But whatever the case may be, in whatever condition a person finds themself, there is a Savior! There is a cure for sin. There is a Way out of this miserable, sinful life. His name is Jesus.
This man is the Son of the living God who came to this earth for the purpose of providing a way for men and women to escape from sin. That’s right! Jesus died on the cross to provide a way for us to be free – completely free – from our sinful thoughts and tendencies.
I would like to re-emphasize this right now. Yes! There is deliverance form our inward sin. A real, heavenly, supernatural deliverance exists. This deliverance is accomplished by Jesus the Anointed One.
Of course, to obtain this great miracle of deliverance, you must first come to know Him. You first need to meet Jesus. Every human being desperately needs a personal experience with the Lamb of God. It is not sufficient just to pass through a process of convincing yourself mentally of some ancient facts, which some call “faith.” Nor is it enough to merely give your intellectual assent to some Bible verses or biblical truths. You must actually meet Jesus!
You must have a genuine encounter with the God of the universe for yourself. Anything less than this will never arrive at deliverance.
How can a person meet Jesus? It is quite simple. We must seek Him. We must ask Him to reveal Himself to us. We need to call out to Him with all our heart, asking Him to help us to know Him.
I’m afraid that some readers may object to this by stating that our salvation does not originate with ourselves. Instead, it is a gift of God (Eph 2:8). Thus, they may insist that we can do nothing but try to “believe.” By this they seem to mean trying to convince themselves of certain eternal truths.
It is quite true that we can do nothing by ourselves and that salvation comes only from God. However, a person can only cry out to God – wishing to know Him for himself – if God draws them. No one can come to Jesus without the Father helping Him. It is written: “No one can come to me unless the Father – the One who sent me – draws him” (Jn 6:44).
You see, having a willingness and a desire to know Jesus is something which can only come from God. If He, by His mercy, does not grant us this hunger for truth, we will never seek Him.
So if you find in your heart a hunger, a yearning for reality, something beyond this sinful, fallen world, God is already working in your heart. If you experience a desire to know what is really true; if you wish to be different from what you are and not keep destroying yourself and hurting others over and over again by what you do and say; if you long for an experience of eternity which will capture your heart and give you a real purpose in this life, it is because the heavenly Father is drawing you to Himself.
When we call out to Him from a sincere heart, He will answer us! It might not be right away. It might not be when we think it should be or in the way we imagine, but He will answer us just as He promises.
We read: “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened” (Mt 7:7,8).
When you are willing and ready, God will reveal Himself to you. Then, and only then, will you be able to truly “believe,” which means that you respond positively to this revelation.
When we respond to Jesus revealing Himself to us by affirming that it is really He (this is called believing), then something indescribably wonderful and supernatural happens: we receive Him inside of us. The eternal life of God Himself germinates in our human spirit. A miraculous, eternal birth occurs.
We become “born of God” (1 Jn 3:9). His eternal life enters into us, joining with our own spirit, to generate a new spiritual being (2 Cor 5:17). The Bible calls this “being born again” (1 Pet 1:23) or, perhaps more clearly, “being born from above” (Jn 3:3-7).
This then is the first step in our deliverance from sin. Receiving Jesus inside of us. From that point onward, He begins working in our interior to change us from what we are into what He is. In simplified form, this is accomplished by His life, which He implants in us at the new birth, growing up inside of us. The more this new life grows up, the more we change. The more the life of God matures in us, the more like Him we become.
This change takes time and attention. It might be quite gradual. It can be very rapid. There are very many aspects of this spiritual growth which can be, and in fact need to be, addressed. But for now, just to simplify things, we need to know that for this life to grow, we must feed it. No life grows by learning. Every life demands food to grow! And our spiritual food is Jesus Himself.
We can feed this new spiritual “man” within us through intimacy with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. When we spend time with Him in prayer, in worship, or while meditating in the scriptures, our spiritual man grows. Just as with physical food, we need this spiritual food daily. We must cultivate the habit of spending “quality time” with God every day, speaking with Him, listening to Him, and letting Him fill us with who and what He is. This is called “communion,” which means having close fellowship with someone.
If we do not spend intimate time with Jesus, our new spiritual man will not grow, our Christian life will stagnate, and we will not be delivered from our sins. Jesus teaches us that if we don’t “...eat His flesh and drink His blood” we won’t have His life in ourselves (Jn 6:53).
This “eating His flesh and drinking His blood” is merely referring to having these intimate times with Him in the Holy Spirit (Jn 6:63).
LIGHT AND DARKNESS
As His life grows up within us, light begins to dawn. We begin to see ourselves and the world around us more clearly. Jesus, who is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12), begins to illuminate our inward parts.
This is an important key to our liberation. You see, the people who are being influenced and even controlled by the evil spiritual beings without their knowledge are “walking in darkness.” Jesus let us know that the whole world is in this darkness. It lies “in the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19).
The whole human race suffers from this lack of understanding of how they are influenced by the invisible spiritual world. They are blind to it. They have no idea that their thoughts are being manipulated and their lives being influenced by invisible forces. Therefore, they are walking in darkness.
