Romans 12:1a, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”
If you have ever had the experience of being in any kind of theater production, whether it be a church play, a school play, or Broadway; they all have one thing in common: you are being asked to portray something you are not. You are playacting which is why they call these productions a “play.”
The third element of living a life of worship to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is that of offering our minds. You see it is in the “mind” that the “new creature,” the new person, the new nature, and our old nature are intertwined. It is in our minds that we make the choice whether or not to express our new nature in holiness or whether we will fall back into our old nature of un-holiness.
Paul is giving his readers here an imperative. “Do not” he says, “be conformed.” The word “conformed” is translated from the Greek word suschematizo. This word refers to having an outward expression which does not represent what is really on the inside of a person. This was most often used to describe someone who was playing a part, or acting. Just like that high school play you were in, they are playing a part, it is not who they really are. The verb that is used here is actually a passive verb which means that Paul is saying: “Do not allow yourself to be ‘conformed to this world.’”Why? because it is not who you are, if you are in Christ. This is not a suggestion.
Paul is commanding Christ-followers to avoid masquerading as a worldly person. J.B. Phillips wrote, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mould.” As Christ-followers we are not to allow ourselves to become like the world and culture that we are surrounded by. We cannot allow ourselves to be so influenced by the world that we become just like it.
The word “world” is translated from the Greek word aion which is translated to mean “age.” This then refers to the present sinful age which we live in. This is the “world” system that is dominated by Satan who it says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 is “the god of this world.”
Unfortunately many Christians walk through life with no real discernable difference in how they live in comparison to the rest of the world. Christians tragically seem to want the world’s entertainment, fashions, language, music, and attitudes. We pursue much of this just like everyone else does despite the fact that these things do not conform to the standard of God’s Word. This is completely unacceptable to God. The great tragedy of this is that the modern evangelical church seems more determined to pattern itself after the world than after the revealed word of God.
The world is an instrument of Satan and we must never forget that! We see this in the spirit of rebellion that so dominates our culture today. IN addition to open rebellion of any kind of authority is the rampant acceptance of falsehood, error and outright false teaching and false religion in the world today as well. All of this is an instrument of the “father of lies,” Satan. Satan uses deception as people are drawn to any teaching that promotes self and pride.
Instead of being just like the world and being “conformed to this world,” we are instead to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” This is once again a passive imperative. We are being commanded to allow ourselves then to “be transformed.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” We are to aspire to live a “transformed” life but that is only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is why Paul writes in Ephesians 5:18 that we are to “be filled with the Spirit.”
How does this happen? “By the renewal of the mind.” Outward transformation only happens when there is an inward change of mind. And that only happens when we saturate ourselves in God’s Word which is why David wrote in Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” God’s word and the consistent daily exposure to it is what brings about “the renewal of the mind” and when our mind is renewed through God’s Word our outward lives change as well.
This is really one of the main purposes of Biblical preaching and teaching. We are not to stay the same and we are not to be “conformed to this world.” We are instead to be new creatures in Christ and part of that process is when we begin to think like Him, when His thoughts replace our thoughts. Colossians 1:28 says, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” Colossians 3:10 says, “and having put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Then verse 16 of that same chapter says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…” The “new self” is fostered “in knowledge” and that knowledge is the knowledge of God which is found in His Word. We are to “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly.”
The third element of living a life of true worship is submitting our minds to God. He has our souls, our bodies, and our minds. A mind that is submitted to the will of God is a mind that is saturated in the Word of God.
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