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The SHOVELETTER : Random Letters 2002-03
The Renewing of the Mind (3/17/2003) REPLY << Prev Topic | Next >>
Posted: 9/06/03 by the shovel 


"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."  Romans 12:2

Does this verse represent the "HOW TO" practicality of the grace life?  Are you sure?  Truthfully, we have had to make some very obvious oversights to produce such a concept in the first place.  Just take a good look at the syntax (phrase structure):

"And do not BE CONFORMED to this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by THE RENEWING of your mind,"

Where is the action in the above statement?  Re-read that and notice it does NOT say: "Do not conform yourself to this world, but transform yourself by renewing your mind".  No, we have been taught to automatically rearrange the sentence structure in our minds so that we miss the simple expression of a STATE OF BEING.  Of course, when we're trying to get a handle on how to live this miraculous life it's not at all surprising that the miraculous gets bumped right out of the life!

"And do not BE CONFORMED to this world..."

Now, I realize this is a novel idea, but what if we were to assume that everything Paul wrote in this letter was so connected that it built upon itself?  Imagine that!!  :)  Paul presented the truth of the good news of Christ in his letter to the Romans by alternating between declaring the reality and then the logical human reaction against it.  He posed fleshly objections in the form of questions throughout the whole letter.

These questions represent the wisdom of this world that is pushed at us all day, every day, from every side.  It is nothing less than a bottom-line rejection to the life of Christ.  And the religious world has capitalized upon it, having done so by veiling it with Christian lingo and Bible verses.  But you know what?  There is only one reason why we even HEAR this passively-phrased declaration: we have been given ears to hears!!

Let me tell you what this statement -- "do not BE CONFORMED to this world" -- does to me.  It CONFIRMS the reality of Christ's life within me, for I desire the reassurance that I'm NOT crazy for questioning the BS in the world around me!!

You see, we're often so ready to "DO" this Christian life, especially egged on by fleshly demands of religion, that we will act against the wisdom of Christ within us.  We've been duped!   The religious lie of this world would have us suspect our problems are found by running after SIN, when in fact, we've been tricked into pursuing a fleshly "RIGHTNESS" ... which is nothing but LAW!    It is right here that we need to be reassured of the miraculous life of Christ within us that speaks: "Don't take heed to these lying demands no matter how right they sound!!"


In Galatians 5, Paul also wrote this: "For we through the Spirit, by faith, are WAITING for the hope of righteousness." (5:5)  Different words, same truth.  Both in the letter to the Galatians and in the letter to the Romans (chapter 4) Paul called up the imagery of Abraham's forced wait for God's miraculous working to produce what He had promised!  Abraham had given in to that shared fleshly sense that says we need to DO something in order to make God's work happen.  Though we may regard Abraham to have lost faith when he had sex with Sarah's slave-girl, thereby producing the fleshly-son Ishmael, Paul states clearly that his faith did not waver but that he grew in faith knowing that God was able to perform what He said.

"But be transformed" is a summary of the reality Paul described in Romans 8.  For what the law could not do Christ does IN us.  It is all HIS doing because HE is our righteousness.  Once again, WE HEAR THIS because of the Spirit who is in us. 

"But be transformed" is like having it said, "Stand still and watch the deliverance of God!"  Hmmm ... sounds like a scriptural theme, huh?  :)  The truth of the matter is that God IS and HAS BEEN working His deliverance in us the whole time.  This is also the meaning behind this statement: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Eph 2:10.  For we, just like Abraham, continue to question the true value and reality of the works God has us walking in because the perception based upon fleshly appearances demand that nothing is happening, nor ever will.

One more part to consider:  "but be transformed by THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND"

Remember how I asked where the action was?  Ever notice the little word "the" preceding "renewing"?  How is it that we so quickly read OVER it as if it's not there?  As a verb of action we could say, "I need to renew my mind", but if we had to fit the word "the" in front of it we would be hard-pressed to make an intelligible sentence. 

"The renewing" is a noun; as in, person, place or thing.  I think it has been read as if it describes the course of action believers are supposed to perform ... but this actually violates the passive "be transformed by ...".  It is a call to the miraculous work of God, the hope of the very righteousness that God works within us.

