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Thinking with a Discerning Mind

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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October 6, 2023 12:01 am

Thinking with a Discerning Mind

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 6, 2023 12:01 am

In a pagan society that suppresses the truth, Christians must have minds that are transformed by the Holy Spirit and informed by the Word of God. Today, Peter Jones describes the kind of discernment that should set Christians apart.

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There are only two ways of thinking. There's the transformed mind that has to be transformed because of sin and then understands who God is and worships and serves Him. And then there's the undiscerning mind that makes nature God and serves creation and builds a worldview of onism. The Apostle Paul in Romans 12 2 calls us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.

That verse is where the name of this outreach comes from. And in truth, there are only two minds. The transformed mind of Romans 12 or the conformed, undiscerning mind of Romans 1. This is the Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

I'm your host, Nathan W. Bingham. Peter Jones has been helping us think through what he calls one-ism and two-ism. This framework has helped me see the unifying era of all worldly thinking and worldviews. You can request your own copy with a donation of any amount at, as today is the final day that we're offering this resource. Today, Peter Jones focuses on what the mind of Romans 12 looks like and how it differs from the pagan thinking of our day.

Here's Dr. Jones. Well, the second thing I think that the Apostle Paul wants Christians to bring to a pagan world is a transformed mind, a holy body. Romans 12 1 and 12 2 says, Well, I'll read it to you. 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.

Some folks have been asking me how you engage in the training of young people in this day and age, and I think this is the key to what we need to do with our rising generation of kids. Teach them what it means to have a transformed mind. We know what the sinful mind does. It constructs itself on the basis of the lie, which is that creation is divine. It's thus unable to discern God's will. And it's conforming to a whole pagan schema of traditions. I think thus we need as Christians to be structural, not sentimentalized or mystical in our response to the situation and in making clear what the options are in terms of the truth and the lie.

It doesn't mean to say we don't have any sentiments, but there's so much sentimentalization going on and the refusal of thinking. Whereas Paul says for the pagan world, you need a transformed mind. How do you understand what he actually means by that? What is a discerning mind? At the beginning of Romans where I was in a previous lecture in Romans chapter one, Paul also uses there the term discern.

Here it is. And since they did not see fit to discern God, some translations say acknowledge, but it's the same Greek term, since they did not see fit to discern God, God gave them up to a debased and literally undiscerning mind to do what ought not to be done. So Paul in Romans 12 is talking about a discerning mind and in Romans one about an undiscerning mind. There is a definite parallelism here in what Paul is saying. A clear antithesis, in other words, as to the way human beings understand the world.

And so we need to have clear minds. Paul has in mind a massive transformation of human thinking. The only other time he uses this term transform is in 2 Corinthians 3 18. We all with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed.

He's recalling Moses having his face transformed, but also recalls the glory of God revealed on another mount, the Mount of Transfiguration, where Jesus was transformed before them and his face shone like the sun. So Paul has in mind a radical transformation having to do with the glory of God revealed in a sinful world through good sound thinking. And so we're faced with two kinds of minds, an undiscerning mind that suppresses the truth.

Such a commitment will mess up your mind. Knowing God is creator, but not honoring him as God will lead you to futile thinking, says the apostle, an undiscerning mind. The renewed mind sees antithesis, the battle between truth and falsehood. The undiscerning mind wants a cheap synthesis of a sort of meaningless wholeness, joining the opposites, which of course, Paul denounces in Romans 1 25. I like to talk about that verse, the 18 words that change the world. They exchange the truth about God for the lion worshiped and serve the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever. A brilliant person is able to condense in a very short scope the most profound notions and here I see Paul's pen is filled with kryptonite. The writing explodes off the page with incredible simple complexity. And these 18 words contain incendiary ideas for the pagan world.

Little wonder the Romans killed him. And Paul is essentially saying there are only two kinds of minds. There are only two ways of thinking. There's the transformed mind that has to be transformed because of sin and then understands who God is and worships and serves him. And then there's the undiscerning mind that makes nature God and serves creation and builds a worldview of onism, which will eventually implode because it's not based on the truth. And this is doubtless where you get this famous question and it's really the only fundamental question you can ask. Does the world create itself or is there a creator who creates it? It's the only question you can really ask about origins and those are the two ways of thinking. Isn't that interesting? This is fundamental.

Is the answer one or two? And it will affect the way you think about everything. As Paul shows in Romans 1, the way you think about spirituality and theology and sexuality in particular. And we are now living in a world committed to a onist vision, a universal justice, pansexuality, interfaith. And we believe that we can produce a paradise of human flourishing where all people get along.

