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Be transformed by the renewal of thought

I- Reminder and Contextualization

As seen previously in our first article [1], the apostle was addressing the Christians of the Church of Rome, that is, people who already belonged to the Lord. The idea which is reinforced by several texts in the book, but among which we had retained respectively  those which follow : Romains 1_cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_v 7  et  Romains 12 v 1:
“To all in Rome who are beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 1 :7[i] ) - “I urge you therefore, brethren, …”. (Romans 12 :1)
Donc il est clair que les termes « saints» et « frères »_cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ are not used for non-Christians. That said, being Christians, they are therefore called upon not to conform according to the way of life of this century where Satan, the main enemy of the true believers, dominates this system of the world to arouse lusts by using his famous matrix of temptation [ ii] to alienate Christians from God. It is therefore obvious that " not conforming to the present century "_cc781905-5c63-4bbd-badique implies a conformity to the present century principle of the world to come, in this case that of the kingdom of God. So it is clear that the resistance of nonconformity in this century brings unprecedented suffering and persecution simply by professing Christ and following his commandments (2 Tim. 3 :12) . This is why the Lord himself took care to warn us against this obvious reality by declaring :
If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you did. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, because of that the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my word, they will also keep yours. But they will do all these things to you because of my name, because they do not know who sent me. (John 15 :18-21)
Thus, with these words, Jesus confirms the repercussions inherent in not belonging to the world. And, to show the inevitability of this stage in the life of the believer, He urges us to be happy when it happens (Matthew 5 :11-12). In the same vein, the Apostle John reminded us not to be surprised by this, saying : “Do not be surprised , brothers, if the world hates you” (1 John 3 :13).   So it is interesting to understand that all of this is because we appear as salt and light, as ambassadors for the kingdom of God here below. Thus, this present paper will take into account the second part of verse 2 of chapter 12 of the book of Romans: “but[1] be transformed by renewal of thought”.
Remember that the antithesis[2] detected in the text [2] is this figure of speech which opposes two contrary ideas, of the same nature, in the same sentence or the same paragraph. In this perspective, it would be interesting to point out that the concrete results of conformity and non-conformity are perceptible through what is produced from the inside (thought) to the outside (behaviour). As described in article [3], when we do not conform to the world's thought system, it is proven by our way of acting. This is why Paul solemnly exhorted the Christians of Ephesus in this way :
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So here is what I say and what I affirm in the Lord: it is that  you must no longer walk like the unbelievers, who walk according to the_cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_vanity of their thoughts (Ephesians 4 : 17, KJV current version)
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By this exhortation, the apostle shows us very clearly that the difference of which he speaks is at the behavioral level which, itself, is fed by the state of thought. These people walked like the people of the world because they allowed themselves to be guided by the vanity of their thoughts. In other words, they conformed to the world's thought system. And for John MacArthur, “ walking,  refers to daily driving ". Therefore, we who have been taught according to the truth which is in Jesus, we must show by our conduct, the reflection of our state of mind, how rather our way of life turns out to be different from that of the world. And, it is exactly the same exhortation that is made to the Christians of Rome. Thus, we propose to analyze the second part of verse 2 of Romans 12, in order to bring out its meaning with regard to the context of the practical life of Christians, as to their conduct, as justified persons, in their relationship with God.


II- Reflection around the expression " Be transformed "

Comme nous l'avions précisé préalablement, le terme « transformation [5]» abordé dans the preceding article is that of the theme, which includes the series of articles treated, in order to be able to establish the context of Paul's public, in order to know whether he was addressing believers or not.   In this sense, the approaches made about corroborate that the apostle addressed himself to brothers, to saints, and not to people not yet regenerated as more than one could make believe . Here, the word “ transformé ” used in the text, the latter has the same meaning as “ metamorphosed9_514c-de90cc758” bb3b-136bad5cf58d_” compared to the Greek term which translates the idea : “ metamorphoo[3]”, which means “To change into another form, to transform, to be transfigured ”. This word, in John MacArthur's view, "suggests the idea of a change as to outward appearance [4]". went on to say that Matthew used the same word to describe the transfiguration of Jesus, in verse two of the seventeenth chapter, when he was on the mountain with three of his disciples. So we read :
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them away to a high mountain._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 
Just as Christ outwardly and briefly revealed his inward divine nature and glory at his transfiguration, Christians should manifest their inward redeemed nature, not once but daily. Moreover, this idea is well expressed in the following text :

