The scriptures give us a clue as to how to answer that in Romans 12:2 where Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Being conformed to a pattern sounds a lot like being in a rut. We all have ruts we run in. Paul suggests that the way to a new path is through renewing our minds. This makes sense when you realize that the patterns we run in are fueled in large part by our thinking. We have these old tapes that constantly run over and over again. They tell us we can’t change, or we are not loved, or such and such has too much power over us, or it will cost to much in personal investment to change. We might actually have to work at change – be awake and alert to it – make ourselves make different choices. Believe me, this is hard.
By renewing our minds, we remind ourselves that there are new tapes where we are concerned, played by the Holy Spirit and power is available for change through his presence in our lives. Even in this Book of Romans there are life-changing truths that can break the patterns. For instance earlier in this book he told us that we’re all in sin – even the “best” of us – but that Christ’s death and resurrection has set us free from that sin. We no longer have to subject ourselves to the vicious sin and guilt cycle because Christ has removed us from being wed to the law to being wed to Himself. We have a new husband as it were, and this one is full of grace, truth and forgiveness. We are not tied to a taskmaster; we are tied to Christ. And then there is the new life in the Spirit made possible by Christ being in us to the extent that we can actually take off that old life -the one that runs in all those ruts – and put on the new life that Christ has made possible.
This is why we need reminders. New ways of thinking that God has established as a fact in space and time and you and I can count on for our step by step life in the trenches.
Yes, it will take effort. Change doesn’t come easy nor does it come overnight, but it comes as we purposely focus on the new truths about ourselves that Christ has won. We are loved. We are forgiven. We have his Spirit. We don’t have to walk in those old ruts. We can break the pattern. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
There are a lot of bad tapes out there; there’s a lot of negative reinforcement in here. Do nothing and you probably will keep on rattling along in the same rut. Renew your mind with God’s word and His truth about yourself and you can stand down those old tapes and start down a new path. It’s worth it. We aren’t just waiting for heaven. We are fighting a battle here. We are on a mission. We have a gospel to live out. If it doesn’t work in our life, how can we recommend it to anyone else.
Father, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. They are fallen angles cast down from heaven by the command of the true and living God. They are subject to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We are in Him and stand in His already-assured victory. Therefore, we put on our full armor in You so that when the fiery darts come, we may be able to stand our ground.
We stand firm because we have taken up these weapons:
We buckle the belt of truth around our waist. Truth is the Person of Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
We put on the breastplate of righteousness. The Person and sinless sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is our Righteousness.
We put on our feet the sandals of the preparation of the gospel of peace. The Person of the Lord Jesus is our peace.
We take the shield of faith which extinguishes all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The Person of the Lord Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is all the faith we need.
We take the helmet of salvation. My Lord Jesus Christ Himself alone is our salvation. His mind guards our minds.
We take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The Word is the Person of Jesus Christ who came in the flesh and defeated the works of the enemy. His Word never returns to Him void.
We clothe ourselves in all of Jesus and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
“No weapon formed against us will prevail, and we will refute every tongue that accuses us. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from Me,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 54:17).
The One who was born of God keeps us safe, and the evil one cannot harm us (1 John 5:18).
In the name of Jesus, amen.