What We Must do to Walk in the Spirit: Meditation in the Word of God

Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

In our last post we talked about the need for transformation according to Romans 12:1-2. As we have journeyed through the book of Romans, we have discovered that we are no longer under the outward law. Jeremiah 31:31-34 tells us that God’s plan was for a New Covenant in which his laws would be written on our hearts. We would no longer keep the law from the outside in, but from the inside out. This New Covenant is the one spoken of in the book of Hebrews.

Romans 7 is a picture of a Christian who finds that his behavior does not match with the will, nature and purpose of God. Paul says that in that condition he is wretched. His outward, or flesh man is dominating him but his inward man, his spirit desires to live a life pleasing to God. A born-again person has been changed inwardly. He or she will never feel right until the outward matches the inward.

Romans 8 tells us the solution to the problem. We must walk in the spirit. That simply means we must live with the spirit in control. The first area that Romans 8 addresses is the mind. If we are carnally minded, we will walk in death. If we are spiritually minded, we will walk in the overcoming life of God. Paul is not talking to the world in this letter. He is writing to the church in Rome. What must we do to our mind to walk in the spirit? We must renew it. If we do, our inner man will begin to dominate how we think as our minds are reprogrammed by the Word of God.

The next question must be, “How do I renew my mind? What is the process?

We ended our last post by quoting from Joshua 1:8. The Lord starts His message to Joshua by saying, “Moses my servant is dead, now it falls to you to lead my people into the promised land.” This is a very difficult assignment. Moses did mighty miracles. Joshua was beside him for the whole journey, but he was called Moses’ minister or menial servant. He had led a few battles under Moses’ anointing, but he had never had to lead the whole nation. He did what he was asked to do but he knew that the final accountability was with Moses. Now, he is accountable for the nation. Whatever happens from here on will be on Joshua’s shoulders. What God says to him at this moment is very important!

When a person is born again, they begin a whole new kind of life. As a Christian, I am accountable for living a holy lifestyle. Romans 12:1 calls this my “reasonable service.” God does not see living according to his will and his ways as an unreasonable request. He expects us to grow into maturity as sons and daughters of God. This involves living a lifestyle that is pleasing to him. However, we cannot do that by the law of the flesh. We can only do that by walking in the spirit.

Joshua needed something more than what he had under Moses to fulfill his unique call as God’s new leader. Moses represents the Law. Joshua needed to go beyond the law. Joshua needed to release something deeper. That is exactly what you and I need to do if we are going to live as Christians in this world that is so contrary to the nature of God. We need to take the same advice that God gave to Joshua.

How do I renew my mind? How to I move from a carnally minded life, which is limited to natural thinking, to a spiritually minded life that is able to see beyond the natural? I must do exactly what Joshua had to do. I must do Joshua 1:8.

Let us look at this powerful verse more closely. He tells Joshua that he must meditate on “this book of the law” day and night. What book is God talking about? There were many books and teachings in the world at the time of Joshua and Moses. Certainly, Egypt was known for writing down their wisdom. However, none of the other books of his day would produce what Joshua needed at that moment. The only book God is talking about is the first 5 books of the bible that had been written down by Moses. It is called the Pentateuch.

Today, we have countless books on all kinds of subjects including all types of religious thinking. We have Christian books that can be very helpful. However, none of these books will renew our minds. None of them will transform us until we “make our way prosperous and have good success. Only one book can do that. It is called the Holy Bible.

We have much more than what was available to Joshua. Nevertheless, the method for allowing our “book of the revelation of Jesus” to prepare us for our life in Christ is the same as Joshua’s was for his new role in Israel. We must meditate on the Word of God both day and night. Then and only then will we make our way prosperous and have good success. That was God’s promise to Joshua.

Meditating on the Word did not make Joshua perfect. He still made mistakes. However, we find that Joshua is one of the few characters in the bible with no “major flaws.” Even David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, committed adultery and murder in his dealing with Uriah and his wife, Bathsheba. We find nothing like that recorded in the life of Joshua. I believe it is because of the admonition given to him when he took over the leader ship of Israel.

