Overcoming Our Conditioned Responses

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Series: Renewal of the Mind

Sunday 26th July 2015 – Pastor Kobus Swart

2 Cor. 10:1-6; Eph. 4:17-24, 30-32; Rom. 8:1; (Matt. 12:31); (Rom. 12:1-2); Jer. 17:7-10;
(Matt. 14:29-30); John 3:13; (Luke 4:28-30)

There is hardly anybody who does not occasionally react or respond from some conditioning of the past. Our political and cultural history – for example, the racial divides of the past – left a lot of people with deep hurts which were built into the subconscious and can cause conditioned responses in certain conversations/circumstances. When we hear something or see something it triggers a response. Some responses go back to our childhood; the way you were treated at home or at school by teachers.  That can leave scars in your deep inner being which will make you react in a certain way much later in life. Many, even Christians, are held hostage by their conditioned responses. Until those emotions have been dealt with you can expect certain reactions. Paul and his apostolic company knew how to deal with these mind-sets and conditioned responses in a church that was very problematic (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

Jesus is our model; He is also our “dictionary” in this life. In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph. 4:22-24). It is not about just learning new principles mentally but more than that is required. You can study and learn and still not deal with deep emotional problems. The Philips translation says we must be spiritually and mentally re-made. The new self is no illusion. This is the battle ground for every Christian. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Eph. 4:31-32). Bitterness can also be resentment. Many Christians are walking with resentment and anger deep inside because of past issues that have never been thoroughly dealt with. The suggestion I have is: be honest with yourself! A good place to start is to take inventory of your life. Take time off quietly with a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the things in your life that may have played a part in forming your responses in the present. The worst thing any Christian can do is harbour resentment, fear, anger and unforgiveness. Who do you think you are damaging? It takes courage to be honest with yourself. One of the biggest problems to overcome is denial. Life is full of irritations. There is enough happening to condition us negatively. Conditioned responses can trip us up and keep us in prison.

Paul says that the key to the renewing of the mind has to do with putting on the new self. One of the most deadly responses we have to overcome is the old sinner mind-set. When we are born again we put on the new man. For a while old reactions will keep coming back. When are we going to overcome the conditioning of the old nature and its responses? I can be washed of the old thinking and old nature if I walk in the truth of Romans 8:1 – Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Will we stumble? Yes, but be quick to make it right. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). If there is a legitimate fear it is the fear of grieving the Spirit of God (Matt. 12:31).

Putting on a new self includes a new mentality of who I am. God looks at you and me through the finished works of Christ. Take courage and be honest with yourself; look into those hidden areas of your life. The Holy Spirit will help you. You can deceive yourself (Jer. 17:9).

When are we going to get out of the boat? (Matt. 14:29-30). Peter worked through all his responses and reactions but he had to get out of the boat. He walked for a while, not on the waves or water, but on the word. Then he looked at the waves and his faith failed. Jesus is the pattern Son. Jesus was in heaven on earth (John 3:13). He was not trapped in the realm called ‘earth’. He was able to walk in the other realm at any given time (Luke 4:28-30). He switched dimensions. I believe we are trapped in a time-space ‘bubble’. God is calling us to participate in the final conclusion and the breaking out of th ‘bubble’. God’s heart is for us to not be trapped but the problem is our conditioned response. We are restricted by the watch and by space. This planet that we think is everything is like a speck of dust compared to what is in outer space. Our Creator God is not locked in.

Lord, help me not to respond from previous restrictions and conditioning; help me break out of all the negative responses from yesterday and from childhood; responses that come from not understanding the new man, the new creation fully. We cannot be victims of conditioned responses and old negative mind-sets.