Conversion starts inside and is reflected outwardly. God wants us to clean up our minds, our thoughts, our attitudes, our approach, and if we do it’s going to be reflected outward.
Sermon presented by Roy Holladay during the Feast of Unleavened Bread on April 21, 2014 in the Cincinnati, Ohio congregation.
You know, we live in an age today, in a society today that we function in, and a culture that we grow up in that has an effect upon all of us, and probably more of an effect than we realize. We live in an age that is vastly different from any other age man has ever lived in. In Daniel 12:4 Daniel 12:4But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
American King James Version× you might remember, it tells us that at the end time man would run to and fro, and their knowledge would be increased, and that certainly has happened.
Knowledge in the past was shared, and you can go back, and you think about it, by word of mouth to start with. Your neighbor knew something, he’d pass it on to you, and you’d passed it on to your neighbor, and so on.
Then by foot, perhaps a courier was sent out, or a runner. Then you had horses, something like the Pony Express, where information could be carried across the country. Or you would have lights, drums, and smoke, you know, anything that could be visible from a distance that people would convey and send messages. You also had ships that would go across great bodies of water, and be able, once they arrived to carry information.
They developed the Morse code. You had the telegraph, you had the printed word, and think what a marvelous invention the printing press was – to be able to print books. Otherwise, prior to that all were hand written. So to have a printing press, to duplicate books. They came out with the telephone, radio, TV, computers, worldwide web, internet, satellites and surveillance. Now you can’t get away. I mean you’re tracked and followed everywhere that you go today.
This world is absolutely saturated with information. I went on the computer to look up, I just typed in “how fast is knowledge doubling,” and of course they talk about, at one point at the turn of the last century, it’s about one hundred fifty years, and they said it started halving like it would be something like seventy-five, and then it would get down to thirty, and then to, you know, fifteen and you know, there comes a point where knowledge is growing so much, so fast, that no one can keep up with it.
Now a lot of the information is good, a lot of it’s bad, and that which is good, if we fill our minds with that it’s terrific but the evil tends to dominate in society today. Now why do I mention this? You know, why talk about communications? Because what we see, what we hear, what we learn, what we allow into our minds has a tremendous effect upon every one of us. It has an effect on how we grow and develop.
Imagine growing up in a world without cell phones. Now I can imagine that. I grew up with a party line, and to those of you who never had a party line. You live out in the country. Maybe ten, fifteen people were on the same line, and according to how the phone would ring you’d know it was you. You know, two shorts - ring, ring. Three longs - ringggg, ringggg, ringggg. Whatever the sound was you would know it was your phone, and you’d pick it up, and probably half the other people would too. (Laughter) And listen to you (Laughter).
We live in an age today where there’s a younger generation that doesn’t know what a typewriter is. I came to the home office, was sitting in my office, and I heard this click, click, click, click, and I said, “That’s a typewriter.” And sure enough I went next door, and Chris Rowland was typing on a typewriter. There are some forms you can fill out quicker on a typewriter than you can fill out on a computer so he’s got one. Not too many people do.
Imagine a world without television, radio, the movies, the printed word as we know it today. It would be a very small world. You would be limited to your circle of friends. You wouldn’t know what was going on in Europe or what was going on in Asia or some other part of the world.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:12 1 Corinthians 2:12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
American King James Version× that the spirit of this world, he talks about the spirit of this world, that it influences the world around us. It influences, and has influenced everyone. This is the influence of the devil and the evil spirit world about us. He is also called, as we know, in Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×, great deceiver. He has deceived all mankind.
The word deceiver is interesting when you look it up in Lonida’s BIBLE Lexicon, and it talks about the word means to wander off of a path. You know, there’s a right path, a right way we’re supposed to walk, and you wander off of that path. It means to cause someone to hold a wrong view. Actually, it’s expressed as an idiom in some languages. It means to twist people’s thoughts, to twist their thoughts in a wrong direction, and it means to follow a false way, a way that is not true. And this is what the devil has been up to for the last six thousand years since man has been on the earth. He’s been twisting things.
Remember what he told Adam and Eve? “You won’t surely die.” Well, he twisted something that God said. God didn’t say “You will die the very day you eat this but in the day you eat of it you will die.” And his fate was sealed.
