by Dane Massey
(Dane Massey is the former Pastor of Mulvane Christian Church. He is now in ministry in Houston, Texas.)
To pursue holiness, focus on the mind of Christ. As Paul writes:
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).
The issue of the mind is central in Paul’s writings when it comes to becoming Christ-like.
In Romans 12:2 it’s – “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
In Ephesians 4:23 it’s- “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”
In Philippians 2:5 it’s – “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
In Colossians 3:10 it’s – “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him.”
In II Corinthians 10:5 it’s – “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Holiness could best be described as the “mind of Christ.” Learning to perceive, process and respond to life as Christ does. His life, by the working of His Spirit, manifested in me and through me in every life situation. This could be best pictured by the “fruit of the Spirit’ which is a portrait of Christ.
So what does the mind have to do with it? Everything! This is where transformation begins. I must face the truth that my thoughts are not His. My approach to life, my philosophies, my attitudes, etc… from the very beginning have been tainted and distorted.
The world, along with my flesh, strengthened by years of programming through entertainment, education, culture, and even religious tradition, has blinded the eyes of my understanding to the glorious truth of God and His ways, manifested in and through Christ.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 55:8).
I have known for years that the key was God’s Word “engrafted that it might save my soul.”
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
How does this happen? To engraft new life into a plant takes a deep cut and then a binding of a new life source into that cut. The new life might then begin to flow into and transform the old life. It is literally the changing of life sources within.
We are told that the Word is able to do this! That it cuts and divides! That it is alive and life giving! But how?
It’s definitely not by hearing good sermons although there is a proper place for them. (And good ones are better than bad!). If the church had a dollar for every good sermon they’ve heard and been moved by but never changed they would be rich indeed.
It’s not by reading the Bible, having devotions, or even memorizing verses although all of that might be beneficial. The life-giving engrafting of the Word is centered in the word meditate. It is the promise given to Joshua:
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
It is the delight and the life-giving flow for the man in Psalms 1. Throughout the Psalms and Proverbs it is the strength, the comfort, and the encouragement to the man and woman of God.
A few years ago I was given a worn and battered copy of “How I Learned To Meditate” by Malcolm Smith and my journey began. Meditation in scripture is not the mindless pursuit of Eastern mysticism, but the discipline of bringing the mind into submission to the Word.
As Psalms 1 details, it is:
1.) Personal – It is not the Bible study group, the church, the accountability partners or any other group. It is the man or the woman who is blessed in Psalm 1.
2.) Divisional – before I will delight to hear God’s voice through His Word, I must first decide I’d rather hear it than the counsel of the ungodly. Notice the downward progression here: walk, stand, sit. There is a movement here to permanency.
3.) Intentional – note that the picture is a tree planted by rivers of water. It didn’t just happen to be there! It’s intentional! To meditate on God’s Word is a choice, a discipline.
4.) Foundational – the picture is a deeply rooted tree that flourishes, not because its branches reach high and wide but because its roots run deep. Outward and upward growth that is not rooted deep will prove to be unfruitful and wither.
5.) Progressive – we fail so many times, to read time into scripture. It only takes a verse to draw this picture of a flourishing tree but how long does it take to grow one? There is a progression here through seasons of life.
6.) Unmovable – there is a work going on here that is deeply rooted and stands the test of time and adversity. This is not a fast-bearing fruit but fruit that comes forth in a timely, consistent, continual fashion.