Renovating Our Thinking

Gary Combs ·
January 15, 2023 · discipleship · Ephesians 4:17-24 · Notes


What kind of ideas and images inhabit your mind, your thinking? Where did they come from? Do you have a mindset, a worldview, shaped by the Word of God as applied by the grace and Spirit of God? Or is your thinking shaped by the culture you’ve grown up in? The truth is, as believers, we all struggle with being “double-minded,” having competing ideas and images in our thinking. Some from God and some from the world.

God wants to renovate our thinking so that we have the mind of Christ. In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he taught believers to yield their minds, their thinking, to Christ for renewal, for transformation, for renovation. We can yield our minds, our thinking, to Christ for renovation.


Below is an automated transcript of this message

Good morning, church! Thank you, Sharon. I saw her testimony earlier this week after she had submitted it from our Life on Life Discipleship process and I was thinking that I would call her and see if she would read it today. I’m thankful for you being willing to do that, Sharon; thank you.

You know, God has given all of us a testimony and it’s important that you let your light shine. It’s a good segue into our series. We’re in part two of our series entitled, “Renovate.” We’re not talking about renovating your house. We’re talking about the renovation of your heart. Today, we’re going to be focusing on the idea of renovating our thinking.

Our key series theme verse is from Proverbs 4:23 (ESV) “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Life flows from the heart. Dallas Willard, from his book, “Renovation of the Heart, says that we live from our hearts. We are tempted to believe that if we change outward things that somehow we will be happy, but the truth is, outward things don’t change our hearts. Real life change begins on the inside and works itself out.

Our scripture today is from Ephesians, chapter 4. The key verse I want us to focus on today is verse 23 of chapter four. It says this, “… be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” Renewed could be translated, “renovate” or “transform;” today, we’re talking about that. We are talking about renovating our thinking.

What does it mean to renovate our minds? We have to consider what the realm of thought is really about. Dallas Willard, in his book, talks about four factors of thinking. He says one of them is ideas, the second is images, the third is information and then the fourth is our ability to think. The truth is, some of us get in such chaotic states that we’re not even really able to think clearly. He says that of these four factors, the first two are the most important to consider. We will be looking at the scripture today on how we might reflect on that, but that’s the idea of ideas that form our thinking. Another way of saying that, is your worldview or your perspective. What ideas form the way you think, believe, make decisions, what you consider true or false and what you consider right or wrong. This is what we call, “ideas.”

Images are those pictures in your mind that you’ve picked up along the way that form your thinking. We’re gonna be looking at those things. What kind of ideas and images inhabit your thinking. Where did they come from? Do you have a mindset, a worldview shaped by the word of God or is it shaped by other things? Is it shaped by Hollywood, social media, your peer group or your parents? I would say that it’s all of those things because all of us have a way of thinking and all of those different factors have shaped our mindset, our worldview and our minds.

How much of it has been shaped by God’s word? That’s what we’re talking about today– to think about how you think. We’re the only creature in God’s creation that can do that. We can think about thinking. We can think about our thoughts – Is that thought that I’m thinking right now from God and His word or is it from someplace else? And if that’s the case, how can I stop thinking like that, because thoughts and thinking affect the heart.

We might visualize the heart like this: when the bible talks about the heart, it is not so much talking about it. It’s more a metaphor for the seat of your will, like the driver’s seat of your life. There’s your heart and your will, like the choices and the aspects of your life that affect your will. It’s the way you drive, the choices you make, whether you turn left or right or things. Thinking how you think affects how your feelings feelings affect your heart, how your body affects your heart, your decisions and with other people in social relationships. That’s kind of the pathway we’re following, we’re looking at all the aspects of human life and what the bible says about how to bring them into alignment with God’s heart, so that your will and God’s will come into alignment.

