Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind
by Margaret Silvester
In a butterfly house, I once watched the delicate creature struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of its cocoon. It looked such hard work, but the efforts the butterfly had to make to squeeze out of the small hole were nature’s way of training the butterfly and strengthening its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never fly. It’s quite amazing that a caterpillar changes into a chrysalis, and from the chrysalis a beautiful butterfly emerges, changed in form, nature and environment.
This seems to be what Paul had in mind in our text for today, because the word he uses for ‘transformed’ has the same root as ‘metamorphosis’. Spiritual transformation is as radical as transformation in the natural world, where nature takes over, and brings about the miracle. Spiritually many people try to change themselves, to renew their own minds, but it’s a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. In both the natural and the spiritual sense, there’s a three step process.
Firstly, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice – not a casual option, but full, uncompromising surrender of yourselves to God - body, soul and spirit. With the intellect we can think things through, but the mind can go round and round the same issue, and we can become more muddled than when we began. Surrender is different. It has to do with the will. In surrender, the battle is over, and we’re freed from inner conflict. In surrender we’re united with Jesus, and, amazingly, have a Spirit-given desire to obey Him. In surrender, I give up my rights to myself, and live in the reality of the song ‘All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him. In His presence daily live’.
Secondly, don’t conform any longer to the pattern of this world. Conform isn’t a single past action, but a continuous present process. Surrender must be worked out in the reality of how we live, in the pressure of a culture where non-conformity can seem to be unacceptable. It seems there are two lifestyles which we can adopt – the world’s, over which the god of this world rules, or God’s, which is good, pleasing and perfect. People-pleasers fear being different, and can, unknowingly, become conformed to this world, but God-pleasers find great joy in obedience. J. B. Phillips wrote, ‘Do not let the world squeeze you into its mould but let God remould your lives’.
Thirdly, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This transformation is not simply external, but deep on the inside, so that there’s a direct and observable change of character, desire, behaviour and lifestyle. There are two value systems – this world’s values, and God’s will. They’re so incompatible that there’s no possibility of compromise. The carnal mind is obsessed with self, believing the lies of the devil. It can’t determine truth.
The Bible teaches that there are two agents in the renewal of the mind – the Word and the Spirit. We need the Word of the God, which is the sword of the Spirit, and which pierces our hearts with transforming truth. The Holy Spirit takes Scripture, and brings us revelation of God’s will and God’s heart. The more we desire the Word and the will of God, the more we’re transformed by it.
Like the first century Christians, who also lived in an alien culture, we’ll be inspired to be transformed and renewed in our minds when we catch a true vision of God’s mercy and character displayed at the cross.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that, in Jesus, there’s a way to deep inner peace and freedom from turmoil. Please give me grace today to surrender myself afresh to You, to make choices that will honour You, and to live in uncompromising obedience in a world that doesn’t know You. I acknowledge that Your will for my life is good, pleasing and perfect, bearing fruit for Your eternal kingdom. Amen.
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