Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
~ Ezekiel 18:31, Psalm 51:10, Ezekiel 36:26
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
~ Romans 6:13, 1 Corinthians 1:10, Isaiah 56:7
And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
~ Jeremiah 24:7, Psalm 34:8
Renewal of the Mind, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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.
~ Romans 12:1-2
We have seen that in the Christian life, everything must be considered in the light of our new position. I am so concerned about this because to me it is one of the most glorious aspects of the Christian faith and is certainly the key to successful Christian living. The Christian’s attitude to behaviour is never negative. It is never small and it is never fearful. We do a very great disservice to our Lord and Master and to His way of life if we give that impression.
Of course, a false impression has often been given. The man of the world will tell you that that is why he is not a Christian. People say, ‘But you Christians are so small and your life is so little and narrow.’ And I am afraid that we have often given that impression; we have been fearful. We have misrepresented the gospel and have been a hindrance to people coming into the Christian life.
But the Christian approach should always be positive; it should always be big and always glorious. If we do not give the impression that it is a glorious thing to be a Christian and to live the Christian life, we have never understood this statement: ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ What a possibility! What a wonderful way of looking at everything. And there is no fear here because we are reminded at once of great resources which are ours
The Christian gospel is unique. It tells us: Be what you are; realise what you are; and proceed to show that you are what you are. Nowhere else in the world do we find such a message. And as we have seen, that is why we must always realize that no one can live the Christian life without being regenerate. Indeed, to tell anybody who is not a Christian to live the Christian life in any part or form is to teach heresy. It is the Pelagian heresy. Pelagius thought that you simply had to teach people the principles of Christian living for them to carry them out. That is false teaching which has been condemned, and always should be condemned, by the Christian church.
So I trust we are clear about this. The idea that all you have to do is to go to the statesmen of the world and tell them, `Now this is what Christianity teaches, put it into practice’, is a denial of the whole teaching of the New Testament. So when popes and others address the United Nations they should not appeal to them to put Christian principles into practice. They should tell them that they must be `born again’, because the people will never do it until they are, and apart from anything else, you are wasting your breath.
The main cause of the terribly confused state of the world is the foolish idea that men and women who have long since shed the Christian doctrine, can still hold on to the Christian ethic. It cannot be done. It is a sheer impossibility. That is what the apostle is saying. Each person needs this ‘transformation’, which, as we have shown, is comparable to the transfiguration of our Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration.
So Paul says that we must not be found conforming to the ‘fashion’ of this world. But how do we live in this transformed way? The whole point is, according to the apostle here, that this demands positive effort on our part. It is ‘by the renewing of your mind’, and especially `by the spirit of your mind’ (Eph. 4:23). Now the Holy Spirit is in us as Christians, and He is always working in us, and what the apostle is telling us to do here is to listen to Him, to be guided by Him, and to put into practice what He tells us. Again, it is this two-sided Teaching: ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For (because) it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Phil. 2: 12-I3 ). Paul is really saying here: ‘You have been born again, therefore renew your mind.
What, then, does it mean in practice? Obviously, the first thing is that we must acquaint ourselves with the truth. Why were these epistles ever written? It was to help us to renew our minds. That is why Paul had to write Romans and that is why all the other epistles were written. We are not merely left with our experience and the activity of the Holy Spirit within us. He is the Spirit of truth and He caused these men to write the letters in order that we may be helped and taught. You cannot renew your mind unless you are acquainted with this Word. So being renewed means acquaintance with the truth as it is presented to us with all its argumentation in the New Testament.
Secondly, we must understand the truth that we read. We must read it and spend time in reading it, and we must struggle with it until we understand it. That is why we are considering this Epistle to the Romans like this, is it not? We are trying together to understand this teaching as the Spirit leads and guides us, and as we use our minds and understanding.
In addition, of course, it means that, having known what it is and having grasped it and understood it, we then constantly apply it. This demands an effort on our part, because, unfortunately, as the result of the fall and of sin, we have all become creatures of habit. We have been so accustomed to thinking in a certain way that we tend to go on in the same way, even after we have been born again. We do not automatically begin to think in the new way. We do, of course, in a fundamental sense and yet it involves a lot of training. You will find your mind slipping back into the old grooves. You have to pull it out, as it were, and direct it in the other way. That is what Paul means ‘by the renewing of your mind’.
