The scriptures say that we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2). Often we think of this verse in terms of sin – that is, “train your mind to do good things and not bad things”. That is a very shortsighted, defeatist way to look at it. The great battle is not learning to overcome sin, because Jesus already did that for you and gave you His divine nature. The great battle is learning how to think and behave like someone who carries that divine nature. And for many of us, that means unlearning many thought patterns and habits that we think are good and spiritual, but are actually obsolete and useless. God has already given us everything that we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3), so our mission is to condition our minds to think that way, and then we can truly begin to live by faith – faith in what Jesus has done for us and not what we can earn for ourselves.
RIGHTEOUS, NOT SINFUL.
Ask any believer the simple question of why Jesus came to earth, and the first answer is typically, “to die for our sins.” Yet, amazingly, it seems that the hardest thing for believers to accept is that Jesus has indeed paid for our sins and that they are no longer an issue. Jesus bore every single one of our sins, including the ones we are yet to commit, and he paid for them in full on the cross. That includes all the sins of the entire world, unbelievers and all (1 Jn 2:2). Nobody is rejected from God’s kingdom because of sin – nobody (2 Cor 5:19, Heb 8:12, Titus 2:11). The only question is whether we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ or not. The new covenant believer is not seeking to become righteous or striving to be righteous, but rather is permanently righteous by imputation (2 Cor 5:21, Eph 4:24). Your sinful nature is dead, buried and in the past – you are a spotless saint now (1 Cor 6:8-11, Eph 2:4-6, 5:8). You need to know it, believe it, and act like it.
ACCEPTED, NEVER REJECTED.
One of the worst mentalities plaguing believers today is the orphan mentality. Too many are working hard to try to curry God’s favor, hoping to retain their status in His kingdom, hoping that He smiles upon them once in a while to relieve distress or send a morsel of blessing. This is tragic. Paul in the book of Ephesians went to great lengths to describe just how significant our new status is: pre-chosen (Eph 1:4), adopted as sons (Eph 1:5), all according to His good pleasure, accepted (highly favored, Eph 1:6), sealed and guaranteed (Eph 1:13-14), no longer strangers (Eph 2:19), now one with God (Eph 2:14-16).
LOVE, NOT FEAR.
Under the law, people served God out of fear of punishment. There was a long, horrible list of curses proscribed for those who failed to keep God’s commandments to the letter (Deut 28:15-68). Jesus came to put an end to that. In the new covenant, we do everything we do out of love (1 Jn 4:18, Gal 5:6, Mark 12:32-34). We keep God’s commandments because we love Him, not because we’re scared of the consequences. Because we know we’re already accepted, we never do good things in an attempt to curry God’s favor. Rather, we do good works because that is the new divine nature that has been given to us (Eph 2:10). The entire essence of our new nature is to love God and love others, and that’s what drives everything we do.
A SON, NOT A BEGGAR.
Many of us have been conditioned for many years (perhaps our entire lifetimes) to beg God for everything. So when we read a scripture passage like 1 Cor 3:21-22 that says “all things are yours”, our eyes gloss over and it bounces right off our minds. It does not seem to make sense. But this is the truth. God is our dad, not our slave master (1 Jn 3:1, Rom 8:15-17), and because we are His children, we inherit everything. As if that were not enough, he went ahead and blessed us with every blessing (Eph 1:3), and provided more than enough grace for us to do everything we need to do good works (2 Cor 9:8).
POWERFUL, NEVER HELPLESS.
“We need your power, Lord.”
“Please send down a mighty move of your Spirit.”
“Lord, we believe you are greater than this disease, so we ask that you touch her right now and heal her totally.”
These prayers sound good and properly spiritual, but they are at odds with the truth of the gospel! Paul prayed for the Ephesians, not that they would increase in power and anointing, but that their eyes would be opened to the ridiculous amount of power they already had (Eph 1:17-20). That power dwells in us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He never leaves (Matt 28:20, Heb 13:5). We don’t have a power problem, we have a knowledge problem. When we start to behave like people who know they carry the immense power of God inside them, we’ll begin to see those wonders manifest in the physical. Stop waiting for God to come down from heaven and do something – deploy what He has given you already.
FREE, NEVER CONSTRAINED.
“Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” – Gal 5:1.
The old covenant was all about lists of rules and regulations, forbidden items and so on (Col 2:20-21). Jesus took all of that and nailed it to the cross (Col 2:14). As believers we must beware of false rules and regulations which constrain us, presenting a false façade of humility but ultimately depriving us of the freedom to be who God has made us to be. When we subject ourselves to these things, we nullify the work of Jesus on the cross and fall from grace (Gal 5:4). We should not use our liberty as an excuse to sin (1 Pet 2:16), and we should be careful lest our liberty cause others to stumble (1 Cor 8:9). With that in mind, we are free to live without fear and constraints. So what if someone else judges your makeup or hairstyle? God is pleased with us, and other people’s consciences literally don’t matter (1 Cor 10:29).
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW.
In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. – Heb 8:13
Many Christians today claim to be living under the new covenant, but in fact their thinking is actually obsolete. The bible makes it clear that we live by faith. Unfortunately, too often our faith is not in what God has provided for us through Jesus Christ. As a result, we live far below our capacities as children of God and lose out on the benefits of our salvation. It’s time to get with the program. To do so, we must dismantle the religious mindsets of the past completely (2 Cor 10:4, Mark 7:13) so that we can learn how to think and live like new covenant believers.