Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Romans 12:1 is urging us to live differently because we have been rescued by God’s mercy. In view of that, we are to put our lives on God’s altar. When we purpose to be a living sacrifice, our lives become a worship song to God. Verse 2 tells us more of what that looks like.
First, we are not to be conformed to this world. “The world” is that body of beliefs that stands the opposite of what we now belong to. In John 15:18, Jesus started using it to tell His disciples about the bumpy road ahead: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” To conform means to ‘comply with rules, standards or laws, or to behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards,” according to dictionary.com.
Put into what God is asking us to be like, that means we don’t follow the crowd or subscribe to ‘group think.’ We have been delivered out of the world system of thoughts and actions and now belong to the kingdom of light. That doesn’t mean we go out of our way to be different, thus being obnoxious. We just are different become of Who we belong to. John Piper said, “We are useless as Christ exalting Christians if all we do is conform to the world around us,” in his sermon on Romans 12:1-2.
Instead of being conformed to the world that we don’t belong to anymore, we are to be transformed. Back to dictionary.com, to be transformed is defined as “to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.” Transformation isn’t accomplished by following a list of do’s and don’ts. It is accomplished by at least two things.
The first is accomplished by the Holy Spirit inside of us, not just when we become Christians, but throughout our Christian life. In Titus 3:4-5 Paul describes how the goodness and kindness of God has come into our lives, saving us by His mercy and “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Piper continues in his sermon on the renewed mind: “It is the triumphant power and transformation of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ — our Savior, our Lord, our Treasure. [God] has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). So transformation is a profound, blood-bought, Spirit-wrought change from the inside out.”
Second, the Holy Spirit works inside of us as our minds renewed and changed by the Word of God. Our minds are changed from being like the world to being like Jesus when we bathe frequently in the Bible. As you do this, you will think and act differently. Being in the Bible ignites the work of the Spirit in your life.
Finally, as we do this we are going to find out, or prove, God’s acceptable and perfect will for our lives. We will be who He designed us to be, doing what He has saved us for. Ephesians 2:10 proclaims, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to do.” Do not be conformed by the world, but be transformed by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and the Bible.
This is a link to Piper’s excellent sermon on Romans 12:2 (click on it)