Learning the key of Meditation in the Word of God is one of the defining experiences in my Christian life. I believe it has been the key to my ministry. It has also been the key to my personal life. I am not rich nor am I famous, but I have lived a life of “good success” in every way that matters. At 64, I am healthy. I have never been in a hospital. I take no prescription medication. My bloodwork is good. I am active and able to do anything I need or want to do. Although I try to take care of my body, I am by no means a “health nut.” I believe God has sustained me as I have allowed his Word to reign in my life.

I have six children and sixteen grandchildren, all of whom are serving the Lord. That is certainly good success. I have a lovely wife that I have been married to for forty-six years. We are still happy and in love. That is good success. Even though I do not have a great deal of money in my bank account, I have never gone without what I needed, and I have a healthy number of things I desire. I have traveled the world and seen things I could never have imagined. I believe that is true prosperity.

I do not have a “mega-church” but God helped me build three healthy churches. I have also had the privilege of going to other nations and speaking into the lives of thousands of pastors, leaders and ministers. They have taken what I taught them to their homes and churches. I have no idea how many people have been touched by the words that I have spoken over the years. I believe that to be good success.

Most important, the more I have meditated on the Word of God and allowed it to renew my mind the more I have become “spiritually minded.” The more I have become spiritually minded, the deeper my relationship with God has become. Nothing defines prosperity more fully than that.

Next time we will begin to look at what it means to meditate in the Word of God and how to do it.

Advertisements

What must I do to Walk in the Spirit: The Renewing of the Mind

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

In our last post we focused on the fact that it is the Supernatural Word of God that enables us to change how we are “minded.” When the Word of God is allowed to work in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will change from being carnally minded to spiritually minded. It will be a natural transition that can and will revolutionize our lives.

In Roman’s 12:1-2, Paul makes some statements that seem simple on the surface, but they are revolutionary if they are understood. He begins by “beseeching” the Roman Christians to present their bodies a “living sacrifice.” This sacrifice is holy and acceptable to God. It is also their reasonable service. Let us look a little more closely at these things.

The word beseech means to plead. Paul is pleading with the Roman church. This is very important to him. He points to the mercies of God. God’s mercy is why salvation is available. We do not deserve salvation, but God gave it in Christ anyway. By speaking of God’s mercy, he wants the Romans to remember that they are saved by what Jesus has done for them. The fact that he asks them to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice has to be speaking of how they live. Among other things, it must involve their behavior.

Paul wants them to live right, but how are they to do that. How can they offer up this holy and acceptable sacrifice? Should they under go some suffering? Should they lock themselves away until they purge the “unholy” urges from their body? Should they go to the Levitical law and begin keeping every law and command listed there? He does not ask them to do any of those things. Verse 1 is what he is pleading for them to do. Verse 2 is how they are to do it. They are to allow the Holy Spirit to transform them.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 is one of the most important passages in the New Testament. I truly believe if we understand these verses we begin to understand what Christianity is.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18a (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God.

The new birth is not a change of philosophy or religion. It is the recreation of the human spirit by the power of God. The fall caused man to die spiritually. This means we were separated from God. This led to man’s eventual death physically. The new birth is the restoration of that connection, but it is more than that. The fall caused the spirit of man to become corrupt. Death, or the nature of Satan, took over the part of man that God had made like himself (Eph. 2:3.) The new birth undoes that as well.

A supernatural change occurs that kills the old spirit. It is then “born again” as if sin had never occurred. Our connection to God is reestablished. Every sin we committed up to that time is wiped away. In Paul’s words, “all things become new and all things are of God.” Why then, does Paul say the Romans still need transformation? He says it because the new birth affects the spirit of man. Although it affects the mind in some ways it does not completely change it. It does nothing at all to the body.

