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Renewing the Mind

God has always been in the sacrifice business. Beginning with Noah in Gen. 8:20, a sacrifice is made in recognition of God delivering Noah’s family from the flood and providing for their needs. Repeatedly in the Old Testament God expected His people to praise and worship Him through their sacrifices. This plan worked for a long time, but Hebrews 10:11-12 reveals that “under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time.[1]” Jesus’ sacrifice ultimately bridged the gap between man and God. Those who follow God today are expected to be a “living and holy sacrifice.[2]” The purpose of this sacrifice is to help us to be “transformed into a new person.[3]” These words in the New Testament present a pressing, sincere request to all believers in Christ. In order to consider this text, three questions must be answered. What does it mean to be transformed? What is the goal of transformation? What does one do in order to experience transformation?

What does it mean to be transformed?
The Greek word metamorphoo[4] means to transform. This change can be seen in nature when viewing the metamorphosis of a tadpole to a full grown frog. The tadpole’s entire existence is focused solely on becoming a toad. The tadpole cannot be a bird, spider, or any other creature because it was not created for that purpose. Similarly those who belong to Christ are created to become more like Him.

The idea presented by Paul in Romans 12 is that transformation is something that an individual allows to happen to them. Christians are able to allow God to change their mindset from an earthly perspective to His perspective (2 Corinthians 5:16). This means that the Christian will respond as Christ would in everyday life situations. Therefore transformation is not something that anyone can do by their own power alone. It is a process that is only completed through the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:23). Rather the Christian should submit to God’s power and be a willing participant in this development. This development is not a one time occurrence but a life long process that only ends at death.

What is the goal of transformation?
According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, the goal of transformation is to become like Christ. This sounds easy enough, but death to self must occur before becoming like Christ can be a reality. Ephesians 4:17 describes people as being “hopelessly confused” before this death occurs. Those experiencing this type of life cannot live like Christ because “their minds are full of darkness[5].” Followers of Christ are to offer their bodies as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). Christians should be committed to being obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ and live in a manner of life befitting to God’s saving grace. The faithful Christian obeys God because of what God has done for him in Christ. This is a proper response to God because He first showed His love to mankind (John 3:16).

What does on do in order to experience transformation?
First of all those who seek transformation must be baptized into Christ. Colossians 2:12 clearly states that “you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life.” Through this baptism sins are removed through the process of spiritual circumcision. This circumcision captures the sinful nature and destroys it. No longer does sin have control. No longer is the believer condemned to death. They are now able to live a free life with God as their guide. Because of this renewed spirit, the follower of Christ can now experience the mercy of God (Titus 3:5). This begins the believers’ walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:38).

This process continues as the believer experiences a renewing of their mind (Eph. 4:20-24). Renewing the mind is made possible when the believer sets their mind on things above (Col. 3:1-2). This means that their sights must be focused on putting God’s priorities before their own personal priorities. It means a lifestyle of having an eternal focus on life rather than a temporary earthly view of life. This life will be reflected by someone who has given total control of their life over to Christ. Decisions about family, work, and everyday tasks will be made differently because the realization that earthly matters are temporary will continually permeate every thought. The relationships that are forged will be approached differently because the follower will now seek those who will help them in their spiritual journey rather than those who will stifle their growth. This mind renewal process will be painful because it will be like nothing else that this world has to offer. Much personal risk is involved in choosing this path, but the rewards from it have excellent eternal benefits.

Followers of Christ have been called to be “transformed” into the image of Christ. The motivation for this is to show gratitude to God for His mercy and love. This opportunity for transformation is available to all through baptism into Christ. Those who seek this new life must allow themselves to have their mind renewed by focusing on Heaven and seeking God’s will in everything they do. This extreme makeover is provided by the blood of Jesus Christ because only it can cover the sin that mankind possesses. God provides the resources necessary for this change to happen. The only thing needed now is people who are willing to be used for the glory of God so that His name can be glorified throughout the Earth.

[1] New Living Translation
[2] Romans 12:1
[3] Romans 12:2
[4] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek- Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[5] Ephesians 4:18

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