Renewing the Mind
What does Paul mean when he infers that we need to renew our mind? How does it transform us? What comes out of it?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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. For by the grace given to me I
say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:1-3 ESV
All of you belongs to God. Every part of your being, if you are a disciple of Christ Jesus, belongs to God. This is also true for everyone else, but it isn’t acknowledged by them, and they follow the wrong voice. There are also Christians who acknowledge it; however, they refuse to live it.
- Body – verse 1 – present your bodies
- Mind – verse 2 – renewing of your mind
- Attitude – verse 3 – not to think more highly of oneself than one ought to think
The reason stated here for renewing the mind is “that by testing you may discern what is the will of God.”
Of the will of God, Paul states, “what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
- Strong’s Greek #18, agathos
- Definition: good
- Usage: intrinsically good, good in nature, good whether it be seen to be so or not
- Strong’s Greek #2101, euarestos
- Definition: well-pleasing
- Usage: acceptable, well-pleasing (especially to God), grateful
- Strong’s Greek #5046, teleios
- Definition: having reached its end, complete, perfect
- Usage: perfect
- (a) complete in all its parts
- (b) full grown, of full age
- (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character
The will of God is good whether or not we see it as good in the moment as it furthers the plan of God for the sake of the kingdom and those in it. As the will of God is acceptable and pleasing to God, we are also pleasing to God as we carry out the will of God. And the will of God is perfect as it reflects His character. We also reflect His character when we act in accordance with His will.
In order to reflect the character of God, we need to change how we see things; how we look at things. We need to retrain ourselves in how we ought to think, always from a perspective of love. We need to train ourselves to think in certain ways. One way is to take every thought captive.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and
take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV
Those thoughts that do not obey Christ and are not in the will of God are to be taken and cast down. In God’s will we even have the power of God available to destroy strongholds and set the captive free. We need to be directing our thoughts, focusing on God’s perspective, which may be referred to as seeing with God’s eyes. Are our vision and thoughts running wild, or are they focused on the proper way?
The perspective of Christ Jesus was always the views of the Father. Isaiah wrote of the righteousness in which the Messiah would operate.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide
with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his
waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Isaiah 11:3-5 ESV
He will rely on the righteousness of God and upon what He hears from His Father, as the Father sees things, and on the truth heard in heaven. Jesus reiterates this in the Gospel according to John.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For
the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing. And greater works than these will He show Him, so that you may marvel.
John 5:19-20 ESV
We are to likewise strive for such a mindset as we imitate Christ. This can only occur through spending time with Christ in living day to day with prayer and worship, building upon His love for us. He is the firm foundation upon which we build.
We just read that Paul says we must “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.” We destroy our false beliefs as we accept the truths and thoughts of God through the reading and studying of Scripture.
After I had surrendered my life to Christ Jesus, He being my Savior and Lord, I came to a point where I had to determine my basis for truth. After many times of revisiting the teachings and doctrine of my religion, and the corresponding education experience, compared with Scripture, the Word of God, I came to a point where I had to decide which I would use as the foundation of truth for my beliefs. I chose the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the Scripture they had written. You can learn more on the foundation in episode 4, Apostles and Prophets, The Foundation.
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone,
Ephesians 2:20 ESV
As saints and members of the household of God, our citizenship is built upon the foundations and the cornerstone. We need to renew our mind with the acceptance of such truth, upon which we can accurately build our faith and proper beliefs.
Another adjustment is to realize that we are not our own. Obedience in love, and having power in faith, requires us to die to our old ways of thinking and acting, we are called to die to self. Paul led by example.
I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day.
1 Corinthians 15:31 ESV
He was doing as Jesus instructed for anyone who would be His disciple.
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life
for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 16:24-25 ESV
Disciples of Jesus need to die daily to one’s own selfish ways that try to hang onto the life of this world. We do live in this world for a time, but we are not to be of the ways of this world, for we have a new life in the kingdom of heaven.
The new life is with God and in Christ. We are not our own. I often pray, especially before partaking in communion, or when I need to humble my soul, “Almighty God, You created me, I am yours. You redeemed me, I am yours. I have surrendered my life to You, I am Yours.”
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were
bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
Here Paul mentions the body, but it is all of our being that belongs to God; body, soul, and spirit.
Why do these things?
- The Christian life is a life of constant Spiritual warfare.
- Satan wants us to disgrace ourselves, causing us to falter.
- If we disgrace ourselves, we dishonor God.
- If we remain in this state, we do not do the work of God.
