World of Faith

Changing Our Thinking – Part Five: Unity in the Spirit

April 22, 2007
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I apologize for this installment actually going into the next week. I am actually now a “week behind,” so hopefully before the end of THIS week, I will release the first installment of the next series, which will be about leadership. So, without further adieu, I’ll review last week’s installment, and then I will bring this week’s installment on unity.

I’ve been in a series here at “World of Faith” on “Changing Our Thinking,” and last week I presented an installment on destroying destructive mindsets. I began by looking at Heb. 12:1 (NKJV), which exhorts us, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight (the NAS uses the word “encumbrance” instead), and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” I shared that the author of Hebrews is exhorting us to repent, and that the Greek word for “repent” is “metanoeo,” which literally means to change one’s mind. But clearly, destroying destructive mindsets is essential if we are to repent and change our thinking. The key passage that I then shared that addresses this issue is 2 Cor. 10:4-6 (NKJV), which says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every THOUGHT into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” Then I shared that some translations say that we are to “take every thought captive,” in place of “bringing every thought into captivity,” and I then shared that the key to “taking every thought captive” is found in Eph. 6:10-18 (NKJV), which says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” I then went through and explained how each piece of the armor of God here helps us destroy destructive mindsets, and more importantly, stay free of such destructive mindsets once we’ve repented and been delivered of them. I encourage you to go back to Part Four and read those paragraphs on your own, if you haven’t read Part Four yet.

I also encourage you to go back and re-read the entire series up until this point, because now I am going to conclude this series on “Changing Our Thinking” by focusing on the result of renewing our minds and changing our thinking, and that key result is unity in the Spirit. I believe that a key phrase repeated several times in the New King James Version, especially in the Book of Acts, which signifies such unity in the Spirit, is the phrase “one accord.” The first time in the Book of Acts where this phrase is used is in Acts is in Acts 1:13-14 (NKJV), which says, “And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John and Andrew; Phillip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Thus, here we see that after Jesus ascended, all these disciples gathered together in the upper room, to wait on the promise of the Father, the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But what was required on these disciples’ part is that they were in one accord, i.e. ONE MIND and one heart in the Spirit. We see this unity in the Spirit continue in the key passage of Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV), which states, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all in one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Thus, real unity in the Spirit was demonstrated with the coming of the Holy Spirit, which is the promise of the Father, at Pentecost, and the result was that the early disciples were able to receive the infilling (or baptism) in the Holy Spirit, as Acts 2:1-4 describes.

This same unity in the Spirit continued in the Book of Acts after the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Acts 2:46-47 (NKJV) says, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Thus, as the initial unity in the Spirit continued past Pentecost, the result was that the disciples shared meals with one another in an atmosphere of gratitude, thankfulness, and praise, and had favor with all the people. But the most important result here is that people were being saved and added to the church, the Body of Christ. This same unity in the Spirit also resulted in the continuation of the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early church. In Acts 5:12 (NKJV), the Bible says, “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.” Thus, an additional result of the unity in the Spirit experienced in the early church was signs, wonders, and miracles wrought by the power of God. It is important to note that Mark 16:17-18 (NKJV) says, “These signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Thus, this same power is available to ALL believers today, and not just the apostles, but it REQUIRES the same unity in the Spirit that we saw in the Book of Acts. Thus, Acts 8:5-7 (NKJV) tells us, “Then Phillip (the Evangelist) went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Phillip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.” So, these are the results of being in “one accord” and having the unity in the Spirit. In addition, another result is the bond of peace as we see in Ephesians 4. This is also related to the unity in the faith, which will be discussed in the next series, as it relates to leadership.

So, that ends our series on “Changing Our Thinking,” Next time, which will hopefully be before next Sunday, I’ll present the first installment in the new series on “Leadership.”


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Changing Our Thinking – Part Four: Destroying Destructive Mindsets

April 14, 2007
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Last week I continued this series on “Changing Our Thinking,” here at “World of Faith,” and focused on having the mind of Christ. This week I am going to focus on how to destroy destructive mindsets, which is a major part of changing our thinking. In fact, the very concept of repentance involves changing one’s thinking. Next week, I will bring the final installment of this series, “Changing Our Thinking,” and that installment will focus on what is probably the most important and biblical result of changing our thinking, and that is unity in the spirit, having one common purpose and a corporate mind of Christ.

