Transforming the Mind by the Word of God (Romans Sermon 92 of 120)
February 19, 2006 | Andy Davis
The Law of God, Christian Living, Holiness, The Word of God, Worship
Changing Your Mind
We're looking this morning for the second week, at two phenomenally important verses in terms of practical application. Romans 12:1-2. And I don't think it's a rare thing for human beings to look at themselves and wish they were different. Amen?
Isn't that true? You look at yourself and you wish you were different, you wish you could be a different person. And so we have a kind of a whole makeover culture here in America, right? The great makeover. And some people think maybe surgery is the answer, and I don't think it really is. I think Christians are wise enough to know we don't need a major transformation in our outward appearance. That's not really what we're looking at. You may think your home needs a makeover, and you love those people to come and do it for you, and that would be wonderful. But in terms of yourself, you're thinking, "How can I be a different person?" And it isn't long in the Christian life before you realize it's a heart issue, it's got to do with a change within, change of the mind, and that's what we're getting at this morning.
Now, there are a lot of different ways even there that you can have your mind changed. During the Spanish Inquisition, for example, they thought torture was a good way to change the mind. Well, I don't think so, I think all you're going to do is get external conformity through suffering and all that. But they thought there were some successes to battling heresy that way, I would disagree.
During the Korean War, they used the techniques of brainwashing, where they would get you broken down, they would get you physically weary, they would get you weak through lack of food, they'd wake you up in the middle of the night and they would be very aggressive and mean to you until you're finally psychologically broken down, and then they would bring in a really nice guy who'd start putting his arm around you, speaking friendly to you and saying, "Look, why don't you become a communist? It really is the better way." These techniques were developed by the Russian communists in the 1930s, and they're very effective in one level.
But that's not the kind of transformation we're looking at today, when we study the transformation by the Word of God. If you look at Romans 12:1-2, we're coming to two of the most important verses in terms of the practical daily life of the Christian. We looked at it last two weeks ago, last time, concerning what it is that God wants from us now that He's been so gracious to us in the Gospel. Romans 12:1-2, it says, "Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercies, to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship." And Verse 2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will." So here at last, we come to the great battleground of the Christian life, the human mind. And it is a battleground, and there's a lot of pull back and forth going on over your mind.
Earlier, a number of years ago, my wife and I visited the great battlefield of Gettysburg, and there's all kinds of monuments and all kinds of history surrounding there. The Gettysburg Address were met on a battlefield, a great battlefield of this struggle. I tell you this, that there is no battlefield as significant and vital as that of the human mind. That's where the battle for life change is fought. And praise be to God, the weapons of God are mighty to the transformation of the human mind. That is how we're going to see our lives changed. That's exactly what Romans 12 is talking about.
A Brief History of the Mind
Now, I think it would be beneficial for us to look at a brief history of the human mind. It all started a long, long time ago, at creation, when God created man in His image, male and female, He created them. And from the very beginning, God created the human mind as I think the greatest, most complex physical creation He ever made. We know in Psalm 139:14, David the psalmist says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." That is especially true of the human mind. Do you know that your brain has 100 billion neurons? Do you realize that part of your brain is assigned now to remember that fact? So now you have to think, "My brain has 100 billion neurons." But what does that mean? Well, the Amazon rainforest has 100 billion trees. You have the same number of neurons in your brain as the Amazon rainforest has trees. And each neuron has as many interconnections as there are leaves on an average tree. That boggles the mind, doesn't it?
The human brain is the most complex physical thing that God ever made. It is the center of memory, of mood, of instinct, of will, of emotion, of decision, of all bodily function, the human brain. It is also the seat of individuality and personal history. You train your brain through every experience you go through in life. Everything you go through creates a memory and those memories have an influence on you, and habits can form as a result. The power of interpretation is centered in the brain, of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, constantly feeding your mind with information. The human brain was created in the image of God, it was created to enjoy God, to know Him forever. It was created with a Godward focus, and it was created to know the glory of God in physical creation. That's the start. The human brain fearfully and wonderfully made. However, the human brain did not stay pristine and essentially good, the human brain fell in sin.
