by Fred Pruitt
A Reader Writes:
In 1Cor. 2:16, it says “we have the mind of Christ.” In Romans 12:2 it says “we are being transformed by the renewing of our mind.”
If I already have the mind of Christ, and that’s true for me now, how does Rom 12:2 fit with that. Is it because of this renewed mind that my life is being transformed. If I have the mind of Christ and think things (about life and how to live it), isn’t it with His mind that I’m thinking, and because of that, my life is transformed, from glory to glory, revealing the love and life of God, Fred, do I have 2 minds? I thought my old man was done away with, and I’ve been “made into a new creation.”
Am I missing something, I don’t want to fall into error. . . see what happens when I begin to wonder who is directing my thoughts, fear and doubt and insecurity. When I believe I have the mind of Christ and it is He who is in me, and living His life through me, as me, their is such a peace, rest and joy that I feel. I feel empowered and a oneness with the Lord that is overwhelming. One way seems to me, that I must do. . . allow. . . be sure to. . . renew my mind. . . work it. . . submit to it. . . yada, yada, yada!! Too much up to me to “do”, that’s kind of leaving it up to me to be able to be like God, impossible!. The other way is for Him, by Him and through Him, I get the benefits (a fabulous life, no matter what befalls me) of what He has already done and is doing in me, to do of His good pleasure and what Father’s intentions are toward me and those whom I am in contact with. Revealers (ambassadors) of God and His Kingdom.
Please, Fred I’m I loopy or what?? I might be missing something and not have a clear understanding. HELP!
Blessings to you.
In His Marvelous Care!
I am delighted that you wrote to me. Sorry it has taken me a while to get back. I find I’m always behind in the electronic age. I think I’m still partly back in snail-mail days with at least a week between sending and receiving, etc.
I appreciate what you have asked. “Do I have two minds?”
The short answer is no, you have only one working mind, the mind of Christ. But there are so many different “minds” mentioned in scripture, it can be confusing. So if you’ll allow me, I want to elaborate a bit on the “mind of Christ,” and what is this “renewal of the mind,” as I see it. And let me also say that for me to get where I am going, it’s going to seem for a bit like I’m taking apart something that in real life isn’t really taken apart, and that it might also seem like, “Oh no! – there’s more stuff to do!” If that happens, please keep on, because the “end” is exactly the opposite of that. You will have, I think, maybe a greater understanding of the life you are already living in grace. And that in itself is an “increase” in ourselves of who we are. So, let’s just see how the Spirit will work all this together!
Both of these topics come up all the time, and I don’t mind a bit, because when we’re dealing with these issues, we are beginning to hit dead center on the primary issue – the human self – and how it is this human self-person, with all the various attributes of humanity all going full bore, can be said to manifest Christ in the world.
I cannot stress enough the importance of this issue. And to me, it is the least understood and it is the most foundational. That’s why I say that almost everything out there, i.e., the issues of our faith and life in the world, etc., are often used to distract us from the one central issue of all – my inner life in Christ, who I am, who He is, in me. Proverbs says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov 4:23).And another, “A man’s heart deviseth his way, and the Lord directeth the steps.” (Prov 16:9). This is dead center, the “heart.”
That has very special meaning for me, as my “heart” was for years the thing I was unconsciously (and sometimes very consciously) unsettled and worried about. In my initial Christian experience, the Lord put me into a Pentecostal church of a particular denomination. I don’t know if it was what the denomination taught (I think it was) or just the pastor, but he always quoted two scriptures from the Old Testament, telling us they were our current reality, running concurrently with our status as “born-again” Christians, “filled with the Spirit,” and manifesting spiritual gifts.
The two verses are these:
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5).
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9.)
It was a terrible sentence always hanging there, no matter what you did. The last person one could trust was one’s own self. I could at any moment be deceiving myself, led by the devil but thinking it was the Lord. I had come “out of the world,” but after a while I was more scared of God than I’d ever been of the devil. (Now, rightly used, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Credit to whom credit is due! The devil is not the one to fear. He does not even carry a set of keys for his own kingdom!)
