“The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. A man is commended according to his good sense, but one of twisted mind is despised.”
All of us are developing a mind with which we think and reason about life. This is God’s intent. God created us as thinking and decision-making beings. Thinking is an essential attribute of the image of God in man.
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12.1-2)
Your mind – the way you think – is a key factor in the process of spiritual transformation. The passage from Romans 12 puts “the renewal of your mind” squarely in the center of how we change and grow as Christians. Ephesians 4 teaches precisely the same thing.
“Put off your old nature, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and, through the renewal of your mind, put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4.22-24)
Do you get the picture? Spiritual transformation is a mental process. Avoiding the influences and pressures of the world around us is a mental process. Putting off the old sinful nature and putting on our new nature in Christ is a mental process.
It makes sense, of course. Every action and attitude in our life begins first as a thought in our mind. If our thinking is guided by the old nature, we will live and act according to the old nature. But if our thinking is guided by our new nature in Christ, then we will live and act according to our new nature in Christ.
The life you have created is a product of your thinking. The impact you have in the world as a Christian is directly affected by the quality of your thinking. How you think determines your effectiveness at work, at home, in the Church, and in the community. In order to improve your effectiveness, you must improve your thinking.
This is why Jesus said: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22.37)
Life in Christ requires you to recognize the negative influences of the world and the sinful impulses of the old nature, say no to those influences and impulses, and then make a conscious choice to respond according to your new nature in Christ. This process is a mental activity that takes place inside your mind and heart. And to the extent that your thinking changes, your life will change.
It’s not purely mental, of course. The Holy Spirit is continually working to prompt, guide, empower, enlighten, and convict. But the Spirit does not work in a mental vacuum. You must trust God and do the inner work.