And this thing we've already seen in Romans Chapter 1, a description of the fallen state of the human mind. There it says in Verse 21, "Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him. But their thinking became futile." Did you hear that? Their thinking became futile, "And their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man, and birds, and animals and reptiles." That is the fall of the human mind through sin. The human mind leads the life, and therefore a corrupt mind leads to a corrupt lifestyle. This is made very plain in Ephesians Chapter 4, the Apostle Paul put it this way, "So I tell you this and insist on it in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding, and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts."
Do you see? Because of ignorance you're separated from a kind of life that God wants you to live. There's an intimate connection between the way you think and the way you live. And so, it says in Ephesians 4, "We're not to live like those people anymore, whose darkened minds and their darkened understandings are leading to darkened lifestyles." He says, "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." That is the corrupt life that comes from a corrupt mind or a corrupt way of thinking. As a result of sin, the natural mind, it says in Romans 8, is hostile to God, it does not submit to God's law nor can it do so. Those characterized by that fleshly or hostile mind, it's impossible for them to please God.
It also says that those folks who are characterized by a sinful mind, the mind separated from the life of God, cannot understand spiritual things. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from God because they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." And so it is that the beautiful gift, the incredible creation of God, the human mind with all of its complexity, was corrupted as a result of sin. And that's where we begin with the Gospel, we start with a corrupted mind. But thanks be to God, He doesn't leave us there. Isn't that wonderful? That God doesn't leave our corrupted minds corrupted, but rather, thirdly, there is this regenerated mind. The word means a new creation, that God can do and has done, if you're a Christian, within you, a work of new creation, the creation of a regenerated mind.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come." Well, friends, that is especially true in the mind. It's true in the mind because we think differently. At the very beginning of the Christian life, you immediately think differently about Jesus, that's where it all starts. And so, the Spirit of God moves over the darkened, hardened, dead, spiritually dead mind, and creates something new there that wasn't there before. And what is it? It's an appreciation or a value of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 puts it this way, "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Friends, that's the very thing an unbeliever does not have, any sense of the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But at the moment you were saved, at the moment you trusted in Christ, it was the Spirit's work of regeneration in you that created a light that will never be extinguished. And John Chapter 1 says, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot extinguish it." It's the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ. That is the regenerated mind. And at that moment, it says in Scripture, that the mind of Christ was given to us. Isn't that marvelous? We have the mind of Christ. I'm just quoting Scripture. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says, "But we have the mind of Christ," that is the regenerated mind. However, we are commanded to use it. You may have it and not use it. And therefore, it says in Philippians Chapter 2, "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing," going on to talk about the humility of Christ. But the command there is, you should have this mind in you, which was also in Christ.
Now, there's no contradiction here between the Scriptures. Yes, you have the mind of Christ, but you're also commanded to use it. You're to think like Jesus. We have the mind of Christ, but we need to grow in thinking like Christ, and that's where we have this issue now of the renewed mind. The renewed mind. It says in the verse we're looking at today, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." There's an ongoing renewing work that has to happen in your mind, it's a constant commitment. Now, you say, "I don't think in a pure way, Pastor. I don't. I don't think 100% about anything." Well, that's the way we all experience the Christian life, isn't it? There's a battle within us. Galatians Chapter 5 says that the Spirit battles against the flesh, the flesh battles against the Spirit. There's a battle going on, it's going on in the mind. Romans 7 talks about it. It says, "So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin." There's a battle going on, and it starts in the human mind.
