Numerous TV shows portray virtuous police officers becoming exactly like the people they’re trying to bust. This happens in real life too. We read about cops who steal the money from a drug bust and keep it for themselves. This risk of becoming like the people around us is a persistent and dangerous threat to our Christian walk. When people who scoff at God and practice sinful deeds surround us, we are tempted to become like them. It’s like swimming in a cesspool, and it’s very difficult to avoid the stink.
The apostle Paul writes about this problem in Romans 12:2. He uses the word conform to indicate the gradual process by which we take on and adopt the rules and standards of those around us. If we are not careful, we can slowly find ourselves becoming insensitive to God’s leading and His grace.
Paul gives us the formula for resisting this temptation when he instructs us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we’ve said before: How we think determines how we act. If our minds focus on negative things, we will behave in sinful ways. However, if we allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, our whole lives will be transformed.
To renew something often involves stripping off the old and replacing it with something better. As our lives have been stripped of drug addiction, guilt, and shame, we apply the finishing coat of Jesus over our new minds. Then to keep our minds fresh, we need to worship—not only individually through prayer and Bible study, but also with the prison church. This will help us keep our minds focused on the right things as we fight the pressures of everyday life and the dangers of returning to lives that dishonored Jesus.