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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mind Renewal (Romans 12:2)

"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."

Paul describes man's thinking in Romans chapter one as "futile" and "depraved" guided by a conscience easily influenced by sin. So, it is no surprise that he instructs the believer not to be conformed to the pattern of the world but to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind" in chapter 12. Why? You are what you think (Proverbs 23:7). 

We enter this world with wrong thoughts about ourselves, God, others, and the world. The new birth is just that--a birth, a beginning. Just as a new baby begins a life long process of moving toward maturity so the believer must move toward maturity in his thinking.

A person's thinking about himself, God, others, and the world has been shaped by the world's thinking and much of it is wrong and must be altered. Many believers spend time addressing behavior or modifying behavior without changing their core view of God, themselves, etc. and become frustrated when behavior doesn't conform. Mind renewal requires illumination by the Holy Spirit, instruction and the discipline of one's thoughts. Sounds like work to me. It is work! Having a renewed mind requires "wool gathering."

Wool gathering originally meant just that—gathering fragments of wool that had been torn off sheep by bushes—but it was not long before it took on a figurative meaning—to indulge in wandering fancies, to be dreamy or absent minded. Every thought has to be "checked in at the door." Why? We become what we think.

How does a person renew their mind?
  • Read the Word of God chronologically/systematically/continually
  • Pray over what you read (ask the Holy Spirit for illumination)
  • Read good theological works
  • Meditate upon and memorize Scripture (journal your thoughts as you read)
  • Listen to edifying music with strong theological content
  • Take errant thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (discipline your mind to think on the list given in Philippians 4:7-8)
Lasting change takes place only when your view of God, yourself, others, and your world is Biblical. This kind of change generally takes time and intentionality.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Romans 11:11-14:23
  • What analogy does Paul use to describe God's plan for Israel?
  • How can we know that God will one day graft Israel back into the root?
  • Why should love be the prominent feature in a believer's relationship with other believers?
  • Upon what basis should believers submit to governing authorities?
  • What character demonstrates the fulfillment of the law in a believer's life?
  • What temptation do mature believers face with immature believers, and vice versa?
  • How does Paul describe the kingdom of God?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to reveal areas in your thinking that need to be renewed.