THE RENEWING OF THE MIND IN OUR DAILY LIFE FOR THE ONE NEW MAN
About twenty centuries have passed since the Lord’s death on the cross, but we must ask ourselves where the builded church is. The Lord said that He would build His church (Matt. 16:18), and Paul told us that we are “being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit” (Eph. 2:22), but where is the building? We need to ask even furthermore where the new man is on the earth today. Many Christians do not even have any kind of concept concerning the new man.
I studied at an American Presbyterian school. The American missionaries there held their conferences absolutely separate from the native Chinese pastors. Even the Christians of this one group were divided because of racial differences. In the United States there are some denominational congregations who will not allow blacks to worship with them. Where is the new man? The new man was created on the cross but does not exist among the Christians today. As we have seen, for the existence of the new man to be realized, there is the need of three steps after Christ’s death on the cross: the baptism in the Spirit, the constant drinking of the one Spirit, and the renewing in the spirit of our mind. In order to have the Body life and in order to have the new man, we must be renewed in the spirit of our mind. We need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Formerly, we may have thought that this kind of renewing was mostly for our personal behavior. But we have seen that this renewing is even more for the Body life and for the new man. If our mentality remains in the same condition, there is no possibility of having the one new man. If we remain in our natural mentality, we cannot even have the proper church life in our locality.
Every race has its own character, its own disposition. When I went to Scotland, I noticed that nearly every little village and home was very well kept. Their lawns, trees, and flowers were landscaped beautifully. The Chinese are much different from the Scottish people. Because I am Chinese, I have the ground to say something concerning them. Generally speaking, they will spend a lot of time in their cooking, but hardly any time to take care of their lawn, flowers, and trees. What if a typical Scottish brother and his family were to live next to a typical Chinese brother and his family? The Scottish character would become a problem to the Chinese, and the Chinese character would become a problem to the Scot. They may not criticize one another directly, but in their hearts there would be much criticism. The Chinese brother might even say to his wife that the Scottish brother does not love the church as much as he loves his front yard. He might ask concerning the Scottish brother, “Does he spend as much time in his Bible as he does to arrange his flowers? He is altogether worldly.” The Scottish brother may say to his wife, “That Chinese brother loves the Lord, but he is so sloppy and lazy. He rarely cuts his lawn.” The Scottish and Chinese families are in the church. In the morning they criticize one another, not openly but secretly. Then in the evening they come to the Lord’s table. You can see how the ordinances can be a great frustration to the proper church life. Both families need their minds renewed.
Humanly speaking, there is no possibility of getting rid of the differences between the races. In addition to our national character, each one of us has a particular character and disposition since we were raised in different environments and come from different backgrounds. Without the Lord’s grace and without the Spirit, no one could be one with anyone else. We may have the doctrine. We may have listened to a message concerning the one new man. We may have received and accepted the vision of the one new man. But what about our practical, daily living? Are we day by day really under the renewing in the spirit of our mind? The matter of renewing is very practical. If you are really renewed, this will be seen in your practical, daily life. When the Lord saved us, we began to love Him. Now we realize we have to practice the proper church life in putting on the one new man. This is why we need to ask the Lord to renew our mind and transform our inward being. In our prayer we must have a desire to get into the practicality of the new man. We need to ask the Lord to show us what the real practical problem is in our daily living for our fellowship with all the saints, for our church life. I believe that if we ask the Lord to shine on us in this way, He will point out many things.
The Scottish brother’s disposition cannot be justified nor can the Chinese brother’s disposition. Both brothers need to be transformed. They need to be renewed in the spirit of their mind. If a person is sloppy in his disposition, he should exercise his spirit to clean his front yard, perhaps once a week. On the other hand, we should not spend more time taking care of our lawn and our yard than we do on the Bible. Our mind has to be renewed, and we still have to be proper human beings. Everything about us, especially in our homes, should be in a good order. Our natural disposition must be renewed so that we can be transformed into the image of Christ.
Many of the brothers who are Chinese have graduated from college and can speak English. But when they talk to one another, they speak in Chinese. This may be according to their habit and not according to Christ. The renewing of our minds is to make us renewed persons, not habitual persons. When a Chinese brother speaks in Chinese around some American brothers, the American brothers may think that he wants to keep something confidential. As a result, the American brothers may be offended. This again shows how we need to be renewed in the spirit of our mind for the church life as the one new man. On the other hand, the American brothers should not be offended by this. Instead, they should sympathize with the Chinese brothers. Our attitude toward one another needs to be renewed. The attitude, the spirit, and the atmosphere in the church life could be one of division instead of oneness. Even the language barrier can cause an attitude of division. I was in a situation where some American and Chinese brothers were having some fellowship. When the Chinese brothers began to speak in Chinese, the Americans got offended and the fellowship was terminated. This illustrates how language can bring the practical church life to an end.
Although you may have seen the new man, you need to take care of the renewing in your mind. If I still behave habitually in my national character, this will kill the church life. If we have seen the vision of the one new man, by His mercy we need to keep ourselves in the spirit. The new man has been created and all the ordinances are abolished. Now we need to practice to put on the one new man. If I behave habitually in my Chinese character, and the American brothers behave habitually in their American character, we cannot have the new man. We cannot have the church life. All we will have is a society where some Chinese and some Americans are gathered together. This is not the church but a social club.
I believe that the Lord’s grace will work in us and upon us to such an extent that we are not only renewed in our prayer, but also in our daily life we are being renewed in the spirit of our mind. When we pray ourselves into the spirit, we are being renewed. Peter was renewed in the trance that he had, but in practice Peter had a problem. Today it is the same with us. When we pray, we pray ourselves into the spirit, but we have to keep ourselves all the time in our spirit in our daily life. Do not let yourself come out of the spirit.
Through this fellowship, we can see how much renewal we need in all the matters of our daily life. The husbands need to be renewed in their relationships with their wives. Do not be what you have habitually been. You have to be renewed in the spirit of your mind actually and daily in your living. Otherwise, there is no way for the Lord to have the Body, and no way for Him to have the new man. This is not a matter of adjusting our behavior but a matter of being transformed by being renewed in the spirit of our mind to make us another person. Daily we need to put off the old man and put on the new man. For this we need to drink of the one Spirit that we may be renewed in the spirit of our mind in every area of our practical, daily life.
(The One New Man, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)