The ways of the world, the values and standards of this world, the outlook of this world, the ways of looking at things, doing things, these have a big effect upon every one of us. Go to Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version×. When Mr. McCrady started reading this, this morning I held my breath, and I thought, “Well, hopefully he won’t go into too many details.”
Now let’s notice in Romans 12:1 Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
American King James Version× - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,… now he’s going to explain how to be a living sacrifice before God, … that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
V. 2 - And do not be conformed to this world…. You see, when God brought Israel out of Egypt they kept the Passover but He had to bring them out of Egypt. Get them away from the influence of the Egyptians, and the religion, and they were headed to the Promised Land. So we’re told …not to be conformed to this world but be transformed… so there is a transformation that needs to be taking place. And it says, “…by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
All of us are striving to know what God’s will is for us in our lives, and in order to do that this transformation has to take place. We are to be transformed. Where does the transformation take place? In your what, elbow? The neck, right here, between your ears, these are temples. Ears are down here a little bit. The transformation takes place in the mind, in our thinking, in our thoughts, in our motives, in our intentions.
We are not to shape our lives according to the standards of this world as we know. We are to form and mold our behavior according to a particular pattern and standard, and that standard, and that pattern is what God gives us. It is a godly standard, not the worldly standard. Now I think we all understand that. The world and its influence, however, are like a great spiritual tsunami.
I almost titled this sermon today “Spiritual Tsunami” but that’s not the title. But it could be because this world in Satan’s influence, and the evil influence that is out there is constantly trying to overwhelm us. I remember sitting spellbound when I remember a few years ago the earthquake that took place, and the tsunami that hit Japan. You saw this wall of water coming in, and just going right up the valley to a city, destroying the city. People running, trying to get out of the way. Cars, buildings, everything just being totally overwhelmed. Well, this is the way Satan, the devil is. He’s trying to overwhelm us, and he has overwhelmed the world.
So the first step we find in being transformed, is notice verse 2 - …do not be conformed to the world,… don’t use it as the standard to measure ourselves by. It is God’s standard that we are to be measured by.
The word conformed means to be fashioned alike, to be fashioned alike, and it means not being molded by the external and fleeting fashions of this age. So our inner man, the inner person, the inner self is to be transformed, and we are, you’ll notice here this is by the renewing of the mind.
The word transformed, so we clearly understand it, means to change, that we’re not to conform to this world. We are supposed to change and to become completely different according to the Moriah Greek Lexicon, are to become different from what you are.
You and I, once we receive God’s Holy Spirit, once we’re converted, we are to be a completely different individual. Now that doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t overnight just become totally spiritually mature. It is a lifelong process, and childbirth is compared to it. You have a little baby, grows up, eighteen, twenty years. You hope by that time that they’re old enough to be out on their own, hold a job, be able to get married, and be able to take care of themselves.
So you and I are to grow. We are to grow up. We are to mature spiritually. We have been called to become completely different. We have been called to go from humankind to the God kind. What God is doing in us is taking human beings made out of the dust of the ground, that have minds that God has given to us, and we are going through a conversion process, a change. That’s what conversion’s all about.
We are moving from a humankind into the God kind, and it’s got to begin in our minds. So notice how this takes place. It says that we are to be transformed, or changed by the renewing of our minds. There is a new mind, a renewal of the mind. The word renewal here means “to cause something to become new and different”.
For years we had these commercials on TV. It could be soap, Tide, new and improved or, you know, it could be something else. It was always new, and it was improved, and that was supposed to sell it. I think all they did was repackage it, and put it out there and say that it’s new, and it’s improved.
Well, with us, God is taking us, and when He gives you His Holy Spirit there is a new creation that begins to take place, and we are to live a lifetime of improvement, of improving, of growing, of changing, of developing. We are to be transformed in our minds as it says here, is where it begins to take place.
We must eradicate the toxic thinking and experiences that we’ve had in our hearts and our minds, and change those, and it takes a lifetime to root things out. It means that we have to apply an effort to do so. God’s Holy Spirit can only work with our choice, our resolve, and our self-control. God gives us His Holy Spirit but the Holy Spirit doesn’t twist your arm. It doesn’t force you to do something. It’s there. It gives you the power but you have to also cooperate.
