We know as Christians that we are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. But what does this mean exactly? And what role do we play in making this happen?
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And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
I’ve heard this verse many times throughout my years as a Christian. But what does it mean to renew your mind? I’ve heard many definitions and interpretations of what it means to renew your mind as a Christian, but which one is right?
Let’s take a look at three popular definitions and why they might be a bit misleading…
- In order to renew your mind, you have to change your behavior.
It’s pretty easy to see how we arrived at this definition. The verse tells us to “not be conformed to this world.” So obviously, there must be some element of behavior involved in renewing your mind. The problem, however, lies in the fact that true behavior change follows internal transformation… not the other way around. You can try to change your behavior for a time with moderate success, but true change happens when we are transformed from the inside out. So if you believe you have to renew your mind every day by behaving like a Christian rather than conforming to this world, you will most likely miss the most crucial element of mind renewal… being transformed.
- Renewing your mind is all up to you.
Again, there is some truth to this definition. You certainly play an active role in renewing your mind daily. But by making it all up to you, you are once again missing a key piece to the puzzle… transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. The truth is that if it were possible to renew your mind apart from Him, the Law would have been enough to cause the nation of Israel to renew their minds. We know, however, that it wasn’t enough. No matter how much effort they put forth, they couldn’t change their thinking to align with Christ’s. We also know that the world tries to renew their minds this way. They accomplish this through positive thinking, motivational speeches, and self-help teachings. But without the Holy Spirit, these methods will only take them so far.
- Renewing your mind is all about reading and memorizing Scripture.
I see this definition more often than the others. While the Bible plays a key role in teaching us how to think, Scripture alone isn’t enough. Yes, you read that right. The truth is that the Bible is alive and active only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Without Him, it’s simply a book with words. He is the one who breathes life into the pages, and He is the one working in your heart and life when you read. You can study and memorize Scripture all you want, but unless you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and allow Him to transform your thinking, you will not be renewing your mind.
In the end, renewing your mind is about being transformed.
The Bible is certainly an imperative tool in learning how to think like Christ, and you do play an active role in changing your thinking as well.
But apart from the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, your efforts won’t amount to much. He alone is the key to renewing your mind daily in Christ.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.