But the last thing someone with a “wicked heart” wants, or one who has at the same time come under the belief that “you’re only as safe as your last true heartfelt repentance AND you haven’t sinned since, is to get tripped up by the devil big time, and lose the whole darn shooting match. And that will make you step lively, getting out there and doing the “work of the Lord,” witnessing, praying, visiting, cleaning the church, holding Bible studies, food distributions for the poor, and on and on and on.
My Christian life had started before the Lord put us in that church. For a few months it was pretty much just the Lord and me, along with Janis (my wife), and Jim, our roommate. We had all “met” Christ “for real” on the same night, Dec 25th, 1972, in our little stone house in the country outside Rome, Georgia. A story told many times.
But the reason I am bringing it up now, is to be the platform out of which I can speak of the “renewal of the mind.” A little before and after picture.
In those initial months with Christ, before He changed the program and put us into a strong church full time, it was like we were waking up from a deep sleep progressively more each day. I identified with Paul’s “scales” falling from his eyes, because they were falling off mine, too. I did not really understand what was happening in me and all of us. We had no outer “direction” from anyone else, and yet we were mostly walking in daily joy. We were infants in the Spirit, but the “change” in consciousness, (I wouldn’t have called it that then), was like night and day.
During the time leading up to the moment of knowing Jesus, I had been reading scripture – new testament. It just baffled me. I was bathed in eastern thought and thought myself a pretty good Zen Buddhist – I did the meditation and didn’t just read about it – I MEANT IT! I wanted whatever the ? was that I was looking for, but could not find it! I did not even know the right question.
All the while reading the “Good News” modern version of the New Testament. It became increasingly clear that Jesus Himself made the “claims” many had “witnessed” to me about. I could easily dismiss the witnesses as they appeared one by one over months and years. But I grew up in a “Christian” milieu, called the “Bible Belt,” and back in my youth most everyone just sorta knew Christ was “the” Savior. I would have said, before I hit my late teen years and I became too clever to believe it, that Jesus was “the” Savior. It just sort of came with the territory. So something Jesus was actually recorded as saying, I couldn’t so easily dismiss. That was the background.
Then the day came when everything changed. It was just like that. Poof! We just said, “Ok, from now on we’re following Jesus.” Matter of fact. And everything changed. Everything! And we didn’t “do anything” (to get closer to God) except whatever came to us.
One of the most noticeable things, was the change in my reading of scripture. It had been like one of those pictures in which another image is hidden, and even though your eyes “see” everything there, your mind has to adjust differently to see the alternate image. Some people look at those things for years and never see the image in the image. The Bible is like that. It is hidden to the natural mind. The most the natural mind can see are the moral admonitions, the “good and evil,” to which most will agree. In this purely “moral” sense, there is little difference between “Christianity” and the other major world “religions.” Leaving out the “God” part, the moral admonitions of the “Ten Commandments” would line up with most everyone’s moral conscience (since that “moral conscience” is a little stamp of the “Light that lights every man who comes into the world,” hidden in our insides).
(An aside.) Everybody in the world knows there is good and there is evil, and that good is the good and evil is the evil. When God said they would “know” that knowledge after the Fall, it was less a matter of “forbidden knowledge,” than that in themselves they could not make the absolute determination between good and evil. That was the trick. Falling for the devil’s lie, they instantly became judges, starting with themselves. And it didn’t take long after that, for them to start blaming each other and that darn snake. Human society thus became a vast multitude of guilty judges hurling condemnations at one another, all while every single “judge” was guilty of all the same crimes for which they condemned and destroyed others. Nothing has changed.
And if we inwardly habitually find ourselves naked and guilty as did they, and many of us have or we do from time to time, then of course in that mindset we see everyone else as unclean as we are because we cannot see anything but that. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” In other words, the heart speaks its own truth. It its truth is truth, well and good, and truth is its own reward. But if its truth is really untruth then it speaks its untruth as if it is the truth, because untruth is truth to it.
