Comparing the Unregenerate Mindset With the Transformed Mindset

by Mike Ratliff

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NASB)

George Whitefield and his ministry and the history of the Great Awakening of which he was a major part has always fascinated me. Wouldn’t another Great Awakening in our time based upon the same Law and Gospel preaching at core of his preaching be something to see! A study of George Whitefield will reveal that he had a close relationship with both John Wesley and Charles Wesley. At the beginning of their ministries none of them were well educated in doctrine, but they were devout believers and had a heart for the lost. However, their understanding of doctrine was no deeper than any other new believer’s. Over time Whitefield’s doctrine became more conformed to that of Jonathan Edwards’ after spending time with him in the Colonies. This changed his preaching drastically. However John Wesley stayed with his understanding of doctrine that he held from the day he was born again and that was Arminian. The reason Wesley was such a powerful revivalist, however, was not that he was an Arminian, but that he was a preacher of righteousness. He did preach that all men are dead in their trespasses and sins and would go to Hell if they did not repent and accept Jesus and Lord and Saviour. Whitefield was the Lightening Rod of the Great Awakening. He was also a preacher of righteousness, but his doctrine was centered in the doctrines of grace. As believers surrender more and more to the Lordship of Christ in every area of their lives they are also surrendering to the Sovereignty of God. This is a huge part of the process God uses to transform us unto the image of the Son. What is our part?

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 NASB)

The phrase “prepare your minds for action” is translated as “gird up the loins of your mind” in the KJV. This is the process of gathering together all of the loose ends of our minds, subjecting them to Lordship of Christ, then directing our thoughts to the future glory of Christ and what we have awaiting us in eternity. It begins by being sober-minded. This is process of denying what our flesh wants and turning our backs on the allurements of the world and its ways. How can we do this? Let us return, as we so often do here, to Romans 12:1-2.

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. (Romans 12:1-2 NA28)

1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Now compare this passage to Romans 1:28.

28 Καὶ καθὼς οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν τὸν θεὸν ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει, παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς ἀδόκιμον νοῦν, ποιεῖν τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα, (Romans 1:28 NA28)

28 And as they did not approve to hold God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do the things which were not proper, (Romans 1:28 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We see that the reprobate mind is so because the person refuses to hold God and His ways in his or her mind. On the other hand, the mind that is transformed by constant mind renewal is able to do the very opposite. In fact it holds God and His ways more and more and, therefore, knows what God’s will is and does it.The natural man’s mindset is one of the sovereignty of man and God who is either unable or unwilling to project his sovereignty over Men or even His own creation. That mindset sees all people as in various levels of goodness with those who are good enough being giving the nod into eternity because of their own efforts in becoming holy enough. This mindset does not buy original sin and sees any teaching of the sovereignty of God and His wrath against all sin as Him being unfair. They insist that God’s love trumps His Holiness. It also sees that Men are good enough to earn their way into Heaven to be with a grateful God who welcomes them as He rewards them with eternal life.

On the other hand, the transformed mindset is one of the sovereignty of God and the total depravity of Man. This mindset understands that God is completely sovereign and in total control of every aspect of His creation. This mindset sees all people as dead in their trespasses and sins except for those whom God has regenerated and saved. It sees that even though there is spiritual growth as Christians, that is also a work of God as we cooperate in our sanctification. This mindset understands that it is the process of being transformed by the renewal of our minds that is what demolishes the old, natural man’s mindset. It also understands that all in Christ are complete in Him, but no one else is. God’s love does not trump His Holiness. God’s wrath still burns against all sin that has not been atoned for by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It was through His crucifixion that the elect’s sin was paid for, and no one else’s. This mindset also understands that it is far better for God to give us His grace rather than being fair. If God was fair, no one would be saved for all are completely unworthy of salvation. It also understands that salvation is not a reward for making the right decision, but is solely by the grace of God by the faith He gives us. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

