Have you ever had one of those moments where a similar item, word, song or thought continued to pop up everywhere you went? Some call it Deja Vu to explain the reocurrence. I've had one of those things in my own personal studies through Scripture dealing with the Mind. It just keeps popping up no matter where I am or what I am studying. I've even considered it for a topic as a ThM Thesis. It started with a sermon (as most things with me start) on Romans 12:1-8. In fact, I first preached the typical "Don't be conformed but be transformed" message that is found in Romans 12:1-2. However, I started to dig a little further, continuing to verses 3-8. I had never heard a sermon on the rest of the section and was curious as to how 12:3-8 which dealt with the body and using gifts fit in with 12:1-2 and the transformed mind. It was through this study that I found my friend...phroneo, a Greek term meaning "to think, be concerned with, set your mind on."
Romans is an amazing book and I am currently preaching through it right now but the sermon on Romans 12 was done several years ago. The context of Romans gives so much to the idea of "right thinking" that I had missed previously. It all goes back to chapter 1 in which Paul says that salvation is available to both Jew and Gentile (1:16-17) because both are sinners deserving God's wrath (1:18-3:20). The Gentiles, seen in chapter 1, have refused to worship God, did not honor Him or give Him thanks (1:24) so God gave them over. Most would fill the rest in by stating that God gave them over to do sexually perverted things. Yet it is often missed that God also gives them over to a "depraved mind." The word for depraved mind (adokimos) and means "failing the test." The mind is no longer fit, no longer fully functional and "fails" the test due to sin. In chapter 8, Paul uses our word - phroneo - to show that those in the flesh "think, set their minds on" the things of the flesh but those in the Spirit "think, set their minds on" the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:5). By the time one gets to Romans 12, Paul has shown a great deal regarding salvation that also includes the mind, once "failing the test" - adokimos.
In Romans 12:1-2, because of God's mercies in salvation, the Christian is now to no longer let the world conform (used in the passive showing the action being done to you) but to let the mind be transformed, to be renewed. Why, because of Romans 1:28 - It has been impacted by sin and continues to be impacted by the world, which is trying to conform and mold the mind. Yet something pretty cool is seen in the next phrase in verse 2 - "so that you may prove what the will of God is." The word for "prove" (dokimozo) is the exact opposite of Romans 1:28, which is a mind that is (adokimos). The idea is that through the transformation of the mind, the renewing by the Spirit through Scripture, the mind is "renewed" put back into shape so that one may "test and pass" rather than "have a failed mind." So then, what does the mind have to do with 12:3-8?
Another play on words. Paul moves from having your once "depraved mind" be transformed by the renewal of it so that you can test and approve of what is good, what is God's will. And then he continues with the idea of -phroneo- to think, consider, set your mind on. The NASB has the idea in verse 3 of 'not thinking highly but thinking with sound judgment.' The play on words is something like this - Do not (huperphroneo) "overthink" when you (phroneo) "think" but when you (phroneo) "think", think with (sophroneo) "sound or right thinking." All of this thinking is in the context of serving the local church, using your God given gifts to build up the body. God gives you His Spirit and transforms your thinking so you can think rightly, knowing God's will and serving the church with humility. Right thinking leads to committed Christians employing their gifts for the building up of the body, namely the local church.
Have you ever wondered why so many people in the church don't get involved? Its because we are all a bunch of huperphroneo's, thinking too much of ourselves, our own agendas, our own time issues, our own plans and goals that we forget that the God who transforms and renews our mind wants us to think rightly about ourselves in light of serving His church.
Well, that's all for part 1 - gotta get to bed.