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A New Mind-Set

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 30, 2024 12:01 am

A New Mind-Set

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 30, 2024 12:01 am

The grace of God in our lives should transform the way that we think and the way that we look at the world. Today, Derek Thomas describes the new mind-set that the Holy Spirit develops within Christians.

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We need to develop, Paul is saying, a response to the gospel, a response to Jesus, a response to justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, a pattern of peace that is spiritual.

Spiritual in the sense that we are defaulting into the very pattern of thought that the Holy Spirit has. Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. That's what Paul tells us in Romans 8. Is that true of your mind?

Is it true of mine? Today on Renewing Your Mind, Derek Thomas will help us understand what Paul means here in Romans 8 as we continue the study of a gospel-rich chapter of the Bible. Dr. Thomas calls Romans 8 the best chapter in the Bible.

And if you listened yesterday, you'll know why he does. And while there is so much good news, as it were, in this chapter, there are portions that are convicting as Paul describes our new life in Christ. If you have your Bible with you, open it to Romans chapter 8.

Here's Dr. Thomas. We're going to look at verses 5, 6, and 7. Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot. And the question that's being asked here as a consequence of where this chapter began with a statement that we are no longer condemned, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, and there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The question now arises, and Paul has already hinted at it by referring to the law of the Spirit of life having set us free in Jesus Christ from the law of sin and death. And in verse 4, it suggested that the purposes of redemption in our life is that the fruit of the Spirit, obedience to the law, might manifest itself in our lives.

It's very important to get the order right. Paul isn't saying, if you do certain things, you will live. He's saying the opposite. Because you live, you will now do certain things. As a basis of what God has done in you, He now brings forth the fruit of the Spirit. And the question then arises, what are the signs of a true work of God in our lives?

That's a very important question. And it's a very pastoral question, and it's a question that can get us into a degree of trouble. Because we're not asking, how much fruit do I need to demonstrate, how much obedience to the law do I need to demonstrate in order to prove to myself, and let me use another word, in order to justify to myself that I'm a child of God.

And you can see where the problem is leading. The problem is leading into a form of legalism that suggests that the only way that you can be really justified is that you demonstrate these fruits of the Spirit. And then you can put the cart before the horse or the imperatives before the indicatives and upset the entire shape and contour of the gospel. There are three things in these three verses that I want to draw attention to, and perhaps there might be a fourth.

But let's see if we can nail down these first three things, first of all. Firstly, that the Christian is alive. The Christian is alive. And you notice in verse 6, to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. And among other things that Paul is saying here is that he's drawing a contrast between death and life. There is death and there is the life of death and there is the mindset that belongs to that life of death. And then there is life and the mindset of that which belongs to life in all of its fullness.

Now, the New Testament uses three pictures, picture words and picture metaphors to depict what it means by life. In John chapter 3, for example, and it's a word that John in particular likes to use, it's the concept of rebirth. You remember the conversation with Nicodemus, unless a man is born again, or perhaps more literally, born from above. And the emphasis is not on the again part, but on the sovereignty of that birth.

Unless you experience a birth that is sovereign, a birth that comes from above, a birth that is outside of your ability to do anything, to accomplish it. And so the New Testament speaks of a rebirth, being born again. And you remember Nicodemus had some difficulty with that. He said to Jesus, I don't understand what it is that you're saying. And Jesus had already said, unless you're born again, you cannot understand the kingdom of God. So what Nicodemus was really saying was, I'm not born again because I don't understand what you're talking about. And remember that Nicodemus was a Bible teacher.

He was perhaps the greatest Bible teacher in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. And therefore that you can be a preacher and a teacher and a missionary and involved in Christian work and still not be regenerate, not be born again. The second picture that the New Testament uses is the picture of creation and re-creation, and especially Paul in 2 Corinthians 5 and verse 21, where Paul says, if any man be in Christ, new creation.

The English translations provide the verb to be. He is a new creation, but the Greek doesn't have a verb. If any man be in Christ, new creation, and not new creature as the King James Version rendered it, but new creation. The creative activity of God. Think of God in Genesis chapter 1. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and that's the power that is involved in bringing us to life. So we are dead in sins. Our wills are in bondage to sin and self, and therefore not free, not free to choose anything at all, and not free to choose the spiritual good.

