Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Believers live in two overlapping ages; a present evil one, which is passing away, and the Kingdom of Christ, which will last forever. We are to bear witness to this dying age, but are to live according to standards of the eternal age.
The world hates it when we reject its dying ways and values. Do not let this discourage us. This is the same world that found the spotless Son of God intolerable. We should not expect to receive better treatment than our Master did.
“Do not be conformed to this age.” Resist the lure of a decaying society. This world is passing away (1 John 2:7). Do not hitch your wagon to a falling star.
Believers should live not for the here and now, but for eternity. Christian, be happy to give up fleeting vanities of time for everlasting glories.
This world is too small for believers to expend all their energies on. Christ-followers have grown up into a more expanded world. However beautiful the cradle, a time comes when it must be set aside. Our minds have been awakened to a much larger sphere.
It would be wrong for us to return to our old ways. Let’s act like what we are: citizens of another world. This is not our home. We seek “the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). “Do not be conformed to this age.” Instead, choose a better option.
Romans 12:2c …but be transformed…
“Transformed” implies change; it refers to making a person different. The Greek word is essentially letter for letter the same as our word “metamorphosis.”
When a tadpole becomes a frog, or a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, we see metamorphosis, a marked change in the outward form and structure of the creature. The blessed teaching of the Gospel is; it is possible for a person to change.
“Transformed” describes what happened to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Matthew 17:2 says Christ was “transformed,” the same word used here in our text. Luke 9:29 describes the same scene, “the appearance of His face changed.” Our Lord was normally seen in ordinary human garb, but at the Transfiguration, what He actually was came radiating forth. Our Lord’s indwelling Divinity surfaced and became visible.
This scene beautifully pictures what it means for a believer to be transformed. We must constantly be upgrading and changing our outward expression by allowing an inner beauty to radiate from within us.
Jesus lives in us and we must chip away everything that keeps Him hidden. When we conform to this age, we appear to be something we are not. Our conformity hides the Lord Jesus, who is living in us. Ungodliness makes us opaque, impossible for Christ to radiate through. Godliness makes possible in us a transparency through which Jesus can be revealed to the world.
This is not optional for believers. Paul presented it as a command. We may want to change as little as possible, but God wants us to be moving toward the likeness of Jesus as rapidly as possible. The Holy Spirit does the actual transforming, but we must consciously desire it, seek it, and let it happen.
It is possible for us to become ever more and more like Jesus. Even the ugliest, most inglorious mirror can become so brilliant that it is impossible to look at. All that is needed is for it to reflect the sun. May we turn our ordinary hearts up toward God’s Son and reflect His extraordinary glory. How can we do this?
Romans 12:2d …by the renewing of your mind,…
Outward consecration is the essence and purpose of our continued earthly existence. It is the only sphere in which we can bring glory to God. I agree with Matthew Arnold, who said, “Conduct is three-fourths of life.” I would also go one step further and say the other fourth is the spring from which the outer life flows.
When dealing with consecration, Paul went deep. He knew the inner self had to be dealt with first. The better outer life is impossible apart from inward renewal.
What we are in public must flow from a mind renewed and strengthened by grace. Apart from inner vitality, we can at best have outer formality.
This word “renew” means to grow up anew, afresh, as foliage in the Spring. It refers to an ongoing process, to developing a constant dependence on God.
The Holy Spirit must ever be allowed to do His renewing work in us. Our spiritual selves begin every day dry and empty. Our minds need to be replenished.
Philosophers take pride in the human mind, and often believe people have within themselves the intellectual capacity to overcome their circumstances and environment. Human intellect is worshipped as nearly a god in some circles.
The Apostle Paul, however, put everything in its proper perspective. Our minds need help. They are depraved and carry motivations of an old corrupt sin nature. Only the Holy Spirit can give us proper understanding and insight.
Every day our mind has to be made fresh again. There must be a recharge of energy. Bitterness has to be flushed away. Selfishness must be drowned out. The process of renewal must never be allowed to end.
We need help with our perceptive power, the means whereby we recognize, assimilate, and evaluate truth. We must ask God to cleanse our reasoning abilities. Divine power is necessary for us to discriminate and make wise decisions.
We must have the Holy Spirit guarding our aesthetic faculty. Only He can help us look at the beautiful and enjoy it without idolizing it or lusting after it. Only God can bridle our imaginations. Our minds can take the smallest temptation and heap up piles of made-up pleasures that can be ours by yielding.
Even our memory must be constantly renewed. Otherwise, the Devil keeps reminding us of past defeats and discourages our spiritual progress. We need freedom from horrid recollections of our own past.
Let the Lord rule in our inner self. Yield to Him. It will result in huge contentment…
Romans 12:2e …so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and
perfect will of God.
By yielding our inner person, we discern through testing what the will of God is for our lives. We are better able to perceive and do the will of God. This is the reward; we can know what the Master desires for us.
To know what God wants us to do in everyday situations is a foretaste of Heaven itself. Some of our deepest grieving involves being perplexed about God’s will for our lives. There will always be perplexities. We will never be one hundred percent sure about everything. But in the surrendered life there is much less doubt.
The best place to find the will of God is atop an altar as a living sacrifice. By being up there we have a broader view, a wider understanding.