A Biblical Foundation for Service Part 5: Be not conformed to this world…
What is to change?
The object of this study from the beginning has focused primarily on the mind; however, two aspects of the man need to change. One aspect must be transformed while the other must be renewed. First we see that the totality of the man must be transformed. The word transformed is found four times in the New Testament. Two of these passages give us a better understanding of this word.
Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
In both passages this transformation took place so that God’s glory would be seen in that individual. Christ’s glory was revealed in Himself on the mount, and God’s glory is to be revealed in the believer’s life. Paul’s use of transformed in Romans 12 is very similar. The entire man is to be transformed, meaning that his entire person is changed to reflect more purely the glory of God. The believer’s thinking, values, desires, character, will, passions, and countenance must be transformed to reflect more purely the glory of God. Not only is his entire being to be transformed, but secondly, his thinking must change.
The word renewed means to be renovated or completely changed. When I was in college my family was displaced from their home after a major hurricane that caused extensive flood damage. I remember helping my parents by pulling carpet, dry wall, insulation, and furniture that was saturated with mud, flood water, and sedge. The house needed to be gutted, dried out, swept, bleached, and completely renovated. It needed to be renewed in the same sense as our minds need to be renewed. Our minds are…deceitful above all things and desperately wicked… Jeremiah 17:9. We do not need Satan to deceive us, we are naturally deceived, but his deceptive influence leaves us more deeply blinded. God says that we need our minds to be renovated. The old way of thinking, so deceived and full of lies needs to be replaced with truth.
How many times do I need to make this decision?
I now want to refer back to our introduction. How often must I make the decisions to present my body a living sacrifice, not be conformed to this world, and be transformed by the renewing of my mind? First, how often should I present my body a living sacrifice to God? The tense of present does not emphasize the time element. In other words the way it is written does not present it as a once and for all event or as a repeated action/way of life. Paul simply emphasizes that this is to be the believer’s disposition before God. If you view it as a once and for all commitment or presentation, then every time the believer drifts in his heart, he must confess his sin and walk in light of it again. If you view it as a repeated action, then we must constantly be renewing our commitment as we drift. The point is that this ought to be our constant attitude toward God. I am yours to use as you choose. Secondly, notice the tense of the phrase and be not conformed to this world. The construction of this phrase emphasizes that the people’s current character and thinking was like the world. Paul says stop thinking and acting like the world! By the way the specific issues in last section of the book reveal specific areas where the church was worldly not Christ-like. Lastly, Paul commands them to be transformed by the renewing of their mind. The tense of this command tells us that the transforming and renewing that needed to take place in their minds and lives was a lifelong process.
The believer’s disposition toward God should be living life as a sacrifice of worship to God. This disposition is maintained by steady growth in Christ-likeness through the renewing of our minds. This steady growth must be maintained daily, and will result in the believer’s thinking, values, desires, character, will, passions, and countenance being transformed to reflect more purely the glory of God. How has your thinking changed over the past year? How has this thinking caused the glory of God to be reflected more purely in your life? Are you currently living a life of acceptable, holy worship to God, free to be used as He directs?