ESV - 2 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.
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The key words; conform, transform, renew, mind, prove, and will. What is being transformed? Being transformed is change in form, condition, character or substance. We are urged to be transformed by the renewing of the mind, yet what are we renewing our mind from? For this implies the human mind must have been perverted somewhere in the course of life. When Adam and Eve sinned, nothing got any batter till the coming of Christ. For God saw every intent of the human mind perverted and He would destroy the world and everything therein (Gen 6:5). All human action is decided and directed in the mind, except for reflex actions (1Peter 1:13). Good or evil begins in the heart. The heart has both; the side of God and that of the devil. For the Bible states that; salvation begins in the heart (Rom 10:10), thus salvation is a matter of the heart. Equally so, evil begins in the heart (Mark 7:21). Yet victory is determined by the state of the mind. Salvation is available to all who come to Christ in humility, yet transformation comes from endurance (Matt 24:13). Thus, to commit sin is not to be denied the right of continued confession of being Christian. Yet to confess to be Christian is simply to have decided well and taken the right direction, but transformation is a process. In light of the above therefore, much as being saved begins in the heart, transformation begins in the mind. To say it literally, if the heart is the engine, the mind is the driver. To commit sin is not to be oblivious it is, but because one allows the mind to be misdirected. The Bible therefore in Phil 2:5 urges us to have the mind like the mind of our Lord Jesus. For Jesus was upright in mind and His mind is the kind we need if we are to be constructively transformed. If the mind is not transformed and thereby renewed, there can't be meaningful change in a person. For the feelings of the body are independent of the mind, but the actions thereof are directed in the mind. For the mind follows either the body or the heart. A perverted mind will succumb to the demands of the body. For example, if you have a sexual urge, the mind will direct you to the opposite sex in disregard of your marital status. Yet the mind should not command what actions you take. The Inner Man (the Heart) determines the action to be taken. The devil uses our bodies via the mind to destroy us. Equally so, God loves to use the heart via the mind to get us better (Col 3:2), (Rom 8:5-7). Thus the mind can be made subject to either of the two; the demands of the body or the truthful Inner man. For if the mind is not transformed, it is impossible to overcome sin. Thus, much as the devil works through the mind to misdirect us (2Cor 11:3), so it is that God too works through the mind to put us right. For it is impossible to understand the matters of God with an unsettled mind. We need God to open our minds to Him (Luke 24:45). We ought therefore to desist from worldly patterns by not simply succumbing to the feelings of the body. For example, it does not mean that if you have a sexual urge, you automatically follow it. For you ought to consider factors as; marital status and bodily conditions. If you feel like being gay, it doesn’t mean being so. For the desires of the body are never profitable to the spirit. We ought therefore to set ourselves for God in how we manage our earthly life which is only but for a time (Ephesians 4:23). To prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God is a matter of both the mind and heart. Thus we can choose to use our minds well and in the service of God. For it is not evil to have a mind, but how you choose to use it is what counts. But because in this scripture proving the perfect will of God is mentioned in line with having our minds transformed, it means the mind is an integral part of our discernment process. NB An empty mind is the devil's workshop.
The renewal of your mind is a process that many never achieve because they do not decide to search the scripture day and night until they become approved of the lord. It is a process of casting off all the worldly teachings of parents, secular teachers, friends and family members that beleive opposite of what the scriptures proclaim to be as truth. Jesus said that he was the truth, the light and the way that no one comes to the Heavenly Father but by or through him. Their are many truths but truths that conflict with the lords teaching are falsehoods plain and simple. Jesus was the word made into flesh. John chapter1 says the bible is God's word. God spoke everything into exiseance. By renewing ones mind by washing or bathing it in God's word brings a full and complete understanding of God as much as the Father wishes to reveal to us in this dispensation of grace. So how does one start to renew the mind? The best answer is to study the scriptures starting in John. Do not proceed from John until you fully understand that Jesus, God our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit are one and in total agreement. That interaction with all three is possible and a necessary part of your new life in Christ. And the quicker you come into that agreement with the Lord God's truth, the faster your life will be fruitful in the lord's work. Just like you had to study, train, or be taught in a profession, you need to do the same to know how to please God and recognize all that is in rebellion against God in the world, but most of all, in your own life. Your heavenly father does not expect you to be perfect but to strive for perfection every day, and through the process of mind renewal to change from a habitual sinner to a sinner saved by God's amazing grace; grace takes effect and becomes effectual. Through the word of life you become an overcomer and victorious in battles. It teaches you how to put on the whole armour of God. When you love the word, you're loving Jesus, the father and the holy spirit and you're becoming more and more like them. The sin nature that we were born with will always be there, but the power to overcome it comes by making the word of God your new way of life; as maturity comes you will overcome all your weaknesses and temptations. You will learn how to bring your mind, will and even your emotions into agreement with God's guidance through his holy word.