I see some of you with those bumper stickers on the back of your car that says, “God is my co-pilot.” You need to go out there and rip that off and get God in the driver’s seat. That’s what we’re really talking about. Get out of the driver’s seat and say, ‘I want God’s will for my life.’ We’re looking at how we can bring our thinking into alignment. The truth is, a lot of us are “double minded”- we have some of God’s word and some of the world, and so it causes us to be confused about things, like marriage. Marriage is affected by our double mindedness, parenting, financial stewardship, sexuality, I could just keep going, right? What the world says about sex and what the bible says about it, what the world says about possessions and what the bible says about it, what the world says about marriage and what the bible says about it. You’ve got these two sets of values and they are contrary to each other. So we get double minded if we’re not careful.

To be double minded has the idea of attempting to look in two directions simultaneously. We’re doing that; that’s our thought life and we have wrong ideas about these issues because we have “stinking thinking.” We have bad thoughts that come from the world and we need a clean up.

Did you know that you can have the mind of Christ? You can think the thoughts and you can know God’s will for your life. God wants you to know that. Let’s look at the text today, in Ephesians, chapter four, starting at verse 17. The apostle Paul taught the believers in Ephesus that they could yield their minds and their thinking to the Lord and that the Lord would give them a new way, a new life, a new self, a new heart and a new way of thinking. I believe, today, that we can do this, We can yield our hearts, our minds and our thinking to Jesus. We’re going to look at the text today and we’ll see three ways we can yield our minds and our thinking to God.

Ephesians 4:17-24 (ESV) 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. This is God’s word. Amen.


1. Recognize the need to put off your old way of thinking.

Recognize the need to put off your old mindset, your old way of thinking, to get rid of “stinking thinking.” Look at verse 22 and we’ll see the origin of this point. Verse 22 says, “put off your old self.” In fact, there are three infinitives. If you remember your grammar, there are three infinitives here that are driven by one verb. The verb is found in verse 21, “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,” You were taught in Him; you were taught when you received Jesus. You heard the gospel that Jesus died for your sins, He was raised from the grave and He lives today. You heard that; you were taught that. You responded by faith, which gave you a new life. That’s how you were taught.

Three infinitives come out of that. The first infinitive is to put off, the second one is in verse 23, “to be renewed” and the third one is in verse 24, “to put on the new self.” Those are our three. Those are our three points in the sermon. Why do I tell you that? It’s because I believe that the scripture is not only inspired by word, it’s also inspired by grammar. When we look at things like this, I want you to know that I didn’t come up with this. I’m telling you what God’s word said. There are these three ways that we are to walk out what we’ve learned about Jesus.

There’s something to “put off” if you’re going to do a renovation. You first have to do the demolition. Now, my son Jonathan and his wife, Nicole are redoing their kitchen. They’ve lived in the house for a while. They’ve been talking about it. They’re tired of looking at the cabinets. They want a new kitchen. I don’t know if you saw it on facebook, but there’s a photo of my son, Jonathan, with a sledgehammer and a big smile on his face. He’s knocking those cabinets down; he’s having a big time. He’s knocking those things down. He’s getting the job done; he’s getting the cabinets out of the house. But then, there’s another picture of him down on his knees with a crowbar trying to get the ceramic tile up on the floor. He’s not smiling. I told him he should have called me to come and help. He says to me, “Dad, you have those hurt knees and back. You don’t want to be any part of this.” It took him like one afternoon to get those cabinets down. It took him two weeks to get that ceramic tile up. You know, getting rid of old thinking is like that. When you first come to Christ, there’s some “stuff” that you know and you thank the Lord for getting it out of your thinking. Then, there’s some other stuff that’s stuck to your soul and it takes effort to lift it up to the Lord. To “crowbar” it out .

You might say, ‘I thought salvation was free.’ You’re right. It is absolutely free, but grace is opposed to earning not effort. You can’t earn grace; it’s free, but having received grace, you draw on it and work it out. You practice it, you pull from grace and use it to “crowbar” that stuff out of your life, to get the old way of thinking out.

Paul says in verse 17, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” The word, “walk,” has the idea of your lifestyle; how you live day by day, step by step. It’s your lifestyle. You shouldn’t live like the pagans do any more, like your former life with worldly people. Stop living that way.

