Developing the Mind of Christ – Part 1
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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 12:1–2, ESV)
As I have watched our children grow into mature adults, one of the great blessings is to have seen their minds developed. I am sure that as infants they had thoughts, but nothing as advance as they are now. As infants, the only way they could communicate was through crying. Yet, then they began to speak a few words. As they went through school their vocabulary expanded as did their knowledge in many disciplines. Such is the way life is. People grow in knowledge and wisdom. It is the same in the Christian life. While in one sense, believers have the mind of Christ, they still grow in this to have the ability to understand biblical truth and respond accordingly. Paul wrote to the Romans a key and pivotal thought about how believers mature in their ability to access situations and respond in accordance with the will of God.
An essential step for believers in developing the mind of Christ is experiencing the continuous spiritual transformation through renewing the mind. This involves the motivation of the believer, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and the word of God. This passage is a key transition from the theology Paul presented regarding God’s grace and mercy to the practical outworking of grace in the believer’s life.
First, believers must have a view of the mercies of God. – Paul reminded the believers of God’s amazing grace and mercy. His appeal to them to be living sacrifices was not based upon human wisdom. It was based upon all the undeserved blessings that God showered upon those who had believed. They were the recipients of infinite and undeserved blessings. God had forgiven them of every transgression, given them an eternal inheritance, made them partakers of the divine nature, and granted them more than can be expressed in this writing. Moreover, God provided eternal redemption. Even if they should sin after believing, they were covered by the redemptive work of Christ on the cross (1 John 2:1-2).
Therefore, if the believers would truly reflect upon God’s manifold blessings, they would naturally have the motivation to offer their lives to Him. Paul uses an analogy that takes the reader back to the Jewish Tabernacle and the work of the priests. In the Romans passage, he stated to them, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Living sacrifices. This phrase deals with the heart of the believer. In the Tabernacle the priests would offer the sacrifices of animals to cover the sins committed by the people. The animal was slain, the blood drained, and the best portions burned on the altar. Yet, a living sacrifice is something different. The implication is that of a person constantly giving up his or her life for the glory of God. It manifests itself in the giving up of one’s own fleshly wants and desires and offering our lives to God as a pleasing aroma rising for His glory.
Thus, we have the connection to “spiritual worship.” This is an interesting phrase as it is the Greek logiken latreian. The word logiken refers to something rational, logical it comes from logos, which refers to something said (Strong G3050, 3056). Remembering that what proceeds from the mouth come from the heart (Matt 15:18), this worship, latreian, is that which proceeds logically from the heart of one who has a reverent view of God’s mercies. Moreover, the word latreian is one of many words translated as worship in the Bible. This particular word refers to divine service (Strong G2999). It ties into the picture of the work of the priests in the Tabernacle and refers to what believers do in their daily lives as an act of worship.
Thus, it is reasonable or logical that believers who have a view of God’s mercies would be motivated to continuously offer themselves to God for His purposes and glory in every aspect of daily life. This is the prime motivation necessary to experience continual spiritual transformation, growing in Christ, and developing the mind of Christ.