It is as we reflect on God’s beauty and splendor revealed in his word ... that our minds are renewed as our thinking is molded by a deeper understanding of God’s character...

I once asked a friend at the beginning of the year, "What is the most humanly impossible thing you are asking God for this year?" My friend's reply was simple but heart wrenching: “A new family." It was also highly perceptive. It recognized the human need for real transformation. It's a need that is obvious in the popularity of anything that's called "new & improved" as well as our instinctive (and, dare I say, desperate) clinging to anything that promises personal growth & self- improvement. It's a need that lies at the heart of many people's striving to better their financial & social situation. Unfortunately, even when people have reached their goals, they eventually learn that the change accomplished is not enough. It is this dynamic that makes the following lines from the movie Enemy At The Gates so truthful:

Man will always be man. There is no new man. We tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where there’d be nothing to envy your neighbor, but there’s always something to envy: a smile, a friendship, something you don’t have that you want to appropriate in this world (even a Soviet one). There will always be rich and poor: rich in gifts, poor in gifts; rich in love, poor in love....

My friend was right. Beneficial, genuine character change is a real need that is quite beyond human ability. This is because, in the words of Albert Einstein, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.”

This is perceptive advice. It’s similar to the admonition the Apostle Paul gives in Rom.12: 1-2, which reads:

Therefore I urge your, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

However, Paul goes beyond Einstein in that he speaks not merely of changing one’s paradigm, or way of seeing the world, but of a total reorientation of life from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. In concrete terms, this means not simply “doing my quiet time to please God” first thing in the morning then pleasing yourself the rest of the day; it means pleasing God the whole day by obeying his word. Furthermore, Paul recognizes that the resources for change do not lie within us, but outside of us – in God, who has mercifully and graciously acted in Christ to bring salvation (a salvation which he had been describing in the previous 11 chapters). In this, he acknowledges that the root of the human predicament is sin, which has warped and twisted our nature and placed us under God’s wrath and condemnation. Such is the grip of sin that only union with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection through faith could free us from its grasp. Even then, its full effects will be experienced only when Jesus Christ returns. In the here and now, we still struggle with the pervasive presence of sin. That said, it is in light of the reality of God’s new creation already (though not fully) present in the life of the believer that Paul reminds us to submit our entire persons to God on a continuous basis and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

What does Paul mean by the renewing of our minds and, more importantly, how are our minds renewed? By “renewing of your mind” he speaks of the reversal of the downward spiral of thinking summarized in Rom. 1:25 as our having “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Since the downward spiral is the result of rejecting God’s truth, it is reversed by having our thinking altered by the truth, or in Paul’s words in 2 Cor 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” It is as we reflect on God’s beauty and splendor revealed in his word (and most fully, in the gospel) that our minds are renewed as our thinking is molded by a deeper understanding of God’s character and our lives are transformed as we consciously align ourselves more fully to God’s purposes and ways, in recognition of his greatness and perfection. Admittedly, only God can “shine in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” However, Paul also reminds us that God’s appointed instrument of doing this is the preaching of God’s word, so we are, at the very least, responsible to listen to God’s word as it is preached, if we wish to be transformed by God.

It is our hope and prayer that, as we reflect on God’s glory and majesty as revealed in his word, we all might learn to “think God’s thoughts after him” that we might become more Christ-like and thereby fulfill the purpose for which we were created: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. 

Topics: Christian Living