Growing in Christ - Onward and Upward
"...we preached unto you the gospel of God..." "...when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God..." "...which effectually worketh also in you that believe." - See 1Thessalonians 2:9-13 KJV
This passage proclaims they preached "the gospel of God" - "the word of God", and this message they preached, the gospel, works effectually in a person when it is believed. The message of the gospel they preached still stands today as stated truth, or reality. When these truths are believed then the potential power of God in the message is activated. It transforms us into the image of Christ. Our lives become Christ-like by way of believing the gospel of Christ. This takes place by the renewing of the mind, building these new patterns of thought into the mind.
- Romans 12:2 - "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove (test, try out, establish, experience, see) what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
The word “conformed” in Romans 12:2, means formed, shaped, or fashioned, so as to be like another. The systems of this world are designed to pattern our minds according to them, that we would be fashioned, or shaped by the world's ways, such as stated in these verses:.
- 2Corinthians 4:3: "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
- Ephesians 2:1-3: "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
- Ephesians 4:17-19: "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."
Paul as an Apostles was speaking for God. In Romans 12:2 God counsels us through Paul's letter to NOT allow our minds to be fashioned according to the patterns of this world. We do not have to guess how to renew our minds when we read this verse in its context and let the Scriptures interpret themselves; bearing in mind simple ideas, such as the fact that Chapter 12 follows the previous 11 chapters, and should therefore be read accordingly. The fashioning of our minds is according to the ways of this world until we come to renewing our mind according to reality in Christ Jesus. In other words, we believe what God is saying here; we believe what was written in the previous 11 chapters (see 3:21-6:12 for a description of reality in Christ).
To “renew” is to renovate. Making a thing different from what it had been formerly. It is a complete change for the better. This word “new” refers to, not merely recent, but different; new as coming in the place of a thing that was formerly, and as not yet used (see Romans. 6:4, 2Corinthians 3:6 and 2Corinthians 5:17). We’ve been placed in a whole new category, IN CHRIST. God has given us new life in Christ. We’re encouraged to turn from the world’s ways to thinking according to our new life in Christ (which is to be dependent upon Christ’s work). This is the process of renewing the mind.
Our verse of study, Romans 12:2, is in the book of Romans. The purpose of this book, as well as all of Paul’s epistles, is to make known “the gospel of God concerning our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:1-5, 15:16,16:25-26). The patterns of our minds are to be re-developed according to this message of the gospel. The gospel is “what” we are to renew our minds to.
"be not conformed to this world: BUT be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" - The word “but” is most emphatic in the Greek. The renewing of our minds is set in emphatic contrast to being “conformed to this world” by the word “but.”
Other translations of this phrase in Romans 12:2:
“Do not live according to the fashions of the times, but be transformed from within by the renewing of your minds."
“You must not adopt the customs of this world but by your new attitude of mind be transformed.”
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
“Instead of being moulded to this world, have your mind renewed, and so be transformed in nature."
To renew our minds is OUR PART. GOD’S PART is to transform us by the power of the gospel. This word “transformed” means to change one’s form, fashion, or appearance. We get our English word "metamorphosis” from this word. In Romans 12:2 it is in the present tense. This means that it is a “right now” reality in time. “Transformed” is also in the passive voice, meaning that the subject is acted upon. You are the subject! You are acted upon! Being transformed results from renewing the mind. Literally this would read, “Be getting transformed by the renewal of your mind.” This is the great scriptural key to becoming Christ-like, to walking as a son of God; one with the Father
HOW GOD DESIGNED THE MIND TO FUNCTION
Input determines output
The mind is the organ of mental perception. It is, most basically, three-fold in function:
- It receives information.
- It stores information.
- It retrieves information
In other words, it is an organ, which RECEIVES, RETAINS, and RELEASES information. Thought patterns are made up of neurons, which connect thoughts. Over time, through repetition, habits are developed by wearing patterns into the mind. The way this works is similar to developing a sled run in fresh snow. Once a pattern is developed then the introduction of thoughts and ideas places us at the top of the sled run. How our sled run is patterned is the trail which the sled will follow. God designed our minds much in the same way so that we could build habits of thoughts and actions according to the gospel. This is where our lives are fruitful with the fruit of the spirit. This is where we function one with the Father. We all have sled runs (patterns of thoughts) developed over time by many influences including parents, teachers, friends, relatives, idolized people or phrases, etc. This is, in part, what makes us all different.
When we first believe on Jesus Christ our minds aren’t automatically renewed. We are directed in scripture, such as here in Romans 12:2, and by the spirit of God within, to renew our minds. We’re to make our minds track with our new realities. The latter part of 2Corinthians 10:5 says to “lead every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” It says to “lead every thought.” This implies that our thoughts aren’t in Christ to begin with (see Ephesians 2:1-3, 4:17-19, 2Corinthians 4:3-4, Jeremiah 17:9). Well, of course not! Our minds have been fashioned according to this dark and perverse world through countless influences. But now we’re directed to renovate our minds, redevelop them according to the new things that have come through Jesus Christ. This is a lifetime endeavor.
You lead the sled of your thoughts on the track which our Father has directed it to follow to develop a lifestyle of newness of life in Christ Jesus. When the sled jumps the track, then you reinforce the correct pattern until it follows the right path. Our new realities in Christ are the God-given path. See the hub "The Christian's True Identity."