It's Pollyannish, isn't it? It fails to take into account sin and how undiscerning we really are about the true nature of the world so that this will be a delusional fantasy and will become a planetary nightmare because based on the lie. Jesus himself said there are only two ways, the broad way and the narrow way. And the transformed mind has to learn how to think about the world in the light of this fundamental truth that God is separate from us. God is not nature. God is the creator of nature. And of course, that will affect everything we think in terms of theology, who is God. In terms of spirituality, we don't worship nature.

We worship the God who made nature. And in terms of sexuality, where we must celebrate the sexuality of distinction, not of sameness. That's part of this transformed mind. I tried on you the two words I invented.

I invent words once in a while. Hetero-cosmology and homo-cosmology. You know, we're faced with a hetero-theology which is not a homo-theology. A homo-theology says that God is the same as us. Hetero-theology emphasizes that God is different than us. We can engage in a hetero-spirituality or a homo-spirituality.

We can worship God and we can worship ourselves because we're all the same. Or a hetero-sexuality or a homo-sexuality. Homo-sexuality embodies the oneness spiritual notions of sameness. Hetero-sexuality embodies God inspired union indifference. A whole world of difference. Here's how our thinking is affected as R.C.

has shown down the years with such brilliance. Tuism brings us sound minds. It teaches us a number of things that I'd like to display before you. First theology, then meaning, then morality, then redemption, then spirituality. Tuism in terms of theology, as I've been saying, affirms the creator creature distinction. And that massive distinction makes it so obvious that God is the Lord, sovereign, transcendent.

That there is such a thing as hierarchy of being, which of course is the basis of classic theology as we've learned. We celebrate the mystery of the great other. God is so totally other than us. That's the kind of God I want to worship by the way.

The God I see in the mirror every morning turns me off. But the God who is ultimately mysteriously other is the kind of God I want to worship. And of course, in this truest theology about God, we find the place of the Trinity. Because the Trinity is affirming distinction and unity at the same time. And God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit never become each other. They remain distinct and yet they are unified together. And that's the doctrine of God that we have.

It's a mysterious doctrine but it is amazing in its power to preserve for us a God who is personal. And indeed, the very notion of Tuism preserves the notion of personhood. You cannot really extract personhood from an energy that flows through everything. A person has to be distinct from you in order to have a personal relationship with them.

As soon as you try and crush that person and make that person part of you, you've lost personhood. Of course, that also means as we move to who we are in the light of who God is, that's the basis of human dignity. That we respect the other.

There's no such thing as the mass of humanity all one together and called to eventually disappear in a non-dual nirvana. Human dignity recognizes the dignity of the other. This is so important in living on this earth that we do that. Abortion doesn't do that, does it?

It doesn't recognize the dignity of that other little baby. How we're suffering from that kind of undiscerning thinking in our time is just amazing. And this notion of distinction, you see, gives us a sense of calling and value in what we do.

We are vice regents. We serve God who is other than us in the world, distinct from the world. We're always creatures, never God, always submitted to God and to the structures he made. But in that, we find our dignity as well in our calling to work under God to have dominion. So who God is will determine who we are.

Isn't that interesting? Theology is so practical in the end that if you want to really know who you are, you better know who God is. So the rejection of God means that people stop knowing who they are. And we're in this massive experiment to discover who we are. And it always lies just in the future, you know. When we've flattened out a certain number of distinctions, maybe we'll all find some wonderful harmony.

But of course, that won't be true. The second area is meaning. How do we extract meaning from existence?

How do we do this kind of transformed thinking in terms of meaning? I believe that tourism makes sense of the world. It makes sense of rationality.

You remember the secular humanists believed in reason but had no basis on which to found their reason. But in tourism, God's mind is the objective reference point. And we're not condemned to human circular reasoning, just affirming that things are without any ultimate reference point. Tourism gives us the notion of revelation also that God, who is other than us, must reveal himself to us. We cannot function by going within and asking ourselves who we are and what the world is all about.

We will never solve that problem. But in revelation, we have a word from the outside, from the other. We're not left with fallible insights from within, but we are given God's word about the nature of existence. Isn't that a wonderful blessing? We have these people at the hotel called Compassion, some avatar group.

I don't know who they exactly are, but I was walking along this morning with my Bible and I thought, if anyone stops me and they say, do you know anything about compassion? I'd say, yeah, it's right here in this book. In tourism, we have the notion of meaningful history, that there is a genuine beginning. The cosmos is made, not constantly going around and around with matter as eternal. So it makes sense of the fact that there is such a thing as history and indeed eschatology. There is a genuine end. It's not the endless circle of reincarnation.

