PART 3 CHURCH TEACHINGS
PART 3 CHURCH TEACHINGS
TO LEARN HOW TO GROW SPIRITUALLY AND LOVE OURSELVES WITH THE LOVE OF THE LORD
How can I experience God’s presence on a more consistent basis?
I think for many of us, this is what we should aspire to. If there could be a close second, or maybe this would be your first priority, it might be centered upon this question.
How can I learn how to address those areas of human weakness in my life?
Whether these weaknesses are attributed to those inclinations of our sin nature that have a genetical association, or influences by our peer group, tv, books, etc., or by our upbringing, or whether they have become pronounced in our life due to being in subjection to various kinds of abuse by others that have had detrimental psychological and emotional effects on us, these tendencies could be a contributing factor for us in seeking a mental release from them by entering into a semi-conscious state of relief through alcohol or drug abuse. These memories could create a desire within to join a particular group that advocates for whatever our personal crusade is all about. Furthermore, they might cause us to want to lash out at others whose lives are evidence in their speech of certain messaging that we disagree with or at others because of the kinds of accomplishments that we wish we could have achieved but have been unable to.
Now that we’re on solid ground as to learning about the Foundational Doctrines of the faith, what are those doctrines that will help us grow spiritually and love ourselves and others with the love of the Lord? Are you ready to find out what these teachings are all about? Let’s get started.
Growing spiritually and loving ourselves with the love of the Lord could be one of the most if not the most misunderstood, doctrines of the Christian faith. Unfortunately, spiritual growth is often confused with volunteering to participate in church functions and/or doing good for others. While we should participate in church functions and do good for others, this should not be the main emphasis of church teaching and our involvement with it.
I will call the doctrines that help us grow spiritually and love ourselves with the love of the Lord Spiritual Growth Doctrines. If you learn and apply them to your life, you will begin to love yourself with a new perception. This will, in turn, help you to love others and deal with the circumstances of life in a manner that glorifies God and evidences His life to others.
You might be thinking, really, do you have to start with teaching on the initial doctrine that will be presented, which has to do with the confession of sins? Sometimes, I don’t think we realize how important this actually is. Let’s find out why this is so important.
CONFESS OUR SINS
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This seems like an odd recommendation. Why would this benefit me if all of my sins were already paid for and forgiven at the cross?
For many churchgoers, sin is considered to be that which involves an overt action. Sin, however, is not just what we exhibit in our behavior; it also has to do with what we think or say. Being jealous of someone in our thoughts is just as much a sin as taking (stealing) for ourselves what someone else has, although the degree of hurting others and the personal consequences for committing such an action would differ significantly.
Scripture admonishes us to confess (to admit ourselves guilty of what we’re accused) our sins to God the Father and to whomsoever we have offended. We should do this because, believe it or not, we’re actually benefitted from it in three ways. The first has to do with being reconciled with the person whom we might have offended. Second, when we confess our sins, God the Father is faithful to forgive us our sins. This means that He removes the chastisement or discipline that He would have instituted upon us if we hadn’t confessed them to Him. And third, another benefit of confessing our sins is that we’re restored to fellowship with God the Father along with recovering the filling (the control; the rule) of the Holy Spirit. If you are wondering what it means to be under the filling or rule of the Spirit, we’ll take a look at this in the next chapter.
Yes, it’s true that every persons’ sins were paid for and forgiven on the cross. But what this has to do with is satisfying God’s justice. However, receiving God’s forgiveness in time has to do with our walk with Him.
I have heard from fellow believers that confessing their sins was a waste of time because they mentally sin throughout the day. They would say that confessing sin didn’t stop them from sinning again and again, so why continue to do it? I understand what they were saying because I went through this myself following my spiritual conversion. After I eventually found a Spirit-filled church and began attending the worship services on a consistent basis, I would notice that when the service was over, and I was on my way home, carnal thoughts would creep back in. I would confess them, and then they would come right back. What was I to do to address this madness? The answer to this dilemma is what we’ll take a look at next.
I finally came to the realization that there was something I could do to limit the confession of sins, and that is recovery.
What is recovery?
Recovery means to choose to reflect upon God’s perspective as it relates to a particular area of human weakness or human strength in my life. You might say, I don’t understand what you mean. What this is really all about is what is called the renewing of the mind. Let’s take a look at what this is all about next.
THE RENEWING OF THE MIND
Romans 12:2b … but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The apostle Paul was instructing the Christians at Rome, telling them to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The word transformed in Greek means inward transformation; to appear as new people with new habits; of a person changing his outward expression from that which he has to a different one, an expression which comes from and is representative of his inner being.24
So, what causes inward transformation in the believer?