So therefore, if you want your whole life to be transformed, if you want a genuine makeover, not just a surface makeover, you've got to start with the battle over the mind, you've got to think like Jesus. And that's what Paul is getting at here in Romans 12. For it says in Romans 8:5, "Those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on what the flesh desires. But those who live according to the Spirit, set their minds on what the Spirit desires." So, the whole thing comes down, friends, to mind control. And I know some of you wonder, "Are we heading toward being a cult?" We are not heading toward being a cult. This is a call of God from the Scripture to allow the Spirit of God to control your mind by the Word of God. That's what we're looking at this morning. It's all about mind control.
12:30 AD: Now, where are we heading ultimately? Well, we're heading finally, fifth stage to the glorified mind. There at last, brothers and sisters, there will be no division of mind. It says in Deuteronomy 6, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." And Jesus prays in John 17, "That they may be one, as we are one." We'll be perfectly of one mind with God. We will see everything the way He sees it, we'll think about everything the way He thinks about it, feel about everything the way He feels about it. And what bliss and joy there will be at last. "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things. I'll put you in charge of many things. Enter now into the joy of your Master." At last, you'll feel God's joy through and through." That's the future of the glorified mind.
I was talking to Jeremy, my secretary, and he said, "I just want to skip to number five. Can we do that? Can we go right to the glorified mind?" Well, no. In the will of God, He has left you on this earth for sometime to battle the battle of the mind, and that's what we're looking at today. But friends, be joyful in hope. It says later in Romans 12, "The hope is for the glory of God." Someday, if you're a Christian, someday you will think exactly like God about everything, and you'll be fully at peace and fully at joy at that point. It says in 1 Corinthians 13, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child I thought like a child, I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now, we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face-to-face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." That is the future of the Christian mind. We will know God, we will know Him through and through. "Now, this is eternal life," John 17, "That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
The Supreme Act of Worship: Romans 12:1-2
Okay, so we've gone through a brief history of the mind, we've looked through. What I wanna say is, why does the mind need to be transformed? And how can it be transformed? That's what we're looking at today. We've already looked in part at why the mind needs to be transformed. Let's dig in and try to find out how it relates to worship. Romans 12:1-2 are two of the most important verses on worship in the Christian life. It says that we are to offer our bodies as spiritual sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your reasonable, rational, logical, or spiritual act of worship. And so we need to understand what worship is. True worship is the essence of true Christianity. This is what the Father seeks. The Father is seeking worshipers, and the Father is seeking worship. You may already be a Christian, He's seeking something from you today, He's seeking worship from you today, He wants you to worship Him.
Now this is what it says in John Chapter 4, Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "A time is coming and has now come, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." What is the context of this issue of worship? We've already seen it. We've got 11 chapters of Christian doctrine, some of the deepest doctrine you'll read anywhere in the Bible, Romans 1-11. And in that, we have a tracing out of the mercies of God as He battles with the issue of sin in our lives and in the world. We've seen the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes the Gospel. We have traced out this doctrinal foundation. And it all culminates in one of the most incredible expressions of worship you'll ever find anywhere, the doxology of Romans 11. "Oh, the depth of the riches, the wisdom, and the knowledge of God. How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever."
And so we see Paul's incredible ability, soaring in doctrine, some of the highest, deepest doctrines you'll ever find, Romans 9-11. Soaring in praise with the doxology, he lands squarely on his feet in Romans 12:1-2, talking to us about our bodies, talking to us about our practical life. He never loses sight of the practicalities of the Christian life. This is Paul's usual manner. He gives the doctrinal foundation and he says, "Now based on these truths, how then shall we live?" This is his usual pattern. And in this way, God is honoring the human mind, isn't He? He's honoring the mind. He's not just going to tell you, "Do this, don't do that," a bunch of ethical things. He's going to reason with you, He's going to explain, He's going to give you a worldview out of which you will be able to live your life. He's honoring your mind.
Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord." He's reasoning with us for 11 chapters. And now He tells us what to do. And He gives us that fourfold sacrifice. We looked at the first two, two weeks ago. The first is the soul, He wants your soul. What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Or, what would you give in exchange for your soul? You gave your soul to Christ when you trusted in Him. This is the mercy of God that He has had mercy on your soul, and you are forgiven, your sins are forgiven if you're a Christian, and you have trusted in Christ, you gave your soul to Christ.
