Last time, we noticed in Romans 12:1 how Paul exhorted the church at Rome to be consecrated, or set apart, for God. But Verse 2 shows us that he also wanted them to be transformed, made into something completely different by the amazing gift of God’s grace.
Allow God to Change You
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Allowing God to change you has two steps, the first being something that we must avoid: being conformed to this age.
As men and women who are no longer slaves to sin but alive to God in Christ, Paul is saying that we should not imitate the world’s system with its customs and behaviors that are opposed to Christ and the Gospel.
This means not doing the things they do. It means not saying the things they say. It means not living the way they live. As J.B. Phillips said it in his paraphrase, “Don’t allow the world to squeeze you into its mold.” We must be wholly different from the way the world works.
When John said something similar, he put it like this:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17, ESV)
But living in response to the Gospel is not only about avoiding certain behaviors. Paul then tells us something we can pursue: transformation through the renewing of our minds.
By using this command after a negative command (“do not”… “but”), Paul sets up a contrast to highlight the most important part of the passage: transformation.
In the language of the New Testament, the word translated “transformed” is the same word where we get the word metamorphosis. It means to be changed from one form to another. Just as we use metamorphosis to describe the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly, it was also the word used to describe the transfiguration of Jesus—and is also what should happen to us.
The thing is, we cannot do it ourselves. We must “be transformed” because it’s an action only God can do. We must allow God to do the changing, even if it still requires some work on our part.
Jerry Bridges helps us out with understanding this: “Sanctification is a work God doe, but it requires our effort.”
The key is what Paul says in the second part of Verse 2: “by the renewing of your mind.”
What Paul is saying is that transformation will only happen when you begin to see things from God’s viewpoint, from His perspective.
Paul told the believers in Colossae, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2, CSB). We renew our minds by filling them with God’s Word.
Donald Whitney said that “the road to spiritual maturity always passes through the spiritual disciplines, and the chief discipline is Bible intake.” We must be faithful to hear, read, study, memorize, meditate on, and apply God’s Word so that we can “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22, CSB).
As we live lives in response to the Gospel, let’s focus on two things:
See worship differently
When we worship God, what we are doing is exposing His value and worth. Worship is not just an event, but a lifestyle—the lifestyle of someone who has been changed by the Gospel.When we worship God, what we are doing is exposing His value and worth. Worship is not just an event, but a lifestyle—the lifestyle of someone who has been changed by the Gospel. Click To Tweet
Position yourself to be changed
God is the one who changes us, but Romans 12:1-2 shows us three steps we can take:
- Yield your body to the control of God
- Renew your mind by the Word of God
- Surrender your will to the purposes of God
When you do these things, you will discern God’s will, what is good, pleasing, and perfect.