All of us who, with our faces uncovered, contemplate as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Lord, the Spirit (2 cor 3 :18). 
The same Greek word is used to translate the meaning of the word " transformed " in this passage. It's about showing that when we're in Christ, there's no veil that can get in the way of who we really are. Since the reflection of the glory of the Lord shining on our life can be seen by all. In this sense, Louis Bonnet [6] citing Chrysostom in his book, wrote the following :

Just as pure silver, exposed to the rays of the sun, reflects these rays, not of its nature, but by the brightness of the sun, so the soul purified by the Spirit of God receives a ray of the glory of the Lord. and reflects it away.
This clearly shows us that the transformation referred to in the text has nothing to do with the new birth, but with the result produced by the work of regeneration at the thought level, which is nevertheless visible at the behavioral level. Jesus Christ, our Lord, revealed himself as the source of light shining in darkness to enlighten men, according to the solemn affirmation which he made himself, saying: "   I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life » (John 8v12). -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_we have also become “ light” in the world because He Himself is “ the light of the world_cc781905-5cde-3184-6bb3b-5b ". Thus we read this statement of Jesus while He was teaching on the principles of the divine kingdom:
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You are the light of the world. A city situated on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Neither does a lamp be lit to put it under a bushel, but on the lampstand, and it shines for all those who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5_cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_:14-16).
It is therefore this attitude that we expected from the Christians of Rome who planned something quite different by conforming to the present century. Their thought being animated and influenced by the system of the world, they managed to display a behavior contrary to what they said they were. Pour paraphraser Ralph Waldo Emerson, nous dirions que « nos actes parlent si fort que l'on n' hear what we're saying ”. As children of God, we must display behavior that confirms who we are on the inside. It was important that this distinction be evident among Christians in Rome to prove that the way of life of a regenerated believer was different from that of the world. In this way, Paul, addressing the Christians of the city of Philip, he exhorted them to conduct themselves in a good manner "  conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ ” (Phil.1v27), even if it could cause persecution and suffering. He made the same exhortation to Ephesian Christians, saying :

I therefore urge you, I the prisoner of the Lord, to conduct yourselves[4] in a manner worthy of the calling which has been addressed to you (Ephesians. 4  :1)
So we are called to display behavior consistent with our position in Christ. And, in the second part of the text (Romans 12 v 2) under examination, the apostle explains that this behavior must be nourished by a renewal of thought.