We have to resolve, we have to make the right choices, and sometimes we have to tell God, “You know, Father, I don’t have the power and the strength. Help me!” And so you get down on your knees, and you pray, and you cry out to God, and you plead with Him, and you ask Him to help you to change. But you’ve got to want to change. You’ve gotta see where you need to change, and God will give us the strength. But it does involve our choosing, our resolve, and our self-control.
Paul reminded the church in Galations 1:4 that we live in what is called, “the present evil age”. It cannot, and must not serve as a model for Christian living. It’s values and goals are the antithesis of what God has set for us. His values and goals are the antithesis upholding us, of God’s way of life. To be culturally identified with the world places us spiritually at great risk. We’re told we’re to be a light to the world. This world lives in total darkness.
If you have ever been in a cave before you normally, anytime you go into a cave, whoever is leading the group likes to do this. They turn all the lights off, and you stand there for five minutes, and your eyes begin to adjust to the dark, and you don’t see anything. It’s totally dark. And then somebody turns on a little light or lights a match, and it’s amazing the light that that radiates. Well, that’s the way we are in this world. Our example, our lives, what we do, how we live should be a light to this world.
We don’t want the world to squeeze us into its mold. We don’t want to be overcome by Satan’s tsunami – his influence that he’s constantly trying to engulf us. So we’re working against false patterns that have been ingrained in us from the past as well as Satan’s continual bombardment of us.
You stop and you think what society is doing. You look at television, you look at everything on television that’s taking place, movies, printed word. It has a tremendous influence upon all of us. A renewed mind is concerned on the things which are above. Let’s go over to Colossians 3:1 Colossians 3:1 If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
American King James Version×, and I want you to notice again that we are to be a new man, new creature.
Colossians 3:1 Colossians 3:1 If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
American King James Version×-If then you were raised with Christ, and again, talking about baptism here, seek those things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. So we are told to seek spiritual things.
V. 2 - Set your mind, you see, this is our mindset, on things above, and not on the things of the earth.
Now this is not saying that you can’t think about your job, think about driving a car, buying something here. It’s not talking about that but its talking about your basic approach to life – that our approach must be on the things that are above, that come from God, from His spirit, from His work that we have.
V. 3 - For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
V. 4 - When Christ who is our life appears, then you (also) will appear with Him in glory.
V. 5 - Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. So He explains what He’s talking about here.
V. 6 - Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
V. 7 - in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. So it’s talking about pre-conversion days.
V. 8 - But now you yourselves are to put off all these:… so God says we’re to put these thingsoff, and He names them, …anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
V. 9 - Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
V. 10 - and have put on the new man, and notice, which is renewed in knowledge. It is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. So you and I are being renewed in knowledge. And what kind of knowledge are we talking about? We’re talking about spiritual knowledge.
You think the BIBLE is a book that contains spiritual principles. There are men who have studied the BIBLE all their lives, and a five or a ten year old sitting in God’s church, in many cases, has a deeper understanding of the plan of God and His purpose then they do. They may have a two hundred IQ. They may be able to read it, know Hebrew, Greek, Sanskrit, and every language you can think of, and yet they don’t understand the spiritual principles. Why?
When you get down, and you study the BIBLE, and there have been many times that I’ve gone in to pray, and I will take my BIBLE with me. I will read through a section of the BIBLE, and all at once I have thoughts that begin to flood into my mind, and you begin to think about things. I’m getting down and praying to God and saying, “You know, I’m thinking about speaking on this topic but it just will not come together. You know, I can’t put anything together.” And I’ll pray. I’ll get up and go back and nothing happens, and I’ll go back and pray again. I might do that two or three times, and all at once I’ve had almost whole outlines pop into my mind, you know, thoughts and principles that pertain to that particular topic.
What God does, brethren, it takes the spirit of God working with our minds. God gives us that spirit, and as we study these principles, then we find that the word of God is spirit and life, John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×. His spirit is life, and God gives us His way of life. He also gives understanding.
Again, we have to do our part. God isn’t just going to give us spiritual awareness and understanding greater than that if we never study the scriptures. So we study, we pray, we ask God to help us.