Before I get into this week’s installment, on destroying destructive mindsets, let’s review last week’s installment, on having the mind of Christ. I began with 1 Cor. 2:14-16 (NAS), “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But WE have the mind of Christ.” This passage presents the concept of a distinction between the natural man, who is carnal-minded, and the person who is spiritually minded, having attained the mind of Christ. Paul develops this concept further in Rom. 8:5-8 (NAS), “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Simply put, to be spiritually minded, or to have the mind of Christ, is to set your mind on the Spirit of God, and the things of the Spirit, which results in life and peace. I then gave a practical example of this concept by presenting Phil. 4:8 (NKJV), “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Further, I said these are things we should meditate on, and that we should really meditate on the Word of God, in accordance with Joshua 1:8, which tells us, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Thus, if we meditate on the Word of God, and the things in the realm of the spirit, then we will renew our minds, and become spiritually minded, attaining the mind of Christ, and no longer be carnal and worldly in our thinking.

However, meditating on spiritual things and the Word of God, and the “power of positive thinking” is not enough to change our thinking and renew our minds. In addition to the meditation that I discussed at the end of last week’s installment, we must also destroy any destructive mindsets, because these destructive mindsets are hindrances that beset us, and ensnare us. Heb. 12:1 (NKJV) exhorts us, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight (the NAS uses the word “encumbrance” instead), and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” So, clearly the author of Hebrews is exhorting his readers to repent, and repentance is a key component of changing one’s thinking. In fact, the Greek word for “repent,” as it is first used by Jesus in Matt. 3:2 (NKJV), when He commands the people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” is “metanoeo,” which literally means to change one’s mind. So, we must seek to destroy any destructive mindsets, and Paul addressed this in 2 Cor. 10:4-6 (NKJV), “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every THOUGHT into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” The key here is to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, or as another translation says, to “take every thought captive.”

So, how do we “take every thought captive,” since that is the key issue, here? I believe the essence of this key is found in a very familiar portion of Scripture that addresses spiritual warfare: Eph. 6:10-18 (NKJV) says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”

WOW, let’s go through this passage, precept-by-precept, line-by-line, because if one can master these eight verses, then one has attained the key to destroying destructive mindsets, i.e. you have, indeed, taken every thought captive. The first step to this is to “be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.” Brethren, we need to know who we are in Christ, and whose we are in Christ. We need to strengthen ourselves in the “inner man,” by praying in the Spirit (I’ll discuss this in a more in a moment). But that is the first step in taking every thought captive in this area. The second step is we need to “put on the whole armor of God.” The verses that follow explain what the whole armor is, and so I’ll speak to that in a moment. We need to realize that the real adversary and enemy of our souls is the devil and his demonic forces, and not each other. So, Paul repeats that we need to “take up the whole armor of God.” Lastly, before I get into specifics, we need to stand firm. I believe that standing firm is a stand of faith, which requires action and obedience to the Word of God. This is why Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 10:6 that we are to be “ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” That’s what it means to stand firm in the faith, and to be ready to receive what God has for us, in delivering us from our enemies and any affliction or oppression that spiritually vexes us.

But going back a step, what IS the armor of God, which is so essential to the spiritual battle ahead of us? The first piece of the armor that Paul discusses is that we must gird our waist with truth. Jesus said in John 8:32, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It is the truth we know that sets us free, and that truth is found in the Word of God. This is why it is so important to meditate on the Word of God in accord with Joshua 1:8, and get the Word of God into our spirits, so that we will KNOW the truth, and so that the truth we know will set us free. The second piece of the armor that Paul discusses is putting on the breastplate of righteousness. The Scriptures are replete with references to the holiness of God. 1 Pet. 1:16 says, “Be holy, for I (the Lord) am holy.” The very verse before that also exhorts us to “be holy in all your conduct.” We cannot disregard this very command to live a godly, righteous life. We cannot take every thought captive without pursuing holiness. The third piece of the armor that Paul discusses is to shod our feet with the gospel of peace. The Scriptures are clear that we are to be witnesses, and go and preach the gospel, making disciples in each nation. However, this call is more than just saving souls that men and women would be “born again.” We are called to reconcile men and women to God, i.e. it is a “gospel of peace.” 2 Cor. 5:20 (NKJV) says, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” So, the third essential aspect of taking every thought captive is that we must become intentional in our ambassadorial role as witnesses and imploring the lost to be reconciled to God. The fourth piece of the armor that Paul discusses is the shield of faith. Romans 10:17 tells us, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” As I alluded to before, we must meditate on the Word of God — we must HEAR the Word of God. It is when we get a “rhema” word from God that we know the Word of God has sunk into our spirits and we can receive by faith the deliverance that God has for us. Real faith can only be developed by hearing the Word of God, over and over again, until victory possesses our soul and we have the breakthrough in Jesus name.

