When God saves us, he doesn’t merely change our habits or our outward behavior. He changes our heart and renews our mind, enabling us to know and do his will. In this message from Romans 12:2, David Platt points us to the transforming work of God in the life of a disciple. Those who belong to Christ no longer live for themselves but for the worship of God and the mission for which Christ sent us into the world.
If you have a Bible, and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to Roman 12. In just a minute we’re going to dive into first two verses of this chapter. I want us to connect the dots this morning between what we talked about last week and what we’re going to dive into this week.
I want you to know that I love this church and I don’t mean this institution. I love you, the church. I love this staff. I love the leaders of this church. I love this church. I love this city. I love the nations. And more than any of that I love the glory of God, and I want His glory known in all the world. And I am not saying that it will be easy to adjust our thinking, and
our mindsets, and our expectations of church. And it won’t be to adjust our programs and all kinds of things. I’m not saying in any way that it will be easy, but I am saying this: It will be worth it! His glory will be worth it!
Connecting The Dots…
And so connect the dots. Here’s the question—from last week to this week—how can we most effectively multiply the glory of Christ over there?
And the answer is: By maturing into the image of Christ over here. See the connection here. That’s what this whole sermon series is about. When you see this picture of concentric circles—Christ in us effecting our minds and our emotions and our bodies and our wills and our relationships, all for His mission. It is Christ infusing every facet of our lives, transforming every facet of our lives to show who He is to the world. That’s the picture that we’re looking at. And so the most effective way to make the glory of Christ known over there is for us to be transformed into the image of Christ over here. I would even say that you could switch those around, vice versa, and the same would be true. You switch the question and the answer around. How can we most effectively mature into the image of Christ over here? The answer is: By multiplying the glory of Christ over there.
A thousand of our people this year have been over seas. I challenge you to find one of them whose life in Christ was not radically affected by their time in another country proclaiming the gospel. We mature into the image of Christ here by multiplying the glory of Christ over there. It goes together. We mature into His image and we multiply His glory, and when we multiply His glory we mature into His image, and it all works together. It’s the way our Creator has designed it. So that’s how we’re going to connect the dots.
We are going after His glory in Birmingham and all the world, and the way we do that is we let Him transform our minds. We’re going to talk this morning about the disciple’s mind. And I want you to look with me at Romans 12.
There are so many New Testament pictures of how Christ transforms our mind, and in fact we’re going to look at a lot of them. So go ahead and get your fingers ready. We’re going to be turning. We’re going to be all over the place. But I don’t think any verse sums it up more clearly than verse 2 of Romans 12. So we’re going to look at that one verse. Remember the context though from verse 1.
Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:1–2)
When Christ Is In Us…
What I want us to do this morning is I want us to see what happens when Christ is in us and things begin to change, and I want us to see the progression that we see here in Romans 12, and how it centers on the mind in verse 2.
Romans 12:2 and How Our hearts are transferred to His worship.
First of all, when Christ is in us, our hearts are transferred to His worship. Our hearts are transferred to His worship. Now to this point we’re going to draw the connection between verses 1 and 2. What happens is when you offer yourself to God as a living sacrifice, and this is your spiritual act of worship, Christ comes in you. He lives in us. That’s what we talked about the first two weeks of this series. There is a fundamental transfer that happens at the core of who we are when we give our lives to Christ. What was dominated by the sinful nature is now dominated by Christ in us. Christ lives in us, and there is a fundamental change of allegiance, a transfer of worship. We no longer worship self. We worship Christ.
And that’s what Romans 12:1 is setting up. And then it says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” So what happens as a result of our worship? We are commanded to avoid the pattern of this world. One translation literally says in verse 2, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” That’s literally a command. It’s literally saying stop living according to the world. And this is a huge command.
A.W. Tozer said, “The church has gotten to the point where almost everything the church is doing these days has been suggested to her by the world.” It’s an odd way to do church when we are commanded not to live according to the pattern of this world.
But what I want us to see here is that this command to not to live according to the power of this world, does not fundamentally, primarily revolve around changing behaviors. Obviously we know that there are some things that the world, so to speak, does that we are not supposed to do. But if we define Christianity by not doing those things that the world does, we miss out on the fact that we can avoid behaviors that the world does and still never experience transformation from Christ. All we will have done at that point is exchange a list of immoral behaviors for moral behaviors, and one to do list for another, and we will have missed the whole point of Christianity.