You know, we have an example in the BIBLE of how the influence of the devil and the ideas of society completely overpowers the world. A spiritual tsunami, so to speak, and led it off in a wrong direction. Let’s go back to Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And 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.
American King James Version×, and I want you to notice a scripture here. It was referred to this morning.
Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And 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.
American King James Version×- Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,… This is the strongest verse in the BIBLE in what it expresses, and I want you to notice. The wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intent…, every intent; not part of the intent, not ten per cent, or twenty-five per cent but …every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Now can you express it any stronger than that?
And so, when you find the world before the flood, that the wickedness of man had come to the point to where it was only evil continually. Now Matthew 24 tells us, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:” When Christ is going to return to this earth.
We live in an age, in a society that’s much like what He described back here before the flood, and had been on the earth fifteen, sixteen hundred years, and God then called Noah. He found grace if God’s sight.
The word intent here in Hebrew means purpose, or imagination, or devise, a thought, motivation, or intellectual framework. Their intellectual framework. And I thought that was very expressive because what should be your intellectual framework? What should be my intellectual framework? What is God’s intellectual framework? What motivates God? What are the intents of His heart, of His mind, of His thinking. What is God’s intellectual framework?
1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
American King James Version×– …God is love. This is how He thinks. It’s not a matter that God just loves. God is love. That’s what He is, and everything that He does, His whole plan, purpose that God has is created and motivated by love.
Now there was one point in time, I should say in eternity. There was one point in eternity that the Father, the one that we know as the Father, and the Word sat down and began to think about, “We would like to share this life with others. We would like to share the joy, the happiness, the excitement, the pleasure, you know the, everything we have with others. How are we gonna do this?” They had to sit down and plan out the whole plan of salvation. Then They had to bring it about, and, you know, create the physical, and then finally create man. And everything that God has done has always been motivated by love.
Grace, that flows from God, it flows from His love. Grace is a reflection of the love of God in action towards us, and towards others. Now, this is how God thinks. Everything He does is motivated by love. Let’s notice in Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×, tying in with this.
Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×-It says, “For the word of God is living and powerful….” And so God’s word is alive. These are not just words on a page. These are living principles, spiritual principles. The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The BIBLE shows us the thoughts and the intents of the heart. As you read through the BIBLE not only, you know, it just says, well, you know, “You’re breaking the Sabbath”, that it begins to get down into your very thought patterns. It begins to reveal to us if our thoughts are correct, if a motivation behind those thoughts are correct, if our intent is correct.
The word intent here means, “that which is intended or purposed as result of thinking.” You think your thoughts, you plan something, you intend to do something. What are our intentions, brethren? Our deepest desires? The thoughts that go through our minds. What are our thoughts, our motivations, and intentions behind what we’re doing? That’s really what we want to take a look at here today because this is where Satan comes after us. He doesn’t come after our big toe. He comes after the mind. He comes after our thoughts. He wants to inject his philosophy, his approach into our minds.
We are in the process of being transformed into the very image of God, and it must begin in the mind. Remember what Jesus Christ said about the Pharisees in Matthew 23? He said, “…whitewashing sepulchers.” He talked about how they were full of dead men’s bones. He said that they were like socks that were dirty on the inside and the outside may look clean and pure.
He said, “First of all, clean the inside.” Conversion starts inside and goes out. Our conversion, our change isn’t just a physical outward change. It has to be in the mind, in the heart, and in the attitude. That’s where God works, and where God wants us to change. True conversion starts inside. Notice 2 Corinthians 3:18 2 Corinthians 3:18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.
American King James Version×.
2 Corinthians 3:18 2 Corinthians 3:18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.
American King James Version×- But we all, with unveiled face,… notice our faces don’t have veils – we’re not blinded any longer. God has removed the blinders from us. …with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed… How are we being transformed? Into the same image, the image of God, from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of God (the Lord).
And what is the tool that God uses to change us? It is His spirit. And what are we being changed from? Well, into the image of God from glory to glory. We take on more of the glory, the power, and the mind, the attitudes, the approach of God. We begin to think more like God thinks. We’re developing the spiritual image of God.