He begins to describe how they think, “in the futility of their minds,” in verse 17. “Futility” means “empty, worthless or useless.” Their thoughts are not helpful to them. There’s a futility to their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding. They live in the dark. Their understanding is not in the light , but in the dark. They’re alienated from the life of God. They’re thinking is in opposition to God.

Their thinking and God’s thinking are opposed; they’re against one another. Why is that? Well, he explains that it is because of the ignorance that is in them. The word, “ignorance” is where we get the word, “agnostic,” “no knowledge.” They don’t know God. Why don’t they know God? It’s due to the hardness of the heart. God is available, but they’ve hardened their hearts against the knowledge of God. “Hardness of heart” might be “stubbornness or rebellion” of heart. They know there’s a God in their own conscience. They know, but they’ve said “no” so many times that it’s hardened their hearts.

That word, “hardened,” in the Greek has an overlap meaning from its root of the idea of the eye to get a hardening of the cornea. When that happens, it causes blindness. So it’s kind of like hardening of the heart is blindness of the heart. This fits this darkness image that Paul is inspired to teach us about. They are blind. It comes from the rebellion of the heart, saying, ‘I will do it my way, God, not Your way.’ Remember, that the heart is the seat of the will; it’s these actions and behaviors, but it all begins with an attitude of the heart that says, ‘My way. Not Your way. I’m going to do it my way.’

After my children learned to say, “mommy” and “daddy,” they learned to say “no” because they heard that so often. The first sentence I remember my first born saying was, “I do it myself. I do it myself, daddy.” We’re all born with that. We’re all born with a “sin gene;” a will that wants its own way. This heart is hard because they’ve said “no” to God so often.

In verse 19, it says, “they have become callous.” Now, I have callouseson my hands. The last few weeks, in my free time, I’ve been trying to take down an old fence and put up a new fence. Have you ever used post hole diggers? Have you ever done that? You get blisters at first and then hopefully before too long you get calluses. The blisters are painful, but then, once you get the calluses, you lose feeling and you can just work. You don’t feel it. Well, you may feel it in other places, but you don’t feel it in your hands anymore. That’s what the word, “callous,” means here. It’s the idea of losing feeling. They’ve come to the point where they’ve so hardened their heart and they’ve said “no” to God so many times that they no longer feel anything spiritually. They have said “no” to God every time He’s asked them. Every time Jesus has knocked at their heart’s door, they’ve said, ‘Later. I hear You. But later. Let me do this myself first. Let me clean up my own life first. Let me have this fun first because I really enjoy this. I don’t want to stop doing that because I feel like if I say “yes” to You, I will need to stop doing that and I choose that over You.’ Every time they do that, they begin to lose feelings, so that they no longer even hear the echo of God. Spiritually, they become callous in their thinking. Because they can no longer hear, they give themselves up to sensuality because they have to feel something. They were built to feel, but since they can’t feel anything, they give themselves up to things to get the feeling back. I drank this much last time I got better, but now I gotta drink twice as much. If I drugged this much last time, Now I will need to drug that much more. If I have this kind of sex, now I gotta have that other kind of sex; I’ve got to have this riskier kind. I have got to do this. I have got to do more of that in order to get the same feeling because I don’t feel anything anymore. They become greedy and hungry for every kind of impurity because they’re callused and they’re blind. They are in the dark and they no longer hear God. They are in complete opposition.

