Summary: A deeper look at Romans 12:2. Insights into the life application of what the renewal of our mind can be.
I want to talk about a very familiar verse today. Many of us memorize Romans 12:1 and 2 together. And I would recommend that if you haven’t committed these verses to memory, that you make the effort to do so. These are excellent verses to help live godly lives. But, I have to confess that I’ve never really contemplated these verses very deeply. That’s what I’d like to do with verse two today.
Romans 12:2 is our text for today’s discussion. And, I really want this to be a discussion today; not just me up here speaking. But, before we read several different versions of this verse, let’s take a moment to bow in prayer once again.
Turn to Romans 12:2. Here is the NASB: “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.” Will others read their versions?
Reading and hearing these, what do you pick up or what understanding do you gain from this verse? Most people respond that the verse teaches that we are to be changed. And that’s exactly what the verse is telling us. But how?
You know I like to break Bible passages down into pieces in the hopes of gaining deeper understanding. That’s what we’re going to do with this verse. But, ultimately, I want to answer one question before we leave today. I want to answer the question, “What is renewing your mind?” So, I hope with our discussion we can make some practical application to “renewing our minds.”
Let’s break down the verse now. Let’s examine the phrase “conformed to this world”. Conform here is from a Greek compound word ‘summorphose,’ which is made from two other Greek words that mean to form or fashion together similarly. It has as its context a craftsman, who makes two identical objects at the same time. So the idea in verse two leads us to believe that humans fashion themselves after something. We see a choice presented in this verse. We can either be identical to things in the world around us or identical to something else. But, the Bible teaches us in may places and in Romans 8:29, that Christians are to be identical to the image of Christ.
If we read 1 Peter 1:14, we may gain some additional insight into what the former image of ourselves was. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance.” And again, in 1 John 2:15, “do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Many of us remember Silly Putty. I think it’s one of the greatest toys ever invited. It bounces and smushes. But, its most famous characteristic was its ability to be flattened against an image on paper and lift the image off onto itself. Humans are like Silly Putty. We take on whatever image we choose. Whatever image we put ourselves next to. Often, that image is of the world.
The next word we want to examine is the word “transformed” which is translated from a very similar Greek word ‘metamorphoo’ which is a compound word meaning to change or transfigure.
One of the most famous transformations was shown in recent cinema with the character Sméagol in Lord of the Rings. Didn’t he undergo an amazing transformation due to what he desired and what he wanted to be near? This is a perfect illustration of what we end up doing.
In the Bible, probably the most famous examples of this happening was the transfiguration of Christ. Mark 9:2 records it for us. “Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them.”
The word used for transformed in Romans 12:2 is the same Greek word used here for transfigured. If you think about what that transfiguration looked like, we might get a glimpse of what we’re to become.
Finally, let’s look at the word renewing. I believe this is the key word of the verse, because without understanding of what this means, we will have difficulty in our Christian walk. The word renewing is from the Greek word ’anakoinosis,’ which when translated into English, means to renovate.
If you renovate a house, you have to demolish the parts you no longer want. You tear it out, often with some effort. This is similar to renovating your mind. We must tear out and demolish the old part of our minds and memories.
We see in Ephesians that Paul encourages us to take on the likeness of God—-be Silly Putty and smush ourselves against God to pick up His likeness. “And that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth” (Eph 4:23-24).