Dimensions of The Mind and Truly What We Think Matters to God - Part 2
This is a continuation of Part 1 as the 2 Parts are a complete work. Thank you, L.
This is a concentrated effort on Romans 12. I am sure as you have read through that many other scripture have crossed your mind. I certainly could have stretched this out much further, but I wanted to stay as close to where Paul was in his writing to this group of people.
I want to review Paul's letter from Romans and consider what he is saying in Chapter 12, with the greater emphasis on Vs 2.
Vs 2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test (examine, investigate assess), and approve (endorse, support, agree) what God's will (resolve, motivation) is; his good,(superior, excellent) pleasing, (agreeable, gratifying) and perfect (ideal, right, faultless) will.
In the book up to this point Paul gives a superb introduction to Gentile believers of the whole history of man,sin and Adam and of salvation in Christ. He exposes the differences over law and faith within the two culture groups and leads us into walking in the Spirit in chapter 8. Chapter 9 the seed of Abraham and where we as Gentiles fit into the picture. Chapter 10, grace, faith and law, trust and God's desire that all Israel would be saved. Chapter 11, God's concern; Israel's delusion; Gentiles may be used to provoke jealousy for Israel's sake; God's kindness to us and that neither branch is above the other. If it were not for God's gift through Jesus no one would come to salvation and all would face his righteous judgement. The end of 11 declares a Doxology to the Lord and then we have this great verse 1 before us in Chapter 12, about the presentation of our bodies and in this next verse he includes our mind. And he also states that we can test and prove what God's will is; his good, perfect and pleasing will. But this can only happen after our (spiritual) transformation and (practical) renewal of our mind.
In verse 1 we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
What is included in what our body consists of? Body = our flesh man,(the shell), where our mind and heart and soul are, and our spirit.
As a living sacrifice. It is obvious we are not dead like old testament sacrifices were, and used for many different things. What is a living sacrifice? One who is able to logically, heartily, with understanding know exactly what they are doing in this commitment. Holy and pleasing to God. Holiness can only be taught to us by the one who is Holy in all his ways, Holy Spirit our counsellor. But we make a choice in the attitude of our mind to achieve this action. We are responsible to participate under the blood of Jesus and the grace of God in this end result as it becomes our true and proper worship. This requires right, or righteous thinking.
Do not conform (be traditional, be conventional). Two very things Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and teachers about. What does it take to be a nonconformist? You are to become radically different. Ask this question; Was Jesus radically different? To The pattern (model or blueprint) of this world. The Jewish Christians had some issues in this area. They had traditions (not all bad) but they also had a pattern for doing things and they had great difficulty embracing change for themselves, and they wanted to inflict their way of thinking onto these new Gentile converts. A transformation of both cultures to Kingdom ideology was imperative.
We do the exact same thing by trying to bring denominationalism onto new converts instead of bringing Jesus love, acceptance, encouragement, help, servant heart, or giving spirit filled love with joy. We inflict on them mindsets grounded in rules instead of grace and mercy from the Kingdom of Heaven. By doing this we miss the good, pleasing and perfect will of God. We want to pattern people after our miserable and spiritually unhealthy lifestyle separated from Holy Spirit and sit in judgement over them. If we have not been transformed with Holy Spirit inspired repentance and humility and have not worked out a new way, a Jesus way of thinking; then we do not have the right to infect anyone with our tainted diseased life. It will only be a facade and they will become as shallow as we are. A very dangerous place to be.
A transformation must take place in each of us. A repentance from the conduct of the world system and an agreement that the world's way of thinking is not God's way. We are a NEW creation now made not only in God's image after the form of Adam, but now following after the NEW Adam Christ Jesus. The activation of this new man takes place at the time of our conversion; that is the conversion of our heart. But the continued work of the fullness of Christ is yet to be worked out in us. We come into agreement with the Word of God for his good purposes and for the likeness of Christ to be formed in us, thus the soul life and it's attitudes are to be recognised, dealt with, redeemed, so that our NEW heart will stay converted. Our NEW spirit must rise within us and take ownership of the life of Christ that is present in Holy Spirit who is to fully indwell the heart and spirit and with authority work the work of sanctification that our redemption and salvation will be kept in place. Therefore our mind must be renewed, by agreement that there is something wrong with our old way of thinking, if we want to move on with Holy Spirit and into Kingdom living.
