“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2a
I would argue that there is a negative consequence to not renewing your mind…that is, you will be conformed to this world.
Romans 12:1-2 is a classic verse of Scripture regarding the importance of transformation in the life of every believer. Most teachers that I have heard stress the importance of transformation in a positive sense…that is, you ought to renew your mind because then you will know God’s will more clearly. And this is certainly true and a blessing to us. However, I would argue that there is a negative consequence to not renewing your mind…that is, you will be conformed to this world. I think it’s one or the other…there is no middle ground. Each day, you either renew your mind or conform to the world.
Recently, I engaged an online “discussion” with a person who calls himself an “Agnostic Catholic”. He grew up Catholic, adopted reformed theology, felt certain he was regenerate, then turned away from the faith and to agnosticism. During my interaction, I renewed an old struggle with the meaning of Hebrews 5:11-6:11 and uncovered some new insights. Once of which is relevant to this post.
I think he is saying that a person who thinks he is regenerate can fall away if he does not act like a regenerate person acts.
“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened … and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit … and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance…” Hebrews 6:4-6 (NASB)
“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking this way.” Hebrews 6:9 (NASB)
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises”. Hebrews 6:11-12 (NASB)
I’m not going to write a commentary here, nor am I trained to do so. So, please test these thoughts in light of Scripture. But, I think what’s going on here is that the writer is frustrated that the disciples are not pressing on toward maturity, so he issues are warning. That warning is, “look, if you are not maturing in your faith, you are at risk of falling away and proving yourself to be a fraud. So get in gear and press on to maturity.”
To be clear, I don’t think the writer is saying that a regenerate person can become lost again. I think he is saying that a person who thinks he is regenerate can fall away if he does not act like a regenerate person acts.
My salvation is not tied to my works, but my assurance certainly is. For, if I am not acting like a believer, why should I think I am?
And, I think Peter says the same thing. After calling the saints to maturity, Peter says this …
“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about his calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NASB)
And so, assurance of salvation is tied to maturity. If you are not pressing forward, you may indeed stumble (i.e. fall away), perhaps even to the extent that you prove that you were wrong about His “calling and choosing you” to begin with.
Have you ever interacted with someone who was a believer and now is not? This is the first I have met…that fell as far and as hard as this. Only God knows the condition of his heart, but it has awakened me to the reality that unless I am pressing on in maturity, I risk the same fate. My salvation is not tied to my works, but my assurance certainly is. For, if I am not acting like a believer, why should I think I am?