Romans 12: 1 & 2 says:
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1 & 2
We are all influenced by the world and the way of thinking of the world. For many Americans this is the result of government education, corporate advertising, media propaganda and the various disciplines of science that has established themselves as the gods of our age. Therefore our reading of the Bible tends to be influenced by these worldly influences and it takes deliberate effort to discern the truth of Scripture. Reading the Bible alone will not transform your mind. There are thousands of Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons who do not know Christ. Renewing our minds come from reading the Bible by spiritual discernment.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.(1Co 2:14 & 15)
Legalism is the heart of natural thinking. Legalism is the means of self-justification. James tells us that if we break one commandment we have broken them all (James 2:10). But legalism tells us that if we do one good thing, we are good in all things. Through our narrow definition of goodness, we judge others according to our own standard. If we see others fail in one thing, we condemn them as utterly worthless. How unlike our King who believes we are worth saving no matter what we have done. Legalism turns us into hypocrites.
Legalism makes right and wrong a game. Lawyers are a prime example of what I mean. They do not care about what is right or wrong, only what is legal. Natural thinking seeks only for the benefit of self. We are awash in our culture in this kind of thinking.
The influence of natural thinking distorts both our reading of Scriptures and affects the way godly men translate the Scriptures. We need to read the Bible through the eyes of Christ. Since He is the King, we assume he is like a worldly king, and he is not. Jesus does not “rule” by force. He rules by example and is the standard we are to compare ourselves by. Jesus changes us just as a good marriage changes both partners. We love one another in marriage, so defer to one another. We love Jesus and defer to his good example because we want to please him and to be like him.