We hear Romans 12:1-2 quoted as often as John 3:16 but I wonder if we get it. Paul pleads, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Over and over again in our lives we hear that everything we do begins with a thought. You cannot have wrong thinking and right actions. It doesn’t work! That is why right teaching and biblical doctrine matter. The problem is what we think about God. Sin has twisted your thinking. When it comes to thinking about God the Bible says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Ps. 10:4). Yes, that verse says that God is not in any of his thoughts. Other translations indicate that the spiritually dead person has no place for God in their thinking, The NIV states, “in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” The margin of the KJV says that, “in all his thoughts they keep thinking, “there is no God.” That is one of sin’s greatest hijackings of our souls it leaves no room for God. We set aside God first in our thoughts then our deeds. It brings a moral, practical atheism that lets sin and self-control the soul. Sin attempts to erase the concept of God from our minds or distort it. We must spend our lives untwisting that thinking by the teaching about God that comes from his Word, the Holy Scriptures.
What you think about God has direct influence over how you worship God and how you live. The minimization of God has a direct influence over everything we are. As the old preachers told us we need to magnify the Lord in our lives. Let him be bigger than the trial. Don’t let sin and unbelief put a magnifying glass in front of your problems. But let God become bigger in your mind and heart. Let praise be the magnifying glass that helps you see that God is bigger than your problems.
Amen to that!
If we place God at the center of our preaching, not the peoples needs, problems not our agendas but God-this will give clarity to our understanding of God and he will be the Savior and Helper. The Bible says teaches when Christ redeems all of his Bride and when all is said and all is done the final result will be that “God may be all in all.” (1 Cor 15:26-28). God must become bigger in our lives because sin attempts to make him seem so small.
At the heart of self is idolatry. The first two commandments are vitally linked. God will not only have no rivals but he forbids the making of an images, especially an image of him. Why? The mind is a factory for idolatry to paraphrase, John Calvin and unscriptral thinking eventually become anti-scriptural. Notice the image can be our thinking. We need to repent not only of sin but from wrong thoughts about God. Peter commented on Paul’s letters, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Pet 3:16). Notice the untaught and unstable wrestle with the scriptures: they distort and twist them because self is at the center and has no room for God in its thinking.
Christ and genuine Christianity teaches that you must have a new nature. The glorious truth of the new birth is that God gives us life and then we renew our minds by the truth as found in Jesus Christ and the scriptures. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” (Heb 8:10). God writes his laws on our hearts gives us a love for God and the power to do what is pleasing to him.
What should we be thinking about? How to change and modify our behavior? What steps to follow in order to make life less hostile? The behavioral sciences offered in the forms of motivational speaking and psychology are much of the reason for Churchianity’s failure today. Most people are learning things backwards because they think because their actions change their life will change and that is only partially correct. Your thinking and emotions must change. Your mind must be renewed. Only God can do this.
After a person is saved, they have a new heart and spirit but their mind must be renewed in order to be transformed into the image of Christ (Rom 12:1-2). This does not happen overnight but occurs in day by day obedience and consistent submission to God’s will. God sanctified and causes all things to work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to his purpose. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:28-29).
He does this by using trials in our life as a means to purify us. But this means that He controls and monitors our trials! He actually uses our trials to purify us and make us holy. He takes evil and turns it around for good in our lives. He does this because he has loved us before the world was made in Christ! He is with us and will not allow us to be overwhelmed by life’s trouble but as the Old hymn says, “When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”
What untwists our thinking about God is the straight beams of the cross and the straight edge of the scriptures. Yielding and offering our bodies, renewed thinking that leads to a metamorphosis of life is directly tied to Christ offering himself. These are “the mercies of God” in Christ. Of the many, many, mercies of God in sending his Son, will we ever completely discover what actually happened on the cross of Christ? We should be constantly focused on it and it will change us.
This is where we learn to accelerate into obedience and put the brakes on with temptation. The motivating factor is the crucified and risen Savior. “Christ’s gift, meditated on, accepted, introduced into will and heart, is the one power that will melt our obstinacy, the one magnet that will draw us after it…The Gospel of Jesus Christ presents itself, not as a mere republication of morality, not as merely a new stimulus and motive to do what is right, but as an actual communication to men of a new power to work in them, a strong hand laid upon our poor, feeble hand with which we try to put on the brake or to apply the stimulus…” MacLaren Commentary on Romans 12.