Example: remember when we were first saved and we might have had a problem with foul language, lust, overindulgence, etc? Remember how quickly we caught ourselves, till we had stopped thinking this way and stopped doing the act. These are a few small examples of breaking free of worldly thoughts and influence.
Then from verse 3 on through to 21 Paul exhorts us as to what our minds should actively be participating in, shown by the many expressions that our lives should take on. Knowledge turned into action which equals understanding used with Christ-like love and wisdom. Paul is showing us the practical Spirit-filled life through our adhering to and living a godly lifestyle by practicing these simple actions.
Humility and Service in the Body of Christ
Vs 3: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith (assurance or trust) God has distributed to each of you
Note what the very first thing is; "Do not think (consider, deem, believe) of yourself...".We are to judge ourselves by devotion to the Spirit, with a clear head and with humility, recognizing that it is God who has given us this faith (trust or his faith in us). Not one of us received favour from God do to our own merits, it was a gift and we are only made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. If it wasn't for the Spirit of God contending for us we would all be lost. God is trusting us with the ability to judge righteously, spiritually and not from a depraved (degenerate or corrupt) mind. We are to honor our moral and spiritual obligation to one another. The Jewish Christians thought they were above everyone else because they were first through Abraham in the promise, and the Gentile Christians thought they had one up on them because they came to Christ without the law. Some denominations today still think this way, that they are superior or have a clearer more fulfilling gospel.
The opposite of humility is narcissism, which is self love or me first. An exceptional interest in and admiration of self and undue dwelling on one's own interests, to the extreme of being in love of or sexual desire for one's own body (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Vs 4, 5:For just as each of us have one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
There was to be no distinction of members, no separation, we are one body and therefore not to be placing one above another. That mindset of office, or division by social status was to not have a place in the body of Christ. We are now a part of the Kingdom of God where servant attitude was first, as demonstrated by Jesus. Within our own bodies there is no rank and file. It is one complete unit working together in harmony.
Verses 6 to 8 deal with our gifting/gifts, given to us by grace. We are to operate in them. This requires an action from our mind. Acceptance, recognition and activation. Then the actuation of each particular gift:
Prophesy (edify, encourage, build up) by faith (confident, with assurance). Serving, then do it, act on it, serve others. (help) Teaching, then teach others. (instruct, coach, train) Encourage, then give encouragement. (support, cheer, give confidence) Giving, then give generously. (with hilarity) Lead, do it diligently (meticulously, thoroughly, carefully) Show Mercy,(understanding, forgiveness, compassion) do it cheerfully (willingly, gladly)
All of these activities require thought and action and none of them are of any use in the Kingdom without pure love.
Love with Action
Vs 9: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
There is a MUST BE here (this could be rendered as a command): sincere (truthful, honest, genuine). We make the choice in our heart and mind to what extent we are going to love and what form of love we will exhibit. Love is only a word, but connected to this word are, our feelings, emotions, desires, wants, needs, likes and dislikes. When the word love is translated from the Greek, it translates into 5 different meanings, so again it is important to know the structure, content and context of what is being said, to whom, and why? Here Paul is giving instruction in fellowship and the love here can be speaking of brotherly (Philos) and it MUST BE genuine (authentic, real). Remember Holy Spirit knows our heart. If we are having a problem with love in relationship, we need to deal with it, and if repentance is in order, to do so.
Hate (detest, abhor) what is evil (wicked, immoral, indecent, sinful, revolting, vile, disgusting). Think of a food that you cannot tolerate and now multiply that by 100,000 and attach it to all things that are immoral. Hatred requires a thought to start in our mind and the action of causing that thought to take root. This can have both good and bad effects upon us, but it all begins with a thought and an agreement with that thought.