But secondly, He asks for your body. This is just review, but He says, "I want you to present your body to Me as a living sacrifice." We talked last time about how the presentation was the same word concerning the angels that came down or would have come down if Jesus had asked them. When Peter wanted to rescue Jesus from the cross, he drew his sword and tried to rescue Him, and Jesus said, "Put your sword away." And then he said, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father and He would at once put at My disposal more than 12 legions of angels?" The angels will come and be ready to serve, so also we must put at God's disposal our bodies. Every member, every part of our body, at His disposal, holy and pleasing to Him, a spiritual act of worship, the physical presentation, we saw that last time. God wants your body.
Now it's a struggle, isn't it? Because the body is where sin resides, the lusts and the drives of the body, the habits of the body, that's where sin resides. And you look at Romans 7, it says, Paul puts it this way, "So I find this law at work, when I want to do good, evil is right there with me." Did you find that this week? You might have had a good resolution, a desire to do something good, but it's like you're dragging a weight. You can't quite do all the good things you'd like to do. Paul says, "When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." He says, in this body of death, there are habit patterns of sin that drag us down.
And so he cries out in Romans 7, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." That is the answer. Jesus is in the process of rescuing you from the law of sin at work inside your members. Friends, that is called sanctification. Now, this is not an easy thing to do, is it? It's hard work. Paul says, "I beat my body and make it my slave, lest after I've preached to others, I myself might be disqualified from the prize." He's got to keep his body under subjection, it's not easy, it's a battle. Or what I contend from Romans is that the battle is in the mind, you've got to win the battle for the mind, and there's a pull back and forth, and it's right here in the text. There's the pull of the world, worldliness, the world system, and then there's the pull of God through His word, that's the battle, the struggle back and forth, the world and the Word.
For it says, "Do not be conformed to this world." Do not be conformed to this world. Literally it says, "Do not be conformed to this age." J.B Phillips gave a wonderful translation of this, he said, "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold." It really has to do with a conforming, that you're being forced to conform to the world. Did you know that the world has a mold that it wants to squeeze you in? The world wants to make you think like it does on every topic. The world wants you to think like it does on politics. It's called being politically correct. Alright? And if you violate the rules, they'll let you know. You have not been politically correct, you'll get into trouble. The world has a mold on clothing, it wants you to be in style or trendy. The world has a mold on success, it measures success by money and power and prestige. The world has a mold on everything, and it's very influential on the mind, it wants to pull you in a certain direction. The age, or the world that we're talking about here, one commentator called it the floating mass of thoughts, and opinions, and maxims, and speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, and aspirations, at any time current in the world. It's just this mass of influence and opinion, called the world. And it's been around a long time, friends. It has.
Now, different versions, different forms, with every generation there's different flavors, but it's always anti-God, that's what it is. It's been around at least 400 years, because John Bunyan wrote about it in Pilgrim's Progress, when he talked about Vanity Fair. Now, there's a whole magazine now called Vanity Fair, but in Bunyan's work it's not a good thing, it's actually a polluting influence. This is what Bunyan wrote, "Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity. And at the town there was a fair kept called Vanity Fair, it is kept all the year-long. At this fair, are all such merchandise sold as houses, trades, lands, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts, such as harlots, wives, husbands, children, master, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and whatnot. Moreover, at this fair, there is at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, naves and rogues, and that of every kind. Here are to be seen too, and not for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false swearers, and that of a blood red color. Now, as I said, the way to the celestial city lies just through this town, where this lusty fair is kept. And he that will go to the city and yet not go through this town, must needs go out of the world."