The fifth piece of armor that Paul discusses is the helmet of salvation. 1 Thess. 5:8 (NKJV) says, “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” What is the hope of salvation? 1 Pet. 1:3 (NAS) tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This truth must possess our soul if we want to take every thought captive. It is the very essence of the helmet of our salvation. 1 Pet. 1:13 reiterates, “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Further, 1 Pet. 3:15 exhorts us, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” And what is the hope that is in us? According to Col. 1:27, it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We must possess this truth in our souls. Finally, the last piece of armor that Paul discusses is the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. For the third time, it comes down to the Word of God, and again, getting the Word of God into our spirits. But then Paul makes one final exhortation to us, which will help us ensure we KEEP our minds pure of destructive mindsets, and that is to pray always in the spirit, because this will keep us built up IN the Spirit. Jude, verse 20, likewise exhorts us, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” For those of you who may not practice this, I strongly believe we MUST pray in tongues, and pray in tongues often. Thus, 1 Cor. 14:14-15 says, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray with understanding.” Thus, we must pray in tongues much, if we desire to keep our minds free of the destructive mindsets we have sought to destroy.

So, that wraps up this installment of “Changing Our Thinking.” Next week, I will conclude this series, with an installment that focuses on the end result of changing our thinking, which is unity in the spirit.


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Changing Our Thinking – Part Three: Having the Mind of Christ

April 8, 2007
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Last week I continued our series here at “World of Faith” on “Changing Our Thinking,” and I discussed at length the concept of renewing our mind. The first step to changing our thinking is renewing the mind. Before I get into a review, I am already planning the next series, which will begin probably later this month, and it will be on leadership, so we can all look forward to that. But before I get into this week’s entry on having the mind of Christ, let’s review last week’s entry for a bit. Last week I developed the theme of renewing our minds, and I looked at the familiar text concerning this passage, Romans 12:1-2 (NAS), “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And 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.” The first concept I discussed concerning this passage was that we cannot be “conformed to this world,” or basically we cannot be carnal Christians. Instead of being a carnal Christian, we are to live holy, godly lives as children of God. We are, in fact, according to 2 Cor. 5:17, a “new creature,” or in some translations, a “new creation” in Christ. We are a “new man.” So, we cannot live carnal lives, we must live holy, godly lives.

Then, the second major point I covered last week is the purpose of renewing our minds, which is o “prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” As Christians, we can KNOW the will and plan for God in our lives. . Eph. 5:17 states, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” We can discern the Lord’s will. Paul also exhorts in Col. 1:9-10, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” As an example, I cited 1 Thess. 4:3 as God’s will for every believer, sanctification and abstention from sexual immorality. Further, we can also pray and discern God’s specific will for our lives in other areas not covered directly by the Scriptures (e.g. career, who we marry, other family decisions specific to our needs, etc.) However, such must be in accord with the Scriptures, because that is how the will of God becomes good and acceptable and perfect. This is all the purpose of renewing our mind.

Now, if we renew our mind, the result will be that we will attain, or have, the mind of Christ. This phrase, the “mind of Christ,” is used by Paul in 1 Cor. 2:16. However, for context, let’s look at what Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 2:14-16 (NAS), “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But WE have the mind of Christ.” Thus, again we have this distinction between being carnally, or worldly-minded, and being spiritually minded (having the mind of Christ). Paul really develops this concept in Rom. 8:5-8 (NAS), “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” So, to be spiritually minded, or to have the mind of Christ, is to set your mind on the Spirit of God, and the things of the Spirit, which results in life and peace.

One practical example of how we can set our minds on the things of the Spirit of God is to heed Paul’s exhortation in Phil. 4:8 (NKJV), “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” These are the things that we should set our minds on, and meditate on. Moreover, we also need to meditate on the Word of God, every day. Joshua 1:8 tells us, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” We need to meditate on the Word of God, and set our minds on the things of the Spirit of God. If we do this, we will have the mind of Christ.

Next week, I’ll continue this series on “Changing Our Thinking” with a special topic that all need to read about, “Destroying Destructive Mindsets.” We cannot change our thinking and renew our minds if we do not destroy the destructive mindsets that beset us, and ensnare us, and so next week, I encourage you to read the entry, and be set free, in Jesus name.


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