Spend the week studying Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 6:10-18. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Ask God to change you by starting with your mind. Ask Him to renew it by restoring faith, hope and purity in Him.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
In general, do you welcome change or are you resistant to it? Explain your answer.
Recall a time when you tried to make a change in life, big or small. What did you learn from the experience?
Last week your group discussed Paul’s warning not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, which always leads to experiencing less than God’s best. Only a love for the Father can replace a love for the things of this world. This is the path to transformation and experiencing God’s best. This week your group will discuss how to be transformed—by the renewing of your mind.
God has a plan for your life and that plan involves renewal. The Bible says you are a new creation in Christ. God has begun a work of renewal to make you more like His Son. Transformation is possible, because Jesus has brought you back into a love relationship with the Father.
Transformation starts in the mind. Your mind is a battlefield. Whatever or whomever has control over your thoughts has control over you. That’s why Paul urges his readers to renew their minds. Earlier in Romans Paul writes that a mind focused on the flesh (or things of this world) is death, but a mind focused on the Spirit is life and peace. A mind focused on the flesh can never experience God’s best. But a mind focused on God will always experience God’s best.
So how do you renew your mind? That is the critical question of our discussion. To help you answer this question we’d like to use the analogy of a house. This is a useful analogy in three ways. First, a house is where you spend most of your time. Likewise, you spend most of your time in your thoughts. Second, most of the things you value most are in your house. In the same way, your mind holds your core beliefs, hopes, dreams and fears. Third, as a house ages, it needs repair. Similarly, your mind is in constant need of repair. If you neglect the problems in your house, it will deteriorate. It won’t improve itself on its own. Likewise, a neglected mind won’t get repaired unless you take action.
With the help of the house analogy, let’s explore three key ways you can renew your mind and experi- ence God’s best in your life.
Select 3-5 questions to discuss as a group.
Clean the House
First, you need to clean the house. When a house gets dirty, you clean it. If you discover an infestation, you call an exterminator. Your mind is no different. As a child of God, you need to be aware of what’s going into your mind. If unhealthy, ungodly things are coming in, you need to take action. Otherwise, your mind will get infested with things that can cause serious damage.
Consider this simple philosophy—garbage in, garbage out. If you introduce garbage into your mind, that’s what will come out in your life. So take action by taking out the “garbage.” When considering whether something is “garbage,” ask yourself this question: “Does this make me love God more?”
What can you do to be more aware of what goes into your mind?
Do you agree or disagree with the “garbage in, garbage out” philosophy? Why?
Decorate the House
Second, you need to decorate the house. A house is an extension of you. That is, when people enter your house, they get a glimpse of who you are (i.e., your personality, style, history, etc.). God wants you to decorate your mind with things that remind you of Him; He wants you to fill your mind with thoughts that honor and glorify Him.
It isn’t enough to empty your mind of the garbage. You need to fill your mind with things that will enhance it and point you to the Father’s love. When you do this, you’ll begin to see how much He loves you and how much better life with Him is.
What would a mind decorated with things that remind you of God look like?
What practical thing(s) can you do to focus your mind on the Father’s love?
Secure the House
Third, you need to secure the house. There was a time when people left their doors unlocked at night. People don’t do that anymore. A rise in crime and the threat of home invasion have made people take measures to secure their homes. Just as it’s not wise to leave your house unlocked these days, it’s also unwise to leave your mind unlocked.
Your enemy wants to invade your mind, because he knows that’s where he can win the battle. He’s cunning, and he’ll try to break in with any number of techniques. Therefore, you must secure your mind against the enemy. The enemy knows you, and he knows where you’re vulnerable. Be aware and be alert with the thoughts that enter your mind. Be your own gatekeeper, and ask yourself, “Where is this thought coming from, God or the enemy?”
How do you act when you’re aware and alert versus when you’re not? How can this help you in the battle of the mind?
What’s one change you could make this week to secure your mind more?
Select 1 question from this section to answer.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Renewing the mind is a process. Don’t expect that you will completely change overnight. God understands His work will take time. He works according to His timing, and He asks you to approach renewal one day a time, one step at a time.
Therefore, don’t beat yourself up when you fail. God knows you, and He knows your weaknesses. Remember that we have a Savior that lived among us and knows the frailty of being human. We are weak creatures and we often drift away from God because of sin. Nevertheless, God’s plan is for a renewed you. God won’t leave you where you are. He loves you too much.
How does understanding that transformation is a process change the way you look at it?
Respond to the statement “God won’t leave you where you are. He loves you too much.” What does that tell you about the Father?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
Renewing the Neighborhood
Much of the discussion has been focused on the internal. But how does a renewed mind manifest itself outwardly? In other words, how does a renewed mind affect those around you?
The Christian life isn’t just about personal transformation. God’s plans are larger than you. His desire is to make others happy in Him and experience His best. His desire is for transformed communities. The Gospel has the power to transform people and societies.
The Father’s love affects our mind and that affects how we relate to others. It affects the way we live in the home. It affects the way we talk to our co-workers. And it affects the way we care for our neigh- bors. God’s love always turns us outward to others.
Why does God’s love always turn us outward to others?
What would it look like for your group to be united in helping others outside your community experience God’s best? How could you achieve this?
Thank God for His plan and for never giving up on you. Ask Him to help you clean the house of your mind, fill it with His thoughts and secure it against the enemy. Ask God to renew your mind by restoring faith, hope and purity in Him. Pray for the belief that God is transforming you and your community with His love and according to His timing.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Memorize 2 Corinthians 10:5 and reflect on what it means to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.”
Ask the group if they experienced any significant battles in the mind and how they responded to them.
God makes all things new.
God is in the business of creating things anew. In fact, His plan is to recreate all creation. Long ago through the prophet Isaiah God promised to make all things new (Isa. 65:17). As believers, we are evidence of God’s plan of recreation (or renewal). Paul tells the Corinthians that, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Cor. 5:17). Being in Christ changes everything. It changes the way you see the world. And it changes the way you engage the world.
Affections, the heart and the mind.
Your affections speak to the deepest desires of your heart. Whatever you truly desire and live for, that’s the thing that stirs you and directs you. Jesus tells us that, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). And whatever your heart is set on, your mind will follow suit. What’s your treasure? What do you value most? What do you spend most of your time thinking about? Whatever it is will determine how you think and act.
Naming your enemy.
Important in securing your mind is knowing what (or who) you’re protecting yourself against. As a Christian, you face three main enemies. The first enemy you face is Satan. He is God’s enemy and the leader of all opposing forces against God. He is not all-powerful, all-knowing or ever-present (omniscient). However, he is very influential and uses what power he does possess to lead people away from God. The second enemy you face is the flesh. The flesh is the sinful nature that still remains in you. The flesh is that inner impulse that tempts you to follow your own path instead of God’s. Think of it as the opposite of the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The third enemy you face is the world. The world is a belief system that Satan and the flesh use against you. It’s a belief system that’s anti-Christ; everything the world stands for opposes Christ and His purposes.
Protecting yourself with God’s armor.
Securing your mind means arming yourself with God’s armor. Paul describes the different types of defense God gives us in Ephesians 6:10-18. When you read Paul’s descriptions, you see that you have an effective defense against the enemy. Remember that you are never helpless against the attacks of the enemy. God is for you and gives you what you need to combat the enemy and win.