Paul says that that’s where you used to be. “Put it off, put it away, get rid of it.” Romans, chapter one is like a parallel passage of Ephesians four. Verse 21 of Romans, chapter one begins to explain how our thinking gets so empty and futile, how our hearts get so hardened and dark. Paul writes, Romans 1:21 (ESV) “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” If you turn from God, you go down, down, down. It starts with thinking, doesn’t it? First of all, in your thinking, you decide I’m going to lower my eyes from worshiping God to worshiping the creation. I’m going to lower my eyes from worshiping God to worshiping self. It begins with just a decision of the thought and of the heart and then it affects our thinking and our hearts from then on. As a result, we get strongholds in our thinking; we don’t even know they’re there. We get false thinking, wrong thinking, that makes us make bad decisions from our heart. We have “stinking thinking.” We make stinking decisions and then we pay for them.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about these strongholds and the necessity to do a demolition. He says, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV) 4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” You have a thought and and maybe it’s an idea or maybe it’s an image. A young guy had been married for a couple of years and he got hooked on pornography. Are you talking to me? I don’t know, am I? I’m not talking to anybody specifically. I’m talking to all the men right now, just for a moment and maybe the wives to give you an insight into how men are more apt to have difficulty with images. Men and women can, but men are especially susceptible because men are more image driven. You were addicted to pornography as a single man and now you can’t break it and you thought getting married was gonna fix it and it didn’t, but now, you expect your wife to look like those images which are not real and to behave like those video images that you’ve allowed to inhabit your thinking. Now, it’s injuring your marriage, it’s injuring your wife and it’s injuring your intimacy. That’s “stinking thinking;” that’s not real, but those images are in your thought life. You need to do a “demolition,” guys, so you take that thought captive, you get a hold of that thought and you bring it to the mirror of God’s word.

James says that the word of God is like a mirror. You can hold it up to your soul and you can see yourself. If you’re a believer, you don’t have to run from it. Because of grace, you’re fully forgiven. You can show it to the Lord and He will say, “I’ve already forgiven you. Let Me help you get it out.’ You bring that image up to the mirror and ask, ‘Does this agree with God’s word?’ Your answer is “no.” What do you do with it? Put it out, get rid of it and then, piece by piece, do a demolition of the old way of thinking and bring it into the presence of the Word of God so that we saturate our lives with God’s way of thinking. Piece by piece, we compare our thinking.

Are you worried about something? Are you anxious about something? The word of God says that we’re not to worry. Jesus said, ”Do not worry.” That doesn’t sound like a suggestion; it’s a command from the Lord Jesus. Don’t worry. Worry is the opposite of faith. Worrying is a sin. Yeah, but I’ve always been this way. I know that you used to live with futile thinking in the darkened state of your mind. You were walking in ignorance. You had a hard heart, but you don’t anymore. Put it off. If there’s anxiety; do not worry. Get rid of that.

There are a lot of “isms” in the world that we must put off. “Isms” are where humans try to explain how to fix something and every time they come up with what they think is a solution, which comes from their dark thinking, they end up with something that makes it worse. Here are examples of “isms”: materialism, sexism, radical feminism, humanism, racism, communism, socialism… There’s a lot of “isms.” If you’re mad at me right now, then one of those “isms” is probably your worldview. What I’m asking you to consider is to compare it to God’s world view and decide which one you want to have.

Are you willing to put off and demolish your old way of thinking? Are you willing to cast it aside and say, ‘Lord, I want to think like You. I no longer want to think like myself.’ Let’s keep moving.


2. Learn to continually submit your thinking to Christ.

In verse 23, we see the second way to be renewed. “Learn to continually submit your thinking to Christ.” The word, “renewed,” is in the present tense. The other two infinitives are “put off” and “put on.” Do it and then it’s done. It has a continuous effect so that you put it off and then having put it off, it has an effect. You put it on and it has an effect. This one, be renewed, is in the present tense Greek which has the idea of to keep on doing this. This is a constant decision, constantly asking, ‘Should I be thinking this is this thought from You, Lord? Do I need to take that thought captive and compare it to Your truth? Am I believing a lie right now?’ It’s continual– to be renewed, to be renovated and to be transformed continuously in the spirit of our minds. The word, “spirit,” in some translations as this one in the ESV is lower case which has the idea of the immaterial aspect of the mind. You can’t see the mind. You know it’s real, but you can’t see it. It’s the it’s the immaterial, the unseen mind that needs to be continually renewed because God has no problem with the scene or the unseen. He is active in both.

Some translations capitalize the word, “spirit,” which means the Holy Spirit. The truth is, when you read commentaries on this, they’re almost equally divided between both possibilities. As a result, I’m usually a “both and” guy. I’ve kind of landed there, although I think it might be both.