The natural man mindset sees Christianity as what men do. The transformed mindset sees Christianity as being made up of two parts. One part is not genuine and contains disingenuous professing believers who have not been regenerated by God. These are tares or goats. The other part of Christianity is made up of only genuine Christians who have been regenerated by God. These are the Lord’s sheep. They see Christianity as their lives of obedience to their sovereign God by His Grace. It is God’s work, not what men do. Their lives may contain much pain and stress and conflict, which are the tests and trials God allows in our lives to prune us. (John 15) These two parts are mingled together in the Church, but God knows who are His and who are not. The natural man mindset, since Christianity is what men do, sees no problem in using marketing techniques and worldly methods to grow their churches. However, many others of this mindset are mired in their religiosity believing that it is their church attendance that God wants from them. The transformed mindset understands that God builds His church. The Holy Spirit is the one who plows the hearts of men, not sales pitches and marketing pushes. Gods draws those to Christ whom He chooses.

The natural man mindset sees salvation and the Christian walk as completely self-effort. The transformed mindset sees salvation and the Christian walk as God’s good work. The natural man mindset sees God as far away and not in control. The transformed mindset sees God as huge, near, and totally in control.We must ask ourselves of which mindset we are. If we find ourselves of the natural man mindset then we must repent and seek the face of God then obey Him by becoming transformed by the renewal of our minds. On the other hand, if we are of the transformed mindset then we must continue to draw near unto God who has apprehended us. If we draw near unto Him, He will draw near unto us and change us. This spiritual growth will continue as long as we are in these bodies so now is the time to obey the Lord and seek His face.

Soli Deo Gloria!

9 thoughts on “Comparing the Unregenerate Mindset With the Transformed Mindset

  1. I have to agree with the commemt above concerning legalism, God’s Law (or Torah) was NOT given to rule but to guide, an instruction for Life. Yes, the consequence of Sin is Death, but that is but a single part of the whole. In today’s society, if you ‘break’ the law of the land, you pay a price, but most of God’s law ASKS the we do as Christ said, that we Love our neighbors and ourselves, but most importantly, we must Love God with our total heart, soul, body, and spirit. Looking over the Decalog (the 10 commandments) with that thought in mind, they all make perfect sense. If you love, those are the very things you will follow without being fully aware of them. And, of the 613 precepts listed in the rest of Torah, the driving force and intent follows along with the same thought. That if you love, those precepts are there to give hints in situations folks may not have thought of before.


  2. The point you make in that last paragraph is SO critical, Mike. Until God finally opened my eyes to see that my spiritual growth is just as much HIS work as my salvation was, I lived a very frustrated life. Week after week, I sat under preaching about what I should DO as a Christian — what kind of wife I should be, what kind of mother, how I should be using my spiritual gifts, why I should tithe, etc, etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum. And it made me a nervous wreck. I can remember literally sobbing and asking God, “What do you want from me? Isn’t anything I do good enough for you?” (Hint: it wasn’t.) When the light bulb finally went on, I couldn’t listen to that stuff anymore. My former pastor was a great guy who was trying to help his church members grow (and, I believe, he was a Christian, not a wolf) but he just didn’t get it. I cannot tell you how much God has done in me since I stopped listening to “47 Ways to Be a Godly Parent” and started reading and hearing law and gospel, sin and grace, repentance and the forgiveness of sins — preached to me, for me. (Who would have thought Christians needed to hear the gospel?) Instead of a month-long series on marriage every February (yes, I’m totally serious), if he would only preach the Word, he would be amazed at how that Word would transform the Christians in his congregation. The Christian walk, as you so aptly point out, is not by self-effort, but is truly a good work of God. Ultimately, I’m not so sure my role consists of much more than repentance, repentance, and more repentance! I am fervent in my prayers that my old pastor and the others like him, who are focused on getting Christians to behave instead of calling them to repent and believe, will come to understand God’s sovereignty and his truth.


