A New Frame of Mind

As the lives of western Christians become more and more dominated by the content that is brought into their lives by various forms of media, we must ask the question, "With what do I fill my mind?" The Apostle Paul makes several pertinent points regarding this question in Romans 12:2, where he wrote: 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 and what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Consider the following:

First, Paul mentions our minds, our thoughts and the processes of the mind. It is the “renewal of the mind” with which he is concerned. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep the heart will all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life." In Prov.  4:26, we read, “ponder the path of your feet then all your ways will be sure.” Consider, think, meditate upon the paths before you. How will we do this without the right mental and spiritual equipment? Our Lord Jesus was concerned about our minds when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with...all you mind” (Matt. 22:37). Your mind directs your actions--as our Lord says elsewhere: “Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Lk. 6:45). We must always consider that upon which we are setting our minds.

Second Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world.” It is easy for a Christian to think like an unbeliever. This is contrary to the believer's new identity in Christ and status before God. It is equally contrary to the work that is being done in him or her by the Holy Spirit. Paul again writes in Romans 8:5, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of flesh.” The flesh is code for worldly things, the sinful nature, the thoughts, words and actions that once dominated the Christian--things which dominate the believer no longer. The sad reality is that a Christian can all too easily dedicate an hour to loving God with his or her mind each week, while, for the other 164 hours of the week, living and thinking like an unbeliever. We can easily fill our minds with the filth of the world, and even with that which is not inherently sinful (for example, we can easily allow our consumption of social media to fuel the idol of self by encouraging us to constantly be checking how many followers we have and how many likes we receive).

Third, Paul explains that to be conformed to this world is to have a "mind set on destruction." In Romans 8:6-7, Paul writes, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death… For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.” What could be clearer? If we fill our minds with the stuff of this world, we are not setting them on what “is above...where Christ is” (Col. 3:1). Moreover, the mind set on the flesh will, in time, love the flesh. It will be at enmity with God. Such a mind will produce a life of godlessness, unrighteousness, sexual immorality and self-seeking, precisely because that is what the world does–it teaches us to love and to look out for ourselves.

Paul commands us to pursue a renewed rather than a fleshly mind. God calls us to "be transformed by the renewing of the mind." The renewed mind is not the end itself; rather, it is the instrument by which we are sanctified in thought, and enabled to live a Christ-like life. Transformation is a reality for the believer. Some are so worried about transforming the world or their culture they have not given sufficient consideration to the transformation of their own minds. Perhaps this is why so much Christian “transformation” is nothing other than the world presented in Christian clothing.

A truly transformed mind is one at enmity with the fallen world: “Do not be conformed…but be transformed.” A transformed mind is a mind that is saturated by Scripture, able to discern between right and wrong--as well as between right and nearly right. Such a mind is filled with biblical principles which always yields biblical peace and practice.

So, we turn back to the question, "With what do I fill my mind?" To properly asnwer it, we need to examine ourselves as to whether we are filling our minds with the world or with the word. If our mental diet consists predominantly of the world and its allurements, don't be surprised when we start thinking and living like the world. The effects, no doubt, will be devastating. If, however, we allow the word of God to shape our minds, even when devastating providences accompany our lives, we will be standing safely on good and holy ground.

Matthew Holst