Author’s Note: This article is expanded and updated from an article written some time ago.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
There is no doubt about the fact that we live within the framework of our perceptions. Whatever we truly believe in our heart determines the boundaries in which we live. A man might be bright, intelligent, and creative, but if he has believed the lie that he is dull, unimaginative, and useless, it is likely that he will go through life behaving as though he had nothing to contribute to the lives of others. Though in reality he could have many friends and be surrounded by a loving community of people, he will likely live as a loner, fearing rejection and assuming that others see him as he sees himself.
There is a principle I have shared many times to church congregations and students and which I now pass on to you: If Satan can control what we think, he can control what we believe. If he can control what we believe, he can control how we behave. If he controls what we believe and how we behave, he controls us. This why there is such a battle for the mind. If Satan can control how we think about reality, about ourselves, or about God, he can cause us to live within the narrow restrictions of our distorted perceptions.
Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and he wants to build up strongholds of deception in our minds to keep us from living out the abundant life Christ purchased for us. However, Satan does not have the last word on what we think, what we believe, or how we behave! The Bible tells us that WE are responsible to steward our thought life, think on God’s thoughts, and build strongholds of truth in our minds that will enable us to walk in the freedom of our redemption (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
In other words, if we think and meditate upon God’s Word, then our convictions will begin to be shaped by God’s Word and our behavior will change accordingly! If God’s Word is determining what we believe and how we behave, we will become mature disciples of Christ and express the life and liberty He came to bring us!
Again, how we behave is determined by what we believe. If we believe what God says about us, that faith will give expression to the life and character of God within us. Too much of the time we’re merely trying to “reform” our actions, rather than changing the underlying belief systems that inform our behavior in the first place. Notice how the apostle Paul puts it in his epistle to the Romans. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2)
Notice that we will be transformed and prove the will of God as our minds are renewed. The word translated “transformed” in this verse is from the Greek word, metamorphoō, which is where we get our word metamorphosis, the word most commonly associated with the transformation of the caterpillar into the butterfly. This verse is not talking about the lost – those who don’t know Christ – but about believers who still need to be transformed outwardly.
Everything in that butterfly is already in the caterpillar, but it still has to go through this amazing transformation in order for what is locked inside it to be put on display! Likewise, when we are born again, the life and nature of God is imparted into our spirits, but we must “work out” that salvation so that what is in us can be expressed through us so others can see the transformation! As Paul says, this transformation is accomplished through the “renewing of our mind.” This is not referring to a superficial acquisition of the knowledge of God’s Word, but a complete overhaul of our thought patterns and belief systems. “For as (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, author’s paraphrase). It’s only as our convictions are changed, and we truly believe what God’s Word says about us, that our minds are renewed to a new way of thinking and living.
Before we were born again, we were fallen creatures with a sin nature. This we inherited from our father, Adam (see Romans 5:12). We were all “in him” as it were. His fallen nature was passed down to us and our thought patterns and lives were an extension and expression of that sin nature, being programed by the appetites of the flesh and the environment of the worldly influences around us. We were dominated by Satan, the “prince of the power of the air,” who controls the world through the lusts of the flesh (see Ephesians 2:1-3).
However, when we were born again through faith in Christ, we were given a new identity and a new nature. As Paul explains it, we were “regenerated” (literally “born again”) with the nature of our new Father (Titus 3:5). We are no longer sinners with a fallen nature but a new creation with the life and nature of God. We are not just “sinners saved by grace,” but saints (holy ones) who have a new heart that delights to do the will of God! We are no longer “in Adam,” but now we are “in Christ!”
What Satan seeks to do, however, is to keep us identifying with our old self. We still have the flesh to contend with, and we will still feel the pull of this world. He will endeavor to keep us living by “sight” rather than by faith in who we are in Christ. If he can keep us identifying with the old man rather than who we are in the light of our redemption, he can keep us from living in the reality of the abundant life and victory that Christ secured for us.
Throughout the New Testament, particularly in the epistles, we see phrases like “in Christ,” “through Christ,” “in Him,” and “through Him.” These phrases are clues to our new identity in Christ. If we will meditate in these verses and renew our minds to who we are “in Him,” we will begin to live out the reality of our redemption in our daily lives. This is how we are transformed!
We must begin to declare these redemptive realities over our lives every day. Words of faith have great power (see Mark 11:23), and as we confess the truth of God’s Word over our lives, we’ll begin to rise into the reality of that victorious new life Christ purchased for us. There are approximately 140 of these verses by which we can renew our minds to the reality of who God has made us in Christ. While we cannot cover these verses here, I recommend that you search the scriptures and find all the “in Him” verses you can and begin to daily declare these truths over your life!
Here are just a few with a recommended confession to declare over yourself to begin renewing your mind to your identity in Christ.
Many years ago, I knew a man who attended a church I pastored who seemed to really struggle in his Christian walk. When he was in fellowship, there was no one who worked harder to serve in the church. When he was “out” we wouldn’t see him for months. One Sunday in church, he testified about an experience he had that I believe illustrates the power of perception as much as anything I have ever heard.
He said that he had a dream in which he was looking through prison bars at a horrible being he knew to be Satan. The Devil was laughing and mocking him as he looked at him through those prison bars. As he was feeling the horror and oppression of his apparent situation, he heard behind him a voice that called his name. When he turned and looked around, he saw that he was not behind bars at all, but rather standing in a wide and beautiful green field. Jesus was standing there with His arms opened to him. It had been He who had called his name. Suddenly, this man looked back to see that it was, in fact, the devil behind those bars, while he stood free and in the presence of Jesus Himself. The difference between freedom and bondage for the child of God is determined by whether or not we truly believe in what Christ has done for us. Are we looking to the lies of the devil, or the liberating truths of God’s Word?
“If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). You and I have been made free, righteous, and holy by the sanctifying work of Christ. God has invested a measure of His grace into each of us to equip us for our calling. He has deputized us to be His ambassadors that through our witness the nations might come to know the truth and find salvation in His name.
Satan does not want us walking in those realities. He wants us to inhabit a very existence is limitation and repeated failure. God, however, as provided all we need to live abundant lives that will bring glory to Him and enable His purpose to be fulfilled in the earth. As our minds are renewed to the reality of who we are in Him, and what He has provided for us, we will begin to rise to new heights in our walk and relationship with the Lord and enjoy a fruitful and fulfilling life.
If you have not yet accepted Christ, His hand is stretched out still. The price has already been paid and the table set. There is a place for you there if you will but accept His gracious invitation.
For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
(2 Corinthians 6:2)
*To down a complete list of these “In Him” scriptures, go to our Student Resources page at https://randylanebunch.org/student-resources/ under “General Resources.”
Dr. Randy Bunch is the pastor of West Kern Christian Center, located at 1000 6th Street in Taft, California, as well as a graduate advisor and adjunct professor at Summit Bible College in Bakersfield, California. He is the author of several books, including his new devotional, Immutable: Changeless Truth for a Changing World. For more information, or to purchase your copy, go to randylanebunch.org. For more information on the ministries of WKCC, you can go the ministry’s website at wkcconnect.org.