Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.” The word transformed is the same Greek word as in 2 Corinthians 3:18. In 2 Corinthians 3 transformation is by the Lord Spirit, while in Romans 12 transformation takes place in our mind. This shows that transformation is accomplished by the Spirit through the renewing of our mind. If our mind is not renewed, we cannot be transformed.

Overthrowing Reasonings and Taking Captive Every Thought unto the Obedience of Christ

Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “As we overthrow reasonings and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought unto the obedience of Christ.” Many people may never have realized that there is such a phrase in the New Testament as overthrow reasonings. Have you ever overthrown your reasonings? Every day we have many reasonings; even at this moment we may have reasonings. To overthrow reasonings and take captive every thought unto the obedience of Christ is the real renewing of the mind.

Ephesians 1:18 says, “The eyes of your heart having been enlightened.” The eyes of our heart involve our understanding, which is a function of the mind. With our understanding there are eyes, not the physical eyes but the inner, mental eyes, and these eyes need to be enlightened. This means that our mind, our understanding, needs to be transformed by being renewed.

In order to be renewed in our mind, we must first learn to overthrow our reasonings. Day by day there are reasonings and imaginations in our mind. These imaginations are like dreams. In our imaginations we can travel all over the world. We may travel to Japan in our mind, and two minutes later we are back in the United States. If we check with ourselves, we will see that we have many imaginations. It is difficult to quiet and stop our mind. We must learn the lesson to overthrow our reasonings and imaginations. We also need to take captive every thought unto the obedience of Christ. We do not realize how rebellious we are in our thoughts. We need to be subdued in our thoughts. Our thoughts need to be taken captive. We need to practice and exercise to do this.

Putting Off the Old Man by Being Renewed in the Spirit of the Mind

Originally, our soul was something in the old creation, but the Lord’s salvation transforms it into something of the new creation. Most of this transformation is in our mind. Our natural mind is too old. Because we have the mind of Adam, our mind is as old as Adam, which is six thousand years old. Even a young brother has an old mind. In addition, our mind is a mind of our own national culture. Therefore, we need a change of mind. First Corinthians 2:16 says that we have the mind of Christ. By our old nature we have the mind of Adam, but by the new birth we have the mind of Christ. After we are regenerated, we need a change of mind. This change of mind is the meaning of repentance.

Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man, which is being corrupted according to the lusts of the deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the reality.” Putting off the old man and putting on the new man depend on our being renewed in the spirit of our mind.

The old man is mainly the soul, and the mind is a part of the soul, so the mind is a part of the old man. The old man has been crucified on the cross. Now we need to recognize this fact and put off the old man. This is simply to put off the old mind with its thoughts. If we recognize the fact that we as the old man have been crucified on the cross, we must act on it by rejecting and giving up the reasonings and thoughts of our old mind, reckoning that our mind has been crucified. If we do this, the Holy Spirit will do His part; He will renew what we put on the cross. To renew is simply to resurrect. If we put our mind on the cross, the Holy Spirit will renew it by resurrecting it from death.

We must learn the lesson to reject our reasonings and our old thoughts. We do not realize how much we are controlled, directed, and governed by our mind. The more we think about a brother, for example, the more we may be unhappy with him. We need to learn the lesson to give up these thoughts and put them on the cross. We must realize that we, the old man, the self, the soul, have been crucified, so our mind and our thoughts have to be put on the cross. If we do this, the Holy Spirit within us will renew our mind. He will come into our mind and take possession of it, causing it to be renewed. At this very point, the Spirit will even fill our mind. Our mind will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We cannot understand the Scriptures with our old mind. Moreover, because our mind is wrong, we often misunderstand the ministry of the word. Therefore, when we come to read the Scriptures, we must learn the lesson to reject our old thoughts and our old way of thinking. We do not realize how much we bring our own thoughts into our reading of the Scriptures. To come to the Word with an old mind means that our mind has not been renewed.

I once stayed in the home of a brother and sister. This couple loved the Lord, but they were not of one mind because it was hard for the sister to submit to her husband. One morning I asked the sister what she had read in the Bible. She said that she had read Ephesians 5. I asked what help she had received, and she replied that she received the light that husbands should love their wives. I turned to the brother and asked the same thing. He said that strangely he had read the same passage and had received the light that wives should submit to their husbands. No doubt, the sister already had the thought in her mind that husbands should love their wives, and when she came to the Scriptures, she brought her thought with her to get a confirmation. It is the same in principle with the brother. He had the thought in his mind that his wife should submit to him, and he came to the Scriptures to get a confirmation. This demonstrates that people come to the Scriptures with their old mind.

Because our mind is occupied by all our human thoughts and reasonings, it is difficult to understand the Word. It is difficult to get something new, heavenly, and spiritual. We cannot get something from the Scriptures because we bring something to them. This is because our thoughts and mind have not been renewed. This is our problem. After we are regenerated, we need to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Then when our mind is renewed, our mind influences our emotions and our will. If our mind is transformed, our whole soul, including our emotions and our will, also will be transformed.

In the same principle, we must learn the lesson to reject our natural will and emotions. Many times when someone comes to us or when something happens to us, we cannot control our emotions. We are so influenced and directed by our emotions that we are beside ourselves. We must learn the lesson to reject our natural emotions. Then something will happen in our emotions. They will be renewed by the working of the Holy Spirit. It is the same in principle with our will. We need to learn the lesson always to subdue and reject the natural will.

The mind, emotions, and will are the parts of the soul, and the soul is the old man which has been crucified on the cross. We have to realize this fact and reject the old elements of the old man. If we do this, the Holy Spirit will honor what we do. He will renew our mind, will, and emotions, which we have rejected. This results in transformation. The Holy Spirit with the divine life, which is the Lord Christ Himself, will take possession of our mind, emotions, and will. He will heal our entire soul with Christ as our life. Then the element of Christ will be not only in our spirit but also in our inward parts, our soul. Christ will be the infilling factor in all our inward parts. The Holy Spirit will fill our inward parts with Christ Himself. This is the transformation in our soul.

(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)