I am 36 years old, and I love to skate. I was an avid skateboarder in my youth, and was pretty good; at least I thought I was! A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to get back into it, but I knew that the sport had changed a lot, so I began doing some research. Just the equipment alone had changed SO much that it was a little overwhelming. I started watching YouTube videos to see how much skateboarding had progressed and I purchased tutorials from skateboarding pros that explained everything from A to Z. The skateboarding scene was no longer just a small pocket of kids. I quickly found scores of grown men that had taken what I once knew to be a hobby and they made it a profession that is nothing short of amazing to watch.
Before long, I found myself visiting the local skate shops and skate parks in my area, meeting new people, and asking tons of questions. My thoughts were consumed with skateboarding. I fell in love with skating once again! I started dressing differently—much differently than other grown men my age (the grown is a matter of opinion haha). I began talking differently, using vacation to go to skateboarding competitions, and spending a lot more time outside with my son (who also skates). When I am out running errands, I’m not just watching the road—I’m scoping out potential skate spots.
My point is that the direction and course of my life changed completely when I started thinking about something different…not just thinking about skating, but continually meditating on thoughts about skating. People do it all the time with different things, and that’s exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Romans 12:2:
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, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)
I love how the New Living Translation puts it:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)
Want to Know His Perfect Will for Your Life?
So many Christians mean well, but live their whole lives wondering, “What is God’s will for my life?” After a while, they give up…somehow thinking that God is being cruel by hiding His will from them. Well, would you do that to one of your children? Would you command them to do your will, and then never tell them what your will is? No, that’s cruel, and I’m willing to bet that you wouldn’t do that. God is not hiding His will from us, which is why He has given us His written Word; His Word is His will for our lives. After all, the New Testament is His “last will and testament,” right? I believe people give up seeking God’s will because they go about the wrong ways trying to figure out what it is. So many people spend all night in prayer, fasting and praying. They’ll climb a mountain or swim the lake. They’ll try everything but what God told us to do in Romans 12:2 (above).
How important is it to know the will of God? Would it make a difference in your life? After all, if you aren’t happy with how your life has turned out, it’s not God’s fault. Your life is the sum total of all of the decisions that you have made. Your life is the result of you following your will for your life. How much better and perfect would HIS WILL be for your life? Would you like to know how to find out? I thought so. Keep reading then.
When you receive Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are “born again” (John 3:3) and your spirit—what the Bible calls the “hidden man of the heart” in 1Peter 3:4—is instantly made into something else…a new creation on Christ Jesus! You are a child of God, but that’s not the end of it. Your spirit was re-created, but your mind, your will, and your emotions were not saved. That’s why the Bible says that we are saved by grace “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8); it is not a feeling, nor is it an ability to understand and rationalize what has taken place in your heart. We put our trust (faith) in what God’s Word says about Christ and the sacrifice that He made (Romans 10:9-10).
Your mind and your thought patterns have been developed over the entire course of your life. Your salvation experience did not have an impact on your thought life, and it won’t. Many people have prayed and asked God to give them a new mind and to take away their thoughts, but He won’t do it through prayer. That’s not a prayer that He will answer…not when He has given us His Word to change the way that we think.
To “conform” means to make something like another thing, to shape, to mold, and to fashion alike, much like the fender of a car is made on an assembly line. Starting out with a flat piece of sheet metal or aluminum, they press a “mold” onto it, and then there’s a fender there. First, if there wasn’t a danger for Christians to be shaped, molded, or fashioned like the world, God wouldn’t have given us Romans 12:2. There is a constant never changing battle to conform and shape you according to the pattern of this ungodly world. I’m sure you’re aware of it (lol)!
This world is under the control of the great deceiver, the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4). As children of God, we are not part of this world, but we are in it. Therefore, if we as believers do not take proactive measures to do the opposite, then we are vulnerable to be shaped by the influence of the world. Being a Christian does not make you immune from the influence of this world and its desire to promote godlessness. Just the contrary! Because you are a child of God, you are MORE of a target than you may want to believe. You are a potential threat to Satan and his kingdom, and he knows that if he can conform, shape, and mold you to think, act, and look like the world, he can neutralize your witness for Christ and make you totally ineffective by keeping you defeated and a slave to sin.
I think you can agree that true believers don’t want to be hypocrites. But, just because you don’t want to be like the world doesn’t mean you will change and be more Christ-like. In the same way that my life wouldn’t have changed if I hadn’t given so much of my time, my thoughts, and my attention to skateboarding, your life won’t look any different from an unbeliever that belongs to the world unless you give yourself entirely to the Word of God. You must become a non-conformist!
First of all, if your mind and thoughts were already okay, there would be no need to be transformed, and you have already attained Christ-like perfection! You must change the way that you think. You cannot continue to live as a new creation in Christ with the same thought patterns that you had before you came to Christ. You are supposed to be different!