It’s by having our minds renewed that brings about inward transformation. The words renewing of your mind in Greek means the changing into new views and feelings; a complete change for the better of the believers’ mental processes; as the mind keeps on being made new by the spiritual input of God's Word, … his lifestyle keeps on being transformed25; as you spend time meditating on God's Word, memorizing it, and making it a part of your inner man, God will gradually make your mind more spiritual.26
Do you understand what this verse is telling us? It’s saying that it’s not obedience to the dos and don’ts of religion that brings about inner transformation. It’s not knowing backward and forward the doctrinal platform of the church. It’s not obeying leadership as to whatever their commands are for us to participate in. What it is, is addressing each and every aspect of our old sin nature, i.e., our worldly thoughts pertaining to jealousy, stealing, fornication, extortion, hatred, unforgiveness, pornography, etc. by replacing them with how we should think about what the divine perspective is in relation to each of these sinful areas?
Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
So, how does this pertain to recovery? It’s what recovery is all about. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Let’s say I have a weakness of fantasizing about having sex with women. I begin by confessing this mental attitude sin to God the Father. I might say something to Him like, Lord, I acknowledge my sin of fantasizing about having sex with women. Now comes recovery.
Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
2 Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
After which, I choose to think with God as to how He would have us believe in this regard. If this fantasizing is in relation to someone who is an unbeliever, then I would memorize and meditate upon the Scriptures presented above. God’s mindset now becomes my mindset. I don’t think of them as objects of my pleasure but as lost souls who need a savior.
1 Peter 1:22 … see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
What if I’m fantasizing about having sex with a woman who is a believer. Scripture tells us that we’re to love our fellow believers with a pure (genuine; not for the love of ourselves; to not use for our advantage; free from hypocrisy (a pretense of having a virtuous character27) heart (mind; motives; thoughts that are in obedience to the truth) fervently (striving with all of one’s energy; in an all-out manner) as those, who, like ourselves, are new creations. Thus, an affection or fondness for another is based upon the likeness of that other to one's self.28
With that said, we should begin by addressing one weakness at a time, one that seems to continually distract us. This won’t be easy, but it will be beneficial. As our thoughts begin to change, so will we be increasingly impacted, impacted by what or whom? This is where our spiritual life really starts to take a turn. A turn to what? All of what I’m trying to say, I will call a wowsa. Are you ready to find out about what this wowsa is all about? If you are prepared to find out, then please turn to the next chapter.
But before you do, I have an article for you to read on the renewing of the mind. I found it very insightful as it discusses the kind of thoughts that inhibit renewal and which many of us are prone to because this is the way we have thought about ourselves, others, and the circumstances of life when we lived without Christ.
7 STEPS TO RENEW YOUR MIND
Vladimir Savchuk October 8, 2018
The Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:2 that [we’re] transformed by the renewing of the mind. Many of us think that once our life is transformed, then our [minds] will be renewed. [It’s] actually the other way around. When we were born, most of us came out of the [womb] and into this world, head first. If you want to come out of unpleasant circumstances, limitation in career, stagnation in your ministry, your head has to come out first.
When [your] mind is [changed,] your life will be transformed. Remember, where your mind goes, your life follows.
When you experience deliverance, your mind has to switch from a slave to a son, from a slave to a soldier. Even if you get the same attacks as before, you get to see them from a different position. I like to tell our church, “You are not a sick person trying to get [healed;] you are [a] healthy person fighting sickness.” “You are not a bound person trying to get [free;] you are a free person fighting bondage.” “You are not a sinner trying to get [holy;] you are a saint fighting sin.”
Step 1 Stop waiting for an outside miracle to change your mind.
Most of those miracles will never come until you get rid of the chaos in your mind by filling it with God’s Word. Renewing of the mind will never work if someone believes this excuse, “The reason why my mind is so negative is because my life is so hard.” Have you ever thought that maybe the reason your life is so hard is because your mind is so negative? You cannot have miracles in your [life regularly] if your mind is a mess.
Stop making your mind a sidewalk for the Devil to trample [on;] make it a disciple to the Word of God.
[Don’t] get me wrong, we need miracles, but they alone [don’] change our minds without our humility and willingness to make God’s Word the standard for our lives. Remember, the same sun that melts the ice also hardens the clay. Miracles are like that for those who are hungry for God’s Word, miracles help our faith, but for those who are refusing God’s Word to have dominion over their lives, miracles are never enough. If you stop blaming your circumstances for your negative thinking, God will start working on you in a powerful way.
Step 2. Stop believing that you can’t control your thoughts.
The second lie that must be repented of is, I cannot control my [thoughts;] they control me. [It’s] a weak excuse, and this excuse is not [scriptural]. The Bible commands us to “Think about these things” (Philippians 4:8), “You shall meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8), “On His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
[It’s] pretty clear that you are expected by God to choose your thoughts, not let your thoughts always be chosen by something else. How do we do this practically? [It’s] true that we get attacked in our [minds] because our minds are a battlefield, not a playground. As a Christian begins to connect his spirit with Holy Spirit, his spirit begins to get stronger.