An extremely enigmatic question, one that I believe the Church doesn’t fully comprehend yet. Michael is correct when he states, “The only way to replace the error of the world's way of thinking is to replace it with God's truth, and the only infallible source of God's truth is His revealed Word, the Bible.” It is through knowledge of God’s Word that we transform our minds, but there is a subtle distinction, that I hope to point out, in where that knowledge resides. We find, in Col. 3:10, that we are to ‘put on’ the ‘new man’ who is “being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (NASB). What I want you to do here, is to view the ‘new man’ as something within us that is being renewed, and not to think of it as our physical mind. After all, what good would it be to renew our brain if we leave it behind when we pass on? (I know this is complicated. Please bear with me, I’ll try to make it as simple as I can). The NASB has three references to the words ‘being renewed’ in Col. 3:10 that elaborate my point. The first is a reference back to Romans 12:2, which is our subject verse and ties in with a renewing of the mind. The second reference is 2 Corinthians 4:16, and speaks of an ‘inner man’ (NASB). Who or what is this ‘inner man’? Because, if you look closely at Col. 3:10, it is the ‘inner man/new man’ that is being renewed in knowledge. With the Lord’s help, we will discover who this ‘inner man’ is. And lastly, the third NASB reference tells us that it is not the physical brain that is being renewed. It is the ‘spirit of our mind’ (Eph. 4:23). I’m convinced that the ‘spirit of our mind’ is the Holy Spirit, or that part of God’s Spirit that is given to us when we first believe. It grows in knowledge and discernment within us. It is that part of us that is being renewed as our ‘inner man’. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us, in the context of comparing a natural man to one who is Indwelled by God’s Holy Spirit, that we “have the mind of Christ.” What is the mind of Christ? Phil. 2:3-4 describes it as lacking in conceit, selfish ambition, but thinking of others before ourselves. Phil. 2:5 tells us to let this ‘mind’ be in us, and then a very telling phrase which states that this ‘mind’ was also in Christ. Can you see that it is common to our Lord and all who are In Christ, indwelled by God’s Holy Spirit? It has to be the Holy Spirit within us that is being renewed. It grows in knowledge and discernment as we study God’s word. Here is where it gets a little tougher to make the connections, but I want to show that God’s glory is inextricably tied to His character (Heb. 1:3), which is defined by His agape love (1 John 4:8). God’s agape love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) defines the mind of Christ. God’s agape love is in the elect (John 17:26), and it is synonymous with God’s glory (John 17:22), which is given to the elect, thereby making it synonymous with the Holy Spirit. I believe the renewing of the mind in Romans 12:2 is to grow our ‘spirit man’ in knowledge and discernment. I don’t fully understand it, but I hope you can at least acknowledge the possibility. Maybe the exchange in the responses to the below link can help to explain my position? https://ebible.com/questions/9228-does-1-john-5-18-mean-that-we-will-no-longer-be-able-to-sin#answer-16717
I believe that as the Holy Spirit works within us, revealing God's will and convicting us of sin, we are learning how to be more Christlike. When we stumble and are drawn, inevitably, into sin, we turn to His eternal Word and are renewed in our minds and are corrected. We learn how to avoid that hurdle and how to better demonstrate the qualities of mercy, compassion, generosity and love which Jesus embodied. As we learn we are changed and those around are better able to see the risen Christ living within us. We are transformed into reflections of Him.
