Be Transformed: 3 Misleading Definitions of Renewing Your Mind

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?

Be Transformed: 3 Misleading Definitions of Renewing Your Mind |

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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.


And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. - Romans 12:2


*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

**Photo by Allen Taylor at


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  1. I love what you are doing here! However, here’s some food for thought. 21 Days Renew Your Mind Challenge can be a problem for some people in this respect. Those who come from a history of violence and sexual abuse etc. typically cannot meet this challenge. When they fail they go into a deeper despair. I’m well aware of the power of God to transform anyone He chooses in any way He chooses but the vast majority of abused children (now adults) will struggle. I’m not saying to remove the book either. It will benefit some. Please know this is only food for thought and perhaps the Holy Spirit will put something your heart to address this matter. Thank you again for what you are doing here. The article on be transformed has been a great help. I can’t wait to read more of your work.

    1. I can completely understand where you’re coming from with your comment. Renewing your mind is definitely an ongoing, life-long process… and it can be especially challenging if you have experienced difficult trials in life. My hope with these challenges and articles is to inspire and equip others to begin the process and to daily take action when it comes to living with the mind of Christ. It is, after all, what we are called to do as believers regardless of our past circumstances. And I have to trust that in the midst of difficulties, the Holy Spirit will be faithful to be our comforter, healer, and friend.

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