There, then, it is in general, but let me show you now what this renewal of the mind means in particular. Here I am, a regenerate man, very good. Now I have to think in an entirely new way; I must approach all the problems of my life in a new way. But how? Well, I must start by asking myself, ‘What, after all, is the object of salvation?’ As Christians we are converted people. We are regenerate. We have believed the truth. We rejoice in the doctrine of salvation; we rejoice to come to the Lord’s table and partake of the bread and the wine. We ‘shew the Lord’s death till he come’ (1 Cor. 11:26). We believe these things. That is what makes us Christians and what we are as Christians.
But the danger is to stop at that, to say, ‘Right, I’m saved now,’ and then just to go on living a kind of life which really does not relate to that new birth. But the Christian man or woman must not do that but must say, `Now, I must start asking questions. Why has all that happened? Why did the Lord Jesus Christ ever come into this world? Why did He die upon the cross and be buried and rise again?’ And, as we study these epistles we discover there is only one answer to that and the apostle has set it before us, in a most wonderful manner, in chapter 5 of this great Epistle.
The ultimate objective in the incarnation and all that followed was the production of a new humanity. We were all ‘in Adam’, we are now to be `in Christ’. He came in order to form this new humanity and He is the Head of the new race of people. The object of salvation, then, is not merely that we may be forgiven and not go to hell. The danger, I repeat, is to stop at that and to say, ‘I have been saved from this, that and the other.’ But we must learn to look at this positively. Christ is ‘the firstborn among many brethren’ (Rom. 8:29), He is ‘`bringing many sons unto glory’ (Heb. 2:10). It is by contemplating that, that Christians become renewed in their minds.
Take that great statement made by the apostle in Titus 2: 11-15 where he puts it so clearly: ‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men’ – why? -‘teaching `’ us’ – you see, salvation teaches us -‘that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and a the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus `’Christ; who gave himself for us’ – what for? -‘that he might redeem us from all iniquity’ – but here is the positive – ‘and purify unto himself a peculiar (separate) people (for his own possession) zealous of good works. These things speak, and -exhort, and rebuke with all authority.’
When we stop and ask ourselves: ‘What is the ultimate ‘object of salvation?’ that is our answer. And then our whole attitude towards individual problems is already new and changed.
Let us go on. If the whole object of our Lord’s coming and all that He did is the formation of a new humanity, then this, of necessity, essentially involves the fact that we should be transferred from one condition to another; and this is something that the New Testament writers glory in. Now there is no more wonderful statement of this than that made by this same apostle in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Colossians. ‘Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son’ (Col. 1: 12-13). What a concept! That, again, is what he means here by renewing the mind: that you read a statement like that and take the trouble to understand it, and then proceed to work it out. You say to yourself, ‘I am, ultimately, to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, but I can never be that without something happening to me. It is not merely that I am forgiven, that is not enough. I must be ‘translated’ out of the kingdom of darkness, and transferred into the kingdom of His dear Son.’
And that is precisely what has happened to us, that is what it means to be a Christian. And it is because each of us does not have thoughts like this in the forefront of our mind and, indeed, controlling the whole of our outlook, that we fail and fall, that is why we grapple with little problems individually, as if we were still unconverted people. Here we are told how to approach the whole matter. We have been taken out of one kingdom and have been transferred into another. Now this teaching is not by any means confined to the Apostle Paul. Peter puts this quite as plainly and clearly. ‘But ye/ he says, ‘are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises’ – excellencies, virtues – ‘of him who hath called (brought) you out of darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy’ (1 Pet. 2:9-11).
So this is how as Christians we face our lives in this world. We do not say, ‘Problem number one, problem number two, and now I must see what I can do,’ and struggle against this in ,some negative and fearful manner. No, we go back and remind ourselves of where we are and of what has happened to us. We mind ourselves of the One ‘Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world’ (Gal.1:4)
Now to `be renewed in your mind’ means that you will not allow yourself to forget that; you go on reminding yourself of it. I put it like that because that is precisely how Peter puts it in. He is an old man, facing death, and in effect he tells the people: All your troubles are due to the fact that you have ‘forgotten what you know. ‘He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins’ (2 Pet.1:9) ? he knew it but has forgotten it. The ‘renewing of your mind’ means that you think so positively about these things that you will never be able to forget them again.