Without the new birth it is impossible to walk in complete harmony with Gods will or his ways. That must come first because the power is in the spirit of man. However, if we do not have clear path for the power of the new birth to work in the rest of our being, the power in the new birth cannot get past our mind to affect our body. We will be a spiritually pure being stuck in a carnally minded soul and a body controlled by the flesh. In Romans 7 Paul calls this condition “wretched.”

Here we see Paul telling the Roman church that they need to be “transformed.” The new birth would have done that if the spirit did not require a soul and body to communicate with the outward world. However, that is how God designed man to begin with. The word transformation means to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of something. Although there has been more than a change inwardly, transformation implies an outward effect.

The Greek word is where we get our word metamorphosis. This is what happens when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The butterfly does not become a different creature. The caterpillar is the butterfly. It is the same DNA. It is just that the butterfly cannot be seen because it is encased in the caterpillar. The metamorphosis simply allows what is already in the caterpillar to be released. That is exactly what we are talking about.

We are born again if we have received Jesus as Lord. In our spirit we are perfectly in tune with God. Sin is not an issue because it is no longer our nature in the spirit. Salvation is an accomplished fact. However, the butterfly which is the Christian life is encased in a caterpillar of a carnal mind. What will produce the needed metamorphosis? We need to renew the mind! That is the cocoon for the Christian.

Part of presenting our bodies is to accept that the Word of God is truth. That all other thoughts must be subject to the Word. We may not understand what the bible is saying. God wants us to understand and will help us to, but first we must accept that his Word is the highest truth. If our natural minds rebel against something in the Bible, we must choose the Bible and ask for understanding. If we try and fit the Bible into our understanding, we will never allow the transformation to take place. This acceptance of the supreme truth and authority of the Word of God is the cocoon.

We must also understand that renewing our mind means that we are changing how we think. The caterpillar must stay in the cocoon until the transformation is complete. Our transformation will take our whole physical life. We must continue in the Word daily. As we do we see progressive transformation. We begin to think more and more like God. We begin to see sins that were once a struggle fall off completely. Faith becomes the natural state instead of something that we struggle to attain. However, this requires that we stay in the Word. Look at the example of Joshua.

Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

This is a picture of someone with the Word of God firmly planted in every part of their being. It is in their mouth, in their mind and in their actions. This is the most important point in Joshua’s life. Moses was a hard act to follow, but God assures Joshua that if he does what this verse says, he will have good success.

Christian, there has been something beautiful created inside you. It is locked within a mind and body that has been programed by the world, the flesh and the devil. That is not to say that there are not good things in your mind. There certainly are, but you and I were programed to be carnally minded. This process will reveal the spiritual mind that came into you at the new birth. The life God promised to the spiritually minded will become the dominant force in all you do and all you are. The result will be the release of the person that was born again for the world to see.

What Must I do to Walk in the Spirit: The Supernatural Word of God

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Paul understood better than most people the value of the grace of God. He considered himself the worst sinner of all (1 Timothy 1:15.) Yet he also understood the need to live a life of holiness to God. It is impossible to read Paul’s letters and not come away with the understanding that a godly lifestyle is vital to our Christian witness. We have seen that to do so without being in the bondage of law we must walk with our spirit in control.

The first key to accomplishing this is that to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. To be “minded” means to have how we think dominated by a particular point of view or mindset. In the natural this can be our culture, experiences, education or many other things. When it comes to how we will live Christianity, the question is whether our thinking will be dominated by the natural or by the spirit. One leads to life the other opens the door for death to infiltrate.

From the Amplified Bible, we learned that to be carnally minded is to have our thinking dominated by sense reason without the influence of the Holy Spirit. This also implies reason without the influence of the truth of the Word of God. Again, to quote the Amplified directly, this produces “death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter.”

To be spiritually minded, according to the Amplified, means to have the mind of the Holy Spirit guiding how we think. This produces “life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].” Paul understood that there was a process in the Word that could change how we are “minded.” It is not possible to simply decide to change it. It has taken a lifetime to develop how we think. When we read the Word or hear preaching it must pass through the filter of how we think. We cannot help that.

