The battle we most often face is one for our minds. We are an over consumed world, constantly taking in the experiences and people around us. Our minds jump into overdrive to process and react. It does this in part due to the spiritual war between the fallenness of this world and the work of Jesus Christ. Our consumption is tossed within this tension – our lives reflect the victor. But God tells us to be prepared, to be ready, to be on guard.
We do that through the renewal of our mind.
Every morning we make the decision of how we’re going to approach the world. Our mind is either saturated with truth or saturated with self. Our mind is the powerhouse to the rest of our body. It is the leader of the heart and therefore the final decision maker. Our conduct, posture, attitude, and everything in between is based on the mind’s position – it is the conscious, intellectual, perceptive, judge, and imaginative source of our humanity. Our mind can be trained, persuaded – a source in constant need of fueling. What are we fueling it with?
Luckily, God is in charge of renewing our mind. He’s provided us the very word of hope that has the power to sanctify our sinful nature. But the posture in which we approach the word demands more than just academia – for the Word is renewing not in knowledge, but in full, transformation of our heart.
Ephesians 4:20-24 “But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Paul is warning the church at Ephesus that head knowledge alone is not the way of faith. He urges his listeners to go deeper into a resetting of the mind towards eternal things. We cannot strive to know about Jesus, we must desire to know Him. There is a monumental difference. One, is strictly academic, distant, and factual. The latter is a way of life, a way of abiding.
Charles Spurgeon said, “So, if you want to know the Lord Jesus Christ, you must live with him. First he must himself speak to you, and afterwards you must abide in him. He must be the choice Companion of your morning hours, he must be with you throughout the day, and with him you must also close the night; and as often as you may wake during the night, you must say, ‘When I awake, I am still with thee.’”
That is a renewed mind.
Notice that Paul, nor Spurgeon, argues for works-based faith. But rather a mutual inner love that inevitably results in an outer witness. A genuine, faithful follower of Jesus will exemplify the work of Jesus in their way of life, manner, and thinking.
We learn to take our thoughts captive and submit them under truth by meditating on the truth itself. Always. Every day. And we can do this with two distinct postures.
God is fully aware of our lives. Every detail rests under His sovereignty. This means He doesn’t need our justifications or excuses in letting His word lay unopened on the desk. He knows our hearts better than we ever could. This shouldn’t shame us. It should give us comfort and peace. He knows if 5 minutes was a genuine dedicated time, or a feeble attempt to check it off the list.
The point is the posture of our heart. The act of reading scripture should be a posture of readiness and meditation, a time to receive God’s word for the purpose of refreshing our souls and refocusing our minds on who God is and how that informs our identity and way of life. The goal is not to walk away with an impressive theological thought or even pages of notes and insight. Instead, the art of reading is learning how to be still and listen. To interact with the scripture just enough to be transformed, to set our mind right, and prayerfully engage with our Father. The goal here is gospel fluency: “learning to speak the gospel into the everyday stuff of life.” In other words, a daily habit of spending intentional, focused time in the Word of God.
Then there is an appropriate time and space for being a student. For studying the scriptures the way we would a textbook about our career or our favorite sport. It is for diving in to the questions, defining doctrine, and discerning the work and plans He’s laid before us. A learning posture that helps us correctly interpret scripture and appropriately apply it to our lives. An approach that lets us rest in the incomprehensible characteristics of God and the redemptive work He’s done in us. The goal here is biblical literacy: growing as a disciple of Jesus and forming our theology.
And here’s the beautiful truth: as we faithfully study the Word it rightly informs our reading.
Studying helps us defend, witness, live and love.
Reading helps us focus, worship, praise and pour out.
Both, renew our minds.
It is our responsibility as new creations, saved by grace, and followers of Christ to figure out what these postures look like in our individual lives to make it happen. To help us make the choice. To get out of our own way and conform our minds to His word. We have no excuse. Because remember, He knows our heart already. We can’t hide from God.
Let us repent where we need to, go to Him vulnerably in prayer, and start practicing. Seek accountability, teaching, or discipleship and desperately pursue the God that saves.
With this breakdown in mind, The Bible Study Workbook is designed for a time of study, not reading. For reading, I still highly recommend writing down thoughts, notes and prayers – our minds are prone to wander after-all. Any notebook would work for this, however, below are some recommended resources: