Romans 12:2 says: Don't copy the behaviour 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.
The Kgv is the better known version.
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.
This is a non~negotiable command & upon our obedience depends much of the success or failure of our Christian walk because everything we hear, see, touch, taste & experience is filtered through our intellect.
For example, I loathe seafood. My tastebuds tell me it tastes bad. My nose says it smells bad. My touch tells me it’s gross, & I’m told things like crabs & prawns scream…therefore my brain insists that all seafood is bad.
I can remember Cait’s violin teacher explaining that her fingers would remember where they needed to be on the strings for each note because her inner ear would *hear* the note & the fingers would automatically fall in the right place because her brain had been trained to hear & obey. They would know where they needed to go.
In the same way a Christian needs to train themselves so that they *know* how to think the way God thinks.
Our society likes things like memes. They condense a Truth into a short pithy statement that helps us to remember & so I am going to give you one of those to remember. Say after me:
GARBAGE IN; GARBAGE OUT.
What you put into your mind matters. It matters to God & therefore it should matter to us. It should matter to us because it affects profoundly the sort of lives we live but for most of us we have never learnt to filter what goes into our minds.
We grow up in a world that is constantly feeding our minds & we are so used to it we never think about it. We never question it. We put on the t.v or the radio. We listen to the canned music @ the shops or on the phone & all the while the world is drip~drip~dripping a world view into our subconscious. What’s more, in one way we are wired to focus on the negative. That may seem counter~productive but in fact it is a survival tactic. We are geared to be aware of danger & avoid it. Toxic thoughts are dangerous. BEWARE!
I am going to illustrate the importance of our thought life with a Jewish story I read recently:
A student asked the Maggid (Jewish preacher) "I understand that we believe that everything which Hashem (God) is doing is good and that we have to acknowledge the good even when it comes in very painful ways. I can even accept that we have to thank Hashem for all the painful parts of life. But how is it possible to do so in 'the same way' that we express our thanks for 'the good'? When we thank Hashem for the 'the good' we do so with joy. But how could we possibly be joyful over the things that break our heart?"
The Maggid thought for a moment, and told the young student that he was asking a good question. He sent him to seek the answer from the Rebbe (teacher) Reb Zusha by addressing the question to him.
It is well known that Reb Zusha was a very poor man who did not have anything remotely close to an easy life. When the young man arrived at Reb Zusha's hovel, he was shocked to see Reb Zusha living in such stark conditions.
When the young man explained why he had been sent by the Maggid, Reb Zusha was puzzled. "Are you sure that the holy Maggid wanted you to ask Zusha for an answer? It is a good question, but Zusha can't answer your question. Zusha doesn't know the answer, because Hashem never did anything bad to Zusha. Hashem has done only good to Zusha."
We want to be like Zusha but to be like Zusha we need to understand 2 things to begin with.
· 1. Genesis 1:27 says So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
· Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
God created us in His image. That means our minds are capable of a great deal more than we usually use them for. It also means that when we put our trust in Godly wisdom we are capable of actually rewiring our brains & that is, in fact, what Romans is teaching.
Conformed [syschēmatizō] ~ to fashion in accordance with; assimilate oneself to…
World [Aiōn] ~ an era or age, thus those things that mark an era or age
Transformed [Metamorphoō] ~ to change one’s form, be transfigured
Renewing [Anakainōsis]~ renovation, renewal
Mind [nous] ~ intellect
Discern [dokimazō] ~ test, prove, try ~ & remember that this testing is not for God’s benefit but for ours.
Good [agathos] ~ good, profitable, generous, upright, virtuous
Acceptable [euarestos] ~ well pleasing, acceptable, grateful
Perfect [teleios] ~ fully developed, fully realised.
To be a fully realised human being capable of being grateful & proving God we have to renew our minds.
There is actually a science called neuroplasticity that is the science of creating new pathways in the brain. It is used in cases of severe brain trauma.
Here are some neuroplastic facts: Our unconscious brain is operating in 400 billion actions per second building networks within the brain & 200 actions per second at the conscious level. As you are thinking you make choices.
We are a tripart human being: Mind, spirit, body & we are meant to operate this way: the Spirit is designed to control the soul [mind] & the soul is designed to control the body.
The brain has a spirit part & a physical part. The Mind gives understanding to what the spirit implicitly knows.
I Lay before you life & death, blessings & curses, therefore Choose life that you & your offspring might live…Deut 30:19
We have freewill. We get to choose how it all works out. How it works out is very much dependent on how we think about things.
The other interesting thing is we are wired for love, for positivity. There are no circuits in your brain for depression. There are no circuits for anxiety. There are no circuits for discouragement, negativity, despair, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness ~ fear. We actually have to learn these things. We wire our brains to think in these ways ~ & if we can learn them we can unlearn them! We become the thoughts we think, the choices we make from our thinking.
As we are thinking we make choices & those choices get wired into our brains & actually change them! Our choices cause a physical change in our bodies. That is a scientific fact & can be verified scientifically according to Dr Caroline Leaf.
The physical body follows the instructions we give it via the choices we make. When we think we create proteins & those proteins group together to create thought trees. Healthy thoughts create little, fluffy pink protein balls. However when we choose negativity: the envy, the strife, the bitterness, the self~pity etc we create neurological chaos.
Just like positive thinking, the negative groups together creating an unhealthy environment that given enough time & negativity becomes toxic. That alone tells me it is dangerous to be a passive recipient of whatever comes my way. I need to filter what I allow into my thought life.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to be casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. [ERV]
So the normal human life is meant to be one of love & positivity that creates a healthy mindset, healthy neurological pathways in the brain & that results in right thinking & better life outcomes.
Guess who owns the other mindset! The enemy of our souls! We are warned For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…Proverbs 23:7 & Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23.
You want to know why so many Christians struggle so much with sin, with anger, strife, envy etc? It’s because they have not worked to renew their thinking! I can tell you ~ & you can tell others ~ that such & such a thing is considered to be a sin in the eyes of God but you will not break a habit, you will not convince anyone of the error of their ways until their thought life is brought under the control of Christ! It is physically impossible for them because they have wired their brain in a particular way.
You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil~the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. Ephesians 2:2
God has given you every tool you need in order to choose life, to create positive, healthy thought patterns but He absolutely is NOT going to do the hard work for you. His Holy Spirit will help you but He wants you to do the work. You see God did not create automatons. He did not create robots. He created man in His own image capable of freewill, capable of choice & He wants us to freely choose the path of Love.