Thinking Godís Way - Sunday School Lesson
One of the major objectives of teachers is to bring their students to a place where they think.
I have taught math and science to many students and in that teaching have tried to get students beyond mechanically solving problems to where they know why problems are solved in a certain manner.
There are students who can solve problems by memorizing procedures, a list of operations if you will, and there are students who know the principles involved.
And with those principles are able to solve a far greater range of problems than the student who simply uses ritual to come to a solution.
For the student who uses a procedure or ritual will soon meet a problem that does not fit that particular memorized procedure.
If you think about it you will find that ritual in many ways is an enemy of thought.
To depend upon ritual keeps one from thinking and keeping one from thinking is one of Satanís devices.
Oswald Chambers who lived in (1874Ė1917) said this: As long as the devil can keep us terrified of thinking, he will always limit the work of God in our souls.
Now ritual is good in many ways for our lives are mostly conducted by ritual, but in the Christian life there is a place where ritual is not to be welcomed.
For ritual is what religion is all about.
The word religion has as its source a connection to the word bind or binding.
Religion then binds people together in personal practices related to faith and to group rituals which are based upon shared convictions.
It is that which brings about denominationalism, the grouping together which in effect lessens the need to think.
It is that which brings about group think, which in reality is not thinking at all for religion promotes the doing of ritual rather than the doing of thinking.
A Scottish theologian named James Orr (1844Ė1913) wrote this:
In pagan religions the doctrinal element is at a minimum óthe chief thing there is the performance of a ritual. But this is precisely where Christianity distinguishes itself from other religionsóit does contain doctrine. It comes to men with definite, positive teaching; it claims to be the truth; it bases religion on knowledge, though a knowledge which is only attainable under moral conditions. . . . A religion divorced from earnest and lofty thought has always, down the whole history of the church, tended to become weak, jejune (wanting or empty), and unwholesome; while the intellect, deprived of its rights within religion, has sought its satisfaction without and developed into godless rationalism.
In other words God has made the mind to think and if it canít think in religion it will think outside of religion, thus we have the imaginations of the mind that Satan promotes.
Unfortunately Christian thinking is a rare and difficult thing.
We easily forget that the first great commandment according to our Lord in Matthew 22:37 is Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
In addition to loving God with our heart and soul we are to love Him with our mind for our father wants His children to think.
He is not interested in having children who simply perform rituals and pretend at worship though habit.
He is not after his children to count rosary beads while reciting the same prayer over and over.
He allots no value to church attendance just for the sake of occupying a seat week after week while the mind is engaged in matters far from the preacher or the teacher.
Paul in Acts 17:11, made special mention of Godís children in Berea who were obviously thinkers when he said:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
They received the word with all readiness of mind means that their mind was at the ready to think.
They listened to Paul with a critical ear and went home and checked the scriptures to see if Paul measured up.
To study the scriptures requires thinking which many think is the greatest torture in the world.
Oswald Chambers (1874Ė1917) said, To think is an effort; to think rightly is a great effort; and to think as a Christian ought to think is the greatest effort of a human soul.
A. W. Tozer (1897Ė1963), To do his gracious work God must have the intelligent cooperation of his people. If we would think Godís thoughts, we must learn to think continually of God.
Now to do this requires a mind that is turned over to God.
For as Paul wrote in Romans 8:7,8, Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
The turning over of the mind to God is what takes place in repentance which is a turning away from the conclusions of our mind to the conclusions of Godís mind.
It is a yielding of our thoughts as wrong, to a recognition that Godís thoughts are right.
It is a surrender of the patterns of thought based upon our upbringing, our culture, and our education and the conclusions there from, to the thinking and conclusions of God.
It is saying that the way I think is wrong and recognizing and yielding to Godís word as right.
As Isaiah 55:6-9, records, Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Repentance resulting in salvation is simply the initial turning away from our own thoughts as wrong to Godís thoughts as right.
Followed by a daily repentance of our thoughts, concluding what I am thinking is wrong and God is right.
Ye must be born again includes in it a new mind, a mind that is captured by Godís word and not enslaved by the ideas and thoughts of the old man.
The new man is a new creation and that means that there has been a paradigm shift in the thought processes.
There has been a shift in the pattern of thought.
Old things are passed away and all things become new.
That means that old patterns of thought are now gone or going and that new patterns of thought are in place or are coming into place but all within the confines of the Word of God.
The old mind was enslaved in the patterns of thinking based upon a sinful nature and was incapable of thinking the way God thinks.
See I Corinthians 2:14-16, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
The new birth gives a new mind, capable of thinking Godís way but that new mind must be used to remove the old mind and its ways of thought.