Of course, the discernment between good and evil – that’s not necessarily a bad kind of discernment. But that comes from the Spirit in its right sense and use, and does not belong to man. (Heb 5: 14) – “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
In man’s hands supposedly “alone,” the “knowledge of good and evil” becomes the devil’s stew, and provides for him an unending resource to keep the kettle brewing. (Of course, this is nothing for us to fret about. It is, in fact, part of the plan. Let the kettle keep its heat. When it boils over, its untruth will all be exposed. And truth and righteousness will shine all that much brighter, because it will be vindicated in its day.)
But we do not live only a “natural” life, and we no longer live as slaves to the “natural mind.” Interestingly, however, this “natural mind” is still with us. It was never meant “not to be.” As with everything, it was created as part of our makeup as God’s agents in the natural world. It was never meant to be something in itself, living as if its viewpoint of things were absolute truth. It was instead the portal from the temporal to the eternal and the eternal to the temporal. As a servant.
This is part of what Paul described as “the outer man.” There is an outer man, and there is an inner man. (Not speaking of physical gender, obviously). And we’re “stuck” with this “outer man” all the days of this life. It isn’t a “thing” unto itself, a different and/or “opposing person” or “mind” within me, but rather simply our regular selves as we are in the world.
This “outer” me (for lack of a better phrase), can never really hold onto divine revelation. What I mean by that is that “I” cannot “own” this revelation as my own, apprehend it, and attach it to my “mind” in my little bag of tricks, and pull it up whenever I want to use it. It eternally remains the Lord’s, and is only “mine” as the Lord moves through me and as me, in His own times and ways. That is as it concerns the “outer man.” It is here we know our weakness, and God means us to know our weakness, even as Jesus was acquainted with His. “For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.” (2 Cor 13:4).
However, the “inner man” is different. This is in some sense the “hidden” man. It is the “Man” within the man. This inner spirit man is the house of Christ, and the outer man is the outer house of the inner man, manifesting “as the dying of the Lord Jesus … that the life also of Jesus might be manifest” in our mortal (perishing) flesh (2 Cor 4: 10,11).
It is the inner man, which includes “heart” (which to me means “spirit center”), that “operates” our lives. Other possible close synonyms for “heart” might be “love,” or “desire.” And this agrees with scripture in every way. The inward “heart” turns with “desire/love” toward the object of greatest attraction to it, and from there everything springs forth. (See Proverbs 4: 23, and 16:9, quoted above.)
It works that way in the natural and it works that way in the spiritual. That is how God set it up. It can be a fearful thing, if we are not settled about our “heart.” That is truth as much in the natural as in the spiritual.
This “inner man” is the power of God and the mind of Christ. It is the seat of love and mercy, the place of prophecy and the oracles of God. It is Caleb and Joshua within us, encouraging our faith daily in the journey. It is the place of the continual Shekinah glory that surrounds the Throne of God. It is the place of lightnings, thunderings, trumpets and voices continually reciting the wonderful works of God. It is a place where light and darkness meet, and light swallows up darkness and at the same time out of darkness light shines, perpetually. This inner man is where, “the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” and then follows with, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” (Ps 2: 7,8). This inner man is the man who rose from the baptismal waters to new life in the Spirit, and this inner man is our “hidden” person, not yet fully revealed, but nevertheless the totality of our identity as God means it in our current moment. This inner man is who we discover when we have come to Paul’s understanding: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Col 3: 3).
This inner man, all that I have described above and a zillion-fold more, is who we really are. In other words, it is us. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Pr 23:7).
But the world sees more or less the same person we have always been, and over time we kind of get used to being just the “selves” we are in daily living, mainly because we have little choice in the matter. When we’re 25 and full of spit and vinegar, we think we can change ourselves and the whole world. Some actually do. But either way, it’s not unusual for folks over 40? 50? 60? to say, they’re just glad they can still change the channel on the TV, and they don’t have to get up anymore to do it. (I speak from experience.)