III- Renewal of thought

There are two Greek terms translating the word “ renewal ”. To grasp its meaning in the part of the text under analysis, we would like to present the two terms in question to specify which one is used in the text. The first is “ Paliggenesia[5] ” meaning “ new birth, re-creation, regeneration_cc794-135bb19035b-bb-1903 -136bad5cf58d_” in the sense of a new life consecrated to God, of a radical change of spirit. This term is used in the text of Matthew 19 v 28 :
Jesus answered them, "Truly I tell you, when the Son of man, at the renewal of all things, sits on his throne of glory, you who have followed me, you will likewise sit on twelve thrones and you will judge the twelve tribes of Israel.” 
Here, when Jesus speaks of the renewal of all things, He speaks of a radical change. Further, Peter, in his second epistle, he reiterated the promise of the Lord saying : "We are waiting, according to his promise, for new heavens and a earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3.13).  He will therefore make all things new. It is the same work that the new birth produces at the moment of our encounter with the Lord. From there we pass from one state to another and change our position in Christ. Moreover, for some, this word is synonymous[6] de " gennao[iii]", the term used in John 3_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_v 3 by Jesus, at the time of his conversation with Nicodemus, to speak to him of the necessity of the new birth ; this, to tell him that he is not regenerated, and therefore to signify that he was not yet a child of God. In this sense, John W. Ritenbaugh in his article [7] spoke about it at length to give the meaning of the latter which means “spiritual rebirth” or “spiritual renewal”. It describes a new beginning, a new birth. Now, in the text under study, we clearly see that Paul was not speaking to the unconverted but to saints (Romans 1 :7), that is to say that he would never ask people who are already Christians to be born again using this Greek term. So this one, given its meaning, cannot be considered in this context taking into account these considerations.
On the other hand the second which is " Anakainosis[7] " translating the idea of "  a renewal, a renovation, a complete change to the best ” is the one used in the second part of the text of  Romains 12_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58 C'd_v 2. in this context that, Charles Whitaker, in his article [8], wrote to say that it is "to do new" in the sense of "to do different". The new man is different from the old in that he already bears the image of God. This is why Paul, speaking to the Christians of Galatia, specified the following :
I was crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me; and what I now live in my body[8], I live in faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
Thus, his behavior, having been one of the concrete proofs of what he was inside, could testify to his belonging to Christ. Par  cons, this in no way means that good behavior or good conduct automatically qualifies a person as a child of God ; on the other hand, the converse is very true.
Paul issued a call to action on our part. He pleaded for us to present ourselves to God as saints, consecrated persons. “  Note that Paul does much more than tell us how to transform ourselves; he urges us to bring about this transformation by changing our attitude. God does not renew our spirit! If God, out of fiat, simply transformed us by renewing our minds, we would have nothing to do. God would only renew our minds, and as an effect of his action, we would be transformed. If that were the case, Paul's exhortation to us would be pointless, senseless, and illogical [9],” Charles Whitaker said. But it is up to us to renew our spirit, to change our behavior with regard to our true nature. There must be a fit between who we say we are and what we display by our conduct. Étant « lumière »,  nous  devons, de jour en jour, vivre invariablement une transformation de character, so that we become less and less "conformed to this world". Not surprisingly, of course, growth toward holiness requires effort on our part ; thus, to repeat Augustine “ the call is not the fruit of holiness, but holiness is the fruit of the call [10]”. This is why Peter requires us to be like God who called us. Since He is holy, it is essential that “  we also be holy in all our conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). So the apostle urges us to become holy by changing our conduct. Furthermore, we notice that the relationship between holiness and conduct is very close. By the way, even the Old Testament says almost the same thing. For example,   in Leviticus 19, we clearly observe   that holiness was sought and seen from the behavior displayed by the people. Indeed, it is   a chapter that describes the moral and ethical conduct that God required of saints at the time in a number of areas, such as business, sexual matters, etc.
So we see how consistently Paul described the new man in terms of behavior and conduct with respect to what God expects of him. Indeed, we become holy by transforming our minds through a process of renewal. By saying this, Paul is establishing a cause and effect relationship between the renewal (cause) of our spirit and our transformation (effect).   So renewal causes behavioral transformation. And for John MacArthur, “  This kind of transformation can only take place when the Holy Spirit transforms our minds through regular study and meditation of Scripture. A renewed spirit is imbued with and controlled by the Word of God [4]".  the Spirit who lives in us, we must have a different attitude proving the state of our thought and our belonging. This practical aspect should be noticed in our daily life. The Apostle Peter was not fooled when he asked Christians scattered because of persecution, in his first epistle, to continue to behave well in the midst of the world, writing :       _cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_   _cc781905-94cf58-bad

Have a good conduct in the midst of unbelievers, so that even where they slander you as if you were doing evil, they will notice your good way of acting and give glory to God on the day when he will intervene. (2 v 12, KJV 21)

Without ambiguity, speaking of manner of acting,  this refers to behavior. For John MacArthur, the Christian “  having disciplined himself inwardly, he must live outwardly, among non-Christians, in a way that reflects this inner discipline_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_[4] ”. In this sense, Francis of Assisi is credited with saying “ preach the gospel all the time, and if necessary use the words[iv]  ».  All of this confirms the idea of behavioral transformation advocated in the text, which inevitably requires renewed thinking, based on the Word of God.


