A Whole New Mind

In the lone comment to last Friday’s post, Nick Gill suggests that what we’ve been talking about lately is a good summation of the instruction we find in Romans 12:1-2. Nick’s paraphrase comes to this: “BE transformed by the renewal of your mind,” not “Transform yourself by thinking better thoughts.”

The actual verses read like this: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. 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.”

Now, looking at this paragraph — especially if we look at it in its context — we can see some interesting thoughts. The first thing to note is that it is “in view of God’s mercy”, not God’s judgment, not God’s disappointment, not God’s potentially destructive power. It is God’s mercy that motivates this kind of change.

The second thing to note is that the author is moving into the more practical application section of this letter, and he’s interested in helping us understand how we can best be used by God in advancing his cause in this world.

We find two alternatives set before us. The first is to be conformed to the standards, values and goals of this world. The other alternative is to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” — especially with an eye towards learning to discern the will of God.

The assumption seems to be that it is possible to have your mind renewed, and this whole new mind will radically alter your behavior.

What kind of behavior might be a result of having a whole new mind like this? And how do you think churches could help people move from having been conformed to the mindset of this world to being transformed with a renewed mind?

2 Responses to “A Whole New Mind”

  1. Matt Dabbs Says:

    I posted on hearing Romans 12:1-2 in context a week or so ago – http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/rethinking-romans-121-2-hear-again-in-context/

    I think there is far more to those verses than gets unpacked 99% of the time they are mentioned. You bring up some really valid points here. It seems to me that this passage tells us that when we view life in view of God’s mercy (in his planning to save both Jew and Gentile – Rom 11 and the promises God has given us – Rom 8) that we will respond by giving him everything. When God sees our lives given as a sacrifice in that manner, he is the one who does the transforming work. We can’t do enough spiritual disciplines to transform ourselves. But we can open ourselves up enough to let God in to do what He must do to our lives.

  2. Terry Says:

    That sounds spot on.