In the book of Genesis 1 and 2 it says that man was made in God’s image. That means we were made in His form, His shape, with a mind conscious but we were not made with His character or His composition. That is why conversion is all about and it’s why through the process of conversion, God working in us, we find we develop His character. That’s the spiritual image. We grow in that spiritual image.
In the resurrection we have His composition so we then are made complete in His image, His spirit and body. Let’s turn over to 2 Corinthians 10:5 2 Corinthians 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×, and we read what it is that God wants us ultimately to do.
2 Corinthians 10:4 2 Corinthians 10:4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
American King James Version×says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,” God’s spirit and power is there to help us, but notice what we are to do.
V. 5 - casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Now every thought you think, is it in obedience to Christ? And I would be foolish to stand here and say, “Yes.” Because I struggle with that. The main thing I struggle with is me. I find my mind’s on me, myself, and you’re always thinking about yourself, and I have to stop at some point and say, “Now, wait a minute here. I need to be thinking about others. I need to think about how I can help my wife or how I can serve here, and get our minds off of ourselves.”
Well, we’re to bring every thought into captivity, and you know, that’s not easy. That’s a lifetime that we work on being able to do that. Now it talks here about bringing every thought into obedience. The word means here that we are to make ourselves think as we should. That we are to make ourselves think as we should.
You know, understanding the truth of God is the first important step that we take but understanding doesn’t mean that we’ve actually changed. I mean I can understand the BIBLE but that doesn’t mean I’ve changed.
We must act on the way. We must act on the truth that leads to life. God’s character can only work within us with our concurrence, with our cooperation. So God’s spirit is there. God gives us the power but we have to put forth the effort.
Now in order to do this God gives us help. He gives His Holy Spirit and His word but we have a part in the process. It takes effort on our part to evaluate our thoughts, our motives, our intentions. The Holy Spirit is the power of God that God gives us. Not only is it the power but it brings things to our mind. It gives us awareness, it gives us understanding.
One of the most interesting BIBLE studies you can do is to go through the BIBLE, and read, because there are many examples in the scriptures where you can read where somebody did one thing, and then the BIBLE reveals that their motivation, and their intention was completely different. Let’s go back to Numbers 16 real quick. I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Numbers 16 we find the story of Korah, Abiram, Nathan. In verse 1 they got together and they gathered together two hundred fifty leaders of Israel. Men of renown, these were well-known men, men who were respected by the people, and they gathered against Moses.
V. 3 – Notice the last sentence, what was their accusation against Moses and Aaron? “Why, you take too much on yourselves.” It says, “Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the (Lord’s) people?”
Notice verse 7 – the last sentence. “You take too much upon yourselves…” This is what Moses is saying to them, he says, “You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi”.
V. 10 – Moses pinpoints what their problem is.He says, last sentence, “Are you seeking the priesthood also?” See, Korah was a priest, and as a priest he had certain functions. I should say he was a Levite, and as a Levite he had certain functions but he wanted to be a priest also. So he got people to go with him, to challenge Moses and Aaron. They were going to remove Moses and Aaron, and then they would take over. They would set themselves up, and you ask the priest. So, his motive, his intention was different than what he told the people.
They wanted to be in charge. Now have we ever seen anything like that today? We find all the time that there are those who want to be in charge.
Now these examples are in the BIBLE so that we learn from them. We need to look and evaluate our motives, our intentions, why we do what we do. Remember Matthew 27:18 Matthew 27:18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
American King James Version×? The Pharisees, scribes, you know, the Sanhedrin brought Christ to violently accused Him. They looked around for false witnesses, and tried to get somebody to witness against Him. And what does verse 18 say?
Matthew 27:18 Matthew 27:18For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
American King James Version× - For he knew they had handed Him over because of envy. They were envious of Christ. Because He had a following. He was doing things they couldn’t do. He could perform miracles. And so they did it out of envy.
Now when I talk about looking at our thoughts I’m talking about looking at our motivation. People are motivated in society by envy, by jealousy, by vanity, by pride, by vindictiveness, by greed, spite, they want recognition, they want power, they want wealth, and you know, they want to advance themselves forward, and to be ordained. And again, this is what Satan works on.
