Romans 12:1-2. 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.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.
Praise God for mind renewal! Praise God that our brains are elastic, changeable, moldable. That our thinking never has to be stuck in one place forever. How could any spiritual growth and transformation into Christ’s likeness be possible without a renewable mind? The renewal of our minds is the key to conformity to Christ, and the testing of the will of God. It’s a very big deal.
You’ll notice that Paul DOESN’T tell us to be renewed in our spirit. Why is that? Because your spirit is already renewed. It has been joined to the Holy Spirit and is controlled by the indwelling life of Christ. It is this already renewed spirit that will renew your mind. Your thinking.
So what is this mind renewal that Paul is talking about?
Mind renewal is the ongoing act of faith whereby you are trusting the mercies of God moment by moment, by moment. It is the refreshing of the mindset away from conformity to this world, and unto conformity to the mind of Christ. Mind renewal comes as we think like Christ, in order to love and live like Christ. As Martin Luther called it, it is “taking hold of Christ.”
But this is not merely “the power of positive thinking.” And it is not merely a form of self-improvement. It’s not even “following in the footsteps of Jesus” as our mentor or model. All of that might still be done by ourselves for ourselves, using Jesus simply as our example instead of our Savior. Relying on my own ability to imitate Christ rather than relying on the mercies of God.
Real mind renewal begins with meditating upon the mercies of God. God’s great mercy in Christ must be our starting point. God’s great mercy provides the clear lens for seeing all of life. Seeing his mercies transforms how we imagine God, others, and ourselves. Dwelling upon the mercies of God even changes how we reason. How? Because it is love that changes our reasoning, not just hard facts. To change a person’s mind, you must change what they love. That’s why Paul tells us to renew our minds by focusing first and foremost on God’s mercy, his love.
So what are the mercies of God? Well, Paul spent 11 chapters in Romans outlining them for us. We’ve written about several of them over the past few days too. His covenant love and faithfulness. His imputed righteousness. His justification. His adoption. His forgiveness. His glorification. His salvation. In a word, his love. All for us and in us in Christ.
Beholding God’s mercy in Jesus Christ, and in his glorious cross alone, is what changes our hearts and thus renews our minds. By the cross and resurrection, we know that we are loved. By our death and resurrection with Christ we know that we are alive to God’s love. Now our union with Christ, and his love, allows us to renew our minds day after day. Slowly but surely pursuing a deeper affection for Christ and his saints. Presenting ourselves as living sacrifices of love and mercy. This is the will of God. This is “to live is Christ.”
What do you tend to think about all day?
You in Christ
How can knowing that you are loved by God fill you with love for others?
Christ in you
What is one way you could renew your mind with the mercies of God each day?
Playlist: Mind Renewal.
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