Developing a Christian Mind – part 4: Godliness
4. The Christian mind contrasts with the worlds pattern and is renewed to know God’s will
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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. (Romans 12:2)
The Spirit not only empowers us to do God’s will, as we saw in the last post, He also brings about a progressive transformation in us towards greater Christ-likeness in order that we can recognise what God’s will is. Scripture (the subject of part 2 in this series) does not answer every question we have about what it means to serve God faithfully. We are confronted with many situations where we must make choices that Scripture does not specifically speak to. In these situations we need to use ‘sanctified reason’ to determine what God’s will for us is. In order for this to happen, we must offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, ready to do what God wants us to do. We must recognise the influences of the world’s values on our thinking and allow God to renew our minds. Our new way of thinking is shaped by the gospel that Paul explains in Romans. The remainder of Romans 12 describes what this looks like in practice as Paul describes Christian service using the gifts we have been given and the nature of sincere love. The correct decision in any situation will always be in keeping with love and servanthood.
Too often we allow the world’s values to shape our thinking about many aspects of life, instead of seeking God’s will for us in these areas. If we want to have a Christian mind we must challenge the world’s pattern, refusing to fit into it, and allow God to renew our thinking on every issue. This does not mean strict separation from the world, although we should surely exercise some control over what we watch, read and listen to. More importantly, though, we need to learn how to read books, watch films and hear the news in a Christian way, identifying the values they convey and connecting the gospel to them. This is essential if we are to be effective in apologetics and evangelism.
To develop a Christian mind we must learn to recognise the values of the world and make decisions according to God’s will.