We all have moments when our minds go into overdrive, finding ways to remind us of our failures with a tenacity which seems to be undaunted by every effort to distract it from that course. It is kind of like we cannot escape those bad feelings about ourselves no matter how much we want to be free of them. The heart and the mind are not always united in purpose or direction, though. Sometimes our minds take us in many directions which our heart clearly says are wrong for us, or get us thinking in ways our heart knows are just not going to end well. This may just be why there is a constant focus by God on renewing our minds - he knows our hearts are okay because he indwells our hearts with his Spirit. It is our minds which need a little work!
There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God. Whatever we may ask, we receive it from Him because we follow His commands and take the path that pleases Him. His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded. The one who follows His teaching and walks this path lives in an intimate relationship with God. How do we know that He lives in us? By the gift of His Spirit. (I John 3:20-24 VOICE)
Our inner thoughts work overtime to condemn us - for the littlest infractions to the big things which ought to cause us great concern anyway. I think our writer hit it on the head when he said these thoughts invade like storms of guilt - they are kind of like "thunder-heads" just brewing, building, and when they let loose, watch out! Guilt comes in waves and buckets, trickles and gushers. There is no limit to it - it is that "gift" which keeps on giving! Our hearts, on the other hand, are indwelt by the Spirit of God - so they don't condemn us - in fact, they remind us we are loved, grace has covered (and recovered) a multitude of sins, and we are valued by God. Such a conflict of ups and downs, isn't it? If we are to move away from being so easily and frequently influenced by the storms of guilt, we are going to have to count on the truth which is declared by God himself about our heart - it belongs to him and therefore, everything else in us is his, cared for by him, and is being made beautiful because he indwells us!
The secret to the waves of guilt is the relationship we maintain in our heart. If God indwells our heart, the basis of all our trust and hope is in the one who indwells us. If our heart is right, our minds can TRY to condemn us, but it is impossible to change what God has already accomplished by making us right with him. It is impossible for God's Spirit to indwell a sinful place - our minds may try to convince us we are not right because of past failures - but God has made us right and gives us his Spirit to indwell us so that we "stay right" for the long haul! This may be why God reminds his children to draw close to him - we don't do that with our minds, but with our hearts. As we draw close in relationship to him, we find our thoughts begin to change - the process of renewal occurs. The heart was already renewed (made new), but the mind takes a while to catch up!
To really understand this, we go back a few verses in this chapter: Everyone who has been born into God’s family avoids sin as a lifestyle because the genes of God’s children come from God Himself. Therefore, a child of God can’t live a life of persistent sin. (vs 9) We have a new set of genes! You may not know this, but the genes determine the "make-up" of a person - so with a new set of genes, our make-up changes! We aren't the same person we once were - we are given so much through grace, but live in confusion and doubt because we don't think about what genes are responsible for within our make-up. One of the things a gene does is "transfer" the traits of the parent to the offspring. The new set of genes we have been given at the moment we said "yes" to Jesus actually transferred the traits of his Son into our hearts - our genetic make-up is no longer the same! We have a new "bloodline".
We may not always remember this, focusing instead on the irrational thought created by our sense of guilt over past failures - but the genetic make-up of Christ himself is there within our hearts nonetheless. We are given his Spirit to reside in the secret place of our heart to remind us of this. As we begin to focus less on the storm of thoughts brewing up a gully-washer of guilt, and more on the settled fact of God's presence within, we may just begin to see the storms of guilt being cleared away and rays of hope beginning to dawn in our lives. I often remind myself of this fact: My mind needs daily renewal. My genetic make-up remains constant! Just sayin!