The Renewal of the Mind

Bible Reading: Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-24

If your children have ever played with play dough, then you’ve probably seen or used the little play dough press that’s used to make various shapes.  A sliding bar allows the child to choose a circle or a square or a triangle or star.  All you got to do then is press down on the handle and you’ve got play dough formed to the particular shape you’ve chosen. 

That’s analogous to the thought behind the phrase we find in Romans 12:2 where is says: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold’ (J. B. Phillips New Testament).  Did you realize that the world is trying to do that?  Have you noticed how strong the evil forces in this world are working to conform everyone to a certain way of thinking?  To step outside the box of “political correctness,” or any new anti-god way of thinking and living, is to put oneself at risk of being threatened or ostracized in one way or the other.  But for the Christian there’s a bigger concern than that.  It’s necessary to forsake conformity to the world if a person is to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind,” and that’s necessary if we are to live a life of worship and do the will of God.

The transformation spoken of here involves more than just putting off certain behaviors, it is an inside-out, Spirit-wrought, change that happens through the renewal of the mind.  As amazing as the human mind is, it is nonetheless finite and fallen and needs to be renewed by God.  The Spirit of God does that as He works through the Word of God to expose us to the Christ-exalting truths that are found in the Scriptures (John 16:14; 2 Corinthians 3:18).  And that’s another reason why devotion to the Word is so important.  John MacArthur wonderfully illustrated this in a devotional he shared many years ago:

“I remember enjoying the observations of a perceptive man who was gazing at a beautiful garden. First, he saw a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. It spent a few seconds on the edge of each but derived no particular benefit from any of them.

Next, he saw a botanist with large notebook and microscope in hand. As the botanist carefully observed each flower and plant, he made copious entries in his book. But after hours of meticulous study, most of what he learned was shut up in his book. Very little remained in his mind.

Then came a little bee. When it entered a flower, it emerged laden with pollen. It had left the hive that morning empty but would return full.

When it comes to Bible study, some people are like butterflies, going from one favorite verse to another, one seminar to another, or one book to another. They’re very busy and expend much energy but have little to show for their efforts. They remain unchanged in any significant way because they never really delve into the Word wholeheartedly. They’re content to simply flutter around the edges.

Others, like the botanist, may study in great depth but never apply it to their lives. I know of entire commentaries written by unbelievers. In some cases, their grasp of Scripture is exceptional, but they know nothing of true love for God and obedience to biblical truth. What a tragedy! But you don’t have to be a biblical scholar to make that mistake. You need only to fail to apply what you learn to your life.

Rather, strive to be like the bee, spending time in the Word–reading, studying, taking notes, then emerging fuller than when you began. Your mind will be filled with wisdom and biblical insights. Your life will be sweeter and purer because the Word has done its work (1 Cor. 2:13).

Are you a butterfly, a botanist, or a bee?”

Nothing else can do the work the truth does. There is no sanctifying power in human wisdom, intuition, insight, or experience. Iis only in the Word of God.”

John MacArthur


May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By his love and pow’r controlling
All I do and say.

May the word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through his pow’r.

May the peace of God, my Father,
Rule my life in ev’rything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea.
Him exalting, self abasing:
This is victory.

May we run the race before us,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As we onward go.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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