Day by day, God renews the inner nature of believers (2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:16). I learned how to overcome obstacles to my day by day renewal when I experienced and accepted God's loving truth about various memories in my life. God renewed my thinking and set me free when I experienced God’s loving truth.
DAY BY DAY RENEWAL
The great mysteries in Scripture include that in some ways our salvation in Jesus Christ is instant while in other ways our salvation is progressive. For example, Romans 5:1-2 teaches that God instantly justifies new believers while Romans 12:2 teaches about a progressive transformation and renewal. And 2 Corinthians 5:17 teaches that every believer is a new creation while 2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:16 teaches about a progressive, day by day renewal.
God leads us in a day by day renewal that makes our inner nature more like God's Spirit. We learn from 2 Corinthians 3:18 that God takes us from one degree of glory to another. This means that God is always bringing His people from one level of glory to a higher level of glory. God has unlimited glory, and we will forever grow into higher levels of glory as we become more like God's Spirit. For example, Galatians 5:22-23 says, ... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.... And our inner nature will forever develop more love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
THE TRUTH WILL MAKE YOU FREE
Jesus taught in John 8:32, "... you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." And the Greek word for "know" in 8:32 implies more than "cognitive knowledge” while it suggests "personal experience". The ancient eastern concept of personal experience in knowledge implies an experiential knowledge. Likewise, Jesus taught in 8:32 that the experiential knowledge of divine truth makes people free. Believers are made free by experiencing truth from Jesus Christ and God's Spirit.
OBSTACLES TO DAY BY DAY RENEWAL
False beliefs or sinning can hinder a believer's day by day renewal. As stated above, Jesus said that the truth will make believers free. And the opposite can be true. False beliefs can bind believers. And false beliefs that bind believers could have been learned earlier today or many years ago in the childhood of the believer.
False beliefs and sin can go hand in hand. For example, deceit instigated many false beliefs that resulted in sin. And humans face deceit from the devil's forces, the fallen world, and our own fallen heart.
Sin and the devil's deceit form a vicious cycle. The devil deceived the first humans into sin while all other humans apart from Jesus inherited a sinful nature. This resulted in humans facing their own deceitful heart, a world filled with deceit, and ongoing deceitful attacks from the devil. And Ephesians 4:22-27 teaches that sins such as bitter anger makes room for the devil. This implies that the vicious cycle of sin and deceit opens humans to greater deceit from the devil.
Scripture asks believers to renew all of their thinking regardless of their age, culture, social status, or family background. And many believers discovered that thinking patterns learned during childhood or disturbing experiences needed to change. One of the problems is that thinking patterns learned during childhood or disturbing experiences sometimes become second nature. And many believers never question some of their second nature thinking patterns while many of these thinking patterns are based on false beliefs.
Long-term problems by definition have a root cause that originated in the past. And some root causes of long-term spiritual problems involve painful memories. Believers can respond to painful memories in various ways: believers can bottle the painful memories; believers can dwell their thoughts on the painful memories; believers can use their own strength to confront the painful memories; or believers can experience and accept God's loving truth, redemption, and peace for the painful memories.
Scripture never teaches believers to bottle, dwell their thoughts on, or merely use their own strength to confront painful memories. And 1 Peter 5:7 teaches believers to cast their anxiety on God. And Philippians 4:6-7 teaches believers to bring all of their worries to God in prayer. This casting anxiety on God and bringing worries to God in prayer is the opposite of bottling painful memories or dwelling on painful memories. And these passages clearly teach believers to go beyond merely using their own strength to confront painful memories.
I recently experienced God's truth, redemption, and peace for various issues that instigated anxiety in me for several years. Christians prayed with me while I asked God to show me His truth about some painful experiences in my past. And I experienced the presence of God's Spirit while God healed parts of my past memories. I went beyond mere cognitive knowledge of God redeeming all of my past to experiential knowledge of God redeeming specific painful memories from my past. And I soon learned how to accept God's truth and peace for issues that come to my mind during my private devotions. And that healing process greatly helped my day by day renewal.
Day by day, we need to surrender our thoughts and desires to God. We can struggle with temptations from within, the world, and the devil. But 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 teaches that we have divine power to control our thoughts for Christ. We have God's power within us to demolish every thought that opposes God. We cannot always change the spiritual and physical world around us, but we can always maintain godly thoughts and desires regardless of our circumstances. And Philippians 4:11-13 teaches that we can learn to be content in every circumstance.
And per Ephesians 4:22-27, we make no room for the devil's temptations when we repent of all sin. And believers with no room for the devil can proclaim the Lord's resistance against the devil's attacks. (See Luke 10:17-20, James 4:7, and Jude 9.)
THE PRIORITY OF LOVE
We must always remember that loving God is our first priority in day by day renewal. For example, Matthew 22:37-38 says that the most important commandment is to love God.
God sees everything, but by definition we cannot see our own blind spots. And our ignorance of our blind spots can hurt us, so we always need to humble ourselves before God and ask God to lead us out of our blind spots. Occasionally, we should revisit the prayer in Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Regardless of the pain in our hearts and thoughts, each of us needs to ask God to test our heart and thoughts. We need to ask God to reveal to us His loving truth about anything that blinds us. And God will continue to lead us in our path of eternal love, joy, and peace.
KEY PASSAGES IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
1 Peter 5:7, Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
2 Corinthians 3:18, And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 4:16, So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 5:17, So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, 3Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; 4for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments 5and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Ephesians 4:22-27, 22You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, ... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control....
James 4.7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
John 8:31-32, 31Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
John 15:5, [Jesus said,] I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
Jude 9, But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
Luke 10:17-20, 17The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" 18He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Matthew 22:36-38, 36"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" 37He [Jesus] said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38This is the greatest and first commandment.
Philippians 4:6-7, 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:11-13, 11... I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Psalm 139:23-24, 23Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. 24See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Romans 5:1-2, 1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
Romans 5:10, For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
Romans 12:2, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God―what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Copyright © 2008, 2012 James Edward Goetz
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
April 18, 2008