- Sermon Notes
The Transformed Mind
In Romans chapter 12 and beyond Paul is describing the victorious life. Paul says it begins by presenting your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. As I mentioned last week, the problem with living sacrifices is that they want to crawl off the altar. Therefore, to be a living sacrifice, it has to be because you’ve made the decision that you want to be there and you want to stay there, offering your life unto Him.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Paul said. In other words, to be a living sacrifice is to be transformed. When you offer your life as worship to God, He will transform you. But how? Answer; by renewing your mind.
That leads us to the question, what does the transformed mind look like? It’s been renewed; it thinks differently than it did before; old thoughts have been taken captive and new thoughts have taken their place.
Paul then gets very practical about how to think and what we’re going to see is that it is connected directly to faith!
I. Think with Sound Judgment
- The point is that a lot of our thinking is off base and we need to think so as to have sound judgment.
- The best way to have sound judgment is to have a plumb line by which you can compare your thinking to that which is “true to plumb.”
- This comes out of the book of Amos we studied recently on Wednesday evenings.
Amos 7:8, Then the Lord said, “Behold I’m about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel.”
- Even in construction today a plumb line is used so the wall can be compared to that which is true. In the same way, we must hold the plumb line of God’s word up to our thinking so we can think true.
2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
A. How you ought to think of yourself
- The first of the old thoughts that have to go, Paul says, is how we think about ourselves.
- We should not think more highly of ourselves than we should. How should we think about ourselves? Look at the plumb line of God’s word. In other words, how does God think of us?
- We should not think more highly of ourselves than God does, and frankly, we should not think more lowly of ourselves than God does either.
- Personally, I think perhaps Paul started with the “more highly than we should” because that’s what he struggled with.
2 Corinthians 12:7, Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me – to keep me from exalting myself!
- If we think more highly of ourselves that God does, then pride keeps us from being transformed.
- If we think highly of ourselves, then we don’t see the need to be transformed; to be renewed in our thinking. In other words, there’s no teachability.
- If we think lowly of ourselves, this is not of faith either. Thinking lowly of oneself is really just pride that has been wounded.
Illus - Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms. Long, thin, slimy ones; short, fat, juicy ones, itsy, bitsy, fuzzy-wuzzy worms.
Isaiah 55:8-9, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
B. Measure your faith in Christ
- Think with sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. In other words, God has allotted to each a measurement for their faith.
- Faith means looking away from ourselves; we are not self-sufficient. Faith means looking unto Him as the measure of our new self in Christ.
- He is the plumb line and we are to measure our faith against the standard of Christ Himself. It’s true that we can never measure up, but God keeps moving us in that direction.
Ephesians 4:11-15 … to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
- That’s our standard, our plumb line, now step on the scales and measure your faith.
Illus - That reminds me of when a man’s wife stepped on the scales and then had a puzzled look on her face…
- Maybe we could see it this way, when we consider the fullness of the stature of Christ and then measure our faith, our faith is too small.
- But faith is very practical and that’s where Paul goes next in this chapter…
C. Love, serve, and give according to faith
- (Verse 6 ) We all have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, but we are members one of another and we should use those gifts for the building up, the edifying, of the body of Christ.
- But when we exercise them, we should exercise them in all diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord in all faith.
- This is surpassing victory. When you value Christ, you value what Christ is doing in you. When you have sound judgment and understand the value of what Christ is doing in you, by faith you love, serve and give according to that faith.
- Let love be without hypocrisy. In other words, love genuinely, not the show of love, but genuinely.
Illus – Chuck Smith told about a guy in Texas that advertised that he had genuine simulated diamonds. Many people sent in money to get a true, genuine, simulated diamond.
- Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor. This is Christ’s character and this is surpassing victory because
you do this by faith.
- Persevere in tribulation – by faith. When you persevere because you’re trusting God to work all things together for good according to His purpose and trusting that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of God-- you have faith.
- Be devoted to prayer. This was Christ in His relationship to His Father. We need more faith to trust Him in prayer.
II. Be at Peace with All Men
- This last section is so practical because everyone has difficult people in their lives.
- But God wants to transform us by renewing our mind. In other words, the old ways, the old thoughts have to go; this too is part of our faith.
A. Humility is the key
- Humility is the foundation of all that is godly; in the same way that pride is the foundation of all that is ungodly.
- Humility is a great strength and comes from a mature heart. The more years I live on this earth, the more I’m convinced that as a person grows in maturity in Christ, humility is one of the most important results.
Isaiah 5:21, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!”
Isaiah 57:15, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit, in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
- Humility comes from faith because you’re not looking unto yourself-- and because you’re looking unto Him, you want to be like Him.
- (Verse 14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not -- for many, there is an unspoken rule that whatever someone does to you, you can do to them, but God’s way is higher.
Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;”
- In other words, you become more like God. Your thinking has been transformed.
- (Verse 17) Do not pay back evil for evil.
Illus - There’s an old saying, “Never wrestle a big; they have way too much fun and you get way too dirty.”
Illus – When I was youth director and had a group of boys playing basketball against a mean-spirited team; we repaid evil with good.
B. If possible… as far as it depends on you
- I’m glad Paul wrote “if possible” because some people are simply impossible.
- But we shouldn’t use this as an excuse either. It really means, if possible, then do it. Be at peace with all men.
- Paul says we are transformed by having our mind made new. In other words, our thinking is off; the old thoughts have to go. We need the mind of Christ.
- When Paul says, “as far as it depends on you,” it means that you shouldn’t wait for the other person to do something first, be sure you’ve done all you can.
James 3:17-18, The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
C. Overcome evil with good
- (Verse 21) Do not be overcome by evil. In other words, don’t become like them. When you pay back evil with evil have they not transformed you?
- (Verse 19) Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God.
- In other words, this is also a matter of faith, of trusting God to settle the account. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
- But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. You’re being like Christ now, you’re being transformed by the renewing of your mind.
- This principle goes way back to the Law of Moses.
Exodus 23:4-5, If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.
- (Verse 20) “In so doing, you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Well at least that’s one consolation.
- What it means is that his mean-spiritedness will stand out more against the backdrop of your good-heartedness and perhaps he’ll feel the shame of being mean-spirited when you treat him well.
- I have personally found that there is great confidence when you know you’re doing what God has asked you to do. There is a confidence in God that strengthens your faith.
- I’ve also found that it confounds the enemy.
Illus – I shared this with Nicole when her basketball team was playing a mean-spirited team they had lost to before and very badly… this principle will undo the enemy.
- Is this not a lesson to teach those around us? That’s what David did…
1 Samuel 24:8-22 David and mean-spirited King Saul.
Romans 12:1-21 NASB
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 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.
3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.