Now, for me, I love Pilgrim's Progress just the way it's written, but I thought it might be helpful to you if I gave you an updated translation, okay? So here is the modern version according to me. You can write your own, but here we go. "Then I saw in my dream, when they came out of the wilderness, they suddenly saw a city before them, and the name of that city was Addictive Worthlessness. And in that city there was a huge mall called Addictive Worthlessness Mall. It is open 24/7, and there you can buy anything the heart could desire, vacation homes, real estate, trophies and awards, human applause, corporate ladder climbing techniques, corner offices, political appointments, travel packages to resort areas, lust, pleasures and delights of all kinds, such as swimsuit editions, pornographic DVDs, computer games, worldly magazines, and all the raw materials for earthly happiness that money can buy. Gold, silver, pearls, oriental silk, fine Corinthian leather, top-end electronic devices such as flat screen plasma TVs and satellite dishes. Here you can see, and for free too, thefts, murders, adulteries, blasphemies and all kinds of sins packaged as entertainment. And as I said, the way to the celestial city lies just through this filthy city where this lusty mall is owned and operated, and he that would go to the celestial city, and not have to go through the mall, has to die."
So bottom line is, we have to face it. I'm not saying you have to go to the mall. Actually, I was in a men's group once and I said, "What do you do, just walking through the mall, and there's just temptations everywhere?" And the guy said, "Don't go to the mall." So that was a simple piece of advice. Some of us can't avoid going to the mall. The question is, "Are we going to be polluted by it?" There is so much in Scripture about this, but the warning here is quite clear. The inference in the Greek is, "Stop being conformed to this world." Do you see it? It's not, "Don't start being conformed." The implication is you're already conforming at some level. Stop being conformed to this age. Satan is manipulating the media to saturate your minds with the ways he wants you to think about life and death, about pleasure, about gender, about sexuality, about entertainment, about careers. He wants you to conform, he has a mold he wants to squeeze you in.
But God commands you to be transformed, not conformed. And that's the parallel that he gives us here, "But be transformed." Friends, God also has a mold, and He wants to conform you to that, and that is Jesus Christ. He wants to make you like Jesus. He wants every last one of us to think, and reason, and feel, and choose like Jesus would. God has a mold as well. The entire saving work of God is to take sinners like us and transform us to be just like Christ. It's a metamorphosis he has in mind for you. He wants you to be transformed. Similar to when Peter, James, and John went up a high mountain with Jesus, and they saw that Jesus was transfigured in front of them, and his face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as radiant as a light, whiter than any launderer could get them. He was glorious in front of them. And not even with His full glory, because they couldn't survive that, but just that God allowed His Son to show some of His glory, turn it up a few notches so they could see just how glorious is Jesus.
And you know what's so incredible? Someday we're going to shine with that glory. Isn't that incredible? We're going to glow with it similar, but far greater than when Moses' face shone when he was in the presence of God. For it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, "And we who with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." He wants to make you more and more like Jesus. He wants you to be transformed. And as you gaze into the face of Christ, you will more and more be transformed from within, into Christ-likeness. And what is the ultimate result of this? Well, we've seen that the soul has been given to God, the body must be in an ongoing way, like a living sacrifice, presented to God. Your mind presented to the influence of God, we'll talk more about that in a minute, results in what? The will. You will choose what is good, and pleasing, and perfect, the will of God.
It says, "Then you'll be able to test and approve God's will. His good, pleasing, and perfect will." You'll know what God's will is, you won't just know it, you'll want it. You'll yearn for it, you'll approve of His will. Now, a lot of people ask questions about what is the will of God for my life? We're going to talk more about that over the next few weeks, talk more about that. But I tell you this, you will not be able to discern God's will for yourself unless your soul is given to Christ through salvation, you give your soul to Him, you're ongoingly presenting your body to Him as a living sacrifice, and you're in an ongoing sense being transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then, and only then, will you be able to test and approve God's will.
The Renewing of the Mind: How Does it Happen?
