A Devotional Thought
by Don Anderson
Renewing the Mind, Part 1
A friend of mine asked the other day, “Why don’t some Christians behave as they should?”
Good question. Why don’t we see the evidence of Jesus in the life of some Christians? Why do some behave one way on Sunday morning and act like the world the rest of the week? Perhaps it is because their mind is more focused on worldly pursuit than on God’s commission?
When a person becomes a believer in the Lord Jesus, a process begins that takes a lifetime to complete called sanctification. It is the process of becoming like the Lord Jesus. All believers undergo this process and it involves reprogramming of the mind. This is why the Apostle Paul says “be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
In the verse previous, Paul told us to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). The word “present” means to offer or put at one’s disposal. The word “sacrifice” implies something that is offered. The picture here is of the Levitical sacrificial system; something is offered as a sacrifice, usually a lamb, to atone for the sin of the offerer. For us, Christ is “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). There is no need to offer an animal to atone for our sin; Christ did that for us. Now, we as believers in Jesus are to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, not a dead one! We are to present our bodies to Christ for His use moment by moment.
Notice also in Romans 12:1 that our offering of ourselves to God for His use is your "reasonable service.” The original word for reasonable is “logikos” from where we get our English word “logical.” It is logical, because of all that God has done for us that we would willingly, even eagerly offer our lives to God for His service.
But, the problem with “living” sacrifices is that they tend to crawl off the altar. There are many distractions that the world throws our way that take our focus off of the Lord Jesus and onto our desires and lusts. How can we remain more focused on staying
on the alter
and less on the desire to crawl off?
Paul goes on to tell us in verse 2: “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 12:2). It is clear from this verse that the problem is within our minds. Apparently, there is something in our thinking process that needs to be dealt with.
Paul says we need to renew our minds. The word “renew” means to renovate or to make a complete change for the better. I lived in China back in 2005. Shanghai was in the midst of a building boom. A crane was erecting a new building everywhere you looked. All of the old buildings were being torn down to make way for the new.
The concept is the same for Christians. When we become believers in Jesus, we bring a mind that has been programmed by the world into our new faith. Our minds need to be reprogrammed to remove the programming of the world, and replaced with the Word of God. This is the process called sanctification.
In Romans 12:2, Paul used the words “conform” and “transform.” The word “conform” means the fashion or scheme of something. In fact, we get our English word “scheme” from the Greek word. Paul is talking about not conforming to the fashion or scheme of the world. The word speaks of a river that winds around. The scheme of the world is like that; it moves here and there, changing its fashion from season to season. And we, as Christians, get caught in its current, pulled along and embracing the new schemes that come along.
On the other hand, the word “transform” means to change into another form. We get the word “metamorphosis” from this Greek word. The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is a good example of this word. Paul is saying that as Christians, we need to transform our lives from the fashion of this world by the renewing of our minds; the renovation of worldly thinking to godly thinking.
It is clear from this passage that the battle lays in the mind. This is why Paul says in Ephesians 4:22-23, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts and
be renewed in the spirit of your mind
, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Paul says that our minds are renewed and renovated when we put off the old man. We put off our former thinking, put there by the programming of the world, and put on the new man which comes from God’s Word in true righteousness and holiness.
So how do we go about renewing our minds? We will look at the answer to this question in tomorrow’s devotional.