There is something that God has placed in our hands which was designed by him to change how we think. That powerful tool is the Word of God. Let us look at todays verse. In it, the writer tells us what the Word of God really is.

First of all, the Word of God is alive. The KJV uses the term quick. It comes from a Greek word that means to be alive or to live. This is not a figurative statement. It is a description of the nature of the Bible. It is not a book of words or philosophies. It is not just the thoughts of men nor is it the mythology of Judaism and Christianity. It is a book infused with the life of God in seed form.

This book, written over a period of thousands of years by many different human authors contains a consistency of style and story that can only be described as supernatural. It remains the most printed book in human history. When other great texts have disappeared or waned in popularity the Bible remains. Although there are other “holy books” the bible has a life and character that none of the others possess. That is because it is alive.

John 1:1 (NKJV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 6:63 (NKJV) 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

The Word was not just with God in creation, it was God. It still is. The words of Jesus, who was the Word made flesh (John 1:14), are both Spirit and life. We see the words of Jesus echoed perfectly in Paul’s words from Romans 8:6. The spirit gives life while the flesh brings no profit.

Not only is the Word of God alive, it is powerful. It contains the power of almighty God, himself. Nothing can stand against the Word of God. The Word of God as written in the Bible can do whatever God himself can do. Yet in its written form the nature of God’s power is very specific.

Hebrews 12:4 goes on to say that the power in God’s living, written word is the power to separate. He describes it as sharper than any two-edged sword. The key to understanding what this means is to see what the Word of God separates or divides. There are three areas God designed his Word to affect.

First it will separate soul and spirit. One of the difficult things about the Christian life is that all of what comes to us from our spirit must pass through our soul. All that comes from the physical world, including what we read in the bible, must go through our soul before it reaches our spirit. This is the very issue from Romans 8:6. However we are minded will determine what we get from either direction.

The Word of God has the power to discern between those two parts of our being. The more our minds are filled with the Word of God, the more we will begin to distinguish the voice of the spirit from the voice of the soul. The more we allow the Word of God to work, the more how we think will change. We will begin to think more like God and less like our experience, culture or training. Although this does require some effort on our part, it is the Word that really does the work.

It also divides joints and marrow. This is interesting. What do our bones have to do with how we think? Let me submit something to you. The marrow of our bones contains the life. It is where our blood is manufactured, and the bible says that life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11.) The joints have a very different role. They are what gives our bones the ability to move. We might say the joints represent motivation.

The Word of God has the ability to separate the life of what we think from the motivation. Often, we are motivated by the things that determine how we think. The Word of God has the power to cut through all that until we begin to see the life of God underneath the motivation. This will gradually change how we think about most things.

Finally, it divides the thoughts and intents of our hearts. I believe the thoughts of our hearts are the things we think; or the thoughts that are formed in our conscious mind. However, the real power is in the intensions of our heart or how we think. Most of the time we do not recognize the difference. The Bible contains the power of God which can differentiate between the two. The more we allow the Word of God to do that, the more we will change how we think.

As I read this, I can see that the potential for me to change from a carnal mind to a spiritual mind is in the makeup of the Word of God that was written down in the Bible. How do I get that potential from the word into my mind? How do I allow that potential to change my thinking to the degree that my mind becomes a clear channel for my spirit? That is the most important key to walking in the spirit.

What Must I do to Walk in the Spirit: Carnally vs. Spiritually Minded

Romans 8:5-9 (NKJV) 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

We have been endeavoring to answer a question that seems to me to be causing a great deal of misunderstanding in the church. How is a Christian to live a life according to the standards of behavior set forth in the bible and not succumb to the bondage of law? Some say that grace dismisses any need to think about behavior since Jesus paid for all sin. Others say that grace is the foundation of salvation, but we must still keep the law in order to maintain Godly living. I believe both are right and both are wrong.

Paul understood grace better than any man. He knew the depths of the sin he committed before his salvation (1 Tim. 1:15.) He understood that he could never pay for those sins. He received grace as the total payment for sin. He did not deserve God’s forgiveness, yet he understood that because of the grace of God it was offered anyway, and he fully received it.

