This sermon is a companion to three previous sermons:
By the Renewing of Your Mind (Part 1) - Romans 12:2
By the Renewing of Your Mind (Part 2) - Romans 12:2
By the Renewing of Your Mind (Part 3) - Romans 12:2
Romans 12:1-2 reads, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
In Romans 12:1 God the Holy Spirit pleads with us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto the Lord our God. Then in verse 2 God the Holy Spirit gives two commands that we must obey if we are truly to present ourselves as such a living sacrifice unto the Lord our God. The opening portion of the verse presents the first command – “And be not conformed to this world.” Then the second command follows – “But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Brethren, we are not to be “conformed to this world.” We are not to be in the same form or in agreement with this present evil world. Rather, we are to be “transformed.” We are to be changed into a different form and a different character than this present evil world. Yea, we are to be changed into the same form and character as our Lord Jesus Christ. Even so, 2 Corinthians 3:18 declares, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image [as the glory of the Lord] from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
In addition, Romans 12:2 reveals that the means of this transforming work is “by the renewing of your mind.” We are commanded to be “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.” This means that we ourselves must involve ourselves in the renewing of our minds. We ourselves must seek out, and commit ourselves to the things that will make for the renewing of our minds. What then are the things that will make for the renewing of our minds? Already in the first three parts of the message, we have considered six answers to this question – (1) We must commit ourselves to the truth of God’s holy Word; (2) we must commit ourselves to put away from us any and all sin; (3) we must commit ourselves to live wholly unto the will of God; (4) we must commit ourselves to the truth of our new life in Christ; (5) we must commit ourselves to walk in and after the Holy Spirit; and (6) we commit ourselves to walk always in prayer and thanksgiving. Now in this second part of the message, let us consider one additional answer to this matter.
We must commit ourselves to bring every thought into captivity to Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 we read, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” Now, in its context this passage directly related to “the enemies of the cross of Christ” who were attacking the apostle from without. Verse 2 reveals this context, wherein the apostle said, “But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.” Yet the principles of this passage can also certainly be applied to the mindset of our own sinful flesh, that enemy of Christ that is within each one of us.
What then are these principles that we find concerning ourselves. First, we find that we must fight against the enemy of our selfish, sinful flesh with spiritual weapons empowered by God. In verses 3-4 we read, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds).” Brethren, we cannot fight our selfish, sinful flesh with fleshly weapons. Fleshly wisdom and fleshly thinking and fleshly determination will not bring the victory. Rather, the weapons that we employ in our warfare against our selfish, sinful flesh must be “mighty through God.” They must be spiritual weapons empowered by the Lord our God. So then, what are these spiritually mighty weapons? They are the things that we have encountered already in this study. They are the truth of our new life in Christ, the mindset of Christ to follow after God’s will, the daily walk in and after the Holy Spirit, the practice of prayer and thanksgiving, and the truth of God’s holy Word, “which is the sword of the Spirit.” If we will stand upon the truth of our new life in Christ, if we will set ourselves to follow ever and only after God’s will, if we will daily walk in and after the Holy Spirit, if we will be faithfully in prayer and thanksgiving, if we will use God’s Holy Word as the governing rule of our lives, then we will be fighting with the spiritual weapons empowered by God.
Second, in this passage we find that we must cast down in our mindset all “imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.” Now, what is “the knowledge of God”? It is the truth of God’s Holy Word and the walk of fellowship with God. And what are the imaginations of our hearts? They are the thoughts and feelings, the reasonings and desires, the rationalizations and intentions, the plans and purposes of our hearts. And what is “every high thing that exalteth itself” against God? In our own sinful flesh, these high things are our selfishness, our self-centeredness, our pride, and our arrogance. Thus we must cast down in our mindset every thought and feeling, every reasoning and desire, every rationalization and intention, every plan and purpose that stands against the truth of God’s holy Word. Furthermore, we must cast down every bit of selfishness, self-centeredness, pride, and arrogance that stands against our fellowship with God.
Third, in this passage we find that we must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Every single thought that we have must be brought into captivity. Yea, every single thought must be brought into captivity to the lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ in our lives. Every single thought that we have must be made captive to the rule of “obedience to Christ.” If any thought will not lead us unto “obedience to Christ,” then it must be cast down and cast away. If any thought will lead us unto “obedience to Christ,” then it must be grasped and exalted in our mindset. Even so, Philippians 4:8 gives the instruction, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” How then shall we know what things fulfill this list of qualifications? Philippians 4:9 reveals the answer, saying, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” If we will think upon the truths of God’s Holy Word to do them, then God our heavenly Father, “the God of peace,” will walk in fellowship with us.
Finally, in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 we find that we must be “in a readiness to revenge all disobedience.” Certainly, in the context the apostle Paul was speaking of dealing with the disobedient, false teachers at the church in Corinth. Yet our application of this principle to the enemy of our own sinful flesh, we learn that we must be ready and quick to repent of each and every sin in our hearts and lives. If we commit any sin in thought, attitude, word, or action, we must not allow it to linger in our hearts. We must not regard this iniquity in our hearts. Rather, we must be zealous to repent of that iniquity with a broken and a contrite heart.
Posted in Weekly Sermon, Romans, Self Dependence, The Holy Spirit, Word of God, Walk in Righteousness, Prayer, Thanksgiving, Fellowship with the Lord, Sinful Pride, Sin of Selfishness, Godly Attitude, Abiding in Christ, Biblical Humility, Repentance of Sin