Reform yourselves by the renewal of your mind… to walk according to the faith of Jesus.

And be not conformed to this world (τω αιωνι): but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind(νοός), that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

Before going into the study properly, let me first refine the translation, the terms used in the English translation do not honor the original sense of the apostle’s message. The terms, τω αιωνι, translated as ‘this world’, are not necessarily what the apostle wrote in his epistle.

As for the term,’τω αιωνι’, the meaning is not ‘world’, the term means a long period of time, but with emphasis on the indefinite aspect of it (eon, in English); the apostle uses the term rather to indicate that they should not let time pass indefinitely; the apostle’s exhortation is not to stagnate ‘permanently’ in their present state of thinking.

So, in his epistle to the community of faith in Rome, what the apostle is really saying to them is:

do not adopt the structure of thought established by this way of life, but transform yourselves by the renewal of how you think, so that you may prove what is the good, pleasing and perfect Will of God.

Note in the context of the reading that the apostle explains to his readers that all men are under a thought structure of disobedience and unbelief, the apostle discovers to them that God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all (11: 32); this same establishment is also presented in his epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle defines it as the mystery of God’s Will, which was not made known to any man, in the past, but is now revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets.[1]  The purpose of the Revelation of God by the Gospel is to show the abundant riches of His Grace, in order that all may understand whence God has brought them forth.

According to the apostle’s instruction, the structures of thought that the systems of life impose on their protégés can alter how the life of faith in Jesus Christ should be lived; and, together with the above, an incorrect way of thinking can alter the conception of God’s Will, and present it under other concepts that are not necessarily the good, pleasing and perfect Will of God. If one observes carefully, the apostle is warning about the danger of persisting in the style that the systems of life have established as the model of thought.

The thought structures imposed by the systems of life, in all their forms, social, cultural, military and religious, all walk hand in hand with an atheistic spirit whose emphasis is to establish a way of thinking in disobedience to God. This is what the apostle is warning about.

It must be emphasized that the apostle’s warning is not exclusive to the believers of the community of faith of Rome, Paul recognizes that the systems of life, Jewish, Greek, Gentile, all without exception, are oriented towards idolatrous worship, and loaded with a mythological influence, and as such, the behaviors of the inhabitants of such communities are behaviors in open opposition to the Will of God, this doctrinal emphasis we find it in all his epistles, without exception.  In his epistle to the community of faith of Ephesus, the apostle denounces that the Gentile systems of life are loaded with pagan practices:

among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind (διανοιῶν); and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Ephesians 2:3

having the understanding (διανοίᾳ) darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

Ephesians 4:18

and be renewed in the spirit of your mind (νοὸς: mind);

Ephesians 4:23

In his epistle to the Colossian community of faith, the apostle denounces that the ‘gentile’ systems of life have no awareness of spiritual life.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind (διανοίᾳ) by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.

Colossians 1:21

In his epistle to the Corinthian community of faith, the apostle demonstrates that ‘gentile’ thought forms are influenced by demons.

in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds (νοήματα: mind) of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

2nd. Corinthians 4:4

To Timothy he writes about the care he must be careful not to allow people around him to establish doctrinal thinking, for their thoughts follow mythological conceptions.

perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds(νοῦν: mind), and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

1st. Timothy 6:5

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds (νοῦν: mind), reprobate concerning the faith.

2nd. Timothy 3:8

neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

1st. Timothy 1:4

The apostle’s warning is directed to the reader so that he understands that the life of faith does not consist only in believing, it is necessary that the one who believes in Jesus, additionally, abandons his structure of thought formation, everything, without exception, and renews it from the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus. Faith in Jesus without an abandonment of the pagan structure of life formation, will simply result in a religious life, and possibly pious, but not a life with hope of Salvation.

The renewal of the mind is not an isolated process nor independent from the development of the spiritual life; the renewal of the mind is for the purpose of living according to the new life in Jesus.

not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing (ἀνακαινώσεως) of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge (ἐπίγνωσιν) after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:10

It is not just about ‘purifying’ ways of thinking, the emphasis is not on ‘changing’ ways of thinking, we have to be careful not to glorify thinking as if it were all about thinking differently. It is about learning to live according to the faith of the Gospel. The apostle writes in his epistle to the Corinthians, and says that the preaching of the cross is ‘foolishness’ to those who hear it, Why is it foolishness?  Because it does not fit into the idolatrous way of thinking that the systems of life propose; see for yourself, all systems of life have pagan diets with foods sacrificed to idols, all have religious practices based on sexual depravity, all have customs based on unrighteousness, lying, stealing; the summary that the apostle presents in chapter one of his epistle to the community of faith in Rome emphasizes that every way of life promotes disloyalty and does not esteem natural affection as a virtue of character, this is what the pagan system of life promotes.[2]

The reason why even among the communities of faith we find the same ways of acting that we see in people who do not have Jesus, is because these communities do not emphasize the need to transform and renew their thinking; the great majority continue to think in the same way as they did before believing in Jesus, they have not changed their vocabulary, they continue to converse with the same sayings and proverbs as before, although many of them are of an ominous type; their expressions are fatalistic and some are even cursing, but they do not see this as an inconvenience to the life of faith.

It is not a matter of purifying thought as the ultimate goal, it is a matter of making the way of thinking subject to the obedience of the doctrine of the Gospel, that is the purpose. If believers do not see the need to be transformed in their pagan ways of life, we will soon see the emergence of religious forms of pagan life dressed in a philosophical Christianity.

Faith is not a way of thinking, and although at the moment of acting in faith it is not required to rationalize the acts or thoughts, it is necessary to renew the way of thinking so that when the teachings of the Word of Jesus are brought to memory,[3] it is done with the purpose of understanding what is the good Will of the Lord: so that you may experience what is the good Will of God, pleasing and perfect.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Version, 1909 (AKJV).

pastor Pedro Montoya

[1]     Ephesians 3:5-6: which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

[2]     Romans 1:28-32

[3]     John 14:26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Colossians 2:2: that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding (συνέσεως: reasoning), to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

2nd. Timothy 2:7: Consider (νόει: think)  what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding (σύνεσιν: reasoning)  in all things.