We’re stuck with the “me” that we are, outwardly, and if we try to mess with it to fix what we think are the flaws in the “me,” we are in on the Spirit’s territory. We have no clear outer sight of the truth that is within us, and is us, and is manifesting as us, and frankly, we never will, except for the occasional “glimpses” we might get here and there, while “at home” in the body.
We learn to leave it to the Lord. That does not mean activity or inactivity. It means it is left to the Lord. (And that is really just an acknowledgment on our part of something that has always been, and we are occasionally privileged to refresh our memory, that it is all left to the Lord.)
There is a part of the natural mind that controls most of the functions of the body life outside our own personal consciousness, i.e., breathing, digesting, blood flow, complex chemical activities, electrical energy firing our heart’s pump action – the very things that keep us alive on a moment by moment basis which is totally out of our awareness as it goes on from birth until death. If it gets messed up we go to the doctor or pray for healing, because we don’t know how to work it so it has to be fixed. But the point is, I don’t think I exaggerate when I say 99.9999999-ad infinitum% of what goes on in our brains concerning the running of all the functions of our bodies and souls is unknown to us.
We are always seeing the parables of the Father in the natural things, and this is one of them. As it is demonstrated in the natural for eyes that can see, we can also know that this inner man is a corresponding spiritual reality that operates the whole person that we are, also mostly outside of our daily awareness. This same kind of “life activity” that sustains us in the physical, that our “volition” or “desire” has almost nothing to do with, is but a physical manifestation of how it is with us in our spiritual lives.
What our hearts are, our lives become. Simple as that. We do very little to shape it or “make it happen,” after the initial course is set. It is the Lord’s. We are aware of about .000000000001% (I’m being very liberal here) of the life we are living. The other 99.+% is automatically covered by the heart choice. And in this instance I am not talking about deciding what to have for dinner, or where to go on vacation, or even who to marry or what to do for a career. I am talking about the one only “choice” we might be said to make “on our own,” though even that is, ultimately not even “on our own,” for as Paul said, “No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor 12:3).
The choice I am referring to is obvious. “Yes, you are MY Lord! You are MY Savior!” And we continue that as the years go by, just like Abraham did, when God one day told him the true “reward” Abraham was to receive, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Gen 15:1). God Himself, which includes Who God Is – “I AM” – was Abraham’s true reward.
That reward is two-fold. The first is like the greatest commandment, hidden in plain sight in the law, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut 6: 4,5). The Lord Himself was Abraham’s “inheritance,” in this divine love which cannot be described but only lived.
And also we can see that it means, that “I AM” was Abraham’s inheritance, in his own inner identity, in whatever way it was given him to understand it. Understand, “I AM” is not a Name like ours, at least not a particular Name, like Billy or Lorenzo or Suzannah. When we speak of God, we cannot be “particular.” Particular refers to something that is “part” of something else or something greater. That cannot be said of God, so He cannot have a “particular” name. He Himself is universal. For “I AM” to truly be particular or personal, I AM must be an Abraham. Only there, does HE have a particular name, Abraham, “father of nations.” It is I AM, and it is Abraham. It is both as one, and neither is the other, but they are one.
Now here is the sum of this. What God is after is not good or better behavior, not our being more polite and kind or listening and understanding. I think we know that. He is after Himself in us. He would see only Himself. That’s why He is called a “jealous God.” That might seem selfish, petty or quite “territorial” on the part of God, but God’s seeing of Himself when He is “looking” at us, is not primarily for His own benefit. He doesn’t need anything. God’s seeing of Himself in us is the spark of our seeing God in OUR selves, and that is exactly what the Lord is after. And He is after us so totally and completely, that the entire universe is “manipulated” miraculously and perfectly for each and every one of us, “worked to the good,” as Romans 8:28 tells us, and that is for the universal good, as well as for each of us particularly, that we might know and live our full sonship in Christ.
