by Mike Ratliff
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV)
On Friday the 19th of October, my wife and I celebrated our anniversary. Prior to making it home from work, I had one of those days I would just as soon forget. I was confronted with unreasonable people all day in just about every aspect I could. Perhaps it was just my perception and this stuff goes on all the time, however, I was definitely being tested. One of these tests was a set of comments on this blog from a person whose theology would best be understood as Pelagian. In other words, he did not believe in the doctrine of original sin. He accused me of not knowing my Bible and of blindly following the doctrines of men. I prayed about it then simply sent emails to this person explaining that I was not going to post his comments.
I read several articles about George Whitefield over the last several weeks. Some of these articles dealt with his relationship with John Wesley. What I learned from that was that Whitefield and the Wesleys were not well educated in doctrine. They were devout believers and had a heart for the lost. However, their understanding of doctrine was no deeper than any other new believer’s. Over time Whitefield’s doctrine became more conformed to that of Jonathan Edwards’ after spending time with him in the Colonies. This changed his preaching drastically.However, Wesley stayed with his understanding of doctrine that he held from the day he was born again and that was Arminian. The reason Wesley was such a powerful revivalist, however, was not that he was an Arminian, but that he was a preacher of righteousness. He did preach that all men are dead in their trespasses and sins and would go to Hell if they did not repent and accept Jesus and Lord and Saviour. Whitefield was the Lightening Rod of the Great Awakening. He was also a preacher of righteousness, but his doctrine was centered in the doctrines of grace.As believers surrender more and more to the Lordship of Christ in every area of their lives they are also surrendering to the sovereignty of God. This is a huge part of the process God uses to transform us unto the image of the Son. What is our part?
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)
The phrase “preparing your minds for action” is translated as “gird up the loins of your mind” in the KJV. This is the process of gathering together all of the loose ends of our minds, subjecting them to Lordship of Christ, then directing our thoughts to the future glory of Christ and what we have awaiting us in eternity. It begins by being sober-minded. This is process of denying what our flesh wants and turning our backs on the allurements of the world and its ways. How can we do this? Let us return to Romans 12:1-2.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, 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 by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
We looked at this passage a few days ago in the post “Damaged Goods,” comparing it to Romans 1:28 in which we saw that the reprobate mind is so because the person refuses to hold God and His ways in their minds. On the other hand, the mind that is transformed by constant mind renewal is able to do the very opposite. In fact it holds God and His ways more and more and, therefore, knows what God’s will is and does it.The natural man’s mindset is one of the sovereignty of man and God who is either unable or unwilling to project his sovereignty over Men or even His own creation. That mindset sees all people as in various levels of goodness with those who are good enough being giving the nod into eternity because of their own efforts in becoming holy enough. This mindset does not buy original sin and sees any teaching of the sovereignty of God and His wrath against all sin as Him being unfair. They insist that God’s love trumps His Holiness. It also sees that Men are good enough to earn their way into Heaven to be with a grateful God who welcomes them as He rewards them with eternal life.
On the other hand, the transformed mindset is one of the sovereignty of God and the total depravity of Man. This mindset understands that God is completely sovereign and in total control of every aspect of His creation. This mindset sees all people as dead in their trespasses and sins except for those whom God has regenerated and saved. It sees that even though there is spiritual growth as Christians, that is also a work of God as we cooperate in our sanctification. This mindset understands that it is the process of being transformed by the renewal of our minds that is what demolishes the old, natural man’s mindset. It also understands that all in Christ are complete in Him, but no one else is. God’s love does not trump His Holiness. God’s wrath still burns against all sin that has not been atoned for by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It was through His crucifixion that the elect’s sin was paid for, and no one else’s. This mindset also understands that it is far better for God to give us His grace rather than being fair. If God was fair, no one would be saved for all are completely unworthy of salvation. It also understands that salvation is not a reward for making the right decision, but is solely by the grace of God by the faith He gives us. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
The natural man mindset sees Christianity as what men do. The transformed mindset sees Christianity as being made up of two parts. One part is not genuine and contains disingenuous professing believers who have not been regenerated by God. These are tares or goats. The other part of Christianity is made up of only genuine Christians who have been regenerated by God. These are the Lord’s sheep. They see Christianity as their lives of obedience to their sovereign God by His Grace. It is God’s work, not what men do. Their lives may contain much pain and stress and conflict, which are the tests and trials God allows in our lives to prune us. (John 15) These two parts are mingled together in the Church, but God knows who are His and who are not.The natural man mindset, since Christianity is what men do, sees no problem in using marketing techniques and worldly methods to grow their churches. However, many others of this mindset are mired in their religiosity believing that it is their church attendance that God wants from them. The transformed mindset understands that God builds His church. The Holy Spirit is the one who plows the hearts of men, not sales pitches and marketing pushes. Gods draws those to Christ whom He chooses.
The natural man mindset sees salvation and the Christian walk as completely self-effort. The transformed mindset sees salvation and the Christian walk as God’s good work. The natural man mindset sees God as far away and not in control. The transformed mindset sees God as huge and totally in control.We must ask ourselves of which mindset we are. If we find ourselves of the natural man mindset then we must repent and seek the face of God then obey Him by becoming transformed by the renewal of our minds. On the other hand, if we are of the transformed mindset then we must continue to draw near unto God who has apprehended us. If we draw near unto Him, He will draw near unto us and change us. This spiritual growth will continue as long as we are in these bodies so now is the time to obey the Lord and seek His face.