The Transformed Mind
The Transformed Mind Romans 12:1-2 A pastor noticed how a certain older woman only attended his church service about once every 3 months. This went on a few times, so one day the pastor asked her why she only attended service once every 3 months. “Well,” the woman replied, “it’s because I attend a different church every Sunday. One Sunday I’ll go to a Methodist church, next a Baptist church, then a Lutheran church and so on. I go to every different denomination in town, and it takes about 3 months before I circle back around.” “Why?” said the confused pastor. “It’s simple,” replied the woman. “I go to every denomination there is, that way when the day comes that I stand before the Lord, I can tell Jesus that even though I didn’t know which one was right, I made sure I attended them all.” Do you please God? What would you say about your Christian life? Is it clear or confused? Full of joy or sadness? Victory or defeat? Success or struggle? For some, the church you attend becomes more important than the reason you attend. The meaning of the words “worship” and “service” are changing from how we live out there, to just what we do in here. Sadly in this fallen world, some Christians keep looking on the dark side of things and ponder past difficulties instead of what God has done for them. Yes, we must endure trials, and with sin brings shortcomings we all regret. But all of us have an all-sufficient Savior who overcomes our shortcomings. Every Christian will take trips through the valley, but never forget that valleys have an end. This is why the deeper you troubles have been, the louder your thanks to God should be! A pleasing life starts with a Transformed Mind and begins with Rom. 12:1, “in view of God’s mercy.” As God’s people, all of us are in debt to God. We owe Him our obedience with all of our body, soul, mind, and strength. And since everyone is guilty of breaking God’s Commandments, everyone is also debtors to His justice, with a great debt we cannot pay. But for Christians, you can say that you are no longer in debt to God’s justice because Christ has paid your debt! It is for that reason we are all the more indebted to His love. We are in debt to His mercy and grace, but in no way are we any longer a debtor to God’s justice, because He will never accuse you of a debt that’s already been paid. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Pause for a moment to ponder what a debtor you are to the Divine God! Think how much you owe to His unselfish love, for He gave His own Son to die for you. Consider how much you owe to His forgiving grace, for even after 10,000 offenses He loves you as infinitely as ever. Consider what you owe to His power – He has raised you from your death in sin, He has preserved your spiritual life, He has kept you from falling, and although a 1000 enemies may have crossed your path, you have been empowered to continue on your way. And finally, consider what you owe to His unchangeable nature – though you have changed a thousand times, He has never changed even once.” You owe the Lord everything, all that you are and all that you have. So, “In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Your “True and proper worship” begins with God’s mercies always in view. Not in your peripherals, but straight in front and guiding you, because where your looking is what you’re focused on. What God has done for you should be your motivation to live a pleasing life for God. And how do you do this? By “offering your body as a living sacrifice.” A living sacrifice sounds like an oxymoron because sacrifices don’t live; they die. In the Old Testament, you would bring an animal to be sacrificed for your sin. The animal was killed, and its blood would “cover” your sin. But now you are to be a living sacrifice. But as the famous D.L. Moody once said, “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the alter.” So how are you to be a living sacrifice? To be a living sacrifice requires dedication of the total person. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Your proper worship is to live by faith in Christ because “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:20). When you offer your body as a living sacrifice, your goal is service. Service to others motivated by your service to Christ. Remember you don’t just worship Christ on Sunday. Your worship of Christ is expressed in thought, word, and deed every day. Your “true and proper worship” begins with death. To be dead in sin is to be alive to God. The Bible says in Romans 6:11, “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Being alive in Christ means living the sacrificed life. It’s living by God’s standards and not our own. Hebrews 13:15-16 teaches, “Through Jesus, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess His Name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” So I ask you, do you continually share Christ while you do good for others, or do you find yourself crawling off the altar? Remember, a living sacrifice is “holy and pleasing to God.” To be holy is to be “set apart” from your old life. On the cover of your Bible are the words, “Holy Bible.” Do you know why the Bible is called holy? Why should the Bible be called Holy when there is so much greed, hate, and lust found within it? Let me tell you why it’s called “Holy.” It’s because the Bible tells the truth! It tells the truth about the devil, about man, and about God. Jesus Christ is the ultimate revealer of truth. Jesus said, “I am the truth,” and “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Truth