Another Biblical perspective on this is gathered in understanding the word “heart.” The word “heart” is used figuratively for the heart of the mind. The heart of your mind is your established thought patterns. The heart of the mind is to the soul what the physical heart is to the body. It pumps that life sustaining blood! In other words, you are the way you are because of what’s in your heart. See Proverbs 23:7a “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” And again in Proverbs 4:23.“Keep (guard) thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” And again in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick and powerful… a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (See also Matthew 12:34-35).
We also speak out of the abundance of the heart, our thought patterns. In Jeremiah 17:9 “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”. To deceive is to trick in a sly manner. We don’t know when we’re being deceived; otherwise it couldn’t be called deception. The heart starts out wicked, which the person does not detect. You might hear someone say, “He’s a good person. He’s got a good heart.” But if his heart isn’t built according to what God says, then it is contrary to God. It is developed according to the course of this world. This is further deception. But now, for the born again one, the heart is to be built one thought at a time in Christ according to the gospel. The largest castles in the world are built one brick at a time. Faithfulness is the key!
The heart is to be guarded, protected, so that fiery darts of the wicked one do not penetrate into it. This is done by the shield of faith, the believing of the gospel (Ephesians 6:16). If we don’t make new sled runs, then the old patterns will be followed. Make your new sled runs by the standard of your new life in Christ. Learn to lead your thoughts captive to Christ. I encourage you to seek the Father’s counsel and help, for the renewed mind is the crux of walking in newness of life. This is the crux of seeing the riches of Christ brought into evidence. The spirit of God leads us for God’s purposes. If the spirit of God is tugging on you to act on this, then the time is now!
Another way that the renewing of the mind can be understood is in 2Corinthians 10:3-5: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
The weapons of this warfare are thoughts of the knowledge of God (the gospel of Christ, according to the context (See 2Corinthians 9:13). We are to cast down, pull down reasonings which are against God’s knowledge. These reasonings are what we conclude by adding up the information, or facts. These reasonings are reinforced patterns of thought in which someone is confident and “feels safe”. Every “high thing” is every false thing. So we’re to cast down below the knowledge of God every false thing of our reasonings, and bring into captivity every thought (pattern of thought) to the obedience of Christ. This “bringing into captivity” takes a deliberate decision out of recognizing when our reasonings are incorrect according to our standard in Christ (Philippians 3:15). The better we know the standard, the easier we can be alerted to contrary patterns of thought. In other words, the more clearly you know the genuine gospel, the more clearly you’ll recognize a counterfeit. Light illuminates the area of view. Light dispels darkness. As we put on the thoughts of the light of the gospel of the grace of Christ, our minds become illuminated, the darkness is dispelled, we can then see clearly.
We are transformed by the renewing of our mind. Emotions and feelings do not determine truth. Our emotions and feelings can take time to adjust to the truth. They are usually the last aspect of our adjustment to truth. Our emotions and feelings are resultant of our developed responses to information we have perceived. They are developed. They are usually a result of information which is in contrast to truth. They can be re-developed. Do you always feel righteous? Truth says you are righteous. Our feelings don’t agree with truth until they adjust. We hold to the truth in spite of our feelings, emotions, or contrary information we have perceived. Truth is truth.
By continuing to feed our minds according to our new realities in Christ we will become what we feed upon. As it is said, “You are what you eat!” This powerful gospel of Christ will transform us into the image of the gospel: Christ. Our minds have all been developed by information being received and stored. The receiving and storing of this information are the thoughts and thought patterns which developed our heart. This is why we’ll say what we say and do what we do. We have accepted seeds of thoughts and thought patterns which determine what we say and what we do. God’s direction to us is to plant new seeds, the seeds of the gospel of the grace of Christ. This will grow into a whole new crop, a crop of love, peace, and joy, etc. Our new crop will include patience toward life and people, gentleness and kindness toward others, an exuberance for life and living, increased boldness and confidence, self control, trust toward God as your provider, your everything, your all in all. This is the way life was designed to be. Jesus Christ prayed that we would mature into this purpose for which we were intended. The key to maturing into the purpose of God is the renewing of the mind, developing new patterns of thought according to our new life in Christ.
Let's consider these two passages from the book of Acts to see some of the great things that can happen when the gospel of Christ is received and accepted:
Acts 19:8-12, 18-20 “8 And he [Paul] went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them....” "...18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."
In Acts 8:4-8, Philip “preached Christ unto them” and the people with “one accord” (all together as one), “gave heed” (turned their minds, thoughts, and attention to) “those things which Philip spake”. Doesn’t this sound like the renewing of the mind as presented in this hub? And look at the result in verse 8: “And there was great joy in that city.”
Are these the kinds of results that you would like to see in your life? These records show a great victory for the Lord Jesus Christ and for the people. The impact to the people who received the gospel was life-changing. Why? Because of the power of the gospel! It is the power of God! Is the good news from God about Jesus Christ and the results of his work any less powerful today?
Put the gospel to the test in your own life:
If you are not seeing the power of God manifested in your life, but want to, here's one suggestion that could possibly be custom tailored to help: For example, for two months set your other interests aside and replace that time with prayerfully reading Romans through 2Thessalonians (perhaps with special attention initially given to Romans 3:21 - 8:39, 1Corinthians 1-4 and the first three chapters of Ephesians). Allow it to develop your thinking according to the truth. Especially be praying for God to open the eyes of your understanding that you would know and become the truth. Then just watch the power of the gospel impact your life as you and others enjoy the fruit thereof.