Alright, now we have talked about why the mind needs to be transformed. The question is, how does it happen? How can my mind be transformed? Well, I want you to notice first and foremost that, I think a good translation will give you the sense of the passive here, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world," should really be translated, "Do not, or stop being conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I want you to notice that both of these are passive. Both of them are passive, and it basically comes down to this, friends, to what are you presenting your mind so that it can be influenced? What are you handing your mind to? What do you say... When you're presenting your mind, you're saying, "Here, change me. Here, influence me." What are you presenting your mind to? Both of them are passive. You're either going to be conformed to this age, or you're going to be transformed into the image of Christ.
To what are you presenting your mind?
The issue is, to what are you presenting your mind? And the fundamental concept here very practically is, what is going into your mind, and what is your mind chewing on or meditating on? And I think that's what needs to be controlled. You need to control what goes into your mind, and you need to control by the power of the Spirit, what your mind mulls on, what it meditates on, what it thinks about. Now, Scripture calls on us to allow the Word of God to be both the input and the meditation. Psalm 119:15-16 says, "I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes, I will not forget your Word." So, we are to meditate on the Word of God. I guess the simple secret here is just daily saturation in the Word of God as illuminated by the Holy Spirit.
When my wife and I and our two older children were missionaries in Japan for two years, we were in the Tokushima area, it's in Shikoku, one of the smallest of the four large islands of Japan. And they had a lot of local culture there, a lot of things that they're really proud of and that were a big part of their culture. So we went one time to a cultural museum, and we saw that they had a big display of indigo dying there, and apparently, that was a major industry in Tokushima in generations past, and they still do some of it. Indigo, of course, is that blue in the blue jeans that we're used to, that blue color. And they showed all of these processes, whereby the cloths were dyed. The bottom line was this, they would take a white cloth and they would dip it into the dye and they would bring it out, and then they would dip it back in and they would bring it out. And the longer it stayed in and the more frequently they dipped it, the deeper it got in color. There were some that were just very light blue, all the way to some that were as dark as midnight blue. That's what it comes down to. What are you immersing your mind in so that it can be affected? "What are you marinating in?", is another analogy What are you taking in, and what are you pondering? Or, what are you thinking about?
The more time you spend watching TV, surfing the net, reading worldly magazines, listening to worldly talk shows, hanging around worldly people that only talk about worldly things, watching worldly entertainment, and then the more profound as a result will be the influence of the world on the way you think. You're going to be dipping your mind into that vat and it's going to affect you. Conversely, the more you take in Scripture, the more you meditate on it, the more you think about it, the more you memorize it, the more you're around people that talk to you about the Word of God, the more the Scripture is going to influence the way you think. That's the nature of the battle.
And so, what are some simple guidelines? Well, read the Bible. Alright? Yeah, sometimes we say, alright, the things we discuss in this pulpit are very high, and I understand that, because Romans 9-11, all that's very, very complex, there's a lot of deep doctrines. This isn't deep, this is simple, read the Bible. I mean, not right now, but I mean when you get home, read the Bible, read it, read it frequently, read it in a consistent pattern. Read through the Bible, use different strategies. There's all different kinds of ways you can use to read through the Bible. That's what being transformed by the renewing of your mind is about, the saturation of the pure water of the Word just flowing through your mind and cleansing you in a beautiful and a powerful way.
Charles Spurgeon said our very blood should be Bibline. In other words, they talk about in a negative way, the blood alcohol level, there should be a Bible level in our blood, alright? We are just saturated with the Scripture. When you talk to the person, you're going to get Scripture back. Because we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture that's going to address any and every topic in the Christian life, isn't it? And so the more we are searching out the Scripture, the more we're going to see the wisdom of God in every situation. Go through the Bible once a year for knowledge and breadth.
