“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of the mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV).

It is noteworthy to realize that the Apostle Paul, in seeking to help the believers to discern what is God’s will, what is good, acceptable and perfect in God’s desires for God’s children, emphasizes the need not to conform to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of the mind.

The true remedy against false teachings and liberal theology is not to think less (as some fundamentalists seem to advocate) but to think more – more deeply, more vigorously, more clearly and more critically. Christianity thrives not in the darkness but in the light.True spiritual revival will not be the work of man, but the work of the Holy Spirit; but one of the means which the Spirit will use is an awakening of the intellect. The Holy Spirit will illumine the mind to understand Scripture and to see the world and God’s plan of salvation from God’s perspective and views.

The quest for true Christian wisdom lies at the heart of a discipleship of the mind – understanding and seeing the world and ourselves from the perspective that is firmly rooted in the Christian gospel. It enables us to see things as they really are, stripping away illusions and misunderstandings. This kind of wisdom goes beyond a simple and superficial knowledge of basic Christian ideas – it arises from a deep and prolonged personal reflection on the Christian faith over a long period of time, affecting thoughts and actions in our lives. When we believe, regeneration by the Holy Spirit effects union with Christ and we become part of His body; but growth, discipleship and sanctification would require communion with the triune God – communion speaks of a nurturing of a relationship with God – this involves spending time with Him, learning from Him His values, His desires, His revelation and His will for our lives, that which is good, acceptable and perfect. Prayer, study of the Bible, spending much time with Him, learning from Him and from one another (from those who may know Him better) in the context of body life and worship in the church community – all these are often categorised as the disciplines of grace – these are in fact indispensable in discipleship and in particular, discipleship of the mind.

A good illustration of dealing with a superficial illusion in our Christian life is seen in the following quotation from the Christian philosopher John Macmurray:

“The maxim of illusory religion runs: ‘Fear not; trust in God and he will see that none of the things you fear will happen to you’; that of real religion, on the contrary is, ‘Fear not, the things that you are afraid of are quite likely to happen to you, they are nothing to be afraid of.” These are in line with what was communicated by the Lord Jesus:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

What we fear – tribulations, persecution, illness, suffering, the lost of loved ones – these are quite likely to happen to true believers who are faithful to God – but in the midst of all these, we can have true peace in Him – the victory of the Lord Jesus has been secured at the cross and the full blossoming of this victory would be manifested when He comes again. It requires the discipleship of the mind to refocus on God’s perspective and not to end up envying those who are evil and seem to prosper, or to be bitter against God and to make presumptuous complaints against Him and to give up our faith in despair. (see Psalm 73:2,13,14,21).

“Anything we can grasp fully and completely simply cannot be God, precisely because it would be so limited and impoverished. It is easy to create God in our own likeness – a self-serving human invention that may bear some passing similarity to God but actually falls short of the glory and majesty of God that stands at the heart of the Christian disclosure” (From Mere discipleship by Alister Mcgrath).

We would never come to such a conclusion without the renewal of our minds in God. Ponder over this.