Until this issue is settled, individually, that is, so that I know myself and God in myself (in the “Biblical sense,” as Adam “knew” Eve), we are still part of the “children,” who are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Eph 4:14).
There are all sorts of “Christian” distractions out there, to keep focus off the root and source of the rock bottom core problem and solution – the human self.
There’s a story going around about a person walking up to two doors.
One door has a sign that reads: Enter Heaven Here. As the person walks up, he can see just every once in a while a person going into that door.
The other door’s sign read: Seminar on Heaven Here. That door had a huge line waiting to get in, stretching farther than his sight.
Now here’s the thing about heaven. We have divest all to get in the door (Mk 10:27). We cannot take anything in there with us. Jesus said, “He who seeks his life will lose it, and he who loses his life will save it.” Is this contrary to the “Finished work of the Cross?” Hardly, it is the outworking of it! In the Cross, simply said, we are divested of a purely “personal” life.
(And also, to be clear, when I’m speaking of “getting in the door,” I am not talking about the next life. I’m talking about this one, which Paul described as a life in which “our conversation is in heaven.” [Phil 3: 20a]. We are not speaking here of “being saved” as much as we are speaking of entering into the apostolic life – not reserved for just special messengers called “apostles,” but the realization that we are all “sent ones” (the meaning of “apostle”) of the Lord – and it is in this “stripping away,” and subsequent resurrection in newness of life that we begin to take up “our cross” and know our “commission” in this way as Paul has lined out for us: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” [Phil 3:10])
Jesus is even more specific another time when He says, “Whosoever he be of you who forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot even be my disciple.” (Luke 14: 25-33).
Here is the point – ultimately, “all we have” is the “self” that we are, or maybe think we are. And this is the “place” where the battle is joined, in the self, and really, it goes on nowhere else. The outcome of that inner “battle” is that we would begin to appear as our “true selves,” having forsaken that false idol of self that we all start out with, that we care for, protect, defend, guard from others, etc., the “self” that formerly “found itself” in what it could derive from the attention of other “selves” and the fleeting things of the world. It is what Paul called in Philippians, “suffering the loss of all things.” That means everything. Control. Responsibility. Outcomes. Self-protection. Reputation. Current condition (spirit, soul AND body). It all “goes” to the Lord. “And they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev 12:11c).
But that’s tough, and most of us only come to that place in a finality, when we have exhausted ourselves in this “self” that cannot let itself go. It’s much easier to learn “about” something, as somewhat of a disinterested observer, rather than dive into what we’ve learned “about,” and to “pay the price” to become it. In the “seminar” realm, it costs one nothing to sit and take notes, and talk “about” it with friends. But anyone knows, even in the natural, one doesn’t really know something just because they learned it in a class and can regurgitate the things learned on a test.
In the things of God, there’s one main “rule”: “No flesh shall glory in His presence.” The only way in, is by the Spirit, as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” (Jn 4:24). And that is not talking about a charismatic-type worship service there. It is talking about the inner sanctuary of our hearts, our spirit centers, where “church” is always going on!
Grace doesn’t nullify the “no flesh policy,” in other words, “grace” doesn’t suddenly make “flesh” (in the false “consciousness” sense of flesh* we are speaking of) acceptable to God. It is “grace” that moves us in consciousness, from flesh to Spirit, that we might approach God. It isn’t that God is offended with us – that’s not why He does not entertain “the flesh.” It is we who are offended with God. We were unconsciously living in the delusion sold first to our forbears, overfull with the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, still looking to be “wise as God” in ourselves, and thinking any encroachment of the Spirit into our lives to be dangerous to all the walls and decoys we’ve put between ourselves and everyone and everything else. “We” really didn’t actually put them there, these walls and decoys, etc., but rather they are part of the fabric of the world of good and evil, and how everyone gets along in that world, and this is the world that 1 John 5:19 (NASB) describes as: “…the whole world [that] lies in the power of the evil one.”