And I want to show you that the mind is so key in effecting our behavior. Turn back to Romans 1. Now I want you to look with me, starting at verse 21. I want us to look at one of the most depressing passages in all the Scriptures; it’s all about the sinfulness of man and our depravity. It’s not a very encouraging passage to read, but it does give us a very clear picture of how our worship and the core of who we are affects our mind and how that affects everything else.
Listen to verse 21. We’re going to read through verse 25. And then I want you to see the progression that’s here, that Paul started with in this same book that we’re reading in Romans 12.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen (Rom. 1:21–25).
What I want you to see is a progression here. It starts first with disordered worship. And this permeates this whole passage. It’s in verse 21 and verse 25. You see it kind of book ended, even in the verses we just read. “they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). It says in verse 25, “[They] worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25).
And so it all starts with disordered worship and this is the problem that’s at the core of all of us. Before we come to faith in Christ we have, at the very core of our nature, a being that worships self instead of worshiping God. It exchanges worship of the Creator for worship of the created. And that’s the fundamental problem at the core of all of our beings. It’s a worship problem.
But I want you to see how this worship problem is directly tied to the mind. Did you hear it in verse 21, “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their…”—what? “their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). So disordered worship, then second, disordered thought. We’ve got to realize that in our sinful nature, in our flesh we have self-worshiping minds. Minds that worship self. Minds that are not prone to worship God. We know this by experience. We know how hard it is so many times to get our minds to really focus on God. We find it so much easier to focus on the things of this world, don’t we? We try and we try, but we’ve got minds that are given over to futility, because of the sin in us.
I want to show you how this is connected. Hold your place in Romans 1. We’ll come back here in a second, but go over to the book of Ephesians 4. You just go to the right, you’ll go to First and Second Corinthians, then Galatians, and then Ephesians. Look at Ephesians 4:17. I want you to see the connection here between our hearts and worship, and our minds.
Listen to Ephesians 4:17 and 18. This is Paul. The context here, he’s talking to a bunch of believers and churches in Ephesus who were living like the rest of the world and you couldn’t tell the difference between the Christians and the world. So this is what he said, “I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their…”—what? “…of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” (Eph. 4:17–18). Do you see that? Hardening of the hearts results in an ignorance of thinking and a darkened understanding.
You get down to verse 22, and he’s telling them they’re different. And he says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude”—listen to this, what a great phrase—“the attitude of your…”—what? “…minds; and to put on the new self” (Eph. 1:22–24). That literally says, “To be made new in the spirit of your minds.”
And so what we’ve got to see is there is a connection here between who we are at the core of our being by nature self-worshiping instead of God worshiping, and the way we think. We are prone to think with self-worshiping minds. That means that when there is a fundamental change in our worship and Christ is now the center of our lives that there is got to be an effect on our minds. Our minds can’t stay the same. They must change. Disordered worship leads to disordered thought. This is the pattern of this world.
Come back to Romans 1, disordered worship, disordered thought, and then third, disordered desire. It says, “They claimed to be wise, but they became fools.” It’s a picture of the disordered thought, and listen to where that leads, “Therefore,” verse 24 “God gave them over in the sinful” what “desires of their hearts”. And so as a result of our thinking, it changes our desires, and then from disordered desire to disordered behavior. It says, “the Sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Rom. 1:24). Do you see this picture, these concentric circles just being played out here in Romans 1?
Because of our darkened hearts, it leads to foolish minds, and that results in sinful desires, and it results in sinful behavior. And that’s when he goes on to talk about sexual impurity, all kinds of issues that are so real in our culture today, and so real particularly in our country. Asking questions about sexuality and homosexuality and this or that. We don’t have to get into all that this morning, but I want you to see that the issue is not primarily behavior. The issue is primarily heart and mind.
Disordered worship leads to disordered thought, which leads to disordered desires, which leads to disordered behavior. So we’ve got to focus on this change of heart that affects our minds, affects the way we think.
