Turn Around Your Mind
Imagine someone decides to take a journey, goes to his car, and gets on the road. Unfortunately, he gets on the wrong road without realizing it. After a while he notices he is getting farther and farther from his destination. Upset with himself, he stops the car, berates himself, and then gets back on the road. The only problem is he doesn't turn around, he just keeps going on the same road. Realizing his mistake, he stops, gets out of the car, hits himself on the head a few times, then gets back in the car and takes off again. Again he keeps going on the same road in the same direction. If I observed someone doing that I would conclude the person is most likely stupid, if not totally insane. Getting upset and stopping his travel isn't the solution to his problem. He needs to turn around.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:1-2)
REPENT! Now that is a word that all Christians are familiar with. It is the very thing said again and again by every Christian evangelist and preacher there ever was. The English word "repent" has a meaning of feeling sorrowful, or full of grief, for ones actions. This implies a desire to change, too. That is the way most people think of repentance -- feeling sorry about their behavior and wanting to change. Unfortunately, that isn't enough.
Have you ever had this experience: Someone says or does something to you that offends you. You politely, or perhaps not so politely, inform them that you are offended. The most common response is for the person to apologize, and then to proceed with a long list of excuses and explanations. Their excuse making is nothing but a self-defensive cover and totally contradicts the apology. What they are probably thinking is, "I'll apologize to show how polite I am, but really, I didn't do anything wrong." It's nothing but blatant hypocrisy. That's not repentance at all.
Most people aren't quite that bad. Most people, in fact, do feel sorry when they realize they have done something wrong. They will then have a desire to change and that is good. You see, the word translated "repent" in the New Testament is a Greek word, metanoeo, that means "change your mind." Most preachers know enough about the Bible to point this out. So, people confess their fault, desire to change, make a vow to change and start off again. After a few days, or weeks, or possibly even years, they start doing the same old thing again. They become "back-sliders." The whole process then repeats itself. They feel sorry, confess, determine to change, and off they go. Just like the man in the story I started with. Just like him, they never really change directions. They change the opinions in the mind, when what is really needed is a mind transplant. They need a new mind because their old mind is just plain wrong. The way I like to put it is that they need to turn around the mind because the mind they got from the world is all backwards.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans 8:6-7)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
From the day we are born we are programmed by the world we live in to think and act certain ways. For example, we are programmed to equate money with survival. The rulers of this world know this and use it to their advantage. If you do what you are told, you get a treat. If you disobey, they will take away your toys and leave you out on the street to fend for yourself. It is just like training an animal. You give the animal a treat when it behaves the way you want and hold back the treat otherwise. Pretty soon, the animal is programmed to respond the way you want. The same thing is true about the clothes people wear, the language they use, what type of car they drive, house they want to live in, etc. All of it is desired because of a mental programming given by the world. As long as you have the world's mindset there is no way to permanently change what you do. The basic beliefs, presumptions and unspoken assumptions programmed into the mind will always result in the same actions. We all need to be de-programmed from this world system before we can ever be free. The only way to break free of this programming is to turn around your mind. As the Apostle Paul said, you have to be transformed.
As long as the mind is oriented towards the world's way of thinking, every step you take will just move you further and further into the world. If you turn around your mind, then every step you take will move you away from the world and closer to the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no way to do this yourself. You will never figure out which way to go because the carnal mind has been programmed backwards. The carnal mind, or self-willed mind, simply cannot overcome this. You will have to let go of everything the world taught you and let Jesus show you the way. You have to take hold of His hand and by faith let Him lead. The just shall live by faith.