, it is as if you died.  I died.  On the cross, He took it all.

This “realm of death” describes our former state, for we were held in sin’s grasp. But now, we’ve been resurrected out of that “realm of death” never to return, for we are forever alive and forgiven of all our sins!

He canceled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us.He erased it all—our sins, our stained soul—he deleted it all and they cannot be retrieved! Everything we once were in Adam has been placed onto his cross and nailed permanently there as a public display of cancellation.Colossians 2:13-14 TPT (emphasis mine)

What God Thinks Is Everything

Renewing the mind, or renewal of our thinking to what God thinks of us- is just that, it is all about what God thinks.  That is renewing the mind.  Seeing everything in life through the lens of what God says and thinks.  We are His kids.  We have been fully paid for by the precious blood of His Son Jesus Christ.  We have been washed – from the inside out.  Learn it! Get ahold of it!  See it as it is- then think.  Then think about yourself and your life.  You are not a shmuck!  Neither am I.  We are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus.  And He likes us!  That should make you happy!  You are the beautiful Creator’s Masterpiece.

Alla Prima Bootcamp

Bill's Joaquin Sorolla study

This is my oil painting study of Joaquin Sorolla’s painting entitled ‘Time for the Bath-Valencia’. (click on image for larger view)

I am in the process of developing my own particular style of oil painting.  I am participating in an intensive art mentoring program, called Alla Prima Bootcamp. Part of this process is not just observing works of art I admire, but actually doing practice Master Studies.  I love the work of Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargent, Michelangelo, Peter Paul Rubens, and more.  So, what I am doing is small, one-to-two-hour studies of a part of one of their paintings.  I then do an original (similar subject, lighting, composition, etc.) attempting to do it in the same manner as that particular master’s painting.  

Working in this manner, you start noticing things you did not know were there.  Through this process, I am starting to enter the mindset of how these artists approached their paintings. I am starting to think like they thought (at least in part).

When I Sketched My Mom, I Saw My Mom

Let me tell you of a unique experience I had while in art school.

I was sitting on the couch next to my mom doing a sketch.  She had her glasses down on the tip of her nose and was looking down at the sewing handwork she was doing.  My sketch was of her.  I captured her in an uncomplementary pose, double chin and all.  My mom did not care for the sketch.  But at that moment, I remembered forever what my mother looked like.  How many times have we seen our own mom?  Yet at that moment, by careful study of observation, I saw my mother’s features and likeness like I had not before.

Only God’s View Is Accurate

This is like mind-renewal to the Word of God.  We know God, and we know ourselves.  Yet many times we do not see God.  Nor do we see ourselves- not accurately, not as God sees us.  Only God’s view of us is accurate.  Every other view is short-sighted at best, or untrue at worst.  To be redundant- we are not shmucks! We are the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus.

We are God’s masterpieces!

The Correct God-View

It is out of this view — the correct God view, that we can hope to impact the world.  Those who see themselves as ugly, see and treat others as ugly. When we can dare to see ourselves as loved and cherished by our loving Heavenly Father, then and only then do we begin to emanate a beautiful aroma that draws others to our Jesus.

Renew your mind to who God says you are.  Renew your mind to who God reveals He is.  Renew your mind to how God views those around you.  Then you will win them.

Perceive How God Sees You

I want to close with the passage with which I began, listing it in context.  Normally I would begin a message with the surrounding text.  Here, I think it is best to leave you with that context.

Think about it.

Meditate upon it.

Let it sink in.

Let it help renew your mind.

So my friends, don’t be fooled by your own desires! Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change. God was delighted to give us birth by the truth of his infallible Word so that we would fulfill his chosen destiny for us and become the favorite ones out of all his creation!

My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry, for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteous purpose. So this is why we abandon everything morally impure and all forms of wicked conduct. Instead, with a sensitive spirit we absorb God’s Word, which has been implanted within our nature, for the Word of Life has power to continually deliver us.

Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life!

If you listen to the Word and don’t live out the message you hear, you become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning. You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word, but then you go out and forget your divine origin. But those who set their gaze deeply into the perfecting law of liberty are fascinated by and respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God’s blessing in all that they do!James 1:16-25 TPT