Genesis 6:5,"Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Sad, but true, we are all born in a spiritually dead state since Adam and Eve sinned. John 3:19, "And this is the condemnation, that light came into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." We do not want to think we sin because we are separated from God and are blind to evil. 2 Corinthians 4:3,4, tells us that some cannot see the gospel because it is hidden from them. Acts 16:11-14 gives us the story of Lydia, a believer who still was lost, until God opened her heart, then she could see! 2 Corinthians 4:18, Lydia, as all true believers realize, We do not look at the things which are temporary, now we look at the things that are eternal. We hope in the future, the everlasting, the forever. Not just the next hour, day or year. Ephesians 4:17-19...We no longer walk in futility of mind, we are new in our lifestyle, seeking the best. Vs. 20-24, we are now alive in spirit, renewed in mind, created according to God's plan. Ephesians 2:2-5, "And you He made Alive, who were dead in...sins...you once walked according to the...world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once conducted ourselves...fulfilling the desires of flesh...and mind...by nature children of wrath...But God...in MERCY because of love...even when we were dead...made us alive...(by Grace you have been saved). God opened our hearts...like Lydia! 2 Corinthians 5:15, "He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, (like someone spiritually dead), but for Him who died for them and rose again." Romans 6:5-10, we are united to Christ in spirit, we live looking to the eternal, and walk in a new spirit. We live to please God, not our former hungry Adam-like self. All Praise to God.
Taken in context, it means not thinking like the world when it comes to God's will. It is worldly to think of being in God's will in terms of what we do. The will of God that Paul referred to in Rom. 12:2 is His general will for all of us who are born-again, which He did for us through Christ Jesus – not based on our works. Rom. 12:2 is talking about knowing – sensing [see below] – God's will for us simply because we are born-again. In order to enjoy such discernment, though, we need to change the way we think from the way we used to think when we were in the world. This change is synonymous with the transformation mentioned in Rom. 12:2 – which comes by renewing the mind. Unfortunately, worldly thinking is in evidence in the way many have misinterpreted the rest of Rom. 12:2. Many misinterpret the will of God, mentioned in Rom. 12:2, as referring to what God has planned for each us on an individual basis. According to this teaching, one needs to be wholly dedicated to God in order to find God's “perfect will” – although there are, they say, lower levels of His will to be found by the less dedicated. Such teaching takes a verse that was originally written as an admonition to hold fast to God's grace – Paul beseeching us, in v.1, “by the mercies of God” (His "gentle kindness" rather than His “ruthless severity,” both of which Paul just finished teaching on [see Rom. 11:21 MSG]) – and turns it into a challenge based on how much we need to sacrifice ourselves before God is pleased with us. This is a particularly unfortunate teaching since, as it turns out, it is only by sensing that we are made the righteousness of God – partakers of God's glory, which is the “glorious inheritance” (Eph. 1:18) left to us in God's will – that we then do what's right. “Awake to righteousness, and sin not” (1 Cor. 15:34 KJV). This right-doing includes following God's specific will for each of us. “What we've learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does” (Rom. 3:27 MSG). In order to respond with full dedication and devotion to God you first need to realize that by being born-again, you are already in “the good AND acceptable AND perfect will of God, even the thing which is good AND acceptable AND perfect [in His sight for you]” (Rom. 12:2 AMP, caps mine)! “The thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]” is that you are “holy AND faultless AND irreproachable in His [the Father's] presence” (Col. 1:22 AMP, caps mine)! Before you can ever hope to accomplish what God wants you to do in this life, you need to “surely learn to sense what is vital, AND approve AND prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best...]” (Phil. 1:10 AMP). “The highest and the best” is God's general will for all who are born-again – which is good, acceptable, perfect. By recognizing this, you can: sense what is vital – His good will, by which He made you holy; approve what is excellent – His acceptable will, by which He made you faultless; and prize what is of real value – His perfect will, by which He made you irreproachable. He's already done all of that “for you” through Christ Jesus! Along with “recognizing” this comes “distinguishing the moral differences” (Phil. 1:10 AMP). The difference between right and wrong in this case is the difference between grace and works. It is wrong to think that being in a certain tier of God's will – “good” OR “acceptable” OR “perfect” – depends on your attaining a certain degree of dedication, based on your works. “The one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man." God's perfect will for us is to be “wiped clean” of sin, which is something we receive - and thus are born-again - by faith in God's grace through Jesus Christ. It is not something we can only find if we “score” enough points with God by following some “religious” list of do's and don'ts! (Rom. 4:6 AMP)
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