Peter goes on, ‘Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.’ He has already been ~’,saying to them, ‘And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith (furnish out your faith with) virtue . . . brotherly kindness,’ and so on (verses 5-7). You must be active and positive, and in doing so you are renewing your mind. ‘Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom.’ Then: ‘Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you ~always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them and be established in the present truth’ (verses 10-12).
Now that is preaching! Do you get tired of hearing me saying the same things, my friends? Well, I am just doing what the Apostle Peter did. I am sure he was right and I am sure I am right! Our greatest trouble always is that we forget. Peter says it again in the next verse: ‘Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance’ (verse 13). And I think this is the call that comes more than ever before to ministers today. Christian people are forgetting things they have known, and that is why we are in the present muddle and confusion; and the business of preaching is to go on reminding them.
Then Peter even says it once more. ‘Knowing,’ he says, ‘that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance’ (verses 14-15 ). He says, in effect, ‘You were told these things. You believed them when you became Christians. But you are in trouble now. You are unhappy and failing. Why? Because you have forgotten! But you must not allow yourselves to forget – you must take yourselves in hand. I am stirring you up. I am going to make you do it. I am going to remind you of the things you know.’ That is renewing the mind, becoming what you are, and realising what you are.
Peter has already reminded his readers of what. has happened: ‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust’ (2 Pet.1:4). ‘You have got out of that corruption,’ he says, ‘well do not conform to it, then. Do not behave as if you were still in it.’
Or take again another wonderful statement of all this by the Apostle Paul at the end of Colossians 2. Having worked out his great argument about the cross up to verse 15, he says, ‘Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect to an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.’ Silly people – they were going back under the law. Though they had been emancipated, they were going back to those things. ‘Which are,’ he says, ‘a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head, from which all the body and joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore’ – here it is – ‘if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances . . .’ (verses 16-20). He says: What is the matter with you? You are muddled; renew your minds! ‘Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh’ (verse 23).
And, indeed, the Apostle Paul has had to say the same thing to the Corinthians: ‘And I, brethren, could not speak unto you unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you vying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?’ ( 1 Cor. 3: 1-3 ). You are born again but, he says, you are ~living as if you were not; you are thinking as if you were not; you are desiring as if you were not. You are contradicting yourselves.
And so the first thing we must realise is what we have been translated from; and then, positively, we must remind ourselves constantly of what we have been translated to: ‘From the power of darkness . . . into the kingdom of his dear Son’ (Col. 1:13). But look at it in this tremendous statement in Philippians 3:20-21. Here is the positive aspect: ‘For our conversation (our citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able en to subdue all things unto himself.’ The apostle is contrasting that with certain false teachers: `For many walk, whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind (think about) earthly things’ (verses 18-19). But our conversation, our citizenship, the realm to which we belong, is not there, it is in heaven. We belong to the kingdom of God.
And, of course, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is dying exactly the same thing in that great eleventh chapter, there he puts up, one after another, the great heroes of the faith – Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and all the others. What was their secret? It was that while they were in this world, they were looking ‘for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (Heb. 11:10). They realised at they were just passing through this world and that they longed to that other city.
Now if you want to expound Scripture, use Scripture to do so and I am giving you, therefore, the biblical commentaries on this one phrase in Romans 12:2. One of the best expositions of this verse and of how it works out in detail and in practice is the fifth chapter of the second Epistle to the Corinthians. It is all summed up in one great statement in verse 17: ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (a new creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’ Here Paul is describing the new way of thinking. He says in effect, ‘Because I am a new creature, a new creation, in a sense, nothing is as it was before; I see everything differently.’ Here is one respect in which this is true: ‘Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more’ (verse 16). This is a tremendous statement. Paul did not see himself as he used to. He saw himself once as a very fine man, a very godly, good man, pleasing God, a Pharisee, better than most other people, but now he says, ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief’ ( 1 Tim. 1:15 ). That is a new way of thinking, is it not?
