“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” Rom.12:1-3.
In these verses, Paul appeals to us as Christians, that we present (offer, turn over) our bodies (our lives) to God, to serve Him, since He is now our master Rom.6:16-18. To be God’s acceptable servant, we must be alive (freed from sin and made alive spiritually in Christ Rom.6:1-11), and holy (set apart, consecrated to God) 1.Pet.1:15-16. This is not an unreasonable requirement for God to require that we let Him lead and direct our lives. After all, He is the one who provided the only sacrifice He would accept as suitable, a sacrifice not tainted by sin. This sacrifice was His only Son, who came to earth and lived a sinless life so He might be the proper sacrifice His Father would accept as atonement for our sins. In becoming this sacrifice, Jesus has enabled us to be reconciled to His Father 2.Cor.5:18-21. Through the shedding of His Son’s blood we have now been redeemed and made free from sin. Having done these things, He owns us 1.Cor.6:19-20, and has the right to expect us to be grateful enough to become His servants.
But, if we are to be acceptable servants to God, laying ourselves on the altar of devotion to Him, a change must take place in our lives. We must no longer conform (mold, shape, pattern) ourselves to the standards of this world. We must “be transformed” (from Gk. metamorphoo, change into another form) into another lifestyle, one that follows the will (dictates) of our new master. This change begins with the “renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is
that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The change begins in the mind, the faculty with which one thinks, reasons, deliberates and decides on which course of action one will pursue in life. Before one was saved, the mind was dominated by the fashions of the world, but now, after becoming a Christian, the mind is dominated by thinking that centers on doing the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. That is why we must prove (test) what we think by the word of God.
This brings me to the title of this article, “Thinking with a transformed mind.” Rom.12:1-2 presented a summary of how a Christian is to respond to the mercies of God, by offering oneself to God as a living, holy sacrifice. This begins by one having his mind renewed so he will seek after God’s will, and not that of the world. Now in Rom.12:3 notice that a Christian is “not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
If you have read the above carefully, you will notice that the word “think” appears 3 times in the English text. But, in the Greek text, 3 different forms of the Greek word, phroneo are used. 1. “Not think … more highly” (huperphroneo), not to be overly proud, high-minded, don’t make the wrong estimate of self, more than you have a basis for thinking. In other words, don’t think above and beyond what is real. 2. “Ought to think” (phroneo) don’t go beyond your God given intellectual capacity to think, reflect and understand your own person, your capabilities and talents 1.Cor.14:20. So, don’t be too full of yourself, think realistically. 3. “Think soberly” (sophroneo), be reasonable, serious, sensible, sober minded in relation to reality. Don’t overthink beyond what it behooves one to think, but to think unto sober thinking or reasoning. In other words, one is to use his mind to make the correct estimate of self, not thinking too highly of self or too lowly of others Phil.2:3-4.
If one thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think, something is wrong with his thinking. Having a false sense of modesty or an inflated opinion might lead to becoming overconfident and self-righteous. Whatever abilities one has, they are given by God’s grace 1.Cor.4:7. So use whatever you have been given to serve God, not self. That is why each of us have to continually examine ourselves 2.Cor.13:5, to make sure we are seeking to please God and not self. So, how ought a man to think?
The context of vs.3-6 deals with how Christians, who offer themselves as sacrifices to God ought to think in regard to the God given gifts, possessed by members of the church, the body of Christ. They are not to think so highly of their own abilities that they see the gifts and talents of others in the body to be of less importance. Christians need to take into consideration that the church, the one body, is composed of many members 1.Cor. 12:12, 14, 20, all of them important to the functioning of the body. “But God composed the body…that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” 1.Cor.12:24a, 25.
Think soberly and sensibly about the estimate you place of the differing gifts or abilities the members of the body have to use in service to God. Individually, the members all belong to the same one body Eph.4:4. Yet, each member has different natural gifts, abilities, talents to use. Whatever the gift(s) may be, they are all gifts of God’s grace, “but each has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that” 1.Cor.7:7. Don’t ever think you, or someone else, is too worthless to be useful to God. He wants all to be saved 1.Tim.2:4; Jn.3:16. And to be servants that need not be ashamed, rather approved of God.