Romans 12:2

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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

In Romans 12:1, Paul spoke of our “reasonable service.” This daily walk in Christ is a volitional act of the will. It is prescribed, but not enforced. If we fail to walk properly we won’t be cast into a prison or sent a fine in the mail. And yet, it is what our rewards and losses will be based on when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ. We are asked to think soberly on our calling and to fix our eyes on the prize, not settle for mediocrity. In order to accomplish this, Paul tells us to “not be conformed to this world.”

Being conformed to this world is to walk in a manner which is at enmity with God (see Romans 8:7). The Greek word indicates accepting the form or appearance of another. It could include anything which would align oneself with another – habit, mannerisms, style of clothing, form of living, etc. We are not to be conformed, or fashioned, to the world in such a way. However, there are fashions and mannerisms that cannot be avoided. Further, this becomes problematic because one person could disapprove of a particular style which is a natural appearance to another person.

If the thought of “conforming” isn’t carefully considered, one could find fault with anything – men’s hair reaching to the collar, beards, a tattoo, high heeled shoes, women wearing pants, bikinis at the beach, etc. The list could be (and often is) never-ending with the judgmental type.

The idea isn’t concerning things to wear that can be bought at the store, nor is it that we cannot be a part of the customs of the culture in which we live. Rather, it is not to be conformed to the worldly life-style where it becomes our priority. We are to focus on Christ, think about Christ, talk to Christ, to live in and live for Christ. The beautiful part of Paul’s instruction is that which was noted above – what is our “reasonable service.” When we understand that these things are prescribed but not enforced it should help us to properly evaluate when someone is over-conformed to the world and under-conformed to Christ.

And this is explained in the next thought, which is preceded by “but.” This word (in Greek alla) is given to contrast the first thought. Instead of being “conformed to this world” it says to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It is the mind, and the attitude which stems from it, which is being focused on rather than the externals. Remember this when Frank and Fran Finger-pointer find fault in your fashion. To be transformed is to have a complete mental change in who we are from who we once were.

The Greek word is metamorphoó. If you notice, it is the root of our word “metamorphosis.” Just as a caterpillar is changed into a butterfly, we are to be changed from an earthly mindset to a heavenly one; from our view of a temporary existence to an eternal one; from a system of living for pleasure, to one of living for Christ’s honor. This word is used only three other times in the New Testament – in Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2, and 2 Corinthians 3:18. The first two are speaking of the transfiguration of Christ; the third is this verse from Paul’s hand –

“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 by the Spirit of the Lord.”

At the transfiguration, God’s glory showed through Jesus, not upon Him. He was literally changed before there eyes to reveal and shine-forth the glory of God. This is what Paul is telling the believer should occur in their lives as well. The Spirit within is to shine out, not be hidden away. But again, this is accomplished by our voluntary actions. Thus, when someone sees us, they should be seeing the changed person revealing the glory of God; albeit in a fallen body.

This is the error of charismatic churches where “signs” and “gifts” are displayed at worship services. The change isn’t to be “in church on Sunday morning.” It is to be the state of life at all times. The change isn’t merely seen in external demonstrations meant to convince others of a “Spirit-filled life.” The change is in the internal person which is to then radiate outward.

And the reason for this “renewing of the mind” is explained by Paul in a clear and concise manner – “That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” He uses a term for “prove” which is linked to the testing of metals. If one wants to “prove” gold for purity, they will take a sample of it and see if it is pure or not. The same is true with whatever metal or alloy is being tested. Such proof will ensure strength, purity, hardness, pliability, etc. The same is to be true with us.

We are to be so transformed that the proof is in the testing of us – a scale which can only be measured against God’s word in this life and by the Lord at our judgment. “The good and acceptable will of God” is our goal and the standard of our testing. We cannot get this from “the inner Christ” but only by adhering to the Word of God and allowing it to change us to the conformity of the Holy Spirit. The Bible shows that being “filled with the Spirit” is a passive action, not an active one. As we comply, He fills. As we fail to comply, there is no room for filling. The believer can never get more of the Spirit, but the Spirit can always get more of the believer.

Life application: The renewing of the mind must come about by adherence to God’s word. Without it, we become the arbiters of what is and isn’t acceptable. Stay close to the word, know the word, and live out the word. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you through obedient conformity to God’s word.

Lord God, Your word says that I have been sealed with Your Spirit by my faith in Jesus. The deal is done. Now Lord, please help me to live out that high-calling by my obedient adherence to Your word. I truly long to live my life for You and I know that all of the instructions are to be found there. Lead me to proper teachers who will soundly instruct me in the right and holy way. This to Your glory. Amen.  

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