It is the immaterial aspect of the mind that needs to be renewed. The only one that can renew our minds is the spirit of Christ. We can’t change through effort, our way of thinking, but we can, through the effort of our will, ask Him to change it. Do you notice the difference? There’s a difference. He has the power to change the way we think. Some of us are so in pain from our thinking right now. It doesn’t matter where you run, you can’t run from you. It is the way you think. Lord, help me to think the way You want me to think about me, about myself, about You, about others or about the situation I’m facing.

Romans, chapter 12 gives us further instruction about how to stop the outward pressure of conforming and to be transformed. Romans 12:2-3 (ESV) 2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Stop letting the world shape your thinking; instead, ask the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ, to metamorphosize or transform your thinking. Be transformed from the inside out, not outside in. Change your mind; renew your mind. Renovate your mind so that by testing you may discern what is the will of God. It’s good and acceptable and perfect. “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.” Now, you’ll have a better view of God . You’ll know His will. You’ll be able to think of yourself, your self image and your self esteem rightly appropriate to the way God looks at you.

Have you ever been by yourself somewhere and you’re just mad at yourself about the decision you made or the way you’re feeling? Somebody offended you and you couldn’t think fast enough to say what they deserve to hear back until you got in the car on the way home. Then, you “told them off” in the car on the way home. I wish I could have thought of this when I was there, but I couldn’t and now, boy, I wish I could just tell them. Then you say something like this to yourself. You’re just so dumb. You’re such a dummy. You start calling yourself names. That’s “stinking thinking” because the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and for you. He counts you so precious that He was willing to pay with His very life in order to bring you into fellowship with the Father. The value that He places on you is of infinite worth. Don’t call yourself names. It’s contrary to the way God thinks about you. Take that thought captive; bring it into the “mirror” of God’s word and say, ‘These thoughts don’t belong in my mind. He loves me. I had better not talk about myself like that. He might get upset with me talking to myself like that because He loves me.’ Come on, pastor, He has a higher view of you than you do? He knows you better than you know you? How do we do this? How do we get this transformation? What effort do we make if it’s all paid for by Him?

Last week, I said that it’s like He bought you a closet full of clothes, but you need to take off the old clothes and put on “love,” “joy” and “peace.” You need to go to the closet by grace. He paid for it, but you still have to put Him on.

This week, we’re talking about the idea of the mind. Here’s what David said in Psalm 39; here’s how he got at it with God. Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) 23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” God, You know my heart and my mind. You know my thinking. I’m so confused right now. I don’t know which way is up, so look at me. If there’s anything out of alignment, show it to me. I want to follow You. God will answer a prayer like that every time. If you don’t know how to word your prayer, pray Psalm 39 to God. It’s already prepared for you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever worked a job where you’re using a computer and your computer just gets all fouled up. You can’t figure it out; you don’t know what to do, so you call the guys “downstairs” – the IT guys. You call them, they pick up the phone and you start describing the problem. They first ask you, ‘Have you tried to restart it?’ They ask you if you have hit the restart button.

Here’s what Paul is saying. Hit the restart button; you need an upgrade. You need to clean out the garbage and hit renew; hit restart. Pretty often, every time a thought is out of alignment, and as you grow, you start recognizing it more quickly. It’s not that the battle is over, it is because it’s in the present tense to describe that you have to constantly ask for renewal. Every time your mind gets clouded by the wrong way of thinking, that’s when you need to ask for renewal. You ask the Lord, ‘Search me, God. Is that right? Does that line up with Your word? You’re right. It doesn’t.’ He does not condemn you; the world tells you it’s condemning, but He’s already put all of His judgment, all of His condemnation on Jesus.

Romans 8:1, ESV: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus took all of the condemnation. That’s grace. You can just show Him; say, ‘Look at my thought life.’ Some of us are so ashamed of our thoughts, but He already knows them. Look at them, Lord, and tell me how to get this out. Help me.