The apostle not only saw himself in a different way, he saw others differently: ‘no man after the flesh’. When Paul – Saul of Tarsus – used to look at other men the one thing he asked was, ‘Is he a Jew or isn’t he?’ That was the controlling principle -Jews and non-Jews, people of God and ‘dogs’, with no good at all in them. But he did not think like that any longer; he had been renewed. And you and I, too, are to work this out. We are no longer to be governed by likes and dislikes and prejudices. We are renewed in our minds because of what has happened to us. And as the apostle delighted in the fact that he was the apostle to the Gentiles, as he had been boasting in chapter 11 of this great Epistle, so you and I must see everybody else in a new way. And this will solve many of the problems of our daily lives.
But the trouble is, is it not, that often, as Christians, though we are born again, we react as we used to react to people and to what they do and think and say. We must not do that. We must, for example, see them not so much as difficult people – if that is what they are – but, if they are not Christians, as slaves of Satan, and we must be sorry for them. Our Lord looked out upon the masses and saw them ‘as sheep having no shepherd’ (Matt. 9:36) and His heart was filled with compassion. And we must be like that. When we have this new way of thinking we do that, but we must make a positive effort. We must no longer just react instinctively to these people but must say to ourselves, ‘Wait a minute, how do I look at all this?’, and then remember that they are just the slaves of the devil; they still belong to the kingdom of darkness; they are ‘not a people’ (1 Pet. 2:10). `Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh.
This renewal of our minds not only changes our view of ourselves and other people, it changes our entire view of life in this world; and this is very important. We are in a unique relationship to this world. If our citizenship is in heaven, we are only ‘strangers and pilgrims’ here. That is how Peter puts r. it: `Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul’ (1 Pet.2:11). And you and I must make ourselves think like this. We are in this world, but we are no longer of it. We are journeymen, we are sojourners, strangers and pilgrims – again, it is all put perfectly there in that mighty statement in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The writer gives us these people’s philosophy, as it were: ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, . and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth’ (Heb.11:13).
Of course, that is the constant appeal of the New Testament. Paul writes to the Ephesians, ‘This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind’ (Eph. 4:17). You cannot do that, you have not ‘so learned Christ’ (verse 20). Do not go on living as if you were unchanged; you are changed. He brings it out again in the fifth chapter of that same Epistle: ‘Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes you were at one time, once upon a time -‘darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord’ – well – ‘walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret’ (Eph. 5:7-12). The world is not ashamed to speak of them in public any longer, is it? But you and I should be ashamed, and we must have nothing to do with it. ‘But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light . . . Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is’ (verses 13-17).
So the New Testament is full of this very argumentation, and I have often summed it up, as I have worked through this Epistle, in this way: You were, but you are no longer, thank God; now you are! That is exactly what Paul is saying here: ‘Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ You must realise that you belong to this ‘chosen generation’, this ‘royal priesthood’, this ‘holy nation’, this people who are to be a special possession for the Lord, ‘who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light’ (1 Pet. 2:9), that you may show forth what He has done and thus minister to His glory and to His praise.
Now to forget all this will simply lead to conformity to the world, or, to put it another way, if we do conform to the world, it just means that we have forgotten it all. It is a matter for the mind. The problem, I repeat, is one of thinking correctly. You know, says Peter, I am amazed at you: ‘He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins’ (2 Pet. i:9). To conform to the world is not only to forget all these glorious things which we claim to believe, but it is also at the same time to contradict them, and we must never be guilty of that.
Then there is another great argument that is inevitable when you begin to think in this way. Here I am: I have been called out of the darkness and its kingdom and I have been translated into God’s kingdom, and have been looking at myself functioning in this kingdom. But wait a minute, let us look ahead for a moment – let us consider what is awaiting us. Let us consider why God has done this to us. What is it for? Why has He given us the Spirit? Oh, it is in order to prepare us for that which is our destiny. The apostle has put this before us many, many times, has he not? There is a wonderful statement of it in the chapter where he puts it like this: ‘Moreover whom he called did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified’ (verse 30). ‘Whom he did foreknow, he also did ,predestinate’ – why?- ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren'(verse 29)
Now that is how we must think. We must say to ourselves day: ‘I no longer belong to the darkness; I no longer ‘belong to the ‘no people’; I am of the people of God; I am in `His kingdom.’ But what for? It is in order that I may be prepared for this glory which is coming. In other words, I do not live just from day to day, hand to mouth, allowing the world to influence me while I react to it. No, no, I have a total view. I realise that I am a pilgrim on the way to eternity, one of •`God’s children going in the direction of home. I must keep my eye on that and walk in the light of that.
