There is no shame in admitting if there were an easier way for transformation we would take it. I actually wouldn't just take it, I would be the first in line for it. I don't even do Black Friday (the crowd stresses me) but I would Black Friday an easy button for transformation. It doesn't matter if it's my physical, mental, spiritual or emotional transformation. It's all hard and slow and at times can be down right annoying.
I've been wrestling with transformation for a few years now. Trying to better understand the process. One of the truths I've noticed that has helped shift my paradigm in regards to our transformation is; it's not the work of being disciplined that tires me, it's the weight of the undisciplined. Let me say that again so you can let it sink in.
The work of discipline isn't what tires me, it's the weight of the undisciplined that's so exhausting.
The reality is we were created for perfection. Adam and Eve were put in the Garden and given everything they wanted/needed for a perfect life. Onto the scene comes the enemy, and we all know what happens next. It didn't end well for them. And even though Jesus died to make a way, we still struggle to live transformed rather than rest fully from our place of renewal.
Because of the garden, we work for what we actually already have. I want to flip that switch for you today. Because if Romans 8 is right, then we actually are not slaves working for transformation as much as we are sons and daughters learning to live from transformation. And maybe this process isn't so much about forcing ourselves to change as much as it is teaching ourselves who we really are.
"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory," Romans 8:15-17, NIV.
From the moment we hand our lives over to Him, we are given His Spirit. The keys to the Kingdom of heaven, an invitation to bring heaven to earth, to walk now as heirs to the throne of Christ. He is a good Father, who opens His door for us, pulls out our chair and bids we sit down to feast at His table of abundance. He says, attached to the vine we can ask for whatever we want and it will be given unto us. That we have the mind of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, the freedom to live fully and graciously, full of joy, peace, persistence and trust. The idea is not poverty, it's not what we don't have that we need to live. It's abundance, all we do have and can learn to live from. This is actually what He tried to do for Adam and Eve.
"All of this I have for you. Feast on whatever you wish, in abundance. Just stay away from this one tree," (Gen 2 paraphrase mine.)
Passionately dedicated to our free will and letting love lead the way, He offered them the world and stood back while they heeded to the manipulative words of the enemy pinning them against the one they were created for. Since then it's been a battle. To live for rather than to live from. To lay down the need to control and live in the place of trust. The most important thing you can know in regards to transformation and renewal is; the battle starts and finishes in the mind. What we do with our minds either enables us to live freely as sons and daughters or hinders us from keeping the benefits of our inheritance while here on earth.
Here's the good news. Even Paul struggled with this, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing," (Romans 7:15-19, NIV.)
If Paul struggled to transform his mind and ultimately transform his life, then we are going to struggle too. Learning to lean into and live out of my inheritance of transformation rather than live for and inheritance through transformation has made this journey much easier for me. In this place I am in His presence and in His presence I am at peace. Holy Spirit is really good at his job. The comforter does a good job comforting in my discomfort.
Here's what I want to do. I believe Holy Spirit is ready and waiting to transform your mind and ultimately your life. And I have five thoughts to help you through some of the transformation struggles you may experience as you start to participate. I'm going to give this to you in three different parts over the course of the next two weeks (this one today, another one on Monday and then the last piece next Wednesday.) It's not easy to be a living sacrifice, but it is worth it. And it's worship. I want to live a life of worship. A life where I stay on the alter, even when it gets hard. I want to live from relationship, from identity, from belonging, security and significance not a life constantly fighting for them.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,"
Ephesians 6:12, NIV.
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Paul has it right, our struggle is not against flesh and blood. We don't fight for our freedom, we fight from our freedom. The battle has already been won. It's not a question of will the enemy overcome us, he doesn't have the power. The question is, will we allow him access to what is not his?
Lets start with point 1...
1. Real transformation always starts on the inside
You show me a changed mind and I will show you a changed life. We know this and yet we so often get it backwards. We try to modify our behavior, while the Father is focused on transforming our heart. He knows modified behavior will preach for awhile, but a transformed heart will preach for a lifetime. We live from what's on the inside, so if what's on the inside is good our lives will reflect that goodness. If what's on the inside is rotted, our lives will follow suit.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will,"
Our true and proper act of worship is to present our bodies as an offering, a living sacrifice. As this living sacrifice we participate in our transformation by the renewal of our mind. On the other side of this transformation we then have direct access to the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.
That's huge - you want to know the will of God for you life?
It's on the other side of your transformed and renewed mind.
God's will is for you to renew your mind. Post mind renewal you don't have to ask what is His will because you have become His will. With the mind of Christ, you then freely live out the will of God.
It's Jesus. He only ever did and said what He saw the Father do. That's because He came here with a renewed mind. He came fully attached to the vine and able to walk in step with the Spirit.
We can’t live for change we have to live from change
If we are honest it would be easier to be a dead sacrifice.
I can put myself on the altar and die, but can I put myself on the altar and live?
Can I stay surrendered when I don't want to and live obediently through the renewal of my mind?
Those are hard things. They will take discipline and dedication, but they are not heavy things. Heavy things happen outside the spirit of God. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We were actually created to do hard things. Which means we can dedicate ourselves to inner transformation and we can actually live at peace in the midst of the difficulties.
We are not victims to our minds, our circumstances or our situations – we are victors. Because of Holy Spirit inside of us, we have the ability to decide for ourselves what we will or won’t do. It’s not easy and it’s not always natural – but it’s always offered. we can’t control what we were born into or what predispositions we have because of things that have happened to us but we can make a decision to not be the victim anymore and the work we do will benefit the generations coming behind us.
I will break free from things my girls will never even know existed.
Here's the picture I want to paint as we end this for now. (I've been reading and listening to every by Dr. Caroline Leaf fyi)
When our thoughts drop into our minds they take on the form of a neurotransmitter. This neurotransmitter has to go somewhere to become something. Our minds will always take the easiest path from A to B. That means if it involves less work to kick a soccer ball with my right foot, then naturally when I run up to the soccer ball the neurotransmitter will be choosing the neuropathway that leads to my right foot connecting and kicking the soccer ball.
The truth of the matter is some of our minds are simply conditioned wrong. When thoughts drop into our minds the neurotransmitters connect with neuropathways and just go where they know to go. Neuropathways are the roads paved by our neurotransmitters. Our brains are actually changed by the travel of neurotransmitters. Hence the reason our discipline starts by taking our thoughts captive and placing them under the authority of Christ. We have to be aware of what we are thinking.
Eve just didn't catch her thought. She allowed an outside influence to influence an inside promise. You are not a victim to your mind, you are the victor of your mind and it starts with thinking about your thinking.
So that's all I want you to do. You don't even have to do anything with the thoughts at the moment, just become aware of them. Pay attention to the storylines unfolding in your mind. Notice the pathways your thoughts go down and what comes of those thoughts. Become aware of where transformation might need to take place. And then check back in here on Monday for more.