“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.”
As Paul moved from the theological and philosophical aspects of the Christian walk to the practical aspects, he simply says our response is to die to the world’s pleasures and values (a living sacrifice Romans 12:1).
He then states the difference to be expected when we get it right. We are no longer conformed to the world but transformed to heaven-fitness. There are several interesting things from his choice in words. They both are passive in form, meaning dependent upon an outside force.
“Conformed” (mē sunschēmatizesthe in the Greek) implies strictly outside pressures that shape. This is much like a piece of clay, yielding to the effects of time and gravity, to fill in the gaps of its environment. As Barnes says, it mean “to put on the form, fashion, or appearance of another. It may refer to anything pertaining to the habit, manner, dress, style of living, etc., of others.”
“Transformed” (metamorphousthe) is where we get our word “metamorphous”, and implies a change that is empowered by the inside: the nature of internal truth or DNA, so to speak. This is the pressure or force that changes a tadpole to a frog and the caterpillar to a butterfly. This is the same word used to described Jesus’ tranfiguration, when the disciples saw Him in His due glory.
As believers, we are directed to “Do not be…but be…”, indicating that there is some resistance and submission we allow to the external and internal forces in our lives. This effort on our part to allow the internal force of Christ in us to do the work of maturity and disallow the pressures of this world system to shape us is described in verse one. “Present yourselves as living sacrifices.”
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:11-14.
It is a mental ascent to the inner reality that allows successful living in Christ. The remaining problem is not the world, family, friends, possessions, etc. It is the gray matter set just behind the eyeballs. We need “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” instead of surrendering to what happens around us.
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2.
(Scriptures from ESV).
For audio sermons from Pastor Tim, go to http://sermon.net/desdemonatx.