Romans 12:2 Ours to Do: Discern What is Good

The Text

Romans 12:2 (CSB) Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

The Introduction

I come into Romans 12 with much fear and trepidation. What do I mean by that? I am being quite careful on how to present the rest of Romans. I begun Romans 12:1 with Calvin's Three Uses of the Law and that for the people of God, the law of God is use not to condemn his people or even a massive impossible checklist for you to never finish in order to be righteous with God. Since Christ has done all of it to save you from your sins and unto the Father, the law now serves as a reminder of what pleases the Father and how to love our neighbor.

Romans 12:1 called his people to worship. We know that explicitly that Paul was not just speaking of singing but it can include singing unto the Lord. For:

1 Corinthians 10:31 (CSB) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.

In other words, the entire life, essence, and being of the Christian is to "glorify God and enjoy him forever", as famously taught in the Westminster Catechism. Our lives are a worship to God. That is why Paul states that if what he wrote at the beginning of Romans is true (it is), then present your bodies as living sacrifices unto God--this is true worship.

Verse 2, Paul here is giving us another command:

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Our God

For some of us who grew up this way, we memorized the Ten Commandments. I do not have them memorized but when I hear one of them, I know for a fact of the source: Exodus 20.

Within the law of God, he has a list of dos and donts. Within the Ten Commandments, the list of donts outnumbers the dos. Do observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. Obey your parents.

Look at the donts:

  • Do not worship other gods
  • Do not make an idol
  • Do not take the Lord's name in vain
  • Do not murder
  • Do not commit adultery
  • Do not steal
  • Do not lie
  • Do not covet

Here is one more don't that I think neatly sums of the don'ts of the Ten Commandments

Ours to Do: Do not be conformed to this age

Colossians 2:8 (CSB) Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.

1 Timothy 1:3–4 (CSB) As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach false doctrine or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith.

1 Timothy 4:7 (CSB) But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness.

2 Peter 1:16 (CSB) For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

And if you don't think that God is most serious about his children not thinking the way of the word, look at the charge he gives preachers of the word:

2 Timothy 4:1–5 (CSB) I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

God says: Don't be conformed to this age.

Might I submit to you that this should quickly fall under, "easier said than done." If you are like me who would fancy themselves a philosopher because they took two years of philosophy at the local junior college (it's me), then you know that each of us, sitting in this room, reading this page, hearing this sermon, have already been born into a philosophy of the age. You cannot help be immediately influenced by the philosophy and culture of your age. Modern, post-modern, post-post-modern--whatever you want to call it is a debate for another time. To pretend you are above it and unaffected by philosophy is foolishness. Look me in the eye and tell me you were not swayed one way or the other in the most recent presidential elections. Tell me you are not still captivated by the news channels or social media.

I am not here to condemn. I am here to say to obey this command it is easier said than done. Give yourself a lot of grace. Give others--whom you think is your political and ideological enemies--even more grace than you would give yourself.

So, I have written sixty-nine chapters expositing Romans and you think all of sudden I have no hope for you to obey this law? You are right. You and I can't hope to perfectly buffer the thinking of this world and the schemes of the devil. Where is our hope for those who want to obey?

The Gospel

Ours to Do: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind

1 Corinthians 1:18–25 (CSB)
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.

19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish?

21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached.

22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom,

23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.

24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God,

25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.


1 Corinthians 2:12 (CSB) Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.


1 Corinthians 12:1–3 (CSB) Now concerning spiritual gifts: brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you used to be enticed and led astray by mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Or as Paul said earlier:

Romans 7:24–25 (CSB) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.

How can Paul serve the law of God with his mind when members of his flesh are still at war with each other?

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The way this is phrased by Paul is ever-so-lovely. Do you see it? Notice the passage doesn't even say or imply, "You need to transform your own mind."

Or let me put it in another way, "Now that Christ has done it all to save you from your sins unto God, he is done with you. He's not going to do anything else. You are on your own and you have to figure this out for yourself. Good luck with the rest of your life. See you when you get here."

Absolutely not!

I was like many people who used to think that if predestination, vocation, justification, adoption, and glorification is completely of the Lord, then, ah, "we must play some part in our own sanctification. We must obey God and God gives the growth."

Then we read the entire Bible on how the people of God disobey God, turn to their own ways constantly and God still gave the growth.

If we boldly state that salvation is of the Lord for he is the mighty one to save, and sanctification is part of salvation. Therefore, we must be so bold to declare that sanctification of the Lord.

Your sin didn't thwart the will of God in saving you. Likewise, you messing up as a Christian did not prevent God from conforming you to the image of his Son. My beloved, that is a promise of God and the promises of God are yes and amen. That is what we call a done deal.

Be transforming

Who is doing the act of transforming? Remember, our righteousness is outside of ourselves. It is an alien righteousness. It is Christ's righteousness that he gave to us when he took our sins away. The Great Exchange.

by the renewal

Who is doing the act of renewing? Does a car change it's own oil? Does a software writes its own code? 1 If we do not prepare grow or prepare or manufacture our own food, will our stomach feed itself? Absolutely not.

Renewing your mind is thankfully not dependent on you but rather on the One who has called you his own. Praise be to God.

Now, are you telling me that if I don't read my Bible, don't pray, don't sit under the word of God, don't give praise to his name, only listen to the world, and think like the world, that somehow God will still renew my mind.

My friend, tell me something, if you actually did all of those things, then why do you call yourself a Christian? Riddle me that.

Reading your Bible, praying, sitting under the preaching of the word of God, giving thanks to God, abstaining from the world, and strive not to think like the world doesn't guarantee you that you are a Christian. You just look good to mankind but God sees the hearts and he knows whom he has placed his heart and his Spirit into.

But doing the what you suggest? I promise you that this person you speak of is not a Christian because we see the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.

Our Response

Ours to Do: Discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Ephesians 5:6–14 (CSB) Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. Therefore, do not become their partners. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth—testing what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made visible, for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Philippians 4:8 (CSB) Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.

Colossians 1:9–14 (CSB) For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

God does the saving. God does the transforming. God does the conforming. God does the renewing. God literally does it all. Why?

Matthew 22:37–39 (CSB) He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

So that you would love the Lord your God. So that you would love your neighbor as yourself.

Discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God

Do not fret or worry or be anxious on how to love your neighbor. It will come to you. The Holy Spirit dwells in you. You are a child of God. He will lead you in the path you should go. He has set out the good works that you should do so that someone would be blessed by God through you.

Trust in the Lord and in his work in you. And his work in you to change your mind about what you once were.

1 Corinthians 2:16 (CSB) For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Now, we a mind by God, you can discern what is good, pleasing and the perfect will of God. And then you get to go do those things.

Praise be to God. He has it all figured out. Just be in him and worship him today.


At the sake of making this publication dated, I stand by this statement. AI cannot writes its own code--it has been programmed by a human author to pull the necessary data to piecemeal a functioning bit of code.