Originally posted on my blog unmaskedtheologian.wordpress.com 3/7/15 modified 4/13/16
1. Sacrifice Precedes Renewing the Mind
In Romans 12, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul writes, And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. A willingness to sacrifice will alter the whole life. After sacrifice many changes will naturally take place. However, Paul admonishes readers, don’t let the philosophy of this world dictate your thinking. Sacrifice is countercultural and this world knows little about sacrifice. Sacrifice must remain important in the life of a believer. The reality is that we are self-centered and the philosophy of the world promotes self-centeredness. (the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life) I John 2.15-16
2. Renewing the Mind Precedes Transformation
Renewing the mind involves daily sacrifice. (Galatians 2.20) The Psalmist shares with readers the importance of meditating on God’s Word day and night. (Psalm 1) Paul urges readers to pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5.17) Our minds must stay upon Jesus Christ, continually we must think about Him and only then will we begin to think like Him. If we are to start thinking about Jesus then we must stop thinking about other things, especially those things that pertain to the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (I John 2.16) Once we start thinking like Jesus we will accelerate the process of sanctification.
There is a common misconception that as believers we must try harder and work harder at doing the right thing. It is better for us to understand the importance of sacrifice, renewing our minds (sacrificing ourselves) daily, and as a result living in the Spirit comes a bit more naturally. After we learn to sacrifice, renew our minds daily, meditate on God’s Word, and continually pray we will be more effective at proving that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
3. Sacrifice, Renewing the Mind, and Transformation Precedes Humility
In Romans 12.3 Paul recommends humility; to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. Those who follow Christ are called to a life of sacrifice, a sacrifice of wants, needs, pride, bitterness, and revenge. Christ followers are called to a radical love, mercy, grace, tenderness, kindness, long-suffering and forgiveness. Since we live in a world of pride, arrogance, the need to be right, the need to be the best, injustice, hatred, bitterness, rage, the desire for revenge and retaliation, and since we are encompassed by pain and suffering we must embrace the reality of our God’s involvement in our life. Embrace the reality that He teaches and sanctifies us through His word, that He hears our prayers as we boldly pray with humility. We must personally experience His presence in our lives as we understand that without Him we can do nothing.
4. God Does the Work
God will change our mind about ourselves and about Him. He will help us to better know and understand Him. But, we must not allow culture and the philosophy of this world to impose on this understanding. We cannot escape culture and that is why we run to God pleading with Him to clear our minds of what is empty and fill our minds with Jesus. As we commit ourselves to sacrifice and transformation God will commit to us a measure of faith. And with humble gratitude we recognize that He changes us. (Romans 12.3; Philippians 1.6)