That is where sanctification comes in.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Let this mind be in you is only said to those who have been born again.
This is permission from God and power from God to have the mind of Christ.
The lost do not have this permission or power because they are incapable of it and are not given this invitation.
It is only given to those who have surrendered to God through repentance and have been born into the family of God.
God is saying, you now have a mind that can think in spiritual ways, ways that the old mind could never, nor was capable of thinking in.
But this new mind needs your permission to displace the thoughts of the old mind.
"Let this mind" means permit this mind to be in you.
Peter objected to the Lord washing his feet.
Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
He could also have said, If your mind is not washed of your old thought patterns and ways you have no part with me.
Jesus is in the business of washing the mind by the washing of his word.
He is in the Romans 12:2 business:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
You have a part in how much of Christís mind you allow in.
This happens though prayer and study of Godís word.
Study to show thyself approved unto God also means that we are to study to get our minds on Godís track, to think like God thinks, to conclude as God concludes.
Study to show thyself approved is a process.
Study and see where you are wrong. Repent of that wrong and think Godís way.
Study some more and see where you are wrong.
Study will always reveal that you are wrong and that God is always right.
It is never the other way around.
This is the renewing of your mind.
Old things and that includes old thinks are passed away.
All things and all thinks are become new.
The renewing of your mind is like the inspector on the assembly line inspecting for burrs on a metal part.
For burrs on the part are wrong and what he is trying for is a metal part that is right.
Constantly inspecting to improve the product.
Feeding back to the Machine operator as to what to correct to lessen the burrs and improve the product.
The metal part is to completely conform to the plan and not have any imperfections.
So he studies and studies and studies some more so he may approve the parts.
So the renewing of the mind is a constant removal of the burrs of the sinners mind to the transforming mind of Christ.
Renew means to put out the old mind and to put in the new mind.
We hear much in our church about child rearing, Godís way.
But how hard it is for folks to change their thinking about this subject.
How engrained our old minds are when it comes to this subject.
We all have been reared in one way or another.
Some by parents who have understood biblical principles and have applied them to our lives.
But all of us have been reared by imperfect parents who have used various methods and we live with the results of those methods every day.
The paradigm is fixed and our culture, our upbringing, how momma raised us and grandmotherís words on this subject affect us, our education, all compete for our thoughts and how we will rear our children.
But this is the thinking of the old man.
This is not the thinking of the mind of Christ.
For we measure ourselves by ourselves and are satisfied to follow the old man.
Perhaps we quell our Christian conscience by somewhat following the word of God in ways that are not too revolutionary from the way we have been reared.
We see how others do it instead of yielding to Godís word completely and wholeheartedly.
We look at what we consider success in othersí child rearing ways and are content.
We may pattern ourselves by others who appear to be doing a good job.
But that is not to be the way we are to do things.
That is not the mind of Christ, that is the mind of others.
We are not to measure ourselves by ourselves or other selves but we are to measure ourselves by the word of God if we are to have the mind of Christ.
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians in II Corinthians 10:12,
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
So what is wise? It is the comparing ourselves to the word of God
In the Christian there must be a daily repentance of our wrong thoughts so that Godís word can replace our patterns, our paradigms and new paradigms be installed in our hearts.
Only then, when we reject our past and the errors of our past thinking and realize whole hearted acceptance of God and his word, will we be able to think clearly about any issue.
We ought to daily repent of our wrong thinking and study to feed the new mind that Christ desires in us.
In showing ourselves approved unto God we are not to study others, we are to study Christ.
Studying others and patterning our lives by others is simply a form of worship of others.
Studying the word of God is worship of Christ.
That is who our minds we are to be conformed to and not others.
Rear your children in the light of the word of God and not in the light of others.
How easy it is to be satisfied with our ways if we simply reach the level of others.
But how demanding it is to study and to be conformed to the image of Christ as God desires.
What is the first commandment? It has to do with loving God.
We are to love God with our heart, with our soul, and with our mind.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
How do you love the Lord with your mind?
In order to love the Lord with your mind it must be the mind of Christ; it must be a mind that thinks like Christ!
Old things are passed away, all things are become new, and that includes the thinking patterns of your mind.
In order to please God your mind must be captured by the word of God and that is done by study and by prayer.
Only though close communion with God can God comb the wrinkles out of your mind and conform you to His Son.
Harry Blamires said, The Christian thinker challenges current prejudices, disturbs the complacent, obstructs the busy pragmatists, questions the very foundations of all about him and, is a nuisance.