Some years ago, on a visit to Russia we stayed in a centre which, along with several houses, was on an unmade road. House owners had continually driven their cars through the mud, so that ruts had formed. The ruts were so deep that the driver didn’t need to steer the car. The wheels stayed in the ruts.
When we are born again, we usually come into God’s Kingdom with ruts in our minds. The ruts are habitual patterns of wrong thinking which are often difficult to recognise. They are deep grooves in which we are stuck. They are full of lies, which stop us from believing the truth. These ungodly patterns of thinking in our carnal mind must be exchanged at the cross for the new way of the Spirit.
There are different kinds of ruts. Firstly, there are the thought patterns we have inherited from the fall when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. When the serpent tempted them, they doubted God’s word. When told that disobedience would make them as God, pride came into the world. They were overcome by shame and tried to hide it by covering themselves in fig leaves. When they heard God calling to them in the garden, they were filled with fear and guilt (Genesis 3:1-13). Doubt, pride, shame, fear, and guilt are the uncomfortable emotions which we have all experienced – either through our own sin or because we have been sinned against. They become ruts in the mind until forgiveness and freedom are received at the cross.
Secondly, there are ruts in our minds from thought patterns which we developed during infancy and early childhood. When our emotional and physical human needs are not adequately met from infancy, we become troubled, anxious, and fearful, and develop our own ways of coping with inner pain and defending ourselves from being hurt again. Of course, our own ways are ungodly ways. They become ruts in our mind, so that we always react in the same way whenever we are in painful circumstances.
Thirdly, we can find ourselves in a spiritual rut. Once we were full of joy and deep love for the Lord Jesus. Our desires were for Him and His kingdom purposes. We were sensitive to His words and His ways, longing to know Him better and determined to obey Him, whatever the cost. How did we manage to get stuck in a rut where we feel shut down, indifferent and inward looking? Could it be that we have grown cold in heart and lost our first love for Jesus?
Ruts force us to go on in the same restricted direction robbing us of the abundant life which is ours when we embrace the truth. Once we recognise that we are in a rut, we needn’t stay there. We can recommit our life to God’s purposes, not letting the world shape us into its mould, but being shaped by God’s word and asking the Holy Spirit to renew our mind.
We can try to reform our behaviour, but it is only through the Holy Spirit that our life is transformed. Freedom and transformation come through His presence and power.
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