While we are waiting in the seminar-on-heaven line, there are lots of distractions to keep us from that inner “scary” thing, “that in me dwelleth no good thing,” (not meaning “evil dwells in me,” but simply “no good thing,” in the same sense as when Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? There is none good, save God!”)*. These distractions manifest in all the issues and emphases on self-improvement, arguments over intangibles that no one can prove one way or another, each claiming the other to be the devil; second-coming mania, which often keeps people in a continual, “What is going to happen in the future?” mindset, missing the completion of Christ in us in the now; inordinate affairs with the politics of this world, seeking political ascendency and rule over others, something which Jesus Christ spurned, emphases on acquisition of property and wealth, and a whole host of “you name its” that fit the bill for great distractions, that may or may not be “good” in themselves, but either way serve to keep our minds off the one important thing, out of which all those other things find their proper places – “I am my Father are One,” and, “The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.”
Those two statements of Jesus were the foundation of Jesus’ outpoured Life. Everything about Jesus and how He was a man and how He lived as a man came out of this reality He described about Himself. No “oneness,” no “Father doing the works,” and the boat would have sailed without Him. That was Jesus’ total “how” in everything.
All these words – have we touched on the “renewing of our mind?”
Well, yes, that is what all this has been, as well as everything else every day. We are remade every day. I don’t mean we have to wake up and go over the same territory with God every day, but just that every day we wake up it is the same word of God we wake to: “Thou art my Son. This Day have I begotten thee.”
The renewing of our mind is not some “training program” we do on our poor over-taxed brains, hoping to train it thoroughly in the ways of God. Ultimately, though everything has some benefit, that doesn’t get us there.
All the “renewing of the mind” is, is the daily realization that we “are there.” How can we say this? Because “HE” is “the there.” This is not about techniques or methodologies. There are none. There’s just God and us. He says we are complete in Him. HE says we are whole and entire, needing nothing. He says we have the witness of the Spirit in us. He says He will never leave us nor forsake us. He says lots and lots and lots of things like that. He says He has overcome the world, and in Him we have overcome the world. He says we are “one” with Him. He says that when we open our mouths, “it is the Spirit of our Father who speaks in us.” He continually reminds us, “Do not be afraid. Only believe.”
The “renewal of our mind” is not something we do or give much thought to. Yes, over time our “thinking” changes. This “revelation” from the Spirit whereby we saw Gal 2:20 for ourselves, deepens day by day. As we walk, some things become a bit easier. Faith becomes our constant habit, rather than our hiding place when it gets rough. But it is not given to us to judge ourselves or our progress. It is a nothing issue.
The renewed mind life is simply the life we have been describing every day for years, the “Not I but Christ” life, which as anything else, grows day by day in understanding and wisdom in us. But we don’t worry about tomorrow and what we will be tomorrow. Today Christ is our totality. He is directing our steps. Our bodies have long ago “been presented” as a perfect sacrifice, as God directs. We are fully sons, with “life in ourselves” even as Jesus said He had “life in Himself.” But we work only as Jesus worked: “I and my Father are one,” and, “The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.”
I don’t think I can see how there could be anything more “renewing” to the mind than oneness with Christ, because that’s where the “All” is.
As far then, as to “which mind” is running the show, or should we begin to look more circumspectly at ourselves for some renewing we need to have, the answer is clear. Who am I?
I am the light of the world and the salt of the earth. When they see me they see the Father.
That is the “renewal of the mind.”
*For a fuller explanation of what I mean by “flesh consciousness,” that is the subject of The Axe Laid to the Root. A printed version is available for purchase, or one can download a free full copy (it’s not that big a book) from my blog. Click here: https://thesingleeye.wordpress.com/the-axe-laid-to-the-root/ (Or enter the above URL when you go online.)