George Mueller read through it 200 times. Now, you do the math on that, 50 years twice, four times a year, something like that. I mean, that's incredible. You say, "I have trouble getting through it one time in a year." He went through it on an average three to four times a year, that's incredible. David Livingstone once read the Bible four times in succession while he was detained in a jungle town in Africa. He saturated himself in the Word of God. Billy Graham, I was speaking about his medical missionary father-in-law, Nelson Bell, and he said this, "He made it a point to rise every morning at 4:30 and spent two to three hours in Bible reading. He didn't use that time to read commentaries or write, he didn't do his correspondence or any of his other work, he just read the Scriptures every morning. And he was like a walking Bible encyclopedia. People wondered at the holiness and the greatness of his life."
Now, I think reading through the Bible gives you knowledge and breadth, a sense of the scope of the redemptive plan of God, and that's so valuable, a world view comes. And as I've said before, Rome wasn't built in a day. You don't get a world view overnight. Little, by little, by little, you start to see things the way God does, and things just get put in place. Breadth, I also believe in knowledge in depth, and that comes through meditation. It's so easy when you're just moving across, so easy to just skip things. We've been reading in the morning as we drive in, Psalm 119. And we got to Psalm 119 this morning, verse 130. "The unfolding of your Word, gives light, it gives understanding to the simple." You have to have the Word of God unpacked for you. You have to open it up like a suitcase with a bunch of good things inside, it's got to be unpacked. If you're reading through quickly, you're not going to see it as much, you've got to pause, and go back after you've done your reading, say, "There's a couple of things that are worth my time, I'm going to meditate on them," and you go and you just think about it. "What does this mean? This noun, this verb, this phrase? Or, what is the significance of this figure in my life? How can I live this out?"
It's not enough just to know these things, you have to do them, and so you're asking while you're meditating, "Lord, how can this change my life? How can I be transformed by the Scripture?" The unfolding of the Word gives light. Probably, one of the greatest meditations on this is in Psalm 1, it says, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, whose leaf never withers. Whatever he does prospers." And so, knowledge and breadth is reading though the Bible in a year, or something like that. Knowledge and depth is taking passages and memorizing them, meditating on them so you understand them deeply.
Summary and Conclusion
The Word of God has something to say on every topic you're going to face in your life, so does the world. My question is, who are you going to listen to? For example, the Word of God has things to say about money, and so does the world. The world says that your money is there to make you happy, basically, and that money is the root of all happiness. The more money you have, the more happiness you'll have, that's what the world says. The Word of God says to beware, watch out, because the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. So, be careful about it. But money can be used as a tool to advance the kingdom of Christ, and the way you give it by faith can store up treasure for you in Heaven forever and ever. That's what God says about money, among other things.
Concerning sex, the world says if it feels good, do it. Anything between consenting adults is fine, and there is no lasting impact on you if you're promiscuous and break the laws of God concerning sex. That's what the world says. God says differently. Marital relations, what I call it, was given for marriage, and it's a good gift from God within those boundaries, a delightful gift. Who are you going to believe, the world or God?
Concerning time, the world says time, you'll have as much as you need to do what you want with, it's really like money to make you happy. Do whatever you want with your time, and tomorrow is as guaranteed as today is. Go to this or that city, spend a year, carry on business and make money. James Chapter 4, it's a guaranteed thing. Bible says it isn't guaranteed, it's limited, so you better number your days and gain a heart of wisdom because the days are evil. Therefore, redeem the time and be very careful what you do with it. Who are you going to believe? The world on time or God on time?
On every topic in life, the Bible has something to say, and so does the world. The battle is for the mind. The central message of the Bible is, repent and believe in Christ for the salvation of your sins. If you've come here today and you have never done that, you've never repented and trusted in Christ, trust in Him now. Jesus shed His blood on the cross that we might have eternal life. But I wanna speak to you Christians here for a moment, you don't stop repenting the moment you come to faith in Christ, you start. And then what happens is, repentance is literally thinking differently from then on about everything. Live a life then of repentance, guided by the Word. Let the Word of God take you into topic after topic, and think differently, think like God does. That's how your life will be transformed and be pleasing to Him. Close with me in prayer.