#888. Don’t conform, be transformed - Romans 12:1-2 (31/8/23)
‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ (Romans 12:1-2)
Lesson - We are to seek to know and be transformed by God’s good, pleasing and perfect will in His word.
The life of worship that God wants from us is defined as a lifestyle and attitude which has a negative and positive component: negatively, we are not to ‘conform to the pattern of the world’; in place of this, positively, we are to be ‘transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.’
In view of God’s mercy
Firstly, let’s be reminded, that our repentance (not conforming to the world) and faithfulness (being transformed by God’s word) are built upon our ‘viewing God’s mercy’. Our understanding of our Father as merciful gracious, loving, faithful… help us to embrace His Word as ‘good pleasing and perfect’. If we think of God as nasty, as rejecting, as unkind, we may obey Him out of a wrong kind of fear, but we certainly wouldn’t be doing so out of the love that He wants to motivate us.
Don’t conform but be transformed
‘Conform’ (suschématizó) means to conform to. To fashion in accordance with. This is negative - One should avoid conformity to a world without Christ. The world and culture around us is constantly preaching at us. This can be subtle and it can be threatening. In every facet of life we need to learn God’s opinions and allow that to take precedence over contradictory opinions and values. For example, very fundamentally, our view that Jesus is God and the only Saviour that everyone needs is in conflict with the views of many and we must be proud of the gospel and our Saviour. So, we could put it thus: Do not conform to the pattern of this world about there being no God, a different god, many gods or that it doesn’t matter. Rather, we are to be transformed and allow our minds to be renewed with the truth that Jesus is God and Saviour to all.
‘Be transformed’ (metamorphoó) to transform. This is positive - One should seek to know God’s ways and will and obey it. And the end of this transformation for us is summarised in Romans 8:28 as ‘[conformity] to the image of His Son’
‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.’ (Romans 8:28)
Our minds are the door through which ideas enter and improve or pervert our hearts and lives. Any life that is godly and worthy of imitation (and the reverse) has been inspired by ideas - oftentimes through the example of others. If we are to live lives of worship that are good, pleasing and perfect to us and to God, we must open our minds to the good ideas of God’s Word and godly people and close our minds to those are not worthy to teach us.
Good, pleasing and perfect will
Many would say that the Bible is out of date. Surely, many say, my own opinion, intuition or the most popular opinion is wiser and truer than the Bible. However, underlying this is normally - I believe - not some well-studied conviction but the motives of wanting to do what we want, particularly in regard to moral issues and, secondly, wanting to fit in and be respected. I genuinely believe that one cannot study history, science or wisdom and prove that Christianity is untrue.
We are told that God’s will - His word - is ‘good, pleasing and perfect’; it is these things to God and it can be these things to us. God’s word is truth and wisdom that leads to a life well lived and keeps us from regret.
This text reminds me of what we read in Proverbs. How I would love every person - young people in particular - to hear and listen to God’s mercy for them:
‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.’ (Proverbs 1:7-9)
‘How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.’ (Proverbs 1:22-23)
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
Until September I'll not be producing a group study. However, if you meet with your group why not simply use one of the devotionals as a basis for your discussion together?