What comes to your mind when you think of the word renew? At first we might think of something that is expired and needs to be renewed, such as a driver’s license or passport. Or, we might recall a time when we ran out of our medicine and needed to renew a prescription. We hear of baseball players renewing their contracts—some to the tune of thirty million dollars a year! Now that’s the type of renewal we would all be interested in for sure!
All of these examples are primarily focused on the wrong person—us. While God is certainly interested in our well-being, He created us for something far more valuable than our own self-interest or pleasure. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).
For God to truly receive glory from our lives, it’s going to take more than merely signing up for another turn in the church nursery, or filling out a stewardship commitment form, or reprioritizing our time to include Sunday night services. What God deserves and desires is a radical renewal that is only possible when we place our lives completely as clay into the hands of the master Potter.
God’s process of radical renewal starts on the inside—in the heart. At the heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. The word heart is found over eight hundred times in the Bible, and nothing in our lives truly changes until there is a change of the heart. King David was ruling God’s people, fighting battles against the enemy, and administering the kingdom well until one infamous moment when he failed to protect his heart. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Indeed, out of that unprotected heart came adultery, deceit, lies, and murder. David needed radical cleansing and renewal of his heart. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Is your heart in tune with God or are you just conforming and performing on the outside?
Close behind a renewed heart in this radical process is a renewed head. It is very difficult to separate these two: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7). The mind and the heart are closely linked in our makeup. If we are going to do right, we must think right. Anyone who lives in the twenty-first century knows that to be an immense challenge. Our eyes and our ears are constantly taking in problematic data that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Thus, God calls for a renewal of our heads: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). When is the last time you gave your mind a bath? You don’t need soap and hot water—you need the Holy Spirit and His Word! “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
If we are really serious about a renewal of our hearts and our heads, we are going to have to become even more radical! To protect our hearts and our heads we must renew our habits. The truth is we often know exactly where sinful stimuli lurks—certain friends or associates, private media outlets, particular places, etc. Yet, without thinking carefully (walking circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise) we subject ourselves to these same ruinous routines day after day. We must radically amputate the sinful practices in our lives and acquire new habits that will take their place. In Ephesians 4:22–24 Paul states it this way: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ask God to show you which habits in your life need to be eliminated, and then immediately engage in a new pattern to take the place of the old. Right friends, the right entertainment, the right music, etc. are all available to the Christian who wants renewal.
Once our hearts, our heads, and our habits have been renewed, we are in a position where God can renew our hands. Prior to spiritual renewal so much of our time and energy is wasted on the world, the flesh and the devil. In 2 Samuel 2:7, David commanded his men, “Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant….” The backslidden Christian is too tired and exhausted to serve the Lord. He finds every excuse in the book to shirk from his responsibilities at home, at church, or in the community. However, the Christian who has allowed God to renew his heart, his head, and his habits finds that suddenly his hands are strengthened and renewed as well. “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29–31).
With our hearts, our heads, our habits, and our hands renewed, we can still become weary in well doing because the battle continues and increases in intensity. We must ask God to renew our hope. The complexities of life, the culture of the last days, the coldness of the lost, and the carnality of the Lord’s people can all lead us to pessimism and despair. We wonder if the battle is worth the effort and, like Elijah, we can feel that we are the only ones left! We’re not alone—read Psalm 73 and notice the closing words in particular: “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works” (vv. 26–28). Renew your hope!
It’s time for radical renewal! You’re not too old or too far gone to be renewed. God desires to restore your fellowship with Him, revive your spirit, and refresh your life. Second Corinthians 4:15–16 says, “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”