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 and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. – (NIV) – Romans 12:2
God has good, pleasing and perfect plans for His children. He wants us to be transformed people with renewed minds, living to honour and obey Him. Because He wants only what is best for us, and because He gave His Son to make our new life possible, we should joyfully give ourselves as living sacrifices for His service.
THE WILL OF GOD
The term “the will of God” has at least two and possibly three biblical meanings.
First, there is the sovereign will of God, that always comes to pass without fail.
Second, there is the revealed will of God in the Bible — do not steal, do not lie, do not kill, do not covet — and this will of God often does not come to pass.
And third, there is the path of wisdom and spontaneous godliness — wisdom where we consciously apply the word of God with our renewed minds to complex moral circumstances, and spontaneous godliness where we live most of our lives without conscious reflection on the hundreds of things we say and do all day.
RENEWAL AS AN ESSENTIAL MEANS OF TRANSFORMATION
And in Romans 12:2, Paul now focuses on one essential means of transformation — “the renewal of your mind.”
- If you long to break loose from conformity to the world,
- If you long to be transformed and new from the inside out,
- If you long to be free from mere duty-driven Christianity and do what you love to do because what you love to do is what you ought to do,
- If you long to offer up your body as a living sacrifice so that your whole life becomes a spiritual act of worship and displays the worth of Christ above the worth of the world,
Let us give ourselves with all our might to pursuing this — the renewal of our minds because this is the key to transformation.
This brings us finally to the remedy and how we obey. First, before we can do anything, the Holy Spirit is required.
Our refusal to conform to this world’s values, however, must go even deeper than just behaviour and customs; it must be firmly planted in our mind. We are transformed by changing the way we think. It is possible to avoid most worldly customs and still be proud, covetous, selfish, stubborn and arrogant. Only when the Holy Spirit renews, re-educates and redirects our mind are we truly conformed.
WHAT THEN SHALL WE DO?
What then do we do in obedience to Romans 12:2, “Be transformed in the renewal of your mind”?
- We join the Holy Spirit in His precious and all-important work.
- We pursue Christ-exalting truth and we pray for truth-embracing humility.
- Listen to rich expositions of the “gospel of the glory of Christ.”
- Read and ponder the Bible-saturated from cover to cover always in search of the revelation of the glory of Christ.
- Meditating on the perfections of Christ.
- And in it all pray, pray, pray that the Holy Spirit will renew your mind, that you may desire and approve the will of God, so that all of life will become worship to the glory of Christ.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; – 2 Peter 1:3-5.
GROWING IN FAITH
The power to lead a godly life comes from God. Because we don’t have the resources to be truly godly, God allows us to “share His divine nature” in order to keep us from sin and help us live for Him. When we are born again, God, by His Spirit, empowers us with His own goodness.
Faith must be more than belief, it must result in action, growth in Christian character and the practice of moral discipline or it will die away.
Learning to know God better, developing perseverance, doing God’s will, loving others do not come automatically; they require hard work. They are not optional but must be a continual part of a Christian life. We work on them all together. God empowers us and enables us, but He also gives us the responsibility to learn and to grow.
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone he accepts as His son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.
GOD’S DISCIPLINE PROVES HIS LOVE
Who loves his child more – the father who allows the child to do what will harm him, or the one who corrects, trains and even punishes the child to help him learn what is right?
It is never pleasant to be corrected and disciplined by God, but His discipline is a sign of His deep love for us. When God corrects us, we should see it as a proof of His love or accept is gratefully as the appropriate response we owe a loving Father.
God lovingly disciplines His children to train them to become spiritual champions. It is a spiritual maturing process that God allows us to experience to become like Christ.
God is not only a disciplining parent but also a demanding coach who pushes us to our limits and requires our lives to be disciplined.
Although we may not feel strong enough to push on to victory, we will be able to accomplish it as we follow Christ and draw to His strength. Then we can use our growing strength to help those around us who are weak and struggling.
Join me to sing or pray the timely words of this hymn authored by Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788) MHB 626:
1. I want a principle within
Of jealous, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin,
A pain to feel it near.
2. I want the first approach to feel
Of pride or fond desire,
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.
3. That I from thee no more may part,
No more thy goodness grieve,
The filial awe, the fleshly heart,
The tender conscience, give.
4. Quick as the apple of an eye,
O God, my conscience make;
Awake my soul when sin is nigh,
And keep it still awake.
5. O may the least omission pain,
My well instructed soul;
And drive me to the blood again,
Which makes the wounded whole.