Was not that Moses’ secret, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews? How did Moses do what he did? He did it, ‘as seeing j; him who is invisible’ (Heb. I I:27). Why did he choose to suffer affliction with the people of God’ rather than ‘to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season’ (verse 25)? The answer is that, ‘he .had respect unto the recompence of the reward’ (verse 26).
That is how the people of God live. They do not merely face -one or other particular problem and ask, ‘Shall I do it or shall I not?’ and call upon the aid of psychology. Not at all! That is the world’s approach. The people of God say, ‘Who am I? What am ? I doing? Where am I going?’ They have their eye on ‘the recompence of the reward’ (Heb. ir:25). And if you have your eye on that, you will soon deal with your problems. Our Lord Himself, according to the author of Hebrews, did that: ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame’ (Heb. I2:2). And, of course, the Apostle Paul has put all this before us in most eloquent language: ‘I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us. That is it. He goes on,’… ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body’ (Rom. 8:18, 23). That is what we do.
The apostle uses the same argument exactly in 1 Corinthians 15:33-34 ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not.’ Why? Because we are going to rise and we are going to be like Him. This is the whole argument of 1 Corinthians 15. Ethics and the doctrine of the resurrection are inextricably mixed up. They belong together. I would remind you of that great statement at the end of Philippians 3. ‘We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ’- who shall come from heaven, and who, when He comes shall change this, the body of my humiliation -‘that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.’ That is my destiny. That is where I am going. If I am a Christian, that is the truth about me. And the moment I keep these things in my mind so that they govern my thinking, my attitude to every particular problem is changed and all these other matters fall into position.
Finally, as long as you are governed by this new thinking, you will realize in a very acute manner that you have no time to waste. The time is short; eternity is coming. You had better start preparing yourself. As John says in his First Epistle: ‘And now, little children, abide in him’- why? -‘that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming’ (1 John 2:28). What a terrible thing it would be if, when we saw Him as He is, the predominating feeling were to be shame! How terrible if, though we said we believed in Him and were grateful to Him for coming, we had lived ‘according to this world’. We would see then what we had missed, how we had misunderstood it all, how unworthy we had been. We would be ‘ashamed before him at his coming’.
No, no, let it not be that. Let us rather prepare for His return and go on then to what John says in the third chapter: ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew him not’ (1 John 3:1). If the people of the world criticise you, thank them. They are telling you, in other words, that you belong to Him. They did not know Him and they do not know His people. ‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like; for we shall see him as he is’ (verse 2). Then -‘And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure’ (verse 3). It is inevitable logic. So you do not just start with the question of purification, you see yourself meeting and looking into His eyes, and you say, ‘I must get on with this. I must purify myself, even as he is pure.’ That is the motive.
Or again, as the Apostle Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11: ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.’ That is it.
Or, as we are, after all, studying this great Epistle to the Romans, let us move on to chapter 13 where Paul, perhaps, at his most eloquent as regards this particular matter, writes, love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is -nigh time to awake out of sleep’ – why? – ‘for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed’ (Rom. 13:10-11). every day that passes means that we are a day nearer to His coming and the ultimate completion of salvation. In verse 14, Paul says, ‘The night’ – and it is night at this present time, is it not- ‘The night’ – the night of sin and evil, the night of the darkness of this world. But, thank God, we know that: ‘The night is far spent, the day is at hand.’ And as you see that, you apply this logic: ‘Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting, and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof’ (Rom. 13:12-14).
All these passages show what Paul’s injunction means: ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ You think in this way, you struggle, you strive to do everything you can to make yourself do that, and you never allow yourself to slip back into the old way of thinking. You are renewed in your mind, in the spirit of your mind, in the controlling principle of all your thinking and your entire outlook. This is the way in which the Christian faces the problem of how to live in a world such as this.