“Therefore, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
The phrase Spiritual Formation is used quite often in church circles or ministry but my experience as a counselor is that the brethren aren’t quite clear what it means to be spiritually formed. Everything we do at All Things New is based in spiritual formation so it’s important that you understand what it is and how it can impact your life.
Romans 12:2 sums it up pretty well. Spiritual formation is about becoming a non-conformist to the ways of this fallen world and conforming to God’s ways. It’s about being transformed as a person from the inside-out by renewing our minds.
It’s clear from Paul’s verse that the mind is the key to this transformation and conformation to a different way, but why? What is is about the mind that it has the power to utterly change us as people if we renew it?
Go with me back to the Garden of Eden for a moment. Observe the temptation of Adam and Eve and notice that Eve is tempted not in her spirit, but by her eyes as she beholds the pleasing-to-look-at fruit, and then with her mind as she begins to think about what she has seen, begins to feel the desire to be like God, judges that the fruit is just the thing to fulfill her desire, and with her body acts on the judgement by taking the fruit and eating it.
You see, in God’s perfect design before the Fall, the human body was the operator, the vehicle for every human action and behavior. It was meant to be subjected to the soul – the mind, emotions and will – which in turn was meant to be subjected to the human spirit, which in turn was subjected to God. The Soul was created as a bridge between the spirit and the body whereby the Spirit could live out its life through the body. Life inside this hierarchy would have always resulted in trusting dependence on God, our loving and good Father, and submission to His wisdom and will, which in turn, would have resulted in Adam and Eve, and the rest of the human race, growing up, God-dependent choice by God-dependent choice, into kids who were just like their Dad: holy, righteous, pure, glorious.
But in the Fall, the hierarchy was reversed. The body conquered the soul, took over the bridge as it were, and the choice to eat was made in self-sufficiency rather than God-sufficiency. Adam and Eve died spiritually immediately, cut off from God by their sin of disobedience, and the soul and body have been running the human show ever since, although their destiny is also decay and death in accordance with the spiritual death that belongs to all humans born onto planet earth.
Of course, this rescue from spiritual death and our identity as sinners in Adam is what Christ accomplished on the cross for all human beings willing to receive his Gift. There was an instant transformation in you the moment you trusted Christ and received the Gift. The trusting was the receiving. Your dead spirit was born again when the life of Christ came into it and you became a New Creation. Not only that, you were taken out of Adam and put into Christ. You are now one with Him: He in you and you in Him. Everything that Christ is, you are. And if that weren’t amazing enough, Christ is in the Father and the Father is in Christ. That means you also are in the Father and the Father is in you. You are one with God. You are His holy temple and you are seated at His right hand. You have a new identity – you’re one of God’s kids again – and you have an amazing inheritance and destiny in Christ, one of power, victory and blessing. You walk in light and eternal life and are beloved of God. He’s your Papa. You’re His darling.
But here’s the thing. You’ve spent your entire life conforming to the ways of the world. It’s what you born into, it’s how you were raised and formed as a person. As one of Adam’s kids, spiritually dead and cut off from God, you had no choice but to live only from your soul and body, to live self-sufficiently, to live in the dark. But now that you’ve been born again and are spiritually alive again, you DO have a choice and that’s what spiritual formation is all about: LEARNING HOW TO CHOOSE GOD’S WAYS.
See, if your choices are the horse, then your thoughts are the reins. What you think about will determine which way you go. Eve thought a bunch of self-sufficient thoughts that ultimately led her to choose and act independently of God. Likewise, if you choose worldly ways of thinking, you’ll go the world’s way, which God calls darkness, sin and passing away. If you choose Godly ways of thinking, you’ll go God’s way, which is all blessedness and life.
This is why we must renew our minds. We have to get our thoughts back in alignment with God’s thoughts about things so we can choose His ways and live accordingly. We have to learn about our new identity. Eagles don’t live like turkeys and turkey don’t live like eagles. We are God’s children now and must learn how to live the way God’s kids are supposed to live. This way we reflect our good good Father – that’s called glorifying Him – and He can raise us up into the wonderful-beyond-comprehension plan He had for us in the first place.
But it isn’t easy, this spiritual formation. You have an enemy. A deadly foe who wants you to stay shackled in the dark, who wants you to choose the world in spite of your new identity, to dishonor not only yourself but also God, mostly God. Your enemy is crafty and cunning and knows all about you. He knows your story, your wounds, your weaknesses, your secrets, your shame and so he knows your buttons and just how to push them to get you to choose the world, to choose self-sufficiency and turn away from your Papa. And he has a massive army at his disposal who live only to do his deadly, destructive bidding.
The only thing they want is to kill, steal and destroy you and they will unless you fight back. If you aren’t renewing your mind and doing battle, then you are probably experiencing, or have experienced, the devastation of the war in many areas of your life: broken relationships, poor health, lost identity, emotional and mental rollercoaster, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, disease and illness, addiction, poverty or financial devastation.
So, spiritual formation is also about Spiritual Warfare. You’ve got to understand the truth and reality of this battle between God and Satan, how you’re involved (and you are just by being God’s child), and how to wage battle in Christ and come out victorious. God has actually guaranteed your victory if you battle His way so we must learn to battle His way.
Renewing the mind is the essential work and responsibility of the Christian and the key to winning the spiritual battle, experiencing transformation and healing in your life and living abundantly and victoriously, the way Jesus promised you could.
All Things New is your teacher, guide, and support in this transformative healing process. We offer SoulCare Pastoral Counseling that helps you renew your mind and leads you deeper into the process of sanctification the Holy Spirit is already working in you so you can learn to abide in Christ and live in the abundant life he promised and died to give you.
To find out if All Things New is the right partner for you on your healing journey schedule your FREE SoulCare Discovery Session today.SCHEDULE MY FREE SESSION