However, Paul is very clear in many places in his letters, that grace is no excuse to allow sinful behavior. In Romans 6 he says that we are slaves to sin if we yield our members, our bodies, to sinful activities. Sin is toxic to the human spirit. Grace does not make it less so. Grace gives a way to overcome sin.

In the same chapter, Paul says that we must become slaves to righteousness. He never says that we are to be free in the sense of being able to live any manner of lifestyle we want. We are called to be Holy as God is Holy.

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV) 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Although there is a truth that we are positionally holy because of grace, this scripture states plainly that our holiness must manifest in our conduct. The bible, especially the New Testament is clear that we are called to live a life as free from sin as possible.

Again, how do we do that without yielding to the bondage of law. Paul is very much against that. However, I would remind you that Paul tells us in Romans 7, that to live in sin is wretchedness to a Christian. What is the solution?

We have already pointed out that the solution is stated in Romans 8:1-4 as well as in Galatians 5:16-18. We must walk in the spirit. We must find a way to bring the inner man, created in the image and likeness of God, to ascendancy. Neither my body nor my soul were designed in creation to be the dominant part of me. Both had their roles, but it is my spirit, which is vitally joined to God, that is supposed to be the controlling factor in my lifestyle and behavior. To the degree that it is, I will be free of both the bondage of law and the wretchedness of sin.

Romans 7 lays out the problem. Romans 8:1-4 states the solution. Romans 8:5-9 gives us the first area we must deal with to apply the solution. Verse six might be the clearest statement of this.

Romans 8:6 (NKJV) 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

The first area I must deal with is my mind. To be carnally minded is death. That is a clear and decisive statement. Romans is written to the church. Paul makes it clear when he is talking about the world in this book. If a Christian is carnally minded, he is allowing death to infiltrate his life.

The converse is also true. When a Christian is spiritually minded, he opens the door to the life of God. Faith, love and peace become the defining characteristics in his life. All the promises of God are yes and amen for this Christian. He will walk in freedom no matter what he may be dealing with and, I believe, he will rise above the circumstances of life as he patiently allows his spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit to guide his steps.

What does it mean to be “minded?” Look at how the Amplified Bible translates this verse.

Romans 8:6 (AMP) 6 Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].

To be “minded” is to have our thinking dominated by something. In the natural we understand this. Take children and Christmas for example. For most of the school year they think about what they have to do in school or their playtime. Their minds are filled with all sorts of things. However, somewhere around the beginning of December, their minds will start to turn to something else. At least I know this is true in the United States.

They will begin to pay special attention to all the toy advertisements on television. They will begin to think about Christmas trees and candy and presents. As the big day approaches their thoughts are more and more dominated by the holiday. In the end they cannot concentrate in school, they become both irritable and excited at the same time. As the final days approach, they cannot sleep without “visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.” What has happened? They have become Christmas minded.

To be carnally minded is to be dominated in our thought life by sense reason without the influence of the Holy Spirit. I would add without any controlling influence by the Word of God. We think according to what we know in the natural as opposed to the truth of God’s Word and the influence of His Spirit. The real power of this is not in what we think but how we think.

How we think determines how we evaluate information and experiences. It will affect how we respond to people. Those who were abused as children, for instance, will respond differently in most areas of life from those who had healthy family lives. Where we grew up also affects how we think. I travel to many countries. Some things that make sense to the people who live there, just do not make sense to me. The reverse is also true.

How we think is not just made up of bad experiences although they seem to have a greater capacity to cause us to think in ways that make it difficult to live healthy lives. Even the good experiences can affect how we see life and respond to things and people. It is very difficult to rise above how we think. How we think is how we are minded.

To be carnally minded is death. However, that is the more natural way for most of us to think. We live in the carnal world. How do I change my way of thinking to be spiritually minded? This is what we must answer first if we are to walk in the spirit.