Written Word

Transformed by Renewing Your Mind

We can never escape the evil influences that pervade our world. Even after our conversion to Christ, we are confronted by the pressure to conform. Some popular television programmes openly advocate immorality as being perfectly acceptable. Powerful advertising intimidates us into believing that we must be successful, beautiful and confident. We are judged to be intolerant and judgemental when we take a stand on God’s word, and none of us wants to be considered intolerant or narrow-minded. So the pressure to conform is ever-present. Yet embracing the world’s agenda is not an option for a Christian.

God said to Israel as they headed toward the promised land: “You must not do as they do in the land of Canaan… Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees.” (Leviticus 18:3-5) In other words, don’t conform to their ways. Jesus tells his followers to bear no resemblance to the pagans. “Do not be like them,” he said. (Matthew 6:8) Throughout history the people of God have always been instructed to be different from the world around them.

Transformed From the Inside Out

Following on from his extensive teaching on God’s merciful dealing with sinners, Paul gives the following instructions: “Do not conform any longer 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.” (Romans 12:2)

The word “transformed” comes from a Greek word that describes the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, an extraordinary and beautiful transformation. And that is exactly what God does with us. He changes us from the inside out, making us into the image of Jesus. As we co-operate with him, he changes how we think and behave. It is a divine process that occurs by the power of the Holy Spirit as God’s word lives in our hearts. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… ” is Paul’s instruction to the church in Colosse. (Colossians 3:15) And Jesus tells his disciples of the extraordinary life they will live “[i]f you remain in me and my words remain in you…” (John 15:7) God’s transforming work continues as we imitate the person described by the psalmist:

  • “His delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalms 1:2)
  • “I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:12)
  • “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97)
  • “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

When our heart is filled with the word of God and our mind meditates on his will, our whole life undergoes a radical change. Because we are thinking differently, we will behave differently. We are continually developing a whole new outlook on life, an outlook that is informed by God’s will. And this transformation is the antidote to resisting the pressure of the world that would have us conform to its agenda. Through being transformed by the renewing of our mind, we are able to know “God’s will – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” J.B. Phillips captures the meaning of Paul’s words in his paraphrase of Romans 12:2: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God remould your minds from within.”