3. Put on the new self, which is the mind of Christ.

Put on the new self, which is the mind of Christ. Verse 24, “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” This is a new creation; this is a new mind, created in the likeness of God. Have you ever wondered what God looks like? Go to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and read about Jesus and then you’ll know what God looks like, what He talks like, how He feels and what He says.

John 1:18 (ESV) says this, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. If you want to know what God looks like, look to the face of Jesus. If you want to know God personally, you must go through Jesus.

What is God up to? What are You up to, God? Why am I going through this? What in the world, Lord? Where are You? If you’re a believer, I know what He’s up to– He’s conforming you to the image of Jesus. He’s making you fit for heaven. He’s preparing you for heaven. When He saved you, He prepared you for heaven. Now that He’s living in you,He’s trying to get heaven “in” you so that you live like you’re already there.

In I Corinthians, chapter two, Paul is talking about the mind of Christ. He says, 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (ESV) “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

The natural person, which speaks to the person that doesn’t know God, is in a natural state, not a spiritual state. The natural person does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are folly and foolishness to him. He’s not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The word of God, preaching all this stuff, is just foolishness to him. That makes sense because they’re still in that darkened state, that hardened heart state.

“The spiritual person judges all things, but is himselfto be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

What do you have available to you? Are you still thinking your thoughts? Are you still thinking the way the world taught you to think, the way your thought patterns were formed by your parents, your peers, your education, Hollywood, the social media? All of these outward conformities can be transformed so that you can have the mind of Christ. The beauty and the wonder of that intellect, that will is yours. You need to do a demolition; you need to get some stuff out, you need to ask for it, you need to be renewed. You need to make an “install.” You need to install some stuff if you.

If you’ve renovated your kitchen, you have taken the cabinets out, you have taken the floor out. You’ve had to rebuild the sub floor under where the sink leaked and you had to go all the way down. You’ve done all of that, but the kitchen isn’t ready. Now, you have to come up with some new cabinets and some new countertops. I feel like, if you get the mind of Jesus, the countertops might be granite. Then, install some appliances and you have a kitchen. I don’t know what room of the house you’re working on, but God wants to work on your thought life. He wants to work out how you think about things. The way you think about things affects the way your heart chooses things. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s what we’re working out.

Here’s what you have by grace. You didn’t earn this. You have the mind of christ. Now, what does it look like to put it on? Let’s get really practical; let’s not just leave it theoretical. I’m going to read a longer passage. I don’t plan to preach it, but I might do a little bit of preaching as I read it.

Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV) 4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Put joy in your mind; that’s from Jesus. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone; be reasonable. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything. Get rid of anxiety and worry, but in everything by prayer. Put prayer life, so that you’re continually praying with supplication and with thanksgiving. Put thanksgiving in your mind that your request may be known to God. Put “shalom” in your mind; put peace in your mind, which surpasses all understanding and will guard your hearts and what your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers… get ready, you’ve got a lot of apps to install on this new “OS.” Older people, ask your grandkids when you get home, what the pastor is talking about a bunch of apps. These apps come from Jesus; He’s already paid for them. This new “OS,” this new way of thinking, these will just snap right on. 8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Let these things inhabit your thinking; it’s a new way of thinking–what you have learned, received, heard and seen in me to practice these things.

What did you hear, as a child, if you took piano? “Practice makes perfect.” It helps you, it comes natural after a while. You are not going to think about things the way you used to think. Through the power of Jesus, you claim the mind of Christ,and start thinking on things that are commendable things. Things that are excellent things, that are lovely.

Whenever something comes along that causes me to not think that way, I might consider getting rid of that thing. Whatever it is, it is coming through my eye gate or my ear gate. It is coming through my tv through social media, through my peer group, through my education system. I’m going to start challenging those things and put on better things.