Now here’s the tension, we are commanded to avoid the pattern of this world, but at the same time we are called to live as pilgrims in this world. And this is the tension, because Christ does come in us, but we are still bombarded on all sides by the pattern of this world. And the things of this world are still coming at us, all the images of this world, and we get the idea whether we want to admit or not, when we get the idea sometimes that the things on TV are what are most helpful for us, and the advertisers we see are helpful for us, and the business practices that are adopted all around us are helpful us. And we’ve got to begin to think about how this is the pattern of this world. How does Christ really affect the way we think?
We do not live for this world. We live for the world to come. But God has put us in this world, and He’s left us here as pilgrims. So how does Christ transform the way we think? And the good news is you look at that progression from disordered worship to disordered thought, disordered desire, disordered behavior. And you look over at Romans 6 and what you’ll find is that when you unite your life with Christ He changes that entire picture because He orders your worship around Him. And this is what we’re talking about. Then He begins to transform your thinking. He says in Roman 6, “Now you count yourselves. You consider yourselves. You think of yourself as dead to sin, but alive to God and Christ Jesus,” and then he says, “And in light of that, you don’t have to give yourself the desires of this world.” And then he says, “So stop giving your body to the things of this world.” It’s all affected by Christ.
So what we’ve got to see is that when Christ is in us there is a fundamental transfer that goes on in our hearts, and Christ comes in us, and this begins to affect the way we think. We are commanded to avoid the pattern of this world, but at the same time we are called to live as pilgrims in this world. So how do you do that? How do you live the Christian life when you’re surrounded by the pattern of this world?
Romans 12:2 and How Our minds are transformed by His Word.
And that leads to the second picture, which is really the folk realm upon which everything in this passage turns in Romans 12:2. Our hearts are transferred into His worship. Our minds are transformed by His Word. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). So this is how you do it. This is how you avoid the pattern of this world. You experience transformation of your minds.
Now, this is a great word. This is a picture of being “transformed.” It’s only used one time in the Gospels, and the only time it’s used is when Jesus goes up on the Mount of Transfiguration. It’s literally the mount of “transformation.” And it’s this picture of Jesus and His face shown like the sun. This is a transformation that is added on the outside, but is rooted in the inside. Inside out, the word literally means metamorphosis. A transformation from the inside out. And what Romans 12:2 is teaching us is that the mind is the control center for that transformation. We are transformed. We are metamorphosized on the outside by what happens in our minds on the inside. Again, this is not the focus primarily –
we’ll get to body and will later in the series, but right now we’ve got to focus on minds. This is not primarily a change of behavior. It’s a change of thinking.
What we’ve got to realize is that when we trust in Jesus He not only gives us a new heart, He gives us a new mind. He not only gives us a new heart, He gives us a new mind. Now this is key. Getting a new mind from Christ. Christ redeems our minds. He changes the way we think, and I believe we’ve missed this because we have such a tendency to think about Christ in terms of changing our hearts. But we really don’t think much about how Christ affects our heads. And we relegate Christ to this emotional spiritual realm that doesn’t affect the intellectual realm, and it’s just not true biblically.
But you listen to people. The people will say, “Well you have to throw out reason in order to come to Christ. You don’t have to know a lot to come to Christ.” And in one sense it’s true— “Childlike faith”. You can be a child and trust in Christ, but at the same time nowhere in Scripture are we told to leave our brains at the door in order to come into a relationship with Christ. God has given us brains, maybe for a reason.
One prominent atheist, Bertrand Russell, said this, “Most Christians would rather die than think. In fact, most of them do.” What a stinging indictment of the people who have the mind of Jesus Christ in them. I’m convinced that one of the greatest needs in Christianity today is for us to learn to think Christianly—letting the person of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the truth of Christ, and the mission of Christ shape and direct our every thought.
What I’m talking about here is we need to learn how to have a thoroughly Christian worldview, a Christ saturated way of looking at the world. How does Christ affect our thinking? Let me show you. Turn over to the right, to 2 Corinthians 10. Go to the right and hit 1 Corinthians, then 2 Corinthians, and when we go to these verses, let me encourage you, underline these verses. Put a little note, “Transforming our mind.” Look at 2 Corinthians 10:3–5. This is a thick text.
Listen to this picture. Do you think Paul thought it was important to think Christianly? To let Christ transform our minds? Listen to what he says, verse 3, 2 Corinthians 10, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish”—listen to this—“arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God”—and listen to this phrase—“and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3–5). What a great phrase.
