Are you aware of having certain patterns in your life that you are unable — even unwilling to change? They seem so entrenched, so beyond your ability to do anything about? You might even see yourself walking in the same path of a parent or a parent’s parent and you realize this rut runs generations deep? How am I ever going to be able to overcome against these odds? I run up against this all the time.
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 too 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 Paul told us that we are 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.
These are truths you can renew your mind with. This is not just positive thinking or a motivational weekend designed to blow us out of our ruts and give us new tapes to run (those tapes you have to buy at the end of the weekend). These tapes are true, because they are based on God’s word, and God’s word never returns without accomplishing what it set out to do.
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 our minds. 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?