It requires a sovereign initiative and act of God. So there's the picture of a new birth. There's the picture of a new creation. And then, and you see it in Romans 6 and verse 13, Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. Those who have been brought from death to life. And the idea here in Romans 6 is the idea of resurrection. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, by union with Christ, have died with Him and raised with Him. And there's a sense in which when Jesus rose from the dead, we rose with Him.

What a beautiful and glorious idea that is. So you've got three pictures, the idea of birth, the idea of creation, and the idea of resurrection. The Christian is alive. Secondly, the Christian lives for God. Let's go back to verse 4.

In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Verse 5, Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. And so there's a difference between those who are dead and those who are alive.

And the difference is that someone who is alive, someone who is born again, someone who is a new creation in Christ, someone who is resurrected in Christ, demonstrates an obedience to the law, demonstrates a love for the law, demonstrates the fruits of the Spirit, to use a metaphor that Paul uses in Galatians, for example. It's the difference between a Christmas tree and a real tree. A Christmas tree has fruit on it, but it's put there, it's hung there.

You decorate it, and some of us have rituals involving family members, and some of us have sentimental attachments to certain ornaments that we put on the tree, and it reminds us of visits that we made on a Ligonier Alaskan cruise, and we purchased a little Christmas bauble just to remind us of the happiness of those few days that we spent together. But they're not real. A real tree produces its own fruit. It comes from within itself, and Paul is making that contrast here between death and life.

There are those who are dead, and they may look as though they produce some kind of fruit, but it's dead fruit, and those who are alive produce real fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so, Paul is saying, a Christian, someone who is in union with Christ, rather than in union with Adam, lives for God. That's the Christian's mindset. That's the direction.

That's the flow. That's the contour along which the Christian now lives. A Christian is alive.

A Christian lives for God. And then in verse 6, the Christian is at peace. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. And peace, I think here, not in the objective sense, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, but in the subjective sense, we experience peace. We have a peace of conscience. That condemning conscience, that burden of the sense of guilt, that restlessness is gone. Think of a text in Isaiah 57, the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest. Its waters throw up mire and dirt.

There's a picture for you. Sea in the midst of a storm, and it's throwing up waves and foam and so on, and it's restless and heaving back and forth, and it reminds us of how Augustine in his Confessions speaks of how he first came to experience the peace of the gospel in those famous words, our minds are restless, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee. And some of us experienced that before we became Christians. We were in this world perhaps for many years, and we didn't know Jesus, and we had this burden of guilt, and life wasn't fulfilling, and there was a spirit of Ecclesiastes that all is vanity. And we tried work, and we tried pleasure, and we tried amusement and hobbies and all kinds of things, but they all didn't satisfy. All of them together collectively and individually failed to fulfill that longing that we find within our hearts. And we, well, we said with the preacher, with Koheleth, the pastor-preacher of the book of Ecclesiastes, everything under the sun, life under the sun, life perhaps without God, or life as we so often experience it doesn't fulfill.

It doesn't eventually satisfy. And then we found Jesus, and then we heard God's Word, there is no condemnation. And then we experienced the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and then something arises deep within us that has about it the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment and completeness. The Christian is alive. The Christian lives for God. The Christian is at peace.

Well, I said there might be a fourth. The Christian is spiritually minded. Those who live according to the sinful nature, the flesh, and those who live according to the Spirit, and he works that contrast, those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit. He draws the contrast in the way that that affects, you know, it is the mind. Not so much the body now, but the mind. A mindset, if you like. A way of seeing things.

A way of perceiving things. A mind that is controlled by the Spirit. A mind that thinks like the Spirit.

There's being carnally minded, and then there's being spiritually minded. And spiritually minded, not in the mystical sense, not in the pious sense, but spiritually minded in the specific sense of minding the things that the Holy Spirit minds. And so we need to ask ourselves, what is it that the Holy Spirit minds? What is it that the Holy Spirit thinks about? What's on the mind of the Holy Spirit? Because they ought to be on the mind of those who are controlled by the Spirit, and those who are indwelt by the Spirit, because the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. They are two persons of the Trinity, but Paul, you remember, often speaks of the Spirit of Christ, and not referring to the soul of Christ, although Christ did have a soul, but Spirit with a capital S, the Holy Spirit who indwelt Jesus and upheld Jesus, and enabled Jesus to fulfill the role of the mediator, that same Holy Spirit who indwells us.

