Be Transformed Not Conformed

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).

The children of Israel wanted to be like the nations around them (I Sam. 8:20-22). Far too many Christians today have the same attitude; they want to copy the ways and practices of other people. However, in the text before us, Paul forbids this very thing. His language also forbids our drifting into the customs prevailing about us, and Christians will drift into the customs of other religious people if they do not study the Bible and make it their guide in speech and action (Psalm 119:105; II John 9-11). The Christian should make the Bible his guide, and give no thought as to whether it makes him like or unlike others. Peter wrote, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (I Pet. 1:14-15). Fashion yourselves according to the life of Christ and the gospel, not the world. This “world” that we are not to be conformed to is the same as that of I John 2:15-17. It  consists of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the vainglory of life (pride); thus it is the world of sin, not the beauties of God’s creation. It includes such evils as drinking, dancing, filthy speech, immodest attire, lustful books and movies, or any questionable or unchristian practice (Gal. 5:19-21).

“But be ye transformed.” This demands a radical change in the thinking and the conduct of those who become Christians. This change requires the “putting off the old man of sin, and putting on the new man created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24). See also Romans 6:4, II Corinthians 5:17, I John 1:7; 2:6, Romans 8:1, and Colossians 3:1-3.

The Christian is made responsible for this change. This change is an ongoing process that occurs throughout our lives as Christians. “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16 NKJV). This transformation is brought about only by renewing the mind—the inward man, day by day. No one can transform his character while holding on to the same old stock of ideas and ideals. Study the Bible—make God’s thoughts and ideals your thoughts and ideals, and a transformation naturally follows (Isa. 55:8-9). Study carefully Ephesians 4:22-32 as Paul explains this process of being transformed and the requirements resulting from it. The word of God in the heart brings about these changes. Because the will of God cherished in the heart works such a change in character, the thoughtful person by actual experience proves to himself that the will of God is good, acceptable (well-pleasing), and perfect.

The will of God is “good,” absolutely good, because it is of God. It is “acceptable” to man and well-pleasing to God, and it is “perfect” (“complete” Young’s). “Every word of God is pure” (Prov. 30:5). It contains no errors. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7a). “Thy word is very pure” (Psalm 119:140a). It is complete and final (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:3; Jude 3).

How about your life? Is it a transformed life as directed in our text? Or is it still the old life that is conformed to the world around us? Eternity depends on the answer to this question. Think about it and act accordingly!

-Paul M. Wilmoth

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