Benutzer:Summi – Friedrich Eduard Bilz (1842–1922): Das neue Naturheilverfahren (75. Jubiläumsausgabe), Public Domain
The Apostle Paul challenged the Christians in Rome: “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.”
This well-known scripture includes two imperatives and one participle:
- Do not be conformed
- But be transformed
- By the renewing of the mind
While we are to live in the world, we are not to be conformed (to a pattern or mold) to the world’s system/mindset, the “spirit of the age” – its way of thinking and consequent way of behavior. Rather, we are to be transformed. Our essential nature is to be changed. The word “transformed” is derived from the Greek word metamorphosis which we see in the radical change of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
We are to “metamorph” from one thing into something radically different. How are we transformed? By the renewal, the renovation, of the mind.
Paul recognizes that in every society and in every generation there is a mindset that leads to a people’s behavior. In a term Jesus uses in John 3, every person needs to be born again. A person coming to Christ needs a born-again heart and a born-again mind. I came to Christ at 13 years of age. I became churched, and was “discipled” in Young Life and Campus Crusade for Christ. I even studied at an evangelical seminary. I had a born again heart. But something was wrong! Something was missing!
It was not until I studied at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland that I realized that my born-again heart accompanied a pagan mind. I did not think like a Christian, but thought as my culture thought, as a secular-materialist. It was a February night in 1969 that I realized I needed to be born again, again! My heart had been born again, now I needed to have my mind born again.
To this point in my life, I was an evangelical Christian who was conformed to the “world’s system” and I didn’t even recognize it. (For more on this, please see About This Blog.) I’m sure many Christians reading this also have a born again heart and a pagan mind. Thus Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:2.
Why does Paul make this call to us? Because, as he explained in the early part of his letter (Romans 1:18-32), human beings in their natural state are in rebellion against God. They deny the reality that God created. Because ideas have consequences, this rebellion impacts individuals and communities in negative ways, leading to human deterioration and ruin.
Transformed minds lead to transformed lives
Because Paul wants people to flourish and not languish, he lays out the importance of a people’s sacred-belief system (worldview). A careful reading of Romans 1:18-32 reveals Paul’s cause-and-effect argument. Here’s a summary:
1:19-20 – Human beings have rejected the truth which God made perfectly clear, namely, that God has revealed both His existence and elements of His character through the things He made. Specifically, God’s “general revelation” is clear for all people to see. General revelation shows up in two places, inside man – man is the image of God, and outside man, in the rest of creation.
1:21 – Man’s response to God’s self-revelation was fourfold. First, the writer mentions two duties left undone: 1) They did not glorify Him as God and 2) They did not give thanks to Him. This neglect, this abandonment of the normal, rational response led to two tragic consequences: 1) their thinking became futile, and 2) their foolish hearts were darkened. In short, human nature became uninformed and “deformed.” It is for this reason that natural human beings are in need of transformation, as Paul says in Romans 12:2.
1:22 – Although humans claim to be wise they are fools. This verse summarizes the rejection of God described in vs 19-21 and transitions to the consequences described next.
Then Paul goes deeper and explains what happened next. In denying the reality of God’s existence and the nature of the universe He had made, they exchanged sacred belief systems. We see how significant this is, both individually and corporately, in that Paul says it three times.
- [They] exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 23
- They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator … 25
- They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God … 28
In short, people exchanged the worship of the Creator God for the veneration of created things, images (read idols) that resembled man or animals. They became idolaters rather than worshippers.
Here’s a big takeaway: If people reject the Creator God, and the corresponding biblical worldview, they are left with the idolizing of man (Pagan Humanism) or nature (Pagan Animism).
As a consequence of the exchange in belief systems, people’s values are changed. Paul says “God gave them over.” The Greek term means “to hand over to or to convey something to someone, particularly a right or an authority – ‘to give over, to hand over.” The point I wish to make here is that when God hands humans over, their value system changes. Ideas have consequences. The logical extension of a change in worldview is a change in values. The things we value are derived from our sacred belief systems.
- Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 24
- Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 26-27
- God … gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 28
Thus as our worldview changes, the consequences are a change in value system. And this exchange does not simply stop with our values; it is manifested in our actions. A change in mind will lead to a change in heart and this will lead to a change in behavior. Again we find this tightly followed in the above mentioned verses – Romans 1:24, 26-27, and 28b-31.
Romans 1:32 offers a fitting summary to Paul’s Worldview 101 class.
If we want to see our lives, families and communities flourish, that flourishing is predicated upon responding to God’s self-revelation through His creation. It begins by living within the reality of God’s existence and the reality of His creation. Thus we return to Paul’s call in Romans 12:2.
Have you been born again?
Have you experienced a comprehensive new birth, of both heart and mind?
- Darrow Miller
 Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2nd Edition, Edited by J. P. Louw and E. A. Nida. Copyright © 1988 by the United Bible Societies, New York, NY 10023. Used by permission.