And so we need to ask that question, and it's a profound question. What is it that the Holy Spirit minds? What's on the mind of the Holy Spirit?

And what's on your mind? John Owen, the seventeenth-century Puritan, one of the treatises in Volume 7 of his writings is on the duty of being spiritually minded. Back in 1974 and 75, I was just graduating from college and entering into a direction which would eventually lead me to seminary, and I lived with a pastor, Geoffrey Thomas in Aberystwyth in Wales, a dear, dear friend and mentor to me for almost 50 years. And I lived in his house with his late wife and his three daughters, and we read together early in the morning, I mean five o'clock in the morning, strong black coffee, and we went to his study and we read aloud to each other John Owen's On the Duty of Being Spiritually Minded, which was based on this passage that we are looking at right here. And John Owen is asking the question, what is it that the Holy Spirit minds? And therefore, what is it that we mind? If we are alive in Christ and living for Christ and at peace in our conscience and finding fulfillment, what is that spiritual, small s, spiritual capital S, mindset? The mindset that is governed by the Holy Spirit. And John Owen asks this question, and it's a question that I first encountered back in 1974, 75, and it has haunted me ever since.

And here's the question. What is it that your mind defaults to when it's not thinking about anything in particular? You know, when we're concentrating on something, we're thinking about that thing, and some of us are able to multitask and do a number of things all at the same time, and some of us are not able to do that. But I'm not asking about that. I'm asking when you're not doing anything, when you, as it were, relax and you chill out and you're not thinking about anything in particular, where does the mind revert to?

Where does it go in those periods of time? And John Owen said that is a degree to which you are growing in a spiritual mindset if your mind defaults to somewhere where the Holy Spirit would default, minding the things of Christ, minding the things of God. And it's a very convicting question, isn't it? That we find ourselves almost troubled by it. That I think Paul is saying, as we grow as Christians, we develop a certain pattern. We are creatures of habit. God has made us, I think, creatures of habit. And a great deal of sanctification is about habit. It's about breaking bad habits and forming new habits and learning a pattern of defaulting into responding in a certain way. And you have to break certain habits and form new habits.

And after a while, you're not conscious of it being a habit. You're just conscious of it being you. This is who you are.

This is how you respond. Your entire personality can alter. Now, we have individual personalities that are unalterable.

I'm pretty sure of that. And it distinguishes you from me. And I think it will always distinguish you from me, even in the new heavens and new earth, so that we're not robotic or clones.

God has made us all different. But we need to develop, Paul is saying, a response to the gospel, a response to Jesus, a response to justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, a pattern of peace that is spiritual. Spiritual with a capital S. Spiritual in the sense that we are defaulting into the very pattern of thought that the Holy Spirit has. That's profound, I think.

That's big. And we need to ask the question, as we wrestle and the flesh wrestles against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary one to the other. And we cry at the end of Romans 7, and I understand that to be, in an Augustinian sense, the experience of a Christian.

We cry, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death. And that deliverance is gradual as the Holy Spirit works in us and shapes us and molds us, not just in the instruments of our body, Romans chapter 6, but in the way that we think, in our very mindset, in how we think about who we are in Jesus Christ. So, here you have it, a question about what are the signs of a true work of God? And one of the signs of a true work of God is, when I'm not thinking about anything in particular, I find myself drifting back to Jesus, to the gospel, to justification, to the overtures of redemption, to Scripture, to God who is in all and is all.

We'll continue in our next study. That was Derek Thomas from his Romans 8 series, and one of the ways that you can help form that habit of thinking is by spending time reading and meditating upon God's Word, and listening often to trusted teaching, like what you hear every day on Renewing Your Mind. Can you think of someone who would be helped by this week's teaching on Romans 8? A Christian you'd like to encourage to listen to Renewing Your Mind every day. Maybe today would be a good time to send them an email or a text with a link to today's episode from renewingyourmind.org or your podcast app, and ask them to listen so that you can talk to them about this great chapter in Romans. You could also request the complete series on DVD and Derek Thomas' book How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800 435 4343. The series also comes with a digital study guide to help you in your studies, so give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org. The Apostle Paul tells us that Christians are to be those who put to death the deeds of the body. How do we put to death, mortify those sins that remain with us? Find out what Derek Thomas will consider tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 13:46:34 / 2024-02-21 13:54:43 / 8

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