In the first part of Renewing Your Mind, I wrote about the benefits of renewing your mind. Now, I would like to tell you how you can renew your mind. This is not an automatic process as we ought to notice in Paul’s admonition. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We must note that this is a command, not a suggestion. So, the objective is to be transformed, that is, have our lives changed further into the image of Jesus. Conversely, the world pressures us to be conformed to its pattern, but we are to be transformed. It pays to mention again that the term conformed is to be forced into a mold and the term, transformed, is a change from the inside out. It is true change. It is change that flows from what is already inside of us, that is, the Spirit of God.
There are more than a few words in the New Testament that are translated as mind. It’s hard enough in English to define mind, but the Greek language gives it a good try. This is the first step in renewing your mind. You must think differently than you did in the past. The target of your thinking is above not below. In Colossians 3:2 we read, Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. However, context, as usual, plays an important role. V1. says, If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Both verse 1 and 2 employ a command - Keep seeking and set your mind. Actually, verse 2 says, Think! Think on the things above!
Think on the heavenly things where Jesus has won a place for you for eternity. This is not gazing at the heavens imagining pearly gates and streets of gold, but the work Jesus has accomplished through His death and resurrection. Think on the provision of his grace, the hope of glory, the power of the resurrection. These much more are the items to think on. Learn to think biblically, and yes, theologically.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:6). Here again Paul using the same word for “mind” tells us that if we set our minds on the flesh we are carnal people. The next two verses betray that the mind set on the flesh is of the flesh and hostile towards God. (Reflect back on Chapter 1 of Romans.)
In Romans 8, Paul states that the mind set on the flesh is death, not subject to the law of God and cannot please God. This jives with Romans 12, also. Remember, Part 1 of Renewing Your Mind.
The mind set on the heavenly things, the things of the Spirit help us to renew our minds. If I may press this further and say that a good habit of reading quality material that lays out the person and work of Christ, good material that properly lays out biblical history and theology will help you renew your mind. If you persist in reading “feel good” books that do nothing to advance your critical thinking skills, nor give you good sound biblical information, you will not be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Books that do nothing but appease our selfish appetites are helping you set your mind on the flesh. Friends, this may sound blunt, but I make no apologies for it. I know how easy it is to take the path of least resistance and give in to the flesh. We sometimes do this by thinking we’re reading something spiritual that will help us when all it does is gratify our selfish desires. There are many books and videos that only help us focus on ourselves. We must learn that the answers do not reside in us but in Christ. Think on these things. You can be transformed by renewing your mind and succeed in proving what the will of God is. You can do this by setting your mind on what Jesus has done for you. Think on these things. Focus your attention on Christ, who is the wisdom of God and fullness of Him.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
These verses in Romans 12 are considered “hinge” verses that are highlighted by the word “therefore.” The old adage in Bible study is whenever you see a therefore, you must look what it is there for. Normally, it refers to what has just proceeded it. However, in this case I believe Paul is referring to something that doesn’t just precede it but actually goes back to the first chapter.
In Chapter One, Paul is laying out his argument that the Gentiles are sinners who have rejected God, even though He has made Himself known to them. The result is that their hearts were darkened and then God gave them over to three conditions: the lusts of their hearts (v.24), degrading passions (v.26), and a depraved mind (v28). My interpretation is that Chapter Twelve refers back to this passage.
Knowing that the path of sinners is destined for the wrath of God, whether Jew or Greek, Paul set out to explain God’s plan for justification, sanctification, and glorification. Paul explained how all mankind is shut up under sin, but God has a plan to restore those who would find salvation in Jesus Christ. That would take us through Chapter Eight of Romans. He then turned to whether or not Israel was still included in God’s plan and the answer was, “yes.” He then gave his, “therefore” in Chapter Twelve.
If believers are not conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of their mind they can receive some valuable spiritual benefits. It is very clear that there are enormous benefits when believers renew their mind. It should be noted that this is a command, not a suggestion. “Be transformed,” is an imperative. So what are these benefits?
First and foremost when a believer is transformed by the renewing of their mind they are pleasing to God. Who doesn’t want this? Although most people are trying to please someone, believers in particular want to please their God. Here’s your chance!
The second thing that Paul says is that you will prove what the will of God is. Wow - if I had a dollar for every time people have asked me how to find God’s will, well, I’d have lots of dollars. The point is that every one struggles or at least seeks to know the will of God. Here Paul tells us that we can prove what it is - that it is good, acceptable and perfect. And, we can do it by simply being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Now that’s a winner.
The third thing is the obvious one - perhaps too obvious; the believer is transformed. This transformation is the work of the Spirit who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Christ in you is the hope of glory. The short way to say this is that we become more like Jesus.
These benefits of transformation - pleasing God, proving God’s will, and being changed, are why we should all be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Next time, I’ll post about the “how” to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Stay tuned.