Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
When we think of renewing our minds, we usually frame the activity as an intellectual exercise. Reading, studying, or taking classes are usually details of a mind-renewing plan. Accumulating knowledge and critical thinking skills seem to be effective building blocks to constructing a renewed mind. While this is all true, the flaw in our thinking on this subject, is that this is all there is. And by the world’s standards, that’s true. But as people of faith, we must understand that our brain is not the only organ involved.
Anything that is added to our mind directly from an outside source, even if that source is the Bible or a powerful sermon, will not result in the mind renewal that God so desires for us. Everything must pass through our Spirit-indwelt heart first, before it is passed on to our minds for thought, decision-making, and action. It is the direct involvement of the heart that will deliver the ability to test and approve what God’s will is. The facts alone can’t do it.
In order to achieve the huge payoff—God’s good, pleasing and perfect will—heart and mind must be tightly woven together with the thread of His Spirit’s wisdom, guidance and love. Without this, conformance to the world’s pattern is the only possible outcome. With this, all of the transformative benefits found in His perfect will await you. Conform you must, but conform to eternity instead of the world. When you do, not only will you begin to transform yourself, but you will help chip away at the pattern of the world around you, replacing it with pieces of His good, pleasing and perfect will. Now that’s transformation!
Be a transformer—a world-transforming, eternity-conforming transformer—today!
“Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Bartering with God. If we all are truly honest, we will remember times when we’ve done this.
“God, if you [fill in the blank], I’ll [fill in the blank].”
It usually happens in times of trial or struggle. If God will just get us out of this mess we’re in, we’ll vow to straighten up and never get ourselves into the same mess again.
Jesus led us by His powerful example with regard to testing God. Jesus was facing a battle greater than many we will ever face. After 40 days in the wilderness with nothing to eat, Satan shows up, with his remedy to Jesus’ hunger—he tells Jesus to use His superpowers! Then Satan ups the ante two more times with more temptations all designed to get Jesus to betray God. Jesus, of course, stands firm and does not give in to Satan’s plan.
Putting God to the test, is part of Satan’s plan for us too. He tells us to withhold praise until God does what we want. He tells us that God is a god of “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” He tells us to test God’s promises by demanding that they be delivered on our terms instead of God’s.
The main flaw in Satan’s plan is that we don’t have anything to offer God. God doesn’t need anything. He’s God. So, the whole testing and bartering thing doesn’t work. And think about this: God’s gift of grace is the gift of His infinite love for us. First, it is of infinite value, therefore there is nothing of finite value we could barter for it. Second, God’s grace is a gift. There is nothing we need to barter for it.
So when you face temptations, particularly those associated with tough times, don’t test God, just trust Him.
“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.”
Do you publicly acknowledge Jesus before others? Sometimes we are reluctant to do this, for a variety of reasons. We may not feel it is our place. We may not want to experience the backlash of criticism that may come with it. We may not know exactly how to acknowledge Him. We may even face more significant consequences or even persecution for witnessing about Jesus.
Jesus knows this.
When Jesus was teaching His disciples in this passage, they would likely face severe penalties and they could even face death if they acknowledged Him publicly.
Jesus knew this.
Why would he teach, both then and now, that we should be willing to subject ourselves to this kind of unpleasantry?
Because Jesus is up to it.
You see, Jesus is the one being attacked when skeptics reject our testimony. Jesus is the one being scorned when we acknowledge Him as our Lord.
And He is up to it.
If we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we know He has already died for us and saved us for all eternity. Skeptics and critics, atheists and even aggressive objectors can’t kill Him (again) and take that away from us. No matter how hard they try or how convinced they are that we are crazy for believing in Him, He died for us. It’s done. We are eternally saved. So we can boldly proclaim Him, in love, whenever the opportunity presents itself. And we can know that He is already proclaiming us before the angels of God.