Summary: Romans tells me the way to know God's Will for my life is to be "transformed by the renewal of your mind." What does that mean, and how can we accomplish it?
Have you ever received a “sweepstakes” offer in the mail? For years magazine companies like Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping and Publishers Clearing House have sent out mailings offering a sweepstakes where a lucky winner could win substantial prizes if they’d just send in the paperwork. Apparently it has been a very effective way to advertise because, at one point, it helped at least one company generate upwards of 1.4 million subscriptions every year at a very low cost.
In 1997, American Family Publishers had a mailing list that included the “Bushnell Assembly of God” in Bushnell, Florida. The computer somehow twisted the name of the church so that the sweepstakes notice was addressed to "God of Bushnell" and was sent to the church’s address. The letter read, "Dear God. We're searching for you. You've been positively identified as our $11,000,000 mystery millionaire! What an incredible fortune there would be for God! Imagine the looks you'd get from neighbors. But don't just sit there God, come forward now and claim your prize!”
They were searching for God! They promised God a huge blessing, if only He would respond to their offer.
Now, what Romans 12 is telling us is that God has offered a huge blessing. And not just for one lucky winner - but for everyone who would look for Him and respond to His offer. It says “(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.” Romans 12:2
Would you like to know God’s Will for your life? Of course you would! So, if you are searching for God’s Will for your life and if you want His blessings you need to respond to His offer. And God says you can do that by being “transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Now, how do we do that? How do we “renew” of our minds? Well, it means we need to change the way we think! But, why would we need to do that? Why should I change my “thinking?” The reason is simple: most people start out by believing that their personal opinion is the basis of truth.
ILLUS: A market research team called “Barna” did a survey of a large sampling of Americans about 20 yrs. ago, and they found that “people are most likely to make their moral and ethical decisions on the basis of whatever feels right or comfortable in a situation.” In other words: If folks think something is right, it must be right. They believe that its just good old common sense.
ILLUS: I once read a true story about a wealthy man who had a collection of paintings, one of which was the "Leaning Tower of Pisa," that hung over his writing desk. One day he noticed that the painting was hanging crooked… so he straightened it. But the next morning, he noticed it was crooked again. So he straightened it again. That happened every morning for about 4 or 5 days. Finally, in frustration, he asked his housekeeper if she had any idea what was happening. She answered: “That was me. I have to hang it crooked to make the tower hang straight.”
That made sense to her. It wasn’t right for the Tower to lean like that, so she felt she had to make the painting crooked so the Tower would look straight.
Now, the Bible says that that’s kind of like a “Default” way of thinking for most of us. Proverbs 3:5-6 warns us - “DO NOT LEAN on your own understanding. (Why would I want to lean on my own understanding? Because I trust my instincts.) In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”
Proverbs 14:12 warns “There is a way which seems right unto a man (it makes sense to me) but its end is the way of death.”
In fact Proverbs 28:26 “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool…”
A Fool? Why would trusting my own instincts make me a fool? Well, Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the reason: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Something is wrong inside of us. Something that causes us to make poor choices, and what is wrong is that our hearts are warped with sin, and our thinking has been warped by the world of sin that we’re immersed in. And so the Bible says we can’t fully trust our own instincts. It’s like something has been shut “off” inside of us, and because of that we end up depending on wrong information.
ILLUS: I had a problem with phone for the past few weeks. When I walked into church one day, I noticed the wall clock was off by 4 minutes compared to the clock on my cell phone. I thought “I’ve got to talk to Mark (our janitor) about that.” Then I noticed that one of the other clocks in the church building was off by 4 minutes as well. And as the days went on I noticed other people’s phones were “wrong” too. (PAUSE) Now, if everybody else’s phone is off by 4 minutes compared with mine… who’s phone is probably wrong? That’s right. Mine was. So I stopped in at the Sprint store (nice people there, and always helpful) and I said “I’ve got a problem with my phone.” “Oh,” said the lady behind the counter, “what’s seems to be wrong?” “The clock on my phone is off by 4 minutes.” “That can’t happen,” she says. “Well, what time does your clock say?” “Noon,” she replied. “Mine says 12:04” says I. “That’s not right,” says she. “I know,” I say, “that’s why I’m here.”