  3. We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, the transformation is taking place in our mind by the washing of His Word.
    For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do [his] good pleasure. As Mike quoted, John 15:5 Without Him we cannot do one thing. We know by faith that God will work out everything according to His purpose and His Glory. God said He will build His church. Matthew 16:18

    Very well said, Windy. 47 ways to be a Godly Parent.
    Pray 50 times a day for a loved one to get saved. If I pray for the whole world to be saved, would they be saved? Are my prayers what saves people? How is the unregenerate responding to His seed?” Of the four types of soils of the parable of the sower is the four different responses to His seed. There is only one type of soil that HEAR the Word and RECEIVES His Seed Mark 4:20


  4. Do not want to get off topic but sharing with you what a brother shared with me (thanks Mark):
    Prayers are general desires and supplications are specific desires. We are told to make these to God. The problem with salvation is that John tells us that our desire cannot save a person. Even God’s desire does not save. He desires all to be saved but not all are.
    Also Luke 16 Jesus makes no mention to the rich man about praying for his family. He says they have Moses and the Prophets. If salvation is “helped” by prayer, then it is not individual faith alone and everyone in hell has a defense other than the unpardonable sin of rejecting Christ. They (the unregenerate, those refusing His seed) cannot say not enough people prayed for me.


  5. Windy, I can totally relate. You know it’s interesting because they start in the middle of books. They leave out ephesians chapters 1-4 and begin in Ephesians 5 with wives submit to your husbands; husbands love your wives…But the apostle Paul always gave doctrine first and then the outworking of it. I think they do this (those who are really sincere) because they have been told that they have to be RELEVANT, they have to grow the church by being relevant. Never mind that the whole of scripture is relevant; no, but they have to be relevant according to what the worldy person sitting in the pew wants to hear.Which is just what Mike has so aptly laid out – the difference between the two. I too sat there for one year listening to “go and do” and came home with a burden on my back. My pastor at the time was not sincere, but was a stand up comedian when he wasn’t telling us the 47 things to do. I came to understand: this is not the voice of the true Shepherd from the scriptures. Finally we left and went to a church that taught the doctrines of grace but even more importantly they taught through the Bible verse by verse. No more leaving out the front half of a book! It has made a huge difference in my understanding and spiritual growth. Not to mention seeing scripture as a whole, not a bunch of disjointed commands. I also urge Christians to spend as much time in the word as you can. Find a study to do, not just reading, so that you can truly judge between error and truth and right and almost right. There is no substitute for being in the word for yourself.


  6. Thank you, Kelli, (and Mark!) for the sound teaching. This brings to mind the verse of
    Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
    The evidence of the Holy Spirit at work between one believer to another. Fascinates me as to how He does this ministering between us. This is all of His Grace.
    The gift of Himself encouraging me through you:)
    Julie, Windy, I am enjoying reading the conversations about what the Holy Spirit is doing by opening our eyes to error and false teaching as compared to Truth. Yes He is Faithful and True to lead His sheep.


  7. “We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, the transformation is taking place in our mind by the washing of His Word.” Kelli, that is exactly what I was getting at — you just said it so much more succinctly! The washing of His Word, what a perfect description.

    Julie, your experience sounds very familiar. Starting in the middle of a book (or worse, starting with the list of “do’s” and cherry-picking scripture to support the list — sometimes even half a verse or starting in mid-sentence!) seems to be par for the course these days. There are definitely some wolves prowling around out there; the really unfortunate thing is that the wolves are now considered the gold standard of pastors, so that even sincere men (as I believe my former pastor was) are being duped into “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” He is absolutely BLIND to the legalism he is promoting; if asked, he would categorically deny that he believes salvation is by anything other than faith alone. He truly believes he is exhorting his congregation to holiness — and that is his goal. He is completely unable to see that his hermeneutic necessitates a works-based salvation (or, at least, a works-based sanctification). But I do have hope, because I don’t believe that God will allow a regenerate Christian to continue down the path he’s on without discipline and correction. I just don’t want to see him suffer — but that, unfortunately, is out of my hands.

    My family was also fortunate to find (just recently) a new church where the doctrines of grace are proclaimed through expository preaching, and what a blessing! It has been hard, because we did not know a single person there, and I am not very good at meeting new people. But right now, we believe that it is most important that we and our children learn what God’s Word actually teaches. Hopefully the fellowship will follow.


  8. Windy,
    This statement came from my pastor/teacher/brother Bill Klein. I save these type of notes as it ministers to me and he said this in such a way you can’t make it any clearer.
    “We are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, the transformation is taking place in our mind by the washing of His Word.”


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