There’s a popular adage out there; it’s been the chorus of a few good songs, in fact. And it goes like this: “Everything you know is wrong.” That’s not entirely true, obviously (I hope), but there’s still a lot of truth to it.
On one hand, we put way too much stock in our own opinions and experiences, however true they might or might not be. On the other hand—and sometimes even simultaneously—we allow ourselves to become paralyzed by our lack of knowledge, lack of wisdom, or just plain lack of confidence. And by doing so, we end up acting in a way that betrays what little real knowledge we do have.
So with all this in mind, allow me the grace to put an absolute statement out there anyway: Just about everything you know might be wrong. In fact, most of what we know is some entangled mess of right and wrong. But God is never wrong.
And now, allow me to undercut even that: Because of our own fallenness and self-deception, we often don’t even get our understanding of God’s will fully right.
If all of this sounds confusing, it should.
A big part of the problem—but also, the solution—lies in the connection between our minds and our hearts. There’s a refrain in Jeremiah that captures this well—“the imagination of their own heart” (Jer. 9:14, et al.). In fact, Jeremiah often throws in “evil” before “heart,” to make sure we don’t miss the point.
So often, we believe what we want to believe because we want to believe it, as if our desire by itself makes it all right. Or even more often, our pride. God is far more offended by our arrogance than by our “going off the deep end,” but both miss the mark badly. Because both are about us.
So where to we turn to get it right? Facts? Nope. Facts are good, but facts aren’t always truth. Surf between news channels on any given night, and you can readily see how easily different channels bend the facts to fit “the imagination of their own heart.”
Conscience? Better, but not perfect. Our conscience testifies that something’s wrong, that we’re somehow already disconnected from God, even as it potentially points us in the right direction. But though our conscience might alert us correctly, we often do wrong things in response to it. We take short cuts. We run the other way. We do everything we can to avoid the problem we know is there. We ease our conscience without ever really addressing the disunity in our souls that it’s correctly perceived.
So, to cut to the point: Our conscience tells us something’s wrong; the Spirit tells us what’s right. But to reecive what the Spirit’s telling us, we need to lay down our “head”—our thought life—before God. We need to humble ourselves enough to let God work, and to allow our convictions—or lack thereof—to be replaced by His.
Romans 12:2 is my life verse. In fact, it was my life verse even before I came to know Jesus. Here’s the King James version I first read it in more than 30 years ago: “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.”
There’s so much packed in that verse, but space doesn’t allow for it to be unpacked here. Maybe my own pre-Christian experience with this verse will help illustrate: When I first read this as an I-believe-in-God-but-I’ll be-anything-but-a-Christian 30 years ago, I immediately sat down and wrote an essay on the power of saying “no.” And there was truth to that. But it wasn’t the whole truth. I had locked squarely into “And be not conformed to this world,” and was on board with “but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” but “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”? Who cared? I didn’t. Not yet. But without it, the little truth I genuinely knew was as good as a lie.
Again, our lives are no longer our own. The key to a renewed mind is the willingness to lay down our thoughts in order to learn God’s. As we let go of what’s “ours” and take hold of what we do know to be God’s, our minds begin to be purified. The Spirit begins to untangle truth from untruth, the wheat from the weeds. God’s will becomes less of a mystery, even as God Himself remains a never=ending mystery. Even when we can’t immediately see or understand where God is leading us, He honors our spirit of submission and our resolve to stay in submission, and leads us there anyway.
“Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul” (Prov. 2:3-6, 9-10, NIV).
To know yourself better only makes you more like you. To know Jesus more is to become more like Jesus. And that is what God has desired us to become since the day of creation. So lay down your head, and be transformed.
Lay It Down Today
What’s your “life passage”—or at least a passage from God’s Word that’s spoken to you recently? Take 15 minutes now, and let it speak to you some more. Sit quietly before the Lord and simply meditate on this passage. Then close your time in prayer. Here are a few guiding questions to to help you process:
• Why is God bringing this passage to my mind? Why now?
• What’s the one thing that most needs transforming in my life—that God wants me to lay down right now?
• How can I invite God deeper into that part of my life and let Him work?