Cling (adhere, hang on to, embrace) to what is good (superior, excellent, decent, virtuous, upright, pleasant, lovely, beneficial). As if your very life depended on it.
Vs 10: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Now here Paul admonishes us again as in verse 3, but with two different adjectives (actions) and again we need to put these things into our mind and heart and make an agreement with ourselves to fulfill them to the best of our ability in Christ.
Be devoted (loyal, faithful, committed, caring, kind, supportive, dedicated). In a perfect world this conduct would not even have to be mentioned, but we don't live in this place yet, so we have to work at it. And we all will agree it can be very hard work. Devoted is a singular reference, or meaning, not double minded. With the spiritual fruit of kindness an attribute of Holy Spirit filling you.
Honor (highest respect, consideration, admire, revere, uphold). Elevate to a place where others are far more important than our wants and needs. This really starts in our own homes firstly, and should be taught to our children through example from us as parents. Don't ask or demand of our children or spouse what we are not willing to exhibit. When we have honor in the home it will automatically spill out into the community at large. Honor has a habit of coming back to us when we freely and lovingly present it.
To simply use a few examples; the likes of Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Esther, while in captivity, during a very prolonged and arduous time in their lives, have given us a great illustration of faithfulness to God, and honour of their respective benefactors. Note: Their faith, love for God and love for others; not their respective attitudes against a tyrannical, religiously and culturally different people group saved them and demonstrated the power of God in them and in the world as a whole.
Vs 11: Never (under no circumstance) be lacking (deficient, wanting) in zeal (enthusiasm, fanaticism, passion), but keep your spiritual (holy, saintly, devout) fervor (dedication, commitment), serving the Lord.
Do everything you can to keep your enthusiasm and passion in all circumstances while serving the Lord. We are being watched by those around us, both in the body of Christ and those who are not.
Vs 12: Be joyful in hope (expectation), patient (enduring, long-suffering) in affliction (suffering, difficulty, hardship), faithful (devoted, trustworthy, dependable) in prayer.
Notice here how Paul put prayer at the end of these two virtues, joy and patience. Joy is a choice we will make when having to hope that things will get better. It is an attitude of our spirit. Pessimism does not breed joy nor hope. Patient, capable to endure the difficulty of the journey, and still able to be devoted in your prayer life takes both courage and strength.
Vs 13: Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Notice here Paul does not make a distinction between Jew and Gentile. We are all the Lord's. (I used to attend a church where we would give a monetary blessing to other churches as God led) Sharing with others who are in NEED (want, requirement, necessity), requires knowledge, caring and asking questions or being observant, paying attention and asking the Lord in prayer, who we might be a blessing to. Practice (exercise over and over, be accustomed to it) hospitality (welcoming, open, friendly, warm, generous, kind). Letting it become a normal part of our ways and established in our thinking.
Vs 14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Bless or exalt. The persecution of Roman times is quite different than what we might encounter today. Unless you are living within a Muslim country or China etc. where there remains a rampant hatred. But we here in North America do not have a reference point with which to gauge what small act might happen against us. In their time here in Rome, it would come from the many non Christians of various cultures and from the Jewish religious order. There was conflict from the Roman empire and it's leaders who took pleasure in singling out Christians and rounding them up for the sheer enjoyment of killing them in the most gruesome of ways. Bless and do not curse. Under these circumstances Paul is asking something very contrary of those who might be under tremendous pressure. To curse was not to say vulgar words as we might encounter in our culture. It was a severe action of condemnation and a verbal use of specific word phrases with which to bring down a curse from heaven or hell upon the person, family, or lineage. I once asked a Chinese friend of mine what cursing was in their language. He told me it was to speak evil of another's family, mother, father, children. So Paul is saying to not have any of these thoughts against those who are doing this evil toward us. This would require an incredible amount of strength of both heart and mind.
