Thinking is a lot like Play-Doh…that was the focus of my last post. I concluded with the question: What is my mind most conformed to, what would a transformed mind look like, and how do I close the gap between the two? I believe the Apostle Paul offers valuable insight in how to close that gap in Romans 12:2: Do not conform any longer 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.
Understanding Paul’s words provides a powerful framework for cultivating a renewed mind and ultimately experiencing a transformed life.
- Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world – The word “conform,” refers to an outward expression of behavior that does not reflect what is inside of a person. The word actually implies the idea of masquerading. People wear masks when they’re trying to present an image of something they are not. So Paul is saying, when you conform yourself to the pattern of this world, you’re wearing a mask that is inconsistent with who you are as a follower of Christ. In other words, don’t masquerade as somebody who doesn’t know God. The word “world” is better translated “age.” That is, “Do not be conformed to this age.” “Age” is not so much focused on the people of the world, but rather the beliefs and philosophies of society. And while the world considers these beliefs and philosophies to be “wisdom,” Paul says, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). The Message begins Romans 12:2 with these words: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking…” J.B. Phillips translated the passage, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” Here’s Paul’s Big Idea: “Don’t masquerade around, buying into the beliefs and philosophies of this age, or behaving in a way that’s inconsistent with who God redeemed you to be.”
- But be transformed – When Paul says to be transformed, he wasn’t using “defense” language. He was using “offense” language. He was saying transformation doesn’t just happen to you without trying. You have to be proactive about it…you have to play offense. Your life is not going to naturally evolve into a more Christ-like life. You have to be intentional about the transformation. The word “transformed” comes from the Greek word, “metamorphoo.” It’s the term from which we get our word “metamorphosis.” It’s the same word used when we read about the Transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:1-2: “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” What happened in the Transfiguration of Jesus? John MacArthur says, “Christ’s inner divine nature and glory were, for a brief time and to a limited degree, manifested outwardly.” So what does it mean to be “transformed?” It means for “Our inner redeemed nature…to be manifested outwardly, but as completely and continually as possible, in our daily living.” In other words, the inside you changes the outside you. The inside you shapes how the outside you talks to your wife and kids, interacts with your neighbors and co-workers, and influences culture. Here’s Paul’s Big Idea: “Instead, let your transformed, inner redeemed nature shape your outside behavior.” Then Paul tells us how to do this.
- By the renewing of your mind – The outward transformation of your life is made possible by the inner transformation and renewing of your mind. Paul understood that how you and I think affects every part of our lives. So how do we renew our minds? Renewing your mind is a matter of FILLING and FOCUS. What do you fill your mind WITH and what do you focus your mind ON? Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” So Paul is saying, “FILL your mind with God’s Word.” But then look at Philippians 4:8. Paul says, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not things to curse.” (The Message). Here’s Paul’s Big Idea: “This transforming work can happen if you fill your mind with and focus your mind on God’s Word.
- Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will – The result of a renewed mind is the ability to assess right and wrong, the good and the bad, and ultimately align your life with God’s will. Holman’s Commentary says, “The idea here is that the renewed mind can discover and put into action—thereby proving or demonstrating—the will of God. His will is good, pleasing an perfect, and in doing his will, the believer demonstrates sacrificial living.” (p. 366). So what is Paul’s Big Idea: “When you do, your renewed mind will be able to assess what’s right and wrong, and you’ll be able to discover and put into action God’s complete and spotless will.”
Putting It All Together:
Reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 12:2, you could apply them to your life as follows: “Don’t masquerade around, buying into the beliefs and philosophies of this age, or behaving in a way that’s inconsistent with who God redeemed you to be. Instead, let your transformed, inner redeemed nature shape your outside behavior. This transforming work can happen if you fill your mind with and focus your mind on God’s Word. When you do, your renewed mind will be able to assess what’s right and wrong, and you’ll be able to discover and put into action God’s complete and spotless will.”
Question: What aspect of this passage is most challenging to you?