Underline that in your Bible, put a star. We take captive, not some of our thoughts, not our thoughts at church, not our thoughts when we’re thinking about Christian things, every thought. Every thought we think this week, we are intended to take captive to Christ. Christ is intended to saturate all of our thinking. Think about business. Think about our families.
Think about our relationships. Think about every facet of our life. Christ is intended to take captive of all of it. He captivates all of it.
So what does it mean? How do we think Christianly like that? And I’ve tried to break it down here based on what Paul had said earlier in this particular book. Look at 2 Corinthians 3, 2 Corinthians 3. I told you we were going to be turning around. I want you to look at verse 18 with me, and I want you to see the only other instance where Paul uses this word for transforming. Remember we talked about how it was used once in the Gospels—Mount of transfiguration, it’s used once by Paul in another place. Listen to what he says, verse 18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being”—here it is, you might circle it—“being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
So how are we transformed by the renewing of our mind Paul? He says we’re transformed by reflecting the Lord’s glory. Now I want you to see this. Four facets of this transformation. We’re going to unpack this even as he gets into chapter 4 here in 2 Corinthians. How are we transformed Paul?
Number one, we continually savor the person of Christ. This is how we transform our minds. We continually savor the person of Christ. Now I emphasize continually because when you look back at Romans 12:2 and it says, “But be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” it’s a present tense verb, which means it’s continuous. It literally is saying, keep on being transformed. This is not an instantaneous thing when you trust in Christ, all of a sudden new mind you never have to work. Everything is good. You think differently just like that.
We don’t just reprogram instantly. What happens is Christ continually transforms our minds. Now how do we do that? By savoring the person of Christ. And this is the beautiful picture here in 2 Corinthians 3:18. And it actually misses it in the NIV translation. It has a little note at the bottom that gives a better picture. “We, who with unveiled faces all,” and the word it uses is reflect. And some of you might have a note that takes you to the bottom that says contemplates. And that’s what that word literally means. It literally means to contemplate or to consider.
And so what he’s saying is, “How do you transform into the likeness of Christ?” You transform into His likeness by seeing Him, by perceiving Him, by contemplating His glory and His greatness. And the more you fix the attention of your minds on the glory and sweetness and beauty of Jesus Christ, the more He transforms you. We behold, literally, His glory. That’s the starting point of transformation.
Where Christ is the center of our thinking. We are constantly beholding His glory in front of us.
“Okay, so how do we do that Dave? How do I walk throughout this week beholding the glory of Christ? Contemplating the glory of Christ in my mind when I watch the news, when I read reports, when I do this or that in my life? How does the glory of Christ captivate my mind in the middle of that?” Well it leads to the second thing.
We humbly submit to the Spirit of Christ. Here’s the good news. You can’t do this thing on your own. So it’s not up to you necessarily to decide. This is the work of the Spirit in you. It’s what he says here in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “We’re transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Same picture that we saw back in Romans 12, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and it’s literally be transformed. It’s not you transform you mind. It’s you have you your mind. It’s a passive verb. This is something that is done to you, and it’s done by the Spirit. We know that because you look at Titus 3:5, just write that down. We won’t turn to that one, but Titus 3:5 is the only other time Paul uses that word for renewal, and he talks about how we experience renewal by the Spirit.
And so the Spirit of God is the one who does this work of transformation on us. And so we fix our eyes on the glory of Christ. We see His beauty. The Spirit begins to transform our thinking, leads to the third thing, we diligently study the truth of Christ. We study the truth of Christ. You get into chapter 4. Paul begins to hit on this. Look in verse 3. He says, “Even if our gospel”—the Word—“is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:3–4).
So people who don’t know Christ or don’t have the Spirit in them can’t see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. They’re blinded by the pattern of this world and by the adversary, but you get down to verse 6, it says, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
And so the beauty is, the Spirit of God transform us, transforms us by giving us the knowledge of the glory of Christ. It gives us His word. He gives us this tool that is the avenue by which we experience transformation in our minds.
So how are we going to begin to think Christianly, to have a Christ saturated worldview? By saturating our minds with His Word with the knowledge of the glory of Christ that is revealed here. This whole book is intended to be a picture of the glory of Christ, from Genesis to Revelation. It is the picture of the glory of Christ given to us to transform us into the image of Christ. Exactly what Paul’s talking about here in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4. And so we study the truth of Christ. We get into the truth of Christ.
