We are in Christ; now we must discover what that means. James 1:22-25 says,
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (NKJV).
God intends for us to observe ourselves in the mirror of His Word and see who we really are. Then as we allow His Word to define us, we begin to walk in His perfect law of liberty.
The limitations we face as believers come only from forgetting who we are and what God has promised us. But through conscious, consistent application of the Word, we can change the negative patterns we learned in our past outside of Christ and create lasting victories.
James 1:21 tells us how to begin the process: “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (NKJV). There are going to be some things we must lay aside.
Does this mean a person who receives Jesus as his Savior may not have his soul saved? This may surprise you, but the answer is yes! James indicated that even though a believer has Jesus in his heart, he must still receive the Word in order for the power of his salvation to save his soul.
A person can be a Christian and still live his life with his soul unrenewed by the Word of God. Of course, this doesn’t mean he won’t go to Heaven, but it does mean that the saving power of God must be received into his mind, will, and emotions if he is ever to live free from the limits of his past.
The Word implanted in our heart at the new birth must be received for our soul to be saved. It is this soulish part of our makeup that can keep us tied to our past. If we fail to receive the Word, not allowing it to change our habits and thinking patterns, we will remain weak. This failure to grasp the word of God’s grace will cause the wholeness of salvation to remain limited in our life.
If we think back to the time when we first received Jesus as Lord of our life, we knew He had changed us and forgiven us of our sins, yet there remained so many things in our lives that were still not pleasing to God. But the process that would change our way of thinking and of responding to situations had begun.
The Word of God and the work of His Holy Spirit began to show us a much better way: Jesus’ way. We started to allow His love to get bigger inside us and to diminish our fears. Forgiveness took the place of bitterness and hardness of heart. From that time forward, God began to show us sins, habits, and negative thinking patterns He wanted us free from, and we began to reach out to Him for help to change.
The renewing of the mind is an ongoing and continual process that makes us stronger with every step. The more we are changed, the more our soul leans toward the strength of God in our spirit rather than toward the lusts and desires of the flesh.
Romans 12:2 clearly describes this process: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (NLT). Lasting and sustainable transformation comes from letting God’s Word change the way we think about ourselves. The more we apply His Word to who we have been, the more we will become the person He has made us to be.