Paul: “be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Ro 12:2). Personal transformation starts on the inside, by our minds being changed and renewed. When he writes, “Be transformed…” it means that we have to be willing participants, allowing it to begin with our minds – with the way we think.
When we think about renewal, we often think about replacing the old with the new. That often has to happen, but before it can happen the old has to be removed. A full glass can’t be re-filled. This removal of the old, this emptying, is of both thought and action.
There are a lot of Scriptures that talk about becoming new in Christ. But to understand and apply them we have to unlearn things. They are things we thought were true and weren’t, or didn’t care were false. They are things we accepted to be fact by tradition and culture. They are habits and addictions. They are all things that have the ability to blind us to the truth.
I saw an interesting and challenging quote:
“Unlearning is of the same importance as learning. Because to unlearn something is to be conscious of what we have learned and our ability to change it” – J. Mike Fields
We have to think about our hearts and minds. We need to test and challenge what we think and believe (2 Co 13:5). Not only must we hold onto the things we find to be good (1 Th 5:21), but we need to intentionally remove the things we find to be wrong. It’s not easy to see those things in ourselves. The Bible can be an objective standard to help us, but often we need someone to help us see the personal application. Time and time again, God sent people to help others see the sin they could not see in themselves. We need to be open to help in both learning and unlearning.
The Scriptures call unlearning, “laying aside,” and it’s everything from wrong ideas to wickedness and sinful actions (He 12:1; Ja 1:21; 1 Pe 2:1). To follow Jesus, we have to admit that we have learned wrong things and that we are willing to unlearn them in order to receive what it true and right.
We are “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” (2 Co 10:5). dd