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What does it mean to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23)?

renewed in the spirit of your mind

In a challenging teaching on holy living (Ephesians 4:17—5:21), the apostle Paul emphasized the importance of the believer’s mental outlook. He reminded the Ephesian Christians what they had learned in their relationship with Christ: “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness“ (Ephesians 4:22–24, ESV).

The phrase be renewed is derived from the Greek verb (ananeousthai) meaning “to be or become reestablished in a new and often improved manner.” By entering a relationship with Jesus, the believer is reestablished in an improved standing as a “new creation” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). At the same time, Christians are daily, continually being renewed by the indwelling Spirit of God: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

“The spirit of your mind” refers to the believer’s thoughts and attitudes. In the New Living Translation, Ephesians 4:23 says, “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” The mind is the arena where the Holy Spirit constantly works on renewal. Paul urged the Romans, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Spending time daily in fellowship with Jesus Christ is vital to being renewed in the spirit of our minds. We are renewed in our internal nature as we “learn to know [our] Creator and become like him” (Colossians 3:10, NLT). In fact, this is the believer’s destiny: “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29, NLT; see also John 13:15; Philippians 2:5).

The more we know Jesus, who reflects the very nature of God (Philippians 2:6), the better we can see and understand the heavenly Father (see Colossians 1:15). “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). As we follow in Christ’s footsteps and arm ourselves with the same attitude He had, our lives become a pleasing “sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:21; Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 4:1).

God’s Word is essential to being renewed in the spirit of our minds. Jesus prayed to the Father for all believers, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17, NLT). As we develop in our understanding of the truth in Scripture, our minds are renewed and transformed by God’s Spirit, and our lives reflect that change.

“Physically, you are what you eat, but spiritually, you are what you think,” writes Warren Wiersbe in The Bible Exposition Commentary (Vol. 2, Victor Books, 1996, p. 40). As we meditate on God’s Word “day and night” and “delight in the law of the Lord,” we become firmly reestablished “like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalm 1:1–3, NLT).

Prayer is also necessary to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. Paul prayed for the Colossians to be filled “with the knowledge of [God’s] will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9–10). After David confessed his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, ESV).

As you seek the Lord in relationship with Jesus, in the truth of His Word and in prayer, you are renewed in the spirit of your mind: “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NLT). Renewal brings a new mindset of trust, peace, and humble obedience (Isaiah 26:3; Romans 8:5; Philippians 4:8–9; Colossians 3:1–2).

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What does it mean to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23)?
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This page last updated: March 6, 2024