- God wants us to be obedient to our call.
- God rewards us for obedience to our call.
- Others are blessed through our obedience to our call.
How are we to renew our mind? Through Scripture, prayer, and worship.
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one
approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:14-15 ESV
To be as “one approved” suggests that after being tested, one would be recognized as correctly and accurately handling Scripture, remaining true to its context, and meaning.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
As this Scripture passage says, “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We are to learn to live a lifestyle in which we are in constant communion with God in rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving.
We are to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
- Greek word means “to change form”.
- English derivative metamorphosis.
- A striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances.
- Inward renewal of the mind.
- Inner spirit changed to the likeness of Christ.
- Spiritual growth reflects the inner change from Christ-lessness to Christlikeness.
- Regeneration is instantaneous as we are born again.
- Transformation is an ongoing process in life as we mature.
- Intimate fellowship with Christ transforms one over time.
To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self,
created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
These changes do not happen automatically. We must put in the effort, as we pursue God (episode 41), maturing in our spiritual lives.
- Salvation involves the mind, which is the center of thought, understanding, and belief, as well as our motives and actions.
- When a person becomes a Christian, God gives him or her a completely new spiritual and moral capability which a mind apart from Christ could never achieve.
- We are to lay aside the old self, putting on the new self.
- This is the cross we are to pick up daily, to die to selfish desires, the old man, and live to serve Christ in love and thanksgiving as the new man.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy
toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one
another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by
the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might
become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:1-7 ESV
- The washing of regeneration is our salvation, the new spiritual and moral capability through Jesus Christ our Savior.
- It is the new birth that brings divine cleansing from sin and the gift of a new Spirit-generated, Spirit-empowered and Spirit-protected life as God’s own children and heirs.
- The Holy Spirit is the agent of the “washing of regeneration”, hence the “renewing by the Holy Spirit.”
- The Greek term for regeneration literally means “being born again”. The Holy Spirit births us into the family of God.
But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of
John 1:12-13 ESV
- Some people receive Christ, some do not.
- Those who receive Christ are given the right to become children of God.
- All are His creation, not all are His children.
- Not merely accepting the facts or believing the truth.
- Intellectual knowledge is to know about, not to know.
- Receiving Christ is to accept all truth that comes from God concerning who He is, who we are and agreeing in faith that we have need of the salvation that only He can provide.
- Faith is full agreement with God, changing our thoughts, beliefs, and opinions to match His.
We who are born again, who are pursuing God, as disciples of Christ, have the mind of Christ through Holy Spirit.
The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:15-16 ESV
Our mind is in exactly the condition we put it. We must put our mind in the condition which we are called upon by God to put it. Through the power of God we change the mindset we had to what it should be.
When it comes to Scripture, in addition to reading it and studying it, we do well to meditate upon it. Meditation involves selecting a portion of Scripture, focusing in upon something of it, and thinking deeply about it.
What is the culture one is coming out of? What is the past; the old life? Part of that is the lack of depth in many people’s thought life as we regularly scan headlines, hear soundbites, scroll through social media sites, etc.
Renewing the mind takes effort. We determine how fast we make the change by the commitment we make to doing it and the energy we apply to making it happen. We need to believe it is possible and actively pursue it.
Do you want to renew your mind? Do you want to have the mind of Christ? God wants you to do these things and enjoy the benefits of having done so. You have it now from God and God wants you to function in it. We need to exercise our minds in thinking the right things in the correct ways. Every born-again believer has the mind of Christ according to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as we read above. The level of our desire to realize that potential will determine how much we achieve in our pursuit of it.
The greatest gift we receive after Christ and salvation is Christ sending the Holy Spirit to His disciples. Holy Spirit pulls out of our memory that which we have put into it. We must allow Him to do it. This is one way of having the mind of Christ. But the Word must first be put into the mind.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
John 14:26 ESV
Side note: Here is another example of the Trinity – all three persons in one verse – in the words of Jesus.
Our self-talk will determine our direction. We can remain in negative self-talk, or we can go positive in conversing with ourselves on the word of God. We can do this through imagining what something looks like, or how it may be applied to our life. We can speak the word under our breath or speak it out loud, however we get it into our spirit so it can be drawn upon when needed. This can help build our faith as well. Especially when in a conversation with someone we realize that Holy Spirit just brought it up from the depth of our memory. Have discussions with fellow believers concerning something in Scripture. It is interesting how a conversation locks something into the mind. We are to be of sound mind. Stabilize it with the word of God.