This is why God has always told His people, “You take my Word and you bind it on your forehead. You tie it as symbols around your hands. You know this Word like the back of your hand. You study it.” We have our minds filled with so many things, but the Word. We must look at what we are filling our minds with, even good things.
I mentioned football last week and sports. I’m not saying sports are bad, but if we spend hours and hours and hours filling our minds with this, we have no room left in our minds for the precious Word of Christ. We spend hours and hours in front of the TV, then we come to the Word and it’s very difficult to memorize, and it’s very difficult to remember because our minds are so full of the things of this world that they have no hunger for the truth of Christ.
But what happens is we feed our minds with the truth of Christ. We begin to realize that it tastes a lot better than anything this world has to offer. And we begin to study it and digest it, and we do memorize it. We memorize it, why? Because God’s given us a mind to memorize it. So we don’t say I can’t memorize. Yes, we all have different abilities to memorize, but we don’t say I can’t memorize, because God’s given us a mind for a reason.
So that we can know His Word. So we diligently study His truth.
This is the agent that God uses to transform our minds. It is so key. If we try to live the Christian life apart from diligent study of the Word of Christ, we are destined to live defeated Christian lives. That’s why small groups this week are talking about abiding in the Word. Why Jesus said in John 15, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” Secret is letting my words remain in you.
So we savor the person of Christ on a continual basis. We humbly submit to the spirit of Christ. We study the truth of Christ, and finally we fully surrender to the mission of Christ. This is how we think Christianly. We think along the lines of 2 Corinthians 4:5, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” This is such a beautiful picture. We read verse 4 and 6, and the picture in verse 4 was the God of this age blinding the minds of unbelievers. Look at this. Don’t miss this. In verse 6 you have the true God who is shining light into our hearts. So the God of this world, Satan the adversary blinding minds of unbelievers. The true God shining light into hearts. And in the middle, verse 5, we’re preaching Christ. We’re in a battle for the minds of men and women, and the core is us in the center preaching Christ, using our minds to accomplish the mission of Christ. We want sharp minds because we want the glory of Christ known in all the world.
Students, let me challenge you along this area. Middle school, high school, elementary school, college students, and it goes across the board, but especially students learning, “Why are you studying?” I mean really, at the core, why? And the answer is not because it’s what you’re supposed to do in our culture, in our society—it’s what I have to do. It’s not because you want to get into a good college. And it’s not because you want to get a good degree so that you can have a nice job and a nice house and a nice car. That’s not the point of why Christ has given us our minds. It goes much deeper than that. I’m not saying any of those things are bad things, but we have been given the privilege of study, sharpening our minds so that we can go out into the world and show the glory of Christ in us.
Why do you study engineering? You study engineering so that the world, Birmingham and the nations will see your skill and study in engineering and will clamor for you to help them and you will display the glory of Christ to the world. You study teaching and you study law and you study business and accounting so that the world will want to hear from you and you will be able to tell them about the glory of Christ in you. This is why we study. This is why we have sharp minds.
I saw this in the Middle East. There’s a school in the middle of a heavily Muslim community—even some sections militant Muslim community. There’s a school. It’s a Baptist school in the middle of it. And 90% of the kids in the school are Muslim going to a Baptist school in the Middle East. Parents sign a waiver that says they know their kids will be exposed to the Christian worldview, truth of Christ, the Word of Christ. They go to chapel every week. They go to Bible classes. Why are these families sending their kids to a Christian school? And the answer is because that school has higher academic standards than any other schools around there. And they’re using their minds.
One chaplain preaches Christ to these kids. Many of them will come to him in secret, in private and share I’m beginning to believe some of this. And he has the respect of Muslims throughout that community. Do you know why? Because he studied and he’s a sharp guy, and he knows he’s got a sharp mind. And people know that. People know that he has a Ph.D. in this particular area, and he has given his life to teaching these kids. What a beautiful picture of using our minds for the glory of Christ. Why else do we have them?
So we savor the person of Christ and we submit to the Spirit of Christ. It’s His work in us. He does it through studying the Word of Christ for the purpose of the mission of Christ. This is a Christ saturated worldview, and it affects the way we view everything. Christ transforms our minds.
Romans 12:2 and How Our lives are transitioned into His will.
