The biblical framework for christian thought starts in the heart. We need to teach our own hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel. Through the Holy Spirit, the word of God and biblical meditation we renew our minds and transform our lives so that we don’t conform to a sinful world system. Therefore, we need to learn to think on the right things so that we can shape our attitude and conduct to glorify God.
Christian Thought Starts In The Heart
- The heart is the wellspring of all our “inward attitudes”—meaning that the heart represents the “inner person” or the real orientation, belief, motivation and attitude of a person. It is from the heart that we think, feel and make decisions. It is the source from which everything we do in life is issued from (wether good or bad). The problem is our hearts are born sinful—meaning it is not neutral but deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked or incurable on its own and if left untouched will lead to destruction. But the gospel changes everything—starting with our hearts. Therefore, the goal for christian thought is to train our own hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel so that we can fulfill our reason for existence (to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus) and guard it against our sinful inclinations.
Mark 7:20-23; Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:8-9; Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9; 24:7; Psalm 58:3; 51:5, 10
- The first step is being born again. You can’t just clean up your life morally and starting thinking positive thoughts. This leaves you empty inside and leads to a worse conclusion (self-righteousness and selfishness). But true salvation results in the permeant indwelling of the Holy Spirit who guides us in a radical “heart transformation” and causes us to change from the inside out. This causes the principle of replacement to take place: we stop thinking about the wrong things but we start thinking about the right things—which leads to us stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things—all for the glory of God.
Matthew 5:44; 12:43-45; Ephesians 4:28; John 3:3-8
Renewing Our Minds Leads To Transformed Lives
- As believers, we have experienced the incredible mercy of God through the gift of salvation in His Son Jesus. Because of the great salvation that we have received by the mercies of God (which are expounded by Paul in Romans 1-11) we as believers should offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice—meaning we completely give our lives over to God and live what is holy and acceptable to Him. Therefore, we are to be “transformed”—meaning it should be apparent that we are different and that we no longer walk according to the course of this sinful world. We no longer conform to the sinful world and society around us（all that is not oriented towards God and the gospel). The transformation starts with “renewing our minds”—meaning that our minds (hearts) need to be reestablished so that we can properly live out this transformed life. This transformed life results in a life that tests, discerns and lives according to the will of God—just like a priest would know what sacrifice was good, acceptable, and perfect.
Romans 3:22; 12:1-2, (3); Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-18; 1 Peter 1:13-14; (Leviticus 22:19-25)
- What is the renewed mind? The renewed mind is when our hearts are reestablished to know and submit to the truth of God as the foundation of all things right and good. The “spirit of your mind”—meaning your mindset, attitude, worldview, and inclination come into submission with the word of God so that what we want to do becomes what we should do. Our longings and our obligations become one and the same—which leads to true freedom—thus we are to stand fast and have no other mindset or view.
Ephesians 4:22-24; Galatians 5:1, 10
- How do we renew our minds? (1) Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit works in a person’s life to allow the light of the glorious gospel of Christ to shine into their “blinded minds” and bring them to salvation. Once a person believes in Jesus they receive the Holy Spirit who continues His work of “renewing” them and bringing them into humble submission to the truth as our attitudes and actions come into alignment with our new identity. (2) The Word of God—the Holy Spirit before and after salvation works through the word of God. It is the word of God that provides the truth the Holy Spirit uses to cause God’s people to be renewed and thoroughly equipped to carry out God’s will. Therefore, we need to fill our minds with the bible (read the bible, listen to correct bible preaching and teachings, sing songs full of bible lyrics, memorize and quote scripture, etc.). (3) Biblical Meditation—the bible encourages us to actively and intently think about all the things the bible has to say. Through prayerful consideration we are to apply these “bible thoughts” to our everyday lives and decisions until we develop a “bible attitude”—a biblical disposition, propensity, or natural tendency towards the will of God.
Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; 16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 1:2; 19:14; 119:11; Colossians 1:28; 3:10, 16; John 16:13; 17:17
- What does the renewed mind do? The renewed mind puts everything to the test to see if it is the will of God or not. Your mind becomes a type of “biblical filter”—meaning everything is filtered through biblical truth. This helps in two main areas: (1) Conscious decisions—meaning we purposely think about something and try to make the best decision according to God’s will through the knowledge that we have; (2) Unconscious decisions—meaning all decisions we make without taking the time to think about it beforehand but make in an instant—thus the renewed mind allows us to automatically and unconsciously filter all these decisions through the “biblical filter” and change our sinful inclinations into godly ones (for example: lust, anger, pride, covetousness, anxiety, jealousy, envy, etc.). The general principal of the renewed mind is this: a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things—the renewed mind is the good treasure which allows us to live God honoring lives according to His will.
Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Matthew 12:33-37
Thinking On “These Things” Shapes Our Conduct
- Our thoughts govern us. Therefore, what we choose to think about, what we allow ourselves to ponder on will dictate what we do. If we think about the right things, it leads to us doing right, but when we think about the wrong things, it leads us to do wrong. Therefore, Paul tells us to think on certain things so that our actions will embody those same characteristics. These are not “relative” characteristics that change from person to person but are ultimately characteristics found in God and expounded through the bible. (Note: This isn’t “positive thinking,” “positive self-image” or some type of psychology that tries to manipulate reality to profit self.)
- Paul gives us several things to think about. Thus, “Christian thinking” should include: “any virtue” (moral excellence) and “any praise” (worthy of commendation). These are broken down into six characteristics: (1) “true things” (not false or deceiving things)—absolute facts wether positive or negative and is ultimately found in God and through His word; (2) “honest things” (not irresponsible or vulgar things)—the things that are honorable or worthy of respect because it has the qualities of applying biblical truth seriously and correctly; (3) “just things” (not evil or unrighteous things)—those things that are right according to the law and morality of the bible; (4) “pure things” (not immoral or defiled things)—those things the bible defines as moral and holy—all ethical purity—especially in relation to our body and sexuality; (5) “lovely things” (not rude or inhospitable things)—those things which are pleasing to others in a gracious and kind manner and communicates the love of God; (6) “things of good report” (not bad or contemptible things)—everything that can be defined as good and doesn’t contradict any biblical teachings but is in full alignment with it. Paul had exemplified these characteristics in his teaching and life and encourages us to not just constantly think on them but to also do them—to live them out—allow our thoughts to shape our actions.
- The heart is the wellspring of all our what?
- What is the first step?
- What does renewing our minds mean?
- What does the renewed mind do?
- Thinking on what shapes our conduct?