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Renewing Your Mind

The Pattern

Romans 12:1-2
With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.
Phillips

Before looking at the details of this verse, we need to set the context. The Bible only teaches us two things. The first is how to find God. In the context of this epistle, the answer is justification by faith. The second thing taught is how to live once we have found God. Again, while we call this process sanctification or experiential sanctification, this epistle calls it walking or living by the Spirit or putting on the new self or being a living sacrifice and renewing your mind.

Paul follows a basic pattern in almost all of his letters. Some sections or thought receive more emphasis than others based upon the audience, but Paul general writes first about sound or healthy doctrine, then, next, this sound doctrine should create within the believer the right pattern of thinking. To the Philippians Paul writes concerning our need to surrender all to God:

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. NKJV

To Titus Paul writes “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). These comments are as applicable to the Church at Rome in 56/57 as they are to us in 2001. We can only speak of sound doctrine if we have learned sound doctrine and created within us a right pattern of thinking. [The Christian should not ignore his body. It is the Temple of God and we must treat it accordingly. The emphasis in these verses on the mind stems from the concept of James 1:14-15 to the effect that desires and lusts start in the imagine, the mind.]

Last in Paul’s sequence, the right pattern of thinking should produce sound, healthy behavior. We should act as Christians. We should follow Christ as our example. We already are in a new realm of righteousness (5:17, 21; 6:2-6, 14, 17-18, 22; 7:2-6; 8:2, 9). This is why the application sections of the letters are so important. They provide us with both general and specific examples of the differences between being part of the world and being separated to God. To the Corinthians Paul writes:

2 Cor 6:14-7:1
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." 17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty." 1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. NKJV

 

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