If he knows that you have a problem with pride, guess where he will come at? He knows when you have a weakness in a certain area, money, then this is where he will come after you. He is very clever.
The Pharisees might remember to do things to be seen. In Matthew 6, you find that they would toot horns, and they would, you know, toot a horn, everybody would look around, and they’d drop some money in a hat, or whatever. And they would do things to draw attention to themselves. That’s just another example that their motives were totally different than what they professed.
What about Simon the magician in Acts 8? You might remember he was baptized. The BIBLE says he believed. He saw Phillip performing miracles. He believed, and he was baptized, and then when the apostles came down he offered them money, and he said, you know, “Give me this power, and whoever I lay hands,” you know, you see the same thing. And Peter had to tell him, “Your heart is not right with God. He was poisoned by bitterness, and bound by iniquity. And so, again, his motive was wrong.
In 1 Chronicles 28:9 1 Chronicles 28:9And you, Solomon my son, know you the God of your father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts: if you seek him, he will be found of you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever.
American King James Version×, we will read that. I want you to notice what David told Solomon. “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.”… God knows what our intents are, what our motives are, what drives us to do what we do. “…If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”
So brethren, when we examine ourselves we pray. You need to ask God, “Father, you know me. You know me inside and out. Please help me to see myself and where I need to change. What am I doing wrong? Are my thought patterns wrong? Do they need to change?
Psalms 19:14 Psalms 19:14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
American King James Version×– It says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. That should be part of what we pray. Not necessarily those exact words but something we pray on a daily basis. Let the words of our mouth, which are going to reflect what we’re thinking in our heart and in our minds, be acceptable in God’s sight.
In Psalms 119:9 Psalms 119:9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to your word.
American King James Version× we find how a young man can cleanse his way, and I would say, an old man can cleanse his way. A young woman can cleanse her way. An older woman can cleanse her way. Notice: Psalms 119:9 Psalms 119:9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to your word.
American King James Version×- How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word, to the BIBLE, to the scriptures, to God’s word.
V. 10 - With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! And so, how do we clean ourselves up? The BIBLE is compared to water, and we take the BIBLE, we pray, we study, we watch, we cleanse ourselves spotless. But again, it takes effort on our part. We don’t want to be motivated by pride and conceit, being unconcerned about others.
I want you to notice in Jeremiah 17:10 Jeremiah 17:10I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
American King James Version×, a very interesting scripture. We know V. 9, the heart’s deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, or sick.
V. 10 - I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. So Godtests us. He will search our hearts. Ask God to search us, to reveal to us our minds, our nature, our hearts, our motives.
Notice this from the LIVING BIBLE paraphrase, V. 10 – Only the Lord knows. He searches all hearts, He examines the deepest motives so He can give to each person his right reward according to his deeds, and how he has lived.
And then in THE MESSAGE, translates V. 10 – But I, God, search the heart, and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be. SoGod looks at us, not as we pretend to be but as we really are to know the heart, and God gets down to the root of all things.
And so God wants us to change from the inside out, from our heart, and in our minds. Again, what is the motivation of God’s heart, His thoughts and His actions? It’s love and it’s grace. You and I are in a complete renewal process of changing our heart, our thoughts, our thinking, our motivation to be like God.
You see, we can’t change our composition. If you became more spiritual, and as you did so part of you disappeared and became spirit, you know, we’d walk into church and we’d see a head over here, and maybe next week you’d see part of his torso, and you’d say, “Uh Oh, you had a bad week, not as spiritual as you were last week. (Laughter) You see, it doesn’t happen that way, does it?
No, God has given us the spirit in man. He gives us His Holy Spirit. He gives us the living Word of God. We study it, we read it, we read over it, and it helps us to change. Now we are becoming made in God’s image with His character, His thoughts, to become like Him. That kind of change that we’re talking about here doesn’t happen automatically. There has to be a resolve, a determination, a consciousness, a vigilance, self discipline on our part. It takes our cooperation with God.