It’s not as if you have to create time to study and meditate on God’s Word. You are already meditating and thinking about something, and you are what you have become—not what you have to be. Your thoughts always come before your actions. So many Christians have a negative view about this topic and think that it’s hard to do, and it’s not. What so many misunderstand is that the only thing that needs to change is the type of information that they allow into their thoughts.
The Word of God: His Thoughts
In my life, I have had only a few friends that I knew well enough to know how they think, and how they would respond to certain situations. From spending time with them and listening to them, I learned how they talk and the vocabulary that they used to such an extent that if I were given the opportunity to respond for them in a pressure situation, I could do it knowing what they would say and how they would respond.
To become more like Him, we must first begin to think like Him. I realize that may seem foreign, or even impossible to some, but think for a minute about the process of making a decision, or even saying something to someone. Have you ever made a decision or spoken to someone without first considering, or thinking about, what decision to make? Of course not. Even hasty and irrational decisions were made out of your efforts of reason based on the information that you had concerning the situation.
How are Thoughts Communicated?
I have heard it best explained as this: “Words are thought containers. Words are thought capsules. Words that are spoken transport and communicate the thoughts that originated them.” If someone spoke to you in another language, you wouldn’t understand them, and yet their words mean just as much to them as your words mean to you. The communication failure was your inability to understand that person’s THOUGHTS that they were trying to communicate to you. God’s Word is no different. God’s Word to us in written form are His thoughts for us to meditate on. You mean God has thoughts?! Sure He does:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV)
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34 ESV)
For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in His mind. (Job 23:14 ESV)
…what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalms 8:4 ESV)
The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4 ESV)
After all, if we are created in the image and likeness of God, is it too hard to believe, that like us, He has thoughts? Oh, how precious are God’s thoughts toward us! How else would God communicate His thoughts to us apart from His written Word?
Especially in our generation, there are different meanings of the word “meditate.”
Meditate: verb. – to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.
Thesaurus words: consider, deliberate, have in mind, mull over, reflect, study, or think.
To have your mind transformed in order that you may discover the perfect will of God as the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:2, “meditating” on God’s Word should be an all day, around the clock activity.
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. (Joshua 1:8 NLT)
As I mentioned earlier, the temptation to write this off as being impossible is, well, tempting…especially as busy as our lives are today. But it’s not a matter of creating time to meditate and reflect on God’s Word throughout your day. You are already meditating, mulling over, reflecting, and thinking about something CONSTANTLY. It is simply a matter of changing the material that you feed your mind!
When I was in the Air Force (AKA the Chair Force), I kept a Gideon’s pocket Bible in my right cargo pocket. Every spare minute that I had, I used that little Bible to put as much Scripture to memory as I possibly could. I would memorize entire chapters out of Romans, Ephesians, and 1 & 2 Peter just to see if I could do it. It didn’t take long for me to notice that not only was I thinking differently, but acting differently. When I couldn’t say a Scripture out loud, I would recite it over and over in my head until I could quote the entire passage. Extraordinary things started happening in my life. God would bring consistently bring people across my path that either needed encouragement or counsel that was directly related to the Scripture that I had just put to memory. Amazingly enough, that had never taken place before (big shock, isn’t it?). I began to become more sensitive to sin, and found it was much easier to resist it. I started talking differently without exerting the effort to do so. God’s THOUGHTS were becoming MY THOUGHTS.
Combating the Lies
The devil will introduce thoughts to you that say you can’t do this…that you can’t meditate on God’s Word day and night…that it takes too much effort, or it’s too hard. That’s a lie. He will introduce thoughts that say you are not smart enough. That’s a lie. He will try to tell you that it works for other people, but it won’t work for you. That’s a huge lie. He will try to tell you that Christians who meditate on God’s Word and have renewed their minds have a special relationship with God, or that they have some kind of advantage. That’s a lie. Would God command you to do something in Scripture that you did not have the ability to do or to carry out? Nope. He wouldn’t. God does not show favoritism or partiality among His children like some parents do. The Word of God is the tool that He has provided to ALL those that believe in Christ for the renewing of their minds.
Other Passages of Scripture
This blog post is getting pretty long, so I am just going to list some other Scriptures below that you can meditate along this line that will help you to see how important your thoughts are.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Romans 8:6, 7 ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. (Proverbs 23:7 KJV)
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 ESV)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3 ESV)
And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. (Luke 12:29 KJV)
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25 KJV)
Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. (Proverbs 16:3 NKJV)
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2 ESV)
…and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23 ESV)
…complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philipians 2:2 ESV)
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…(Philippians 2:5 ESV)
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:7-8 ESV)
But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. (Acts 14:2 ESV)
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds… (Colossians 1:21 ESV)
And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. (Revelation 17:12-13 ESV)
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 ESV)
Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:19 ESV)
Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. (Romans 1:28 NLT)
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37 ESV)
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26 ESV)
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)
A man is commended according to his good sense, but one of twisted mind is despised. (Proverbs 12:8 ESV)
And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. (2 Chronicles 9:23 ESV)
And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. (1 Kings 10:24 ESV)
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 ESV)
Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, (Acts 15:24 ESV)
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 ESV)