Although most people can see the physical world with their eyes, they don’t perceive the spiritual world. Walking in darkness could be compared to walking in a completely dark room.
As you walk, suddenly you feel a sharp pain in your shin. You have just stumbled into the coffee table, but you didn’t see it beforehand because you were in the dark. This is the case with humanity today. They don’t know where they are going because darkness has blinded their eyes (1 Jn 2:11).
The god of this world is the prince of darkness. He does his best work in the dark. As long as we are unaware of how he is working in our minds, we are helpless to stop him. So he keeps his tactics and strategies secret, operating in the dark so that no one will know what he is doing. Therefore, the people of the world are held in a kind of captivity to him and his hordes.
But Jesus, our Savior, is “the light of this world” (Jn 8:12). He says that those who follow Him won’t walk in darkness any longer but will have: “the light of God’s life” (Jn 8:12). As we get to know Him and grow up spiritually, this light becomes brighter and brighter and begins to expose how the enemy is working in our individual lives.
We begin to see how we are being, and have been, influenced and manipulated by unseen evil. We also begin to realize the inherent evil in our own fallen minds.
Jesus came “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8). His purpose is not to whisk us off to heaven, but to deliver us from all the influences of Satan and sin. He desires to save us completely! And He has the power to do it! His death and resurrection proved before everyone and everything in the universe that He is the One who defeated all the power of darkness, even including death itself.
Now, in this writing, we will go on to discuss how such a wonderful, supernatural deliverance is possible. But first we need a little background, some kind of fundamental understanding of how man was created, so that we can see more clearly what God’s marvelous plan is. We will start with how man was made.
THREE ABILITIES OF THE SOUL
When God made man, He made him “a living soul” (Gn 2:7). This soul of man has three abilities. A man can think, he can feel, and he can decide. We, therefore, have a mind, emotions, and a will. Of these “functions” of the human soul, the mind is the leader. It is the primary factor in all that we feel and decide.
Of course we all know that our thinking guides our life. We think, we analyze, we arrive at conclusions and then we act. Therefore, the source of our thinking is critical to our living. Our thoughts are what guide us. This then shows how important our thoughts are to how we conduct our life.
Many do not realize however that our thoughts also are the source of our emotions. We are not talking about physical feelings here, but emotions and sentiments. It appears that all emotions are triggered by thoughts.
These thoughts may be subliminal. They may be quick little thoughts. Some thoughts may be so rapid that they don’t register as thoughts. We might not even perceive them. But emotions do not occur in a vacuum. They just don’t come on their own. They are a result of thoughts passing through our mind.
Certain thoughts trigger certain emotions. For example, we might see a snake and our minds thinks: “A snake!” This might generate fear. Or we might see a beautiful flower and we think: “How lovely,” giving us pleasant feelings. Our emotions are governed by our thoughts.
For example, some people suffer from depression. Their feelings are often gloomy and they see no way that their life can be better. These feelings are being generated by subliminal thoughts. No doubt many of these thoughts are being inserted by the evil one.
Such folks may have thoughts such as: “I’ll never get better,” or “No one even likes me.” Certainly the devil will cause other people around them to say and do things to reinforce these ideas. Such a person desperately needs Jesus to renew their mind.
Our thinking is also the source of our decisions. This is quite obvious. We think about something, reach a decision, and then act upon what we decided. Of course our emotions can enter into this, but as we have seen, they too are a result of thoughts. Through all this we understand how critical our mind is in how we conduct our life. It is what controls our living.
So we see that the key here, the key to being changed to be different people, is to have our mind altered so that it no longer is full of our own sinful thoughts. This also involves being freed from any and all influence and/or domination of evil spirits.
When our thinking is changed and we are freed from the influence of evil spirits, then our whole being is changed, since our mind is the key to all our thinking, feeling, words, and actions.
What Jesus has provided for us is something called: “the renewing of the mind” (Rm 12:2). We are taught that we should not be conformed to this world, but instead to be transformed by this process of the renewing of our mind. This means that our thoughts can be altered. Our values can be changed. Our goals and desires can be made different. Our opinions and ideas can be like that of our Maker.
This miraculous change is accomplished by the light of God shining into us. First, God reveals to us the evil of our own thoughts. Although we might think that our evil thoughts are apparent, this is not always the case. Frequently, the darkness in which we live and have lived has hidden these things from ourselves and others.
Perhaps much of our thinking, opinions, and ideas, which we have had for many years, seems to be harmless to us. Or, maybe we are unaware of how we really think. Although it may seem strange for someone not to know their own thoughts, it is a very common experience.
Many of our thoughts are so familiar, things which we have assumed, and ways of thinking which are of such long standing, that we don’t even notice them. They pass through our minds quickly and we take no time to analyze them.
We are so accustomed to our daily thoughts that they do not stand out to us. Or it could be that we have rationalized away and excused ourselves for our thinking patterns. Possibly we say to ourselves that everyone else thinks that way, so there’s no problem.
The reason we are unaware of our thoughts is that human beings are in spiritual darkness. Although meeting Jesus can and does change that, this change takes place over time – perhaps a long period of time. Therefore, the vast majority of believers in Jesus also still have darkness within them.