Now, do we have a prototype or a template to show us what our thoughts should be like. What our minds should focus on. We should think, “Oh, yes we do.” We have a template. He’s known as the Son of God, Jesus Christ. His instructions are contained in the scriptures, and His life as Immanuel, God in the flesh, is outlined in the four gospels. So we have four books in the BIBLE we can study the life of Jesus Christ. We have His teachings written in the rest of the scriptures to expound on how we need to model our lives.
We need to model our lives, base our actions and our thoughts on that template. Now where do we read about that template? Well, let me just quote about four verses that shows you that if God is love what we’re talking about.
1 Corinthians 13:4 1 Corinthians 13:4Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,
American King James Version×– Let me read this, first of all. Then we’ll come back and take a look at it. If God is love, which He is, not if, God is love, and we are to become like God then it basically means that our motivation of being so self-centered needs to be changed to become God centered, and be love centered, motivated. Now notice how love will be. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
V. 5 - does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
V. 6 - does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
V. 7 - bears all things, believes all things, (hopes all things), endures all things.
V. 8 - Love never fails…. It is something that never fails. God says He will never leave us or forsake us, and you know, He is love. He will never fail us, He will always be there.
Now I started looking these few verses up in a number of translations. You can almost create a parallel BIBLE, you know. Here is this BIBLE, this BIBLE, this BIBLE, and compare it. Well, after awhile you realize you can’t cover all of those so I did three of them, and let me just show you. As you go through I’d like to go back through these again.
This should be the way we think and we act. This is the way we should be. As it says, “Love suffers long.” I use the NIT translation and the GWT translation. It says, “Love suffers long.” It means is patient. So are we patient with one another? Is that part of our motivation? Think of God. When God looks down on this earth, and He is patiently carrying out His plan.
All of them translated the word kind as kind. Are we kind? Does that describe you? Somebody thinks of you, do they think, “He’s a kind person?” Or do they think, “Boy, you don’t want to be around that individual?”
Love does not envy, or love isn’t jealous is what it’s talking about. Love does not parade itself, does not boast itself, doesn’t sing its own praises. “Oh, I’m great! How great I am!” Doesn’t go around singing its own praises but, you know, the BIBLE says to let others praise you.
Is not puffed up, is not proud, is not arrogant so being puffed up, or proud, or arrogant – that’s a problem that humans struggle with.
Does not behave itself rudely. Does not dishonor others. You know, these are various ways that it’s translated.
Now when you stop and you think about this, you know, 1 Corinthians 13 is a chapter we should be reading on a regular basis, and if you read it in different translations it puts a little different slant on some of the words to help you to grasp, and you begin to think, “Well, if I’m to be love, I’m to show love, if I’m to have God’s love, then you begin to realize describes love. It shows how God would behave if He were here on the earth in human form.
And guess what? God is on this earth in us. I mean, we are the body of Christ. Are we not the church of God?
And then He goes on to say, “Does not seek its own, is not self-seeking, doesn’t think about itself,” and that’s a hard one because we all are constantly thinking of ourselves.
“Is not easily provoked, not easily angered, is never irritated.” So, none of us ever get irritated.
“Thinks no evil, keeps no records of wrong. Does not rejoice in iniquity, does not delight in evil, is unhappy when injustice is done but rejoices in the truth, is happy with the truth. Bears all things, always protects, and never stops being patient.
“Believes all things, always trusts, never stops believing. Hopes all things, always hopes, never stops hoping. Endures all things. Always perseveres, never gives up.
“Love never fails! Love never comes to an end.” Brethren, here’s a template that we can follow that shows us what we need to be doing in our minds, and in our actions because faith, if we have faith. It says, “Faith without works is dead.” Works is faith translated into action. If we have faith we believe God, we love God, and we will translate that into action, into doing.
Let’s finish with one last scripture that ties in with this. Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
American King James Version× – We want to know how we should be thinking. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
We think about these things, and so, we are not to allow our minds to become corrupted, twisted, perverted. We’ve come out of that, and as we found out this morning through the power of God’s spirit, God’s spirit helps us to change.
So brethren, conversion starts inside, is reflected outwardly. So, God wants us to clean up our minds, our thoughts, our attitudes, our approach, and if we do it’s going to be reflected outward. So let’s realize that God has called us to take on His image, to be like Him, to think like Him, and to eventually strive to bring every thought into captivity.