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet OUR INNER MAN IS BEING RENEWED DAY BY DAY." 2 Cor 4:16

There is no suggestion here that WE are the performers of this "being renewed" is there?  This is a statement of the reality of the contrast between the constant decaying outward and the constant renewing inward.  "Therefore we do not lose heart"  Why not?  Because of its reality, for God Himself is the sustainer of our hearts.  Remember, this is the same man, who in this same letter had just said,

"For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."  (2 Cor 4:6-10)

God is the one who lit up our hearts!  The treasure is Christ, but it is contained in earthen containers.  "The surpassing greatness of the power WILL BE of God and not from ourselves."  Notice the contrasting language used to describe how this affected Paul as an earthen vessel: "AFFLICTED IN EVERY WAY ... PERPLEXED ... PERSECUTED ... STRUCK DOWN ... ALWAYS CARRYING ABOUT IN THE BODY THE DYING OF JESUS,"

You know, if it were not for the reality of Christ that would be a very sad story!  Somehow, the reality of the life of Jesus renewing his inner man made it so "that the life of Jesus also may be manifested".  For though afflicted he was not crushed; though perplexed, not despairing; and so on.  In other words, Paul counted on this miraculous renewing of his mind, which is his inner man.  This renewing does not stop ... but our eyes can become clouded so that we think nothing is happening, and then we become discouraged so that we question God's non-stop work inside us.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,"

This is a reinforcement of the miraculous work of Christ within us to simply wait upon the righteousness of God as it works itself out in our lives despite all the sneering and ridicule from the world logic as its collective voice says, "Where is this 'miraculous' God who can't seem to bring about anything of real value in your life?  What does Christ do for you ... really?  Why can't you measure up to those who far outshine you?"

I tell you, don't listen to these lies, even when you are the one repeating them!!  God is the one who renews your mind ... count on this faithful and consistent renewing, for it is Christ himself who IS this to you!!  Stand still and watch the salvation of your God!!


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Posted: 9/06/03 by oceanwaves 


Thanks for this message. I just thought it was encouraging that my seven year old son, who attends second grade in a Christian school, brought this exact same verse home for this week's verse. Reading what you shared will help me when we discuss the verse together! I had been taught that we have to renew our minds...that it is something we have to do. That never really seemed right to me. Now I can share this verse with my son from a grace perspective instead. Thanks, God bless,
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Posted: 9/06/03 by Joanne Anstine 

Dear Jim,
PTL and blessings!! It is late here, so will be quick. This was a really special writing - I call such oracles, for truly this is a word from Father. What a revelation!! You are so right - all along, have been taught that it was I who was to keep from being conformed to the world, and it was I who was to do the being transformed by the renewing of my mind. How? Well, by the dint of "determining" to do/be. Had thought that I had shed most (had hoped all) of the teaching from before, but...PTL for this gift! Thank you, thank you. What a relief!!!
God bless, and enthralled with His grace,
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Posted: 9/06/03 by Neil 

I especially like the renewal that has taken place in me concerning the full understanding of Eph. 2:10: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." I was once taught that this was talking about our good works--but it isn't that at all. This sentence is reflexive in that "them" refers back to good works. And whose good works would they be if they were prepared beforehand by God? Certainly not ours. God doesn't have a list of honey-does for us to work on. And why would God want us to walk in our own good works when He says that there are none who are good? We are created for the purpose that Christ's work of redemption and creation (which can only be good) is revealed by Him through us, not by us. Yet it took the renewing of my mind by the mind of Christ in order for me to understand that statement. It wasn't because I had been given a new understanding of sentence construction, for I certainly don't have any such thing. The way of God is not the way of the flesh and the attainment of God cannot be achieved through fleshly ways. I know because I had tried for many years to make it happen. And this renewal is, as the writing says, an ongoing thing since the flesh is in constant opposition to the things of the spirit. The flesh continually wants its own way and seeks to gratify itself even to the point of humiliating itself into thinking that is the will of God. But we are told that the flesh is of no profit at all as pertains the way of God. I have an acquaintance that I've told you about who just doesn't "get it." For two years now I've worked with him about this "proof" thing that he persists in. He continually sends me these cutesy stories which are to be sent to others "if you are not ashamed of Jesus." As a further proof that you are not ashamed and have followed orders, you will send the story back to the sender. Well, who doesn't want others to think they are not ashamed of Christ if a litmus test has been established, especially if Jesus is keeping score? But despite Jesus' supposed statement to this effect, He doesn't have any such litmus test. Since our mouths and our actions can be corrupt beyond all measure, He puts no stock in any of that. It is only in our lives having been crucified with His life then having become our life will there be any test. It won't be in what we do or say but in what we are. The hopelessness of the hold religion has upon people is strong indeed and has served to deceive many. Thanks for sharing with me.
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Posted: 9/06/03 by Natalie 

Wow!!! That was a lift for the day! Thanks Jim! I often wonder why I don't pray more...and I think it is that I don't believe that my BEGGING God is going to do a thing. He is totally in control. All the ANTI-WAR protests drive me crazy. I am not understanding pacifists at all...those mennonites who claim they love God. God put Bush in charge and that is good enough for me. I am just gonna sit back and let God do HIS thing. But what you wrote is what I believe with all my heart. I just get caught up in the lies sometimes. Don't we all? love and hugs,
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Posted: 9/06/03 by Paul 

excellent word for the times! personally, very encouraged by this
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Posted: 9/06/03 by B.A. 

