About a year ago, the chaplain of the Federal Detention Center near Seattle, Washington, asked me to be a part of a new program created by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Its purpose was to prepare inmates who are about to be released into civilian life to make a successful transition. I agreed, and the results have blessed both the inmates and me tremendously.
Recently, I decided to do a series of teachings on "Renewing the Mind.” This is obviously a very relevant subject for inmates who are about to be sent back, in many cases, into the same environments that contributed to their problems. This is a teaching that I have done many times over the years, but this time it just seemed dry and unexciting. This disturbed me, so I rolled this issue onto Him, and guess what? He established my thoughts and gave me a new perspective on this important subject which I would like to share with you.
As I now understand it, the origin for the need to renew the mind is found in Genesis 3:22: "Then the Lord God said 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever' —therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken."
For many years that scripture puzzled me. When I was growing up, my mother would tell me it was important to recognize right from wrong. So what is so wrong in knowing what is good and what is evil? There are so many scriptures in the Bible like this one that did not make sense to my natural mind. But when I asked the Lord for understanding He gave it. Scriptures that had been blind to me suddenly opened up with revelation that, most of the time, has been life-changing.
In this case, God spoke to my spirit and said, "Take your attention off of the words "good and evil” and read them in context: “Behold, the man has become like one of Us knowing good and evil.”
Then He said, "How do I know good and evil?" I replied, "You determine and define what is good and what is evil." He said that was correct. But in this case, because of Adam’s disobedience when he ate the fruit, he and all of his descendants acquired the ability to define what is good or bad in their own eyes, irrespective of the way God sees and defines them. Now they have the ability to validate their own lusts and desires as good and to lie to themselves. They have lost the desire and capacity to be obedient and to be led by God. Therefore, God gave them over to be led by a mind that is out of agreement with His (Rom 1:28). Now their minds are out of sync with God's. Fellowship with God is broken. The human race finds itself separated from God because they choose to believe and adopt thoughts and values that originated with Satan and not with God.
We now have a situation where mankind is going their way and God His, and we know that God won't change His thoughts and plans to accommodate sin. In an attempt to get our attention, God asks this simple question in the Book of Amos 3:3 (nkjv): "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" The answer is clearly no. If the two men are equals, they have to negotiate a plan, an agreement. If one is superior to the other, there is no choice. The person of lower rank must follow the higher. In this case, obviously, if we want to walk with God, it is required that we get into agreement with Him by learning and agreeing with His thoughts and plans. These are revealed to us primarily in the Bible and through His Holy Spirit. The Bible calls this renewing the mind (Rom. 12:2).
The desire to walk in close fellowship with the Father by perceiving and thinking of things the way He does has been my primary motivation to continually renew my mind. That includes seeing myself as His Word describes me—as His new creation perfectly equipped to walk with Him as a co-laborer to finish the work that He has set before me. If I want to be His son and walk with Him as my leader, how can I wimp out in fear if the devil tries to stop me? I am more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37). How can I let depression slow me down? I have His love, joy and peace in my spirit (Gal. 5:22). How can I let anything of the devil hinder me? I can do all thing though Him who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
All we have been exploring is powerfully summed up in 1 John 1:5-7 that says, "God is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Simply speaking, this is saying that God, who is Light, is totally good and that His light is life-giving. "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men" (John 1:4). There is absolutely no darkness, lies, death, or evil in Him. Because of this, it is impossible to have fellowship with Him if we walk in darkness and are involved with evil and things that go contrary to His word. Our minds would be out of sync with God's. We cannot walk with Him unless we agree.
1 John 1:7 says, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Verse 7 tells us that God is in the Light, His Light of truth, goodness and Life. He will be in that Light for all eternity. Notice: He IS in the Light, and we WALK in the Light. He never changes. He is immovable, immutable and eternal and will be radiating His words and thoughts forever—thoughts that lead us into His ways and values, into His zoe life, and away from darkness, sin, and death. We WALK in The Light as we move through our temporal lives here on planet earth, agreeing with His moral values and seeing ourselves as He does as we live out His values by doing His work.
When we keep our attention focused on His thoughts and plans, they become engrafted into our spirits. When we permit them to override the ideas and values of the world's, our fellowship with the Father gets closer and stronger, and we become transformed into His same image progressively, from glory to glory.
About the author:
Rev. Burt has been a member of FCF since 1999. He and his wife Lynn have been ministering in correctional facilities in the Seattle area for more a decade, along with teaching and ministering in local churches.