By Gisela Yohannan Today I would like to write to you about something that determines our usefulness to God on this earth. It is astonishing to read, in Romans 8:29, the high goal that God has for our life: “. . . to become conformed to the image of His Son.” This, declares the apostle Paul, is an ongoing transformation: “But we all . . . are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Though this transformation will not be complete until we reach heaven, we are definitely expected to grow closer to the likeness of Jesus with every passing day. Our obedience, submission, love, service and our entire character should increasingly resemble His.
But why then have many believers made little or no progress at all since they were saved? Why is their love for the world still greater than their love for God? Why, even after 5 or 10 years, do they remain full of unforgiveness, greed, strife, selfishness and jealousy? And if corrected, why do they still fight back or justify their wrong attitudes?
The Bible tells us very clearly how this transformation into the image of Christ must happen: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Unless it starts with renewing our mind, this transformation into the image of Christ will not work. No matter how hard we may try, sooner or later we will revert back to our old ways. Our goal must be to renew our mind first, because everything else we do is based on our mind-set.
Paul tells us how this renewed mind should look when he exhorts us in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (NKJV). In the following verses, he explains that Christ’s mind-set was the starting point of His willingness to empty Himself of His divine privileges, take human form and become obedient until His death on the cross.
Just imagine for a moment that your mind was renewed to the point where you took on Christ’s attitudes. No doubt it would significantly change the way you respond to others. Moreover, it would no longer be a strenuous, artificial effort to love others, serve them, forgive and submit yourself to authority. It would naturally flow out of your life, because your new mind-set would cause you to act in accordance with the nature of Christ.
But how can we renew our mind?
1. Cooperate with God.
Decide to work with God, not against Him, as He begins to change you. Never be satisfied with what you are right now or try to excuse your un-Christlike attitudes and actions. Tell the Lord from the depths of your heart, “Lord, I want to become what You say I can become. I am willing to accept whatever it takes for You to bring me there.”
2. Accept correction and rebuke with humility.
From whatever source the correction or rebuke might come, receive it as from the Lord. See God’s love for you in it, and be thankful that He cares enough to point out the things you must change.
3. Fill your whole being with the Word of God.
Through the Word of God we know His nature, will, love, plans, thoughts, actions, power, salvation, principles, promises and everything we need to live for Him. If we want our mind renewed, this is the source we must use. Please read Colossians 3:16, Joshua 1:8, Hebrews 4:12 and John 8:31–32.
Read, study and meditate on God’s Word at every opportunity. Throughout the day, when you clean your house, cook or wash dishes, let your mind dwell on Scripture instead of problems or gossip. Desire above everything else to learn and understand God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.
Live what you learn, and don’t make compromises because of your culture or traditions. Whenever you encounter something contrary to what you live, immediately accept what the Scripture says as your new direction.
4. Watch carefully what you permit your mind to dwell on.
Don’t entertain thoughts that you know are contrary to the mind of Christ. It will seriously hinder your mind from being renewed and with it, the transformation of your life into the image of Christ.
I hope these thoughts will encourage you to desire to become all that God has planned for you. . . .
May you daily be aware of the grace of God and His love for you.
Excerpted from Dear Sister by Gisela Yohannan. Copyright © 2006 by Gisela Yohannan. (Carrollton, TX: GFA Books). The book Dear Sister is a collection of letters written by Gisela Yohannan to those serving the Lord on the mission field and around the world. Each letter represents a part of her own journey with the Lord and a lesson He taught her in her own life.
You can download a digital version of Dear Sister and start reading it now.
Gisela Yohannan serves the Lord along with her husband, Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan, who is the founder and director of Gospel for Asia. She is the author of four well-known books: Broken for a Purpose, Consider Your Call, Dear Sister and Let Me Walk With You. Gisela’s life and commitment to the Lord are a challenge and encouragement to many.
If you would like to have Gisela Yohannan speak at your women’s retreat or conference, email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 1-877-300-7878. Examples of her messages can be heard here.
To read more from Gisela Yohannan on Patheos, go here.