So our hearts transferred to His worship, and that means our lives begin to transform, our minds begin to transform to His world. And it all leads to this last thing. It all comes together. Our lives are transitioned into His will. They transform by the renewing of your mind. Your mind is the key to spiritual transformation is what Romans 12:2 is saying. And the result is when your mind is transformed you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Now this is the connection here between our mind and our behavior, our thought and our action. They’re intimately connected here in Romans 12:2. Our lives are transitioned into His will. Now I want us to think about that word test and approval of what God’s will is in just a second. But just by nature of this connection, I want us to realize the truth that is being communicated here. I’m convinced this is one of the greatest weaknesses in the way we approach things in the church, in our families, and all facets of our lives.
We always live according to our beliefs. We always live according to our beliefs. Our living, our behavior is a reflection of our beliefs. What we do is a reflection of what we believe. You went to work this week, because you believe that’s important. Even though you may not have wanted to go, you had an overriding belief that you want to provide for your family. You want to do this or that, so you went. If you didn’t believe that, you wouldn’t have gone. You went to school because you had a belief. Maybe it’s wasn’t I am pumped about going to school today, but you did have a belief that there would be much worse consequences if you didn’t go, and so you went anyway. You believe that. We eat because we believe that it’s good. And you say well no that’s really desire, but I think it’s even deeper than that. Even sometimes our minor thought can overcome our desires in some ways.
I went this weekend to ten hours of a birthing class with my wife. You think the desire was strong to go and watch all those videos? My mind is etched with images I never want. But I went because I’ve got a deeper more overriding belief that this is important to my wife, and therefore it’s important to me. But we always live according to our beliefs.
And so you think about it, the question, what do you really believe? What do you really believe? Not what you say you believe, what do you really believe? And the answer is look at your behavior. Now you see the connection here? What do you really believe? Look at your behavior.
This is so fundamental, and it’s one of the things we’ve so missed. You think about it with me. I’m guessing most of us, just to take this a step deeper, most of us believe, or would say we believe, that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and that if you do not know Jesus then you will spend eternity separated from Jesus when you die, in hell. That’s something the Scripture teaches. And most of us would say, “Well we don’t believe that it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in Jesus, but in the end everybody’s going to be okay.”
Most of us would not say we believe that. But when you look at our behavior, I think we’d have to be honest, most of us are living like we don’t really believe that. Most of us are living like people who don’t know Christ are okay without Him. What do we really believe? Maybe it’s not determined by what we say in this building once a week. Maybe it’s most determined by what we do with our lives all week. Maybe that’s a better reflection of what we believe.
And so here’s the key, as a result of this relationship between belief and behavior, then how do we best transform behavior? By focusing on what? Belief. By hitting what we believe. Let me give you another example. So many high school students go off to college. First year in college the majority of them fall away from their faith within one year. Why is that? Maybe it’s because we’ve created a system where we tell students here’s how to live the Christian life. Do this, do this, do this, do this. But what we’ve never hit is really at the core of fundamental—why do you believe what you believe? And as a result, one class with an atheistic college professor and everything is gone.
It’s why we’ve got to hit on belief. Even before college. Students struggling. And I’m mentioning students a lot, because the battle for the mind is so clear there. Students struggling with purity in this life. So how can students be pure? By us giving them sermons and lectures—“Be pure. Now do this, do this, do this, and do this.” Practical things can be helpful, but maybe we’ve bypassed a step. Maybe the best thing to do is first and foremost to teach students the Word of Christ so that it fills them, and they really begin to believe that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. They believe that now. Girls believe, really believe that Jesus is enough, and I don’t need this guy to satisfy me. He is enough for me. They really believe that. And guys really believe that they were created the image of God, and the girls, they know that they are created the image of God, and therefore they value each other in a way that transforms the way they act with each other when they’re on a date. You see how students act differently when they really believe these things.
So we focus on beliefs, and not just students. Men and women—we know that marriages are struggling across the church. How do you address that? How do you even begin to address that Pastor? By telling husbands do this, do this, do this, and do this. And yeah, I’m not saying there’s not good practical things that we can apply, but at the core, we’ve got to hit at the issue of whether husbands in this room really believe that they are called to lay
down their lives for their wives. And whether men and women in this room really believe that the covenant of Jesus Christ is important for them to lay down desires for each other. These are core beliefs that affect the way we act.
