When considering Interpretation, the first thing that should pop in the reader’s mind is context. Who wrote the literature? To whom did he write said literature? What genre is the literature? What is the social, cultural, religious, and environmental background of the people who are communicating? Finally, what is the over-arching point of the text in its entirety?
In short, Scripture says in Romans 8 that all things work together for God’s purpose. The question the critical thinker should ask is, “what is God’s purpose?” The following verse says from the very beginning, God’s plan was for mankind to conform to the image (or mind/character) of Christ so that man would be siblings with Jesus. All things are working together for that purpose. The old and new covenants, the war between good and evil, the good and bad times, the blessings, and the toil. All things are working together to produce the opportunity for man to choose to love God. And by loving Him, to be conformed by His power to the image of Christ. God made each of us in His image. We leave that image to make an image and name for ourselves (Gen. 11; Rom. 3:23). Once we commit this act of rebellion against our Father, we have a “God-shaped hole in our hearts;” we are desperately seeking for fulfillment (Ecc. 3:11). But, thanks be to God, we find rest for our restless souls in Jesus because he brings us back to the image of our Creator (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:16-18). It is by Christ-centered eyes that the reader should take in every concept and principle given in Scripture. This is the biblical way!
Now the question becomes, “How does one conform to the image of Christ? How can I have His mind and His Spirit?” First, one must understand that this action is passive. In other words, God conforms you; not you conforming yourself. Your job is to be a willing vessel for the Spirit of God. Your job is to Sacrifice self so Jesus can work in you (Luke 9; Gal. 2:20-21). Scripture tells the Christian that he is now under the “law of Christ.” Does mean that God went from one legal code to another and that one must earn “Christ-likeness?” God forbid! In Free in Christ, page 25, Cecil Hook says it this way, “Law has a range of meanings. Law may be a legal system which demands perfect obedience. Law can also be a principle of action. We are justified through the principle of grace through faith (Eph. 2:8f; Rom. 3:27f; 8:1f).” Galatians 5, Romans 13, Matthew 22, James 2, and many other passages all scream out that loving and trusting God and loving our fellow man is a principle (or “law”) by which the Christian fulfills all the laws and commands of God (1 Jhn. 3:23). One cannot do this perfectly; that is the point of grace and mercy. No individual is either morally or intellectually perfect. God does not expect that. When the one who is in Christ grows in love, he naturally grows into Christ. Scripture is principle oriented; not law. It’s about being like Jesus. That is the over-arching message of God. That is the eyes by which we are to see all Scripture. – Jesse