leads to a transformed mind. But as verse 2 reveals, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Notice 2 things. First, the Bible says, “be transformed.” The word “Transformed” means Metamorphosis. Like a caterpillar that changes into a butterfly, a transformation is a complete change. This happens from the inside out. “In regard to your former way of life,” Ephesians 4:22-23 says, “to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; but to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Second, Scripture says, “renewing” and not “renewed,” because “Renewing” is a continuous action whereas “renewed” means completion. When you were saved by Christ, you became holy (set-apart), and sanctified. Sanctification is a process of becoming like Christ, and this process isn’t complete until you reach the other side of eternity. The Greek word for “Renewing” describes a renovation. Just like when renovating a house, it’s out with the old and in with the new. Building on a foundation of biblical truth will renew your mind, but you can’t conform to this world. Conform means, “having the same pattern.” It’s a masquerade, and if you conform to this world, you mask who you are in Christ! But a renovation, a mind-change leads, to a life- change. As Job in the OT said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully” (Job 31:1). Job felt the pressure to conform to sin, but instead made a covenant, an agreement, to worship God and not the world. But a Transformed Mind won’t change on its own. A renovation takes work and persistence. A mind is changed by prayer, meditation, worship, reading and reflecting on God’s Word, resulting in a new understanding, new sympathies, a softened conscience, new rules, and new principles as your will bows to God’s will. How many of you would like a better understanding of God’s will for your life? Well, A young woman visited a minister and asked how she could resolve her problem with desires that contradicted the will of God. The minister wrote two words on a slip of paper. Then he asked the woman to ponder the words for ten minutes, cross out one of them, and bring the slip back to him. The woman looked at the two words on the slip: "No" and "Lord." It did not take her long to realize that if she said no, she could not say Lord, and if she wanted to call Christ Lord, she could not say no. The second half of verse 2 says that with a renewed mind, “you’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” Now to start discerning what God’s will is will be for another sermon. If anybody wants to talk about God’s will for your life I’d love to sit down with you. But just as a building begins with a foundation, our foundation of God’s will begins with the word “test.” Test is defined as “a procedure intended to establish the reliability of something before it is taken into widespread use.” We test drive a car before we buy it. We have a home inspector test a house before we buy it. We can even test a mattress! But why a lot of people are so confused about God’s will is because they have the procedure backwards. Instead of renewing their mind and asking God to reveal His will for their life, they stumble because they base decisions on what makes them happy. As Jesus said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). Testing God’s will begins with a Transformed Mind so you can approve and establish God’s, “good, pleasing, and perfect will.” God’s will is good and pleasing because it is perfect. To be perfect is to be complete. Nothing can be added. To test and discover God’s will, you must start with God, not yourself. Suppose you had 1000 acres of land and someone approached you and made an offer to buy your farm. You agree to sell the land, except for one acre right in the very center, with the right to build an access road. Do you know that the law would allow you to have access to that one, lone spot in the middle of that 1000 acres? You could build a road all across the remainder of that farm to get to that small plot of ground. And so it is with the Christian who makes less than a 100% surrender to God. You can be sure that the devil will make an inroad across that person's life to reach the un-surrendered portion and, as a result, their testimony and service will be tarnished and have little effect upon others. Are you fully surrendered to God? To present your body as a living sacrifice is saying "Yes, Lord" to any command. Then you can take the second step, which is to bring your behavior in line with the renewing of your mind. A Transformed Mind occurs only when we pattern our thinking after the principles of God's Word, not the popular ideas of the world around us. So, do you please God? Remember, you must transform and renew your mind. Pause for a moment and think about how much love and mercy God has shown you. Where have you seen God in your life and how do you see your life in God? God in Christ sacrificed His life for you, and desires you to be a living sacrifice for Him. To give your all for His all which means all. A devoted life to God pleases God. Being devoted means putting God’s will above your will. It means conforming to His kingdom and not the worlds. When you renew your thinking and have a Kingdom Mindset that’s expressed through service, that’s a true worship service! And that is pleasing to God. Brothers and sisters, I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, don’t conform to the world. Give your all to Christ, for He gave His all for you. Amen. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.