We always live according to beliefs. So, what happens when God transforms our beliefs? What happens when He transforms our minds? Number one, we are able to discern His will, then you will be able to test and approve, to discern what His will is. This is the beauty of this whole picture, and it goes back to studying the Word of Christ.
The Word of Christ that fills our minds. It brings in line with the will of God. Do you know why? Because the Word of God is the will of God. Sixty six books guaranteed to be the will of God, you do what this Word says, study what this Word says, and you’re studying the will of God. Will of God is filling us. I think the reason we ask so commonly, “How do I know God’s will?” I think us asking that question all the time is showing the spiritual bankruptcy of our time in the Word. We’re wandering around in a fog wondering what in the world God’s will is when God’s will has already been revealed to us and our minds are so devoid of it.
So, when He begins to transform our mind, we discern His will. And I’m not saying it’s always easy to make some of the decisions we have to make, but I am saying that when you get in touch with the voice of God here, it makes us so much more sensitive to the voice of God in all the other things we do.
We are able to discern His will. Second, we are able to display His will. “Test and approve what God’s will is…” (Rom. 12:2). Basically the picture here is to value God’s will in a way that you show His will, you display His will, and His will transforms our mind. It’s just like we were talking about, He transforms our beliefs, our minds, it radically affects our behavior.
Romans 12:2 reminds us Gods will is more satisfying than anything else
We’re going to talk about the behavior portion later, our body and our will, but see the core beliefs here. In order to display the will of God we’ve got to have Him transform our minds. And it all leads to that last picture. We then discover that His will is more satisfying than anything else this world has to offer.
I love one translation of Romans 12:2. It said, “Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” That’s what I love about Romans 12:2—“His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Like for example, that word “good,” it’s not just an adjective. It’s not saying, “God’s good will.” It’s a noun. What it’s saying is God’s will is good. It is the essence of good. It is the essence of satisfaction. His will is good.
And we begin to realize when He transforms our mind, that satisfaction in this life is not found in the pattern in this world, but it is found in being transformed by the renewing of our minds. And then we’re able to discern, display, and discover just how valuable and wonderful the Word of God is. You see how important the mind is.
And so what I want us to do is I want us to bring our minds before the Lord, and I want us to consecrate our minds before Him, not even thinking about our actions to this point. God, we need you to transform our minds, the way we think. We need to savor your glory and submit to your Spirit’s work in our minds as we study your truth and as we surrender to your mission.
We’re going to spend some time in concentrated prayer. And I think there’s praying here that goes along two lines. One line is there are people all across this room who have never had this heart transfer; this whole picture we started with. And I’m guessing there’s many of us who, even as we’re walking through this picture in this series, may be wondering if you’ve changed your behavior and changed some things in your life but you’ve never had the fundamental transfer of worship at the core of who you are, is Christ in you?
That is the fundamental question upon which all of life and all of eternity rests. Is Christ in you? Not what have you done. Not how many times have you gone to worship. Not how many times have you been in church. Not how many moral behaviors have you practiced. Is Christ in you? Get through the rubbish. Is Christ in you?
If you said, “No,” then I want to invite you to see His glory. The glory of one who died on a cross so that you would no longer have to live according to yourself, but you can live according to the one who created you. And I want to invite you to say, “I need you to come into me. I need you to transform me from the inside out. I’m going to trust in you and your love. I want to know it. I want to be swept off by your love.” And He wants to do exactly that.
So that’s the first line of praying. Many of us in this room will say, “I need Christ in me.” And the other line of praying is this, for those who do know Christ is in us, we need to pray for each other. We need to pray for our minds. We are so saturated by the world, and we need, Paul says it later, guard our hearts and our minds in Christ. Guard your mind in Christ.
And so I want us to get into small groups and I want families to have the opportunity to pray over each other. And I want moms or dads to have an opportunity to pray over their kids that God will guard their mind. I want students to pray together, that God will guard their minds. And I want kids to pray for parents, that God would guard their minds. And I want us to pray for each other.
We’re in the middle of a battle between the God of this world who is blinding minds and the true God, the God of the universe who is shining light. And so we’re going to come before Him and say, “God, we need you to transform our minds.” And so right now I want to invite you to get together in groups. I’m going to invite you to pray together.