Do not conform 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, NIV)
In the heart of born-again believers is the desire to please God. We want to shake off the chains of sin and the influence of the world and live a victorious life that honors Him. Unfortunately, the reality is that this can be very difficult to accomplish. We are still drawn to sin by our corrupt flesh. We are very flawed people who, despite our desire to do what is right, can and will fall and fail.
Paul offers this solution to our situation: be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This is sound advice. The question, then, is how do we accomplish this? How do we renew our minds? What do we need to do to make this change in our lives?
The answers are simple- even cliche- in Christian circles. This is the very reason we often overlook the basics of faith- we are looking for something new or exciting or super-spiritual or easy. But the answers aren’t always glamorous and results aren’t always instantaneous. We need to commit ourselves to the basic principles of faith in Christ if we want to have a walk that is pleasing to God.
First, we must READ the Word of God. As the Psalmist proclaims:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105, ESV)
How can our walk please God if we don’t examine His directions for life? We must read God’s Word so we have the answers before we have the questions! The Bible is full of profound wisdom for daily living, and we will have a better, godlier life by taking time to read and re-read God’s guidance to us.
Not only should we read His Word, but God calls us to STUDY it so we have a clear understanding of what He is speaking to us:
Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, AKJV)
The more we look intently into the Word of God, the more it will permeate our hearts and minds. Don’t just read scripture- study, examine, search, evaluate, learn all you can about what it says and how it impacts your life. But God calls us to do even more than that. We ought also to MEDITATE on His Word:
I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways. (Psalm 119:15, HCSB)
When we hear the word meditate, we often think of it in terms of eastern religion, clearing our minds or repetitively chanting. Biblically, though, meditation simply means giving thoughtful consideration to God’s directives, principles, and commands, contemplating what they mean and how they apply to your life. We can read and study God’s Word, but if we don’t take time to ponder how it should shape us, we are performing a religious ritual rather than walking with God.
We must also take God’s Word with us wherever we go. It must be committed to our minds and hearts. We should MEMORIZE God’s Word:
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11, NIV)
When we memorize God’s Word, it gives another voice in our spirit that combats the influence of the world, the enemy, and our own sinful natures. When we hide God’s Word in our hearts and minds, it helps keep us from sin.
God’s Word is essential if we want to have the mind of Christ. But it is not the only tool that draws us near to God and helps us to be more like Him. There are other spiritual exercises that will help us to become more and more of what He has called us to be. The act of REPENTANCE is powerful and transformative in the life of the believer:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, NIV)
We don’t just gain forgiveness through the act of repentance. We are actually promised that our state of unrighteousness will be purified as we engage in this practice. In other words, He won’t just forgive us of sin- He will help us become less sinful. When you mess up, don’t neglect this practice. Don’t just tell yourself that you are blessed to have the forgiveness of Christ. Repent. In this way honor God, acknowledging your flaws and His righteousness, and He will make you more like Him.
Another often neglected aspect of repentance is ACCOUNTABILITY. When we make ourselves responsible to a trusted brother or sister in Christ, encouraging and praying for each other, God uses that relationship to mold us into a more faithful and mature follower of Christ:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. (James 5:16, HCSB)
As we seek to renew our minds and become who God has called us to be, do not neglect the spiritual act of WORSHIP:
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! (Psalm 96:9, ESV)
When we worship God, it gives us the proper prospective of who He is and who we are. It is no mistake that the Psalmist attaches the thought of trembling before Almighty God with worshiping Him. When we exalt the Lord, we are reminded of the greatness of who He is and all He has done for us. This changes our outlook on life. In other words, it renews our minds.
Finally, the body of Christ helps us to be all that God has called us to be. We cannot function as lone ranger Christians. To live out a godly and effective life of faith, we need the encouragement of the body to keep us on the right track. This is the admonishment we receive in the book of Hebrews:
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25, NLT)
God calls us to be holy and righteous, to renew our minds and become the image of Christ to a lost and dying world. It is a challenge to live the victorious life to which we are called, but we can be overcoming children of God through His glorious grace. He has not forsaken us or forgotten us. He has given us the spiritual tools we need to fulfill His purpose and plans for our lives. His promise is this: He has given us everything we need.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3, NIV)