Renewing Your Mind
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”- Romans 12:2
In light of the great salvation that Christ purchased for His people, believers must devote themselves to God as living sacrifices who give all that they are for His service out of a profound sense of gratitude for His grace (Rom. 12:1). This dedication, Paul tells us, is our “spiritual worship.” The phrase “spiritual worship” represents a Greek phrase that is difficult to translate into English, and other translations such as the KJV render it as “reasonable service.” In any case, we know the concept that Paul is conveying. He is talking about worship that involves the heart and the mind, one that is not mere formalism but that gives the Lord what He wants. It is worship that is appropriate as a reflection of our being made in His image, worship that is fitting for rational creatures who live by divine revelation and have understood the person and work of Christ.
Given these truths, we see that Christianity is a faith of both mind and heart. God does not call us to surrender our rational faculties when we trust in His Son; rather, it is only in serving Him that we use our minds as He created them to be used. That is why Christian discipleship—the presentation of ourselves as living sacrifices—requires the renewal of our minds, as the Apostle writes in today’s passage. We see here the means by which we are changed and taken out of the situation in which we find ourselves as fallen sons and daughters of Adam. Recall that in Romans 1:18-3:20, Paul tells us that apart from the grace of God, human beings are given over to futility in their thinking, a condition in which we do not understand or love holy things. Our minds—as well as our hearts—must be changed if we are to see the world rightly and even begin to comprehend the things of the Lord. This occurs through the renewing of our minds, which happens decisively at conversion when the preaching of the Word of God moves us to assent to His truth, but this change also continues throughout our walk with the Lord as the Spirit continues to use His Word to grant us the mind of Christ in an ever greater measure (10:17; 1 Cor. 2:6-16).
Christian faith is not a mindless faith. We are called to discern “what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). We can fulfill this call only as our minds are shaped by the precepts of Scripture (Ps. 19:7-11; Heb. 4:12). Christian thinking is to be molded by the entire Bible, including the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12-16, where he lays out in great detail what is good in the eyes of the Lord.
As Reformed evangelical Christians, we are quick to emphasize the importance of personal Bible study. But do our words match our practice? Scripture does not set out some program of reading that must be followed in order to be a good Christian, but it is clear that regular meditation on the Word of God is key to our maturity in Christ (2 Tim. 3:16-17). As we are able, let us all make time for the study of God’s Word.