Vs 15: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
In this context, I'm sure that there was much more in the way of mourning than rejoicing due to the unpleasantries suffered. But there would have been rejoicing with new birth, marriage, new converts etc., much the same as we experience.
Vs 16: Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Paul hits upon three distinct attitudes of character: Harmony. This requires a genuine initiative to accomplish. Like being in an orchestra, the harmony needed for each performance is critical to the whole. Proud or Pride: Humility, able to associate with others can be reflected in our hospitality and sharing with others. Sharing from our overflow, not our throwaways. Conceited (arrogant, stuck-up): Again Paul is warning of, "not thinking of yourself more highly than you ought", from Vs 3. Any repetition in scripture usually means that there is a solid point being made here. If we are only associating ourselves with those of like class or distinction, then what makes us any different than the world and the world's way of thinking. We have returned to conformity. Jesus made it a habit to visit, with, have supper with, and be in the presence of those who were hated and thought less of by the religious order.
Vs17: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
Paul could have listed this with Vs 14, but he didn't. Now we can make (2) conclusions from this. (1) He is talking to believers with regard to other believers, who may fall short in their duties and obligations, where you personally are involved. Or in reference with your daily affairs, in the marketplace, your employer, or fellow employees. (2) Could have to do with how you might be treated by others simply because you are a Christian. It is a good possibility that homes may have been divided over their belief in Jesus and their being followers of The Way. They were being asked to do right at all times because they are under scrutiny and being watched. Sometimes our attitude in a drastic situation is what can help motivate someone else to see that Christianity is real and our faith genuine.
Vs 18: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Notice here how Paul leaves some breathing room for everyone, by saying, "If it is possible..." (doable, achievable) Live at peace with everyone. We all can testify that this can at times be most grievous. But put yourself in their day and age, and anything we may encounter would be a breeze.
Vs 19: Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
"It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." Deut. 32.35
Vs: 20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head."
In all these things it is important to keep your head and emotions in check. Violence and the actions surrounding sudden outbursts are done in the heat of the moment, and afterwards is the regret of doing something in anger. Most murders and manslaughter, happens because of this.
To heap burning coals upon someone's head is not to be the motive. The act should be from a heart of love and mercy. It is Holy Spirit's position to bring the conviction necessary for the salvation of another, and the heaping coals are a testament to their conscience. We are to do the act with the heart of God and he works out the rest.
Vs 21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The connotation here is, "not to be overcome".
So our conclusion is in what we do with what we think, absorb, adhere, decide upon within each of our minds will result in just how we become the over comers who make it to the end and make the stand with Christ as is mentioned in the book of Revelations. "To them who overcame..."
We have the ability within each one of us to be world changers and it starts firstly with us and our personal influences upon the world around us. We truly can make a difference.
Be Blessed, thank you. Lawrence
All references are from the NIV, unless otherwise stated.
(The addition of synonyms in brackets is my added emphasis)
I will concentrate in a new hub, with more references on just the mind. We are very complex and complicated beings. Just because we name the name of Christ does not mean that we automatically are exempt from mental issues, baggage of different sorts, need inner and mind healing, or can be free from depression, without some process of God's intervention through Jesus and Holy Spirit in helping us become more complete.
Joyce Meyer would be one person to completely concur.
More on the mind and spirit
- Taking Off Our Heads Or Reconfiguring Our Hardened Drive
This hub is a depiction of how Holy Spirit and our spirit are to coincide. The life of Christ activated and working inside of each of us.
- Heart and Conscience
- Fill 'er Up and Put a Tiger In My Tank!
More by this Author
Flying in the Heart of Wisdom What is it all About, Wisdom Knowledge and Understanding? A Brief Study and look at Wisdom The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good...
Article 2 in a series of articles on The Art of Intercession from my book; the "Art of Intercession and You". A Progressive Study.
This is another Article from my book. This one is subjective to its title. To take the intercessor deeper into understanding motive and self.