IV - Conclusion

Holiness begins in the mind, just as sin begins in the mind (James 1 :13-15), before it is seen in the conduct of the believer. It's never the other way around. In this way, this exhortation of Paul was all the more necessary when writing to ancient pagans, long imbued with the spirit of the world, and who had difficulty in disengaging themselves from it. They needed to be transformed by the renewal of thought. This is how we say, to paraphrase this unknown author, when we “ sow a thought, we will reap a_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136_bad5cf58dcharactère[  ”.   So our actions must reflect our Christian walk. They must bear the mark of the transformations that have taken place within us.
In this sense, we understand that the way our thought is managed and governed will have repercussions on our character (behaviour) ; which will reveal whether our true inner nature matches what is displayed. The apostle was therefore right to say " since the Spirit is the source of our life, let him also direct our conduct " (Gal. 5_cc781905- Sower version). again the key, to achieve discernment of the will of God, the aspect that we will undoubtedly address in our next article 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_”.
          _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_           _cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_         _cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_      « Soyons transformés par le renouvellement de la pensée_cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_» Col. 3 :10

General Secretary of Standing 4 Christ Ministry


[1] R. Saint-Paulin, “ Do not conform to the present century ”, [On line]. Available at:ésent.html. [Accessed: 07-Oct-2017].
[2] Ibid, p. 6.
[3] Ibid, p. 10.
[4] J. MacArthur, The Holy Bible  with commentaries by John MacArthur, 4th Edition. Bible Society of Geneva, 2010.
[5] R. Saint-Paulin, in ouvr. quoted, p. 1.
[6] L. Bonnet, “ Epistles of Paul ”, in The New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ explained by means of introductions, analyzes and exegetical notes, 2nd Edition., Lausanne: Georges Bridel, 1875, p. Page 270.
[7] J. W. Ritenbaugh, “ Born Again or Begotten? ,” June 2010.
[8] C. Whitaker, “ Choosing the New Man ,” Feb. 2003.
[9] Ibid, .
[10] L. Bonnet, in ouvr. quoted, p. 38.
[1] Conjonction qui permet d'indiquer une_cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_différence, une opposition, une précision ou une transition.

[2] À ne pas confondre avec l'oxymore qui se porte sur un même élément_cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_which has contradictory qualities. 


[4] Other versions use “to walk in a dignified manner”. What affects conduct, behavior




[8] To talk about human nature

[i] "All those who are in Rome..." widens the circle of recipients of the epistle: it is not only the Christians of pagan origin named in verse 6, but also Jews by birth. They are saints by virtue of the call addressed to them, Greek called saints, as, in verse 1, Paul called himself a “called apostle”.

[ii] See article, “Do not conform to the present century”, section III-1.2- Comparison of the two greatest stories of temptation, written by Rosemond Saint-Paulin.
[iii] When another (Strong's #509) is combined with gennao, the phrase most strongly indicates a second birth, not a conception. This is why Nicodemus responds by saying in verse 4, "How . . . can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" He does not say, "How can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be begotten?" Another term that needs further thought is "regeneration," Greek paliggenesia (Strong's #3824). As seen above, it is a synonym for gennao anothen. The prefix palin means "again," while the root is genesis, meaning "beginning" or "start." In this context, it means "spiritual rebirth" or "spiritual renovation." Regeneration stresses the inception of a new state of things in contrast with the old. 2688/Anakainosis.htm
[iv]  He wasn't entirely wrong - what we do as Christians is very important - but he wasn't entirely right either. Because, Peter says "so that you announce the virtues of him who called you from darkness into his admirable light". We'll come back to the word “so” later but it clearly says “announce”. It implies saying something. We must speak, we must tell, we must say, we must share.  For most Christians speaking is our weak point. We found it so difficult to talk about our faith. We don't know what to say, how to say it, when to say it. But our weakness does not free us from what Pierre says.
[v] Character is the set of reactions and behaviors of an individual faced with external situations. // 



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