“And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
In an excerpt from the illustration Transfiguration, Alexander Maclaren brings to light a compelling realization:
One master word for the whole Christian life is sacrifice, self-surrender, and that to God. Paul here brackets, with that great conception of the Christian life, another equally dominant and comprehensive [concept]. In one aspect, it is self-surrender; in another, it is growing transformation.
The inner man, having been consecrated as a prince, by yielding of himself to God, is called upon to manifest inward consecration by outward sacrifice; an inward "renewing of the mind" is regarded as the necessary antecedent of transformation of outward life.
I discovered something in this that I never recognized before. If the master word for the Christian life is sacrifice, or self-surrender to God, then being self–protective is counter productive to the process of sanctification, which leads to freedom.
Some of us had to learn at very early ages how to protect ourselves from emotional and/or physical harm. The process of unlearning a behavior that was ingrained as a survival mechanism can be daunting. Especially because this same insecurity then breeds poor choices to eventually compound our pain.
Maybe you have learned behaviors through the circumstances in your life that are keeping you from fully surrendering to God as well. Thankfully, He has provided for our brokenness in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can trust Him to be our protector.
Note, then, THAT THE FOUNDATION OF ALL TRANSFORMATION OF CHARACTER AND CONDUCT IS LAID DEEP IN A RENEWED MIND. Now it is a matter of world-wide experience, verified by each of us in our own cases, if we have ever been honest in the attempt, that the power of self-improvement is limited by very narrow bounds.
Any man that has ever tried to cure himself of the most trivial habit which he desires to get rid of, or to alter in the slightest degree the set of some strong taste or current of his being, knows how little he can do, even by the most determined toil…
Only one Christ presents itself, not as a mere republication of morality, not as merely a new stimulus and motive to do what is right, but as an actual communication to men of a new power to work in them…
If you want to change your characters — and God knows they all need it — change the deep convictions of your mind; and get hold, as living realities, of the great truths of Christ's gospel.
If you and I really believed what we say we believe, that Jesus Christ has died for us, and lives for us, and is ready to pour out upon us the gift of His Divine Spirit, and wills that we should be like Him, and holds out to us the great and wonderful hopes and prospects of an absolutely eternal life of supreme and serene blessedness at His right hand should we be, could we be, the sort of people that most of us are?...
The beginning of all transformation is the revolutionized conviction of a mind that has accepted the truths of the gospel.