This then keeps them blind to many of their thinking patterns which are not in harmony with God, but instead with His enemy. They simply are not aware of them. Although they may have some light, many of their ways of thinking and reasoning are still part of the old creation.
The renewing of the mind which is available in Jesus Christ is a process which takes place over a period of time. It is not instantaneous. This process is the replacing of our own ideas, thoughts, and opinions with those of God.
BORN FROM ABOVE
As we have said, when we are “born from above,” the life of God is born in our human spirit. We read: “That which is born naturally is the physical body, and that which is born of the Spirit is our human spirit” (Jn 3:6). We also are taught: “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with the Lord” (1 Cor 6:17). So we understand that the Holy Spirit of God unites with our human spirit and a new birth takes place.
Now when God’s life is born into us, it is born as all other lives are: a baby. That’s right. Jesus’ life doesn’t begin in us fully grown and mature. It is just what the Bible clearly says: a birth.
We have already spoken about how this life grows through communion with God. As it grows, the light of God shines ever brighter within us. This gives us more and more clarity about our thoughts and shows us more of God’s own thoughts. We read: “The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being” (Pr 20:27 NIV).
The plan of God is for this new life to grow to maturity and become the source of all our living. All of our thinking processes can be brought under its control, therefore guiding every word and action. We perceive our own erroneous ways and also God’s excellent ones.
In this way, we change our way of thinking. We begin to adapt to His values and plans. We, little by little, begin to express His righteousness, because our mind is being renewed. Our thinking, our plans, and our opinions all change to be in harmony with those of our Maker. We then become an expression of God in this world.
This replacement also includes our value systems, or in other words, the things which we value and of which we approve and those which we do not. All of our mental processes need to be brought into alignment with those of our Maker.
Some believers may imagine (and it really is only imagination), based upon a Bible verse, that we already “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). But an analysis of the Greek verb tense here shows us that it is not in the past tense, or in other words, something which has already happened to believers.
Instead, the verb tense is call the: “present, active, indicative”. That is, the tense is the present tense and is describing an action taking place now. It is something which is happening, not something which already has taken place. Perhaps we should understand this as: “We are having the mind of Christ.”
Jesus is the light of the world. He promises us that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness (Jn 8:12). There are a couple of key points we should notice here. One of them is that they must follow Him.
If we are to experience complete freedom from our own sinfulness and liberation from the wiles of the devil, we must follow Jesus. We must obey Him. We must seek His presence every day. We must become His disciple. Since the light we desperately need comes from Him, unless we stay very close to Him, we will not have this light.
The second point is a kind of promise. If we follow Him, He will dispel the darkness within us. His light will shine brighter and brighter. We read: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Pr 4:18 NIV).
This light of God is what we desperately need! Without it, we have no hope of ever being changed or ever being made free. There is no way we can change ourselves. As mentioned in the beginning of this writing, our enemy is vastly more intelligent than we are.
Therefore, we must have the light of God! Only He can and will change us by shining His divine light into the recesses of our mind.
God’s light reveals several things. It reveals what we are and it shows us who God is. It exposes our sinful nature and unveils His holy nature. God shows us how He thinks about many different things and compares them to our thoughts. He reveals His values and opinions and contrasts them to our own. He shows us His holiness which exposes our sinfulness.
This is a wonderful thing. However, it can bring some serious discomfort to us. The evil which is in the heart of every single man and woman is not pretty. In fact, it is extremely ugly. If you do not know this about yourself, then you have never gotten very close to God.
Yet, despite our ugliness, we must never avoid or flee from this exposure. It is essential! We desperately need it. Only in God’s light can we become free from what and who we are. In Him, we will know the truth and it is this truth which will set us free (Jn 8:32). It is only His light which will change us.
If we avoid it, we will retard our spiritual progress. If we, in order to avoid embarrassment, to avoid humiliation, to avoid others seeing our sin and sinful tendencies, resist the illumination of God, then we will only remain the same.
If our pride keeps from permitting our Lord to expose the evil of our human nature, our transformation and liberation will only remain a doctrine or a dream and not our reality. We must be willing to face the truth of who we are. Only then will God continue His process of changing us into what He is.
One important thing on our part for all this to occur is that we must be willing for some radical things to happen in us. Since God is going to remove something from us – that is our old ways of thinking and reasoning – this will involve the loss on our part, perhaps some things we may consider drastic losses.
You see, we will be losing our soul-life. We will be losing who and what we are. Carrying out this loss – this process of removing from us what is old and sinful – is done by God Himself. Yet He will not do anything in us, absolutely nothing, unless we are one hundred percent willing.
Therefore, there must be on our part a complete yielding. A total surrender of our will to His is necessary. We must have the preparation of heart necessary to allow this crucial, death-to-self work to be done. Our lives must become a living sacrifice (Rm 12:1,2). Who and what we are cannot be more precious to us than who and what He is.
"Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself, alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit!
He who loves his soul life, will have it destroyed. But he who has a deep aversion to his soul life in this world, will have it preserved [through transformation] into the eternal life of God. John 12:24-25