When I was a music major, working on my undergrad, I chose classical guitar as my musical instrument. In my senior year, in order to graduate, I had to give a one-hour recital demonstrating my proficiency and mastery of all the classical guitar periods: Baroque, Renaissance, Classical, 21st century… I had to put on a solo performance for one hour. I was a wreck. I’m backstage, before the recital, with my guitar professor. She had studied under Andrés Segovia in Spain. Andrés Segovia was the father of the classical guitar. That’s who my professor was and she’s back there trying to encourage me. ‘Gary, “practice makes perfect.” We’ve practiced for four years, we’ve practiced every day, You’re ready for this. You now have muscle memory; even if your brain gets a little anxious, you’ll remember. Your fingers “will do the walking;” they will remember.’ I looked at my fingers when she said that and they were shaking. I couldn’t stop them from shaking. It’s like I was Spiderman and sweat was shooting off of my fingers. Have you ever tried to do something, to play with your hands when your hands are sweaty? Mine were just sliding all over the guitar. I’m backstage. I made her nervous. I was so nervous. I walked out on stage and kind of peeped to see who was showing up through the curtain. Sitting in the front row were three professors from the music department with their clipboards, getting ready to grade me. I looked out there and saw some other people that I knew. I was thinking, Maybe they’ll pull for me. You’ll be glad to hear that I graduated; I passed. Boy, it was stressful, but my teacher was correct. It was the practice. When I first got out there, I admit I flubbed the first song, but then I eased up and I started playing the stuff I knew how to play because I had practiced in a non-stressful environment. My practiced response, with the help of my master teacher, was that I could play even under stress.

Do you know where I’m going with this? Jesus is your master teacher. He’s the one who plays everything perfectly and you’re following Him. Follow Him even when you don’t think you need Him. You always need Him, but because you still have “stinking thinking,” sometimes you think you don’t need Him in those places where it’s quiet. Practice putting on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Practice putting those things on.

If you’re a mom with a bunch of kids and one of your babies cries nonstop, you can’t get away. Just before you put your feet on the floor in the morning, say, ‘God, is there anything between me and You? Is there anything in my thinking that I need to surrender to You? Help me. I’m worried about this. I’m concerned about that, but I will give it to you. Replace this with Your way of thinking.’ Then, you can begin your day. ‘Lord, I feel down today. That’s not from You, is it? Give me joy, Lord.’ ‘I feel worried today. That’s not from You. Give me faith.’ You make the exchange and He’s paid for it. That’s grace. Your effort is the asking and then the practicing of it, so that you have a new way of thinking, a new way of living.

Put on the mind of Christ; practice His character. Don’t wait until stress, worry and trouble comes; start now. Then, when it does come, Christ in you will be what emerges rather than the old you. Surrender your thinking to God’s renovation. Put off the old ways. Do a demolition. Renew your minds, calling on Christ. Put on the new character traits and thoughts are the place where we can and must begin to change. It’s the first place that really affects the heart.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to continue this conversation. We’ll be talking about how our feelings and desires also affect their heart and how the bible gives us real help with these things. I would remind you that if you weren’t here last week, pick up one of our Renovate 40-day journals in the lobby. Some of you may have been here last week and we ran out. We’re so sorry. We have plenty in the lobby today . There’s been a great demand for them. It’s not too late to start. This week, you’ll notice it starts at day six. This week is all going to be verses about your thinking and how to bring that into alignment with the mind of Christ.

Let’s take some time now and talk to the Lord. Lord Jesus, I pray for that person that came in today far from You. They came in today and they’re in that state, that way of life, where they have to admit they’ve been walking in the dark. They’re so tired of it and they’re ready to walk into the light. Is that you, my friend? Are you ready to say, ‘Lord Jesus, I do hear You knocking at my heart’s door. Today, I’ve made a decision to say “yes.” I’m not going to say “no” anymore. I say “yes.” Come into my life. I believe You died on the cross for my sins and that You live today . Come and live in me. Make me a child of God. Give me a new heart and a new mind. I want to follow You. Others are here today and you already know the Lord. You’re already a Christ follower, but your life has been double minded. You’ve been trying to do some of what God says and some of what the world says and it’s made you miserable. Would you choose to follow the Lord fully today? Do it right now. Say, ‘Lord, I’m ready to do the demolition. Lord, I want my thought life to match Jesus. I want the mind of Christ. We’re praying now in Jesus’ name. Amen.