Thursday, 22 September 2016
…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, Ephesians 4:23
This is an exhortation from Paul, and thus “the spirit of your mind” is not speaking of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, those translations which capitalize “Spirit” here are incorrect. Man is not ever considered the subject of the Holy Spirit. The times when the Holy Spirit is mentioned, the subject is in relation to God and His redemptive work.
Understanding this, he exhorts the reader to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” HELPS Word Studies defines the word translated as “be renewed” (which is found only here in the New Testament) as to “make new in relation to time.” They note that “believers are reminded of God’s continuous offer to bring new strides in their sanctification through ‘sanctified reasoning’ – raising the meaning up to new levels of spiritual comprehension and reality.”
This sanctifying renewal of the mind is something that we must work at. People who look to the Holy Spirit as the sole means of sanctification in this manner have misunderstood what it means to be a sound follower of Christ. We do not get an external injection of holiness as we walk in this life. Rather we are to actively pursue it through our own moral activity. The spirit referred to is “the higher life-principle in man by which the human reason, viewed on its moral side – the organ of moral thinking and knowing is informed” (Vincent’s Word Studies).
So how do we do what is necessary to be renewed in this way? Where does the knowledge for what we are to do come from? Obviously it is from a study of Scripture. It was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for our benefit. In other words, though we actively are to be renewed in this manner, it is the Spirit of God who passively participates in this process. Again, Christians err when they believe that all they need to do is snap their fingers and all of the benefits of the Holy Spirit will pour down upon them. Hence we have weak churches filled with weak Christians because study of the word is relegated to an afterthought instead of being our chief means of doing exactly what we are instructed to do.
Life application: Mature Christians will look for sound preachers and teachers to instruct them in the words of Scripture, and they will supplement what they have learned through their own studies in the word. In doing so, they will have the right moral compass by which they can effectively renew the spirit of their mind.
Lord God, You ask us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Without a detailed and continuous study of Your word, that isn’t going to happen. And so give us the desire to pursue You through this marvelous gift which You have given to us. Forgive us for neglecting the means by which You have made this renewing possible. Now, spur us on to get into the word, study it, and apply it to every facet of our lives. With this You will surely be pleased. Amen.