Over this past week I’ve been meditating on and dealing a lot with the implications of Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I wanted to make sure I understood what that really meant. Think about what it is really saying for a second. Another way to say it is, “a life can be transformed (changed from one thing to another) by a mind being made new.” The next question, then, is who or what actually does the renewing? Do we do it? After all, Paul starts this instruction with the word, “Be…”. In other words, do it. Yet, transformation comes through Christ alone, so it doesn’t seem the implication is that I can accomplish this under my own power and that there must be an element of God’s activity in us.
So, my conclusion on that it is that it begins with trusting in the Holy Spirit to do in us what we’ll be unable to do. Namely, to renew our minds. We have a work in it, of course. I must, as Oswald Chambers once said, “work out what He has worked in” [expounding on Philippians 2:12]. Since I’ve never connected the rest of the chapter with this statement in verse 2 (after all, that’s the verse that matters in the Christian’s handbook on memorization!), I missed all of the rich unpacking Paul does on this idea.
Just look at some of the statements he makes following this idea:
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
These are counter-cultural ideas, aren’t they? When I’m confronted with situations like these that are mentioned, my mind tells me to look after Number 1! Yet Paul is saying to think differently, and by thinking differently enough, actions follow. What I will find is that, as I think on these things and my actions begin to follow, my life will experience the transformation from a life conformed to the ways and things of the world to a life conformed to that of Christ. That is Romans 12:2.