Romans 12:2 tells us that we are not to be “conformed to this world”, but “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The NLT renders the verse this way: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” This is not a suggestion, but is ESSENTIAL, not only to first becoming a born-again believer, but also to achieving and maintaining a victorious Christian life.
So how does one renew the mind and change the way one thinks? The first step, of course, is to recognize that there is another way to think, that there is a different perspective to be had other than what the world constantly bombards us with. This in itself can be a major revelation to some people, and it is only by the grace of God and power of His Spirit that the “light bulb” gets turned on for them! Once they realize there is a different, and better, perception to be had about life, they need to know and “plug into” the Source, which is God, especially as He teaches us through His infallible Word. For example, in Matthew chapter 6 the teachings of Jesus are recorded on the subjects of selfless giving (vv.1-4) and effectual praying (vv.5-13), with an emphasis on humility (evidenced by secrecy – vv.17-21). These are Kingdom principles in opposition to the worldly ones of greed and anxiety and self-seeking (vv.24-32).
Then Jesus gives us a “key” to Kingdom living in verse 33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”. This “first” means to give spiritual matters TOP PRIORITY over all other matters – physical, emotional, financial, etc. Why? Well, for one thing the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:6 that the mind set on (focused on, obsessed with) the flesh (non-spiritual) is “death” (separation from God), but the mind set on the Spirit (God’s will and way) is “life and peace.” In Romans 14:17 Paul further states that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking (that is, not physical), but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (spiritual).”
But just where does one find the Kingdom of God? The logical answer is, where the King is! Since our King inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15), and is the great “I AM” of the burning bush (Exodus 3:14), He dwells in the eternal NOW and is present EVERYWHERE. Therefore, to be in the presence of the King means to relate to Him in the HERE and NOW. We don’t have to wait until we die to be with God because God has come to be with us!
After all, Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). And while Jesus is not here physically right now (because He is seated in heaven – Hebrews 8:1), God is with each and every born-again believer through the indwelling of His Spirit (John 14:16-17). That is why Jesus could tell us, “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34).
The Apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesians to “take care how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (5:15,16) The days were evil then and they certainly aren’t any better now! Therefore, to be living in God’s Kingdom means to be Spirit-filled and spiritually focused THIS DAY, right HERE, right NOW, no matter what we are doing. To our Western mindset that sounds impossible because we think of the physical and spiritual realms as being separate from and in opposition to each other, but that isn’t true. To focus on one to the exclusion of the other is unbalanced and un-Biblical, as James 2:26 reminds us: “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
To have a renewed mind, then, means to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us spiritual truths, and work out His life in us, through our everyday activities and experiences. It means to be aware of God’s presence whether we are at a Bible study or at work, worshiping with other believers or taking the kids to the dentist. When we are Spirit-controlled and spiritually-minded, therefore, we are living in God’s Kingdom (as much as is possible in this life and world) on a daily, practical basis.
So let us encourage one another to seek first His kingdom, while we eagerly anticipate and look for the literal return of our King to bring His Kingdom to earth for the whole world to experience! MARANATHA!!!