...this is some of your best writing...
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Posted: 9/06/03 by Mike 

amen amen amen amen amen!!!!!
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Posted: 9/06/03 by Anonymous 

March 30, 2003

I've just read your comment on "Be not conformed . . ." and so forth. Of course, I don't know whether you're on the level or not. For all I know, you may be just one more religionist sure that he has the truth. Assuming you're not, however, I would be interested to know how you deal with the imperative nature of this statement. Clearly it is a command, not just a description. You equate "Be not conformed" and "Be transformed" with "sit still and observe that this has happened". Isn't this a little too facile? Furthermore, if the command is to "sit still", it's still a command, which means an injunction that the one commanded should do something. To use old terminology, it seems to me that, presumably in an exaggerated fear of "works-righteousness", you've eviscerated the actual meaning of the verse.
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Posted: 9/06/03 by the shovel 

April 2, 2003

Not sure if I'm on the level, are you?  I doubt that.  Yeah, I think you already know exactly what you think about me and my "facile" interpretation ... and I can only assume you mean "shallow" or a lack of care or effort on my part, instead of the other meanings given to that word.  :)  As a matter of fact, I suspect you are quite versed in your stance and have probably taught it for years.

It is the lack of care that keeps forcing those fleshly "imperatives" that totally ignore the depth of the recorded detail of the miraculous work of God through Christ.  It seems to make no difference how well Paul presented the good news of Christ in contrast to the "to do" mentality of man's religious sensibilities when viewing statements built upon it.  The question is not, is there an imperative, but is that imperative of the same kind of fleshly performance we learned in this world ... or is it the demand of the miraculous?  Since Christ has set us free from the bondage of a wisdom that boasts in it's own abilities I wonder which wisdom guts the real meaning of the verse?


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Posted: 9/06/03 by Anonymous 

Natalie's response prompted me to ask a couple of questions: Does the fact that God's in control & that He allows sin mean that sin should be "good enough" for us? Does God's control nullify His ability or willingness to answer our prayers, change His mind, do something different?

Another One of God's Children.
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Posted: 9/06/03 by the shovel 

Hello, dear child of God!

It is a very common logical progression that you use to base your questions upon ... but since we haven't come to know God based upon intellectual understanding we will only drive ourselves batty trying to reconcile the reality of a God who is totally in control with all those fleshly arguments.  Know what I mean?  In other words, the religious speculations we often find so compelling are founded upon the natural religious mind ... and are realized to be bogus in Christ.  This is because there is an uncrossable chasm between the mind of the flesh and the mind of the Spirit so that the logic of the one is foolishness to the other.

Regarding sin, how is it that we speak of it as if it has any place at all in the realm of the new life?  Because we have listened to so much deception we think we have to justify sin instead of simply recognizing the wonderful truth that Christ has separated us from it.  Yeah, I know we can all verify the presence of sin in our existence, but I wonder when we will finally recognize that we are not seeing ourselves rightly when we attribute sin to who we really are.  Do we not know who we are?  Do we not know that we have died to sin and have been raised to new life in Christ?  We simply are not who or what we once were!  It is fleshly logic that has us thinking of ourselves in terms of sin instead of in terms of life.

Regarding God's control and prayer, it is the same fleshly logic that causes us to worry that his control can ever nullify the willingness of his heart.  It is only the reality of his absolute control that brings true freedom and confidence in his heart of love toward us!!

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Posted: 9/06/03 by Anonymous 

....but we are BEING transformened bny the renewing of our minds by Christ...would have been much easier to undestand,the way it wirtten is incomplete i feel.Opps how dare i challenge the style of the writtten scriptures!
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Posted: 9/06/03 by Anonymous 

In regard to the guest who styled Rom 12.2 as an "imperative." I couldn't find that stmt anywhere in this vs--I looked hard but I couldn't find the word "command" either. What I did see was that 12.2 is connected to 12.1 by the word "and" which leads back to the 2nd word of verse 1--"beseech" KJV (urging/begging). Sounds like the urging/begging is for us as believers to recognize and display the miraculous life of the Lord that we have within. Let Him shine thru "Cracked Pots" so to speak. Also, many of the words which are translated "command" are from a greek word which means "an arrangement toward" something, ie, a prescription.   I've looked closely at a lot of these so-called "imperative" psgs and in most of them, it is the life of our Lord that is being prescribed for all situations. We can end up either pointing to our pot full of cracks that we've tried to fill in with junk or we can leave the cracks alone and actually show people past the cracks to the Life of the Lord--just as you do, Jim, so eloquently! When folks try to bring you into bondage, I can see that you'll "give place by subjection, no not for an hour that the truth of the gospel might continue" with us.   Carry on, my Brother! I don't know why and I may be wrong about it but sometimes it can be kinda fun to rile up a legalis! I wonder if the Lord smiled sarcastically when He spoke to the Pharisees sometimes. Some of the things he said seem pretty funny to me! I love you, man!
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