There is a meaning to the universe. Tourism makes sense of morality. It explains what we all know, that there is such a thing as right and wrong. You go to somebody who says, I don't believe in right and wrong. You punch him in the nose.

He will quickly let you know what he thinks you should have done. Because morality is fundamental to the universe. You remember I said the wrath of God is revealed because this is an ethical universe. But it only makes sense if there is a God who is outside of it who gives it meaning. God's law is from the outside.

It's not a human invention. Good and evil are distinct and must not be joined because they find their origin in God himself. Sin is not ignorance of our goodness but an offense against the other, the Creator.

Holiness is knowing our rightful place, distinguished from other places in a holy universe. The world fits together, you see, when you begin to use a transformed mind to think toistically about existence. And then when you come to the notion of redemption, tourism answers the deep need that we all have of genuine salvation. We long for an efficacious savior. We cannot save ourselves. It must be terrible to be in a world where you are convinced that only you can save yourself. I would go nuts if it all depended upon me.

I don't know how I would make sense of the world. Redemption is not self-salvation but the act of a creator for helpless sinners. And it brings freedom from guilt.

I don't know what to do with my guilt except just live with it but that will drive me nuts as well. But God, who is other, who is holy, can deal with my guilt in his atoning work. As well, in terms of redemption, it's a love story. God loves those he saves.

He loves the sinner. But it presupposes a person, God as personal, to make any sense of redemption. And the incarnation, of course, and I'll talk about this a little later, but the incarnation solves our problem by mysteriously bringing the human and the divine together. So the final issue is spirituality. Prayer is not navel-gazing on one's divine self, but it is communion with the creator.

There is somebody who hears. If I thought that my spirituality depended upon what I was telling myself, I think I'd be of a man most miserable. There's one part of spirituality that can only be practiced by tourists, and that is praise. Don't you hate people who praise themselves? I mean, you want to go out of the room when this person walks in and starts telling you how wonderful they are, right? Now, in oneism, you see, since all is one, if ever you praise something, you're praising yourself.

There's no way out of it. You're part of nature, so to praise nature is to praise yourself. In tourism, you can praise the other, and that's the fundamental notion of praise. It's not praising the self, it's being able to see the greatness of someone else.

And that's why you can get excited about praise when you go to church. It's because there is a genuine other that can receive genuine praise that only tourism can deliver. We affirm tourism over against oneism, which refuses all these notions, particularly notions of sin and guilt, and believes that we are it, that we are the solution to our own problems. We know, though, don't we, that we have sin-stained bodies and messed up minds.

There's not much we can do when we come to a savior who brings us his pure mind and his holy body. Tourism is a wonderful notion. It includes ontology, who is God, cosmology, the nature of the world.

It includes soteriology. It's the secret of salvation. God, the eternal son, takes on human flesh, but in so doing, doesn't destroy tourism.

How is this? Well, the Church Council of Chalcedon, in Asia Minor, in 451, showed us how the incarnation solves the problem of God and humanity, the creator and the creature, where it says, the incarnate son is coessential with the father, according to the Godhead, coessential according to manhood, before the ages begotten of the father as the Godhead, but in the last days, for us and our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary. Christ has two natures, without confusion, without change, undivided and inseparable.

There's one more piece of good news. It's not from a church council, it's from Romans. Romans Chapter 8, 31 and 32. The good news is, if God is for us, who can be against us? We're on the winning side, folks.

We're on the side of truth, and truth will win. But in what way is God for us? Remember I told you that in Romans 1, talks about God giving over? It's the verb in Greek, pareidoken. You must know that because in Romans 8, 32, it says, he who did not spare his own son, but gave him over, pareidoken for us all.

In other words, the God who is the judge of sin also takes sin on himself in the person of the son. That's the good news that we have to take to this undiscerning mind of the world around us. May God give us the grace to be able to do it.

Amen. That was Peter Jones on this Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind. Peter Jones has spoken and written on the helpful topic of oneism and twoism for many years, and I'm thankful that he was able to record this series with us, providing 12 messages and a study guide to help each of us to better understand the fundamental difference between biblical Christianity and the false worldviews and beliefs out there. You can own this two-DVD set when you give a gift of any amount at Your generosity is helping fuel Ligonier's youth apologetics events called Always Ready. I'll be teaching at one tomorrow, where hundreds of middle school and high school students will be taught apologetics and how to think rightly about the world we live in. So please show your support at or by calling us at 800 435 4343. This offer ends at midnight, so respond while there's still time. R.C. Sproul is known by many for his series The Holiness of God. Next week you'll hear select messages from the extended edition of that series, so join us Monday here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-06 03:11:16 / 2023-10-06 03:19:20 / 8

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