The mind is a servant, either to your spirit or to your flesh.
When the spirit is weak, the mind runs errands for the flesh by thinking negative thoughts. But when we constantly build our spirit by communion with [the] Holy Spirit, our mind comes under the influence of the Word of God and [the] Holy Spirit who lives in us. [We’re] left with the choice to think [about] God’s things or let the mind go with the flow of life.
Step 3. What you feed your mind with becomes a mindset.
A mindset is impossible to change without changing what your mind is filled with. Typically, when we hear the truth about breaking strongholds or renewing of the mind, we get busy trying to change our mindsets. We quickly learn that [it’s] not an easy task.
A mindset is what controls you. The mind is what you control.
The only way to change your default and automatic thinking is by filling your conscious mind with new information of God’s truth. Once the conscious mind is filled to the overflow, it slips into the subconscious mind.
Step 4. Confess what you believe, not what you feel.
We possess what we confess. We possess salvation by confessing Jesus as Lord of our lives. We possess God’s promises by confessing them with our mouths. When you regularly confess only what you feel and see, you are hurting your faith and not helping negative thoughts to leave.
Don’t use your mouth [like] a thermometer, which only reads the temperature of your current [condition;] allow God’s word to turn your mouth into a thermostat, which changes the temperature of your life by confessing what God says.
Jesus did that in the wilderness in His temptation with the Devil. Most [likely,] the Devil tempted Jesus as he usually tempts [us] with thoughts. Jesus did not think the Scripture to combat the Devil’s [arrows;] He spoke the Scripture.
Don’t speak what you feel all the time, [otherwise,] your mind can’t change. Learn to speak God’s word instead.
Step 5. Resist negative thoughts, assist positive thoughts.
Positive thoughts are not going to [stay;] they need to be assisted. Negative thoughts are not going to [leave;] they need to be resisted. We must assist the Word of God by making room for it in our [hearts] and resist the evil thoughts of the enemy by taking them captive and bringing them into submission to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5).
The Bible describes the mind as a ship looking for [a] harbor. You cannot keep bad ships from sailing back and forth on the ocean, but you can refuse them from docking privileges in the harbor of your mind.
You cannot stop birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair. Bad thoughts [come] but [don’t] have to stay if we speak against them with the truth of God’s Word.
Step 6. Celebrate the process.
[It’s] going to take time to see change in your mind. I think there is a reason why God took six days to create the world instead of one day. He wanted to show us how to go through the process of change.
Each day something great was [done,] and God would end the day by celebrating what was [done] instead of complaining about what was still not done. On the third day, when there was still so much work to be done, God saw that it was good. God [didn’t] look at what still was unfinished. Much was yet to be [done,] but He celebrated what was complete.
Renewing of the mind happens when we celebrate small victories and focus on what God is [doing] instead of what He is not doing.
Also, [it’s] worthy to note that God never compared the messy process of creation to the beautiful heaven where He resides. The Devil will try to mess up the process of your mind renewal by making you compare your progress with someone else.
You are complete in God. You [don’t] need to compare yourself to others. Comparing leads to complaining. Complaining can lead to breaking the 10th commandment of coveting. Coveting kills the creative process of God in renewing your mind. If your neighbor’s lawn looks greener than yours, start watering your own lawn. Be the best version of you the world has ever seen. Remember, what God started, He is faithful to finish (see Philippians 1:6). He is not done with you yet.
Step . Expect miracles.
Expecting something good to happen is a choice. [It’s] an act of our faith. A person with a renewed mind has positive expectations in the forefront of their mind. [Don’t] let your imagination create an image in which things will go bad for you, such as sickness worsening, relationships breaking, business failing, etc. Replace those negative imaginations with promises from God’s Word.
Expectations are a breeding place for miracles.
Some people wake up in the morning with a feeling that something bad is going to happen to them that day. If that happens to you, [it’s] from the Devil. Go back to bed and wake up again until you have a positive feeling that God is good and He plans good things.
If you keep getting bad thoughts that something will [happen,] and they do, you are releasing your faith for your own trouble. I choose to trust in God and expect His grace and mercy, not accidents, tickets, or all hell breaking loose.
Does that mean [we’ll] never have bad days? No! But [we’ll] not live expecting them.
“Precious Holy Spirit, You are hovering over my life right now. All I can see is darkness, all I can feel is void in my life. I accept Your word as the final authority in my life. I ask that You will take the information from the Bible and make it a revelation in my heart. Oh, Holy Spirit, bring the manifestation of God’s Word into my life. Let my reality rise to the level of Your truth.“29
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24 Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005.
BIBLESOFT. WEB. 09 February 2020 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
25 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 09 February 2020 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
26 The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament, 1989. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 09 February 2020 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
29Vladimir Savchuk. “7 STEPS TO RENEW YOUR MIND.” 24 October 2021 <https://bit.ly/3CcJHqn>.