Monday, December 6, 2010

by testing you may discern

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

I often see the main principle of this verse as a key component of my ministry of discipleship and counseling. I am called to work with the Word of God and the Spirit of God to help mature the church of God. This means that individuals have to be taught that their natural difficulty is conformation to the world around them. God wants to change them by transformation. And the primary agent of change for this transformation is the renewing of the mind.

This makes it sound like it is just a mental process, but it is not at all. In fact if the verse ended there, I suppose we could say that. But it does not. It goes on to explain that renewing of the mind results in certain actions. The first one is to "test in order to discern the will of God". We live out what we learn. It is not just mental assent or simple Sunday School quiz facts. Paul says that if it does not pass the test of being lived out as the will of God in our lives, it is not really transforming truth.

The idea of "testing that you may discern" comes as a translation of one Greek word in the text. It is a critical word. It translates dokimazo which is a word that means to find the worth of something by putting it to use or testing it. So this is a very accurate translation in the ESV. It means that biblical truth is transforming as I accept the challenge to my thinking scripture creates and then act on it in my life to see the difference. It is a critical kind of living, not just a wishful kind of mental exercise. It is the end result of scripture creating in me a biblical worldview. I must now live it.

So in the end, good disciples are critical thinkers who take God's truth seriously enough to make real lifestyle choices and changes based upon the challenge to our thinking that is in scripture. We know its value by living it out. We discern the truth by also living through the implications of believing it. Discerning disciples test the truth and are changed by it.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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