Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of Your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
— Romans 12:2 (AMPC)
Paul used two interesting words in Romans 12:2. I asked a friend who is a Greek scholar to help me understand the difference between conform and transform.
He told me the word, conform, referred to the outward form. For example, my outward form at age twenty was quite different from what I’ll look like at age seventy: The body changes, but it was more than that. He said the Greek word carried the idea of the changes we make according to the fashion that was in vogue at the time much like the way our culture goes today. One year, skirt hems are just above the ankle; another year, above the knee. Those things are constantly changing.
The word Paul used for being transformed from the world refers to the essential part of ourselves, the part that doesn’t change. He was saying that if we want to worship and serve God, we must undergo a change but not only of our outward form. The change must be inward, and it involves our personality, our mind, and our essential being.
Outward fashions may change, but inner purity is always in style. Romans 12:1, the verse that starts this chapter, exhorts us to present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. Only Christians can do that. His words are not about becoming believers, but they are about living as believers. This scripture challenges us to present all our members to God for His use. That means our minds, mouths, wills, emotions, eyes, ears, hands, feet, et cetera.
I must admit that for many years, I was active in the church, and I had accepted Jesus as my Savior. I knew I’d go to heaven, but I am not sure my daily witness would have encouraged anyone else to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. I had no victory, and I wasn’t even aware for a long time that I needed victory. I guess I thought life was being miserable all week and going to church on Sunday, hoping God would forgive me for not being a good person.
God changed that for me. He helped me understand through His Word that He not only sent Jesus to die for us so we could go to heaven, but also so we could live victoriously right here on earth. We are more than conquerors (see Romans 8:37), and our life should include righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17).
If we want to see God’s perfect will proven in our lives, we have to have our minds transformed. We have to think different thoughts and look at life differently. We must have disciplined minds. We must begin to think in agreement with God’s Word and not the devil’s lies.
Although God has a different plan for each one of us, one thing is the same: We are to have minds that are inwardly transformed. If our minds are transformed by the Holy Spirit, we will act differently. I know I did. Church became a place for me to celebrate and to learn with my brothers and sisters in the Christ. I began to understand worship, and I became a participant rather than someone who simply went through the motions.
Does your life need to be transformed? Start by being willing to think right thoughts, and then you’ll see the change in yourself… and so will others around you.
Prayer Starter: Holy Spirit of God, please help me live a life that’s transformed by the renewing of my mind. Help me live a life that shows Your perfect will, not only to me but also to the world. I ask this through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.