Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Two mutually exclusive positions are presented: conformed or transformed. And which are you?
Forbidden to the child of God is conformity with this world. To “conform” suggests a form which is imitated. In this instance, the form imitated is the form of the world. This present “world” is totally corrupt; and in this total corruption, it develops as the end of time approaches. The form which this world assumes today is a form of rebellion. Some youth particularly pride themselves in rebellion. Their dress and action are meant to emphasize this rebellion. It is a form of open sin against God and His law. The world will openly flaunt its lust. In movie as well as on the printed page, it displays its utter disregard of the seventh commandment – and the others as well. The world adopts a fashion which is meant to provoke sensual thoughts and desires. The world reveals its covetousness in its emphasis upon the material.
To be “conformed to this world” is to adopt its principles and practices. Perhaps one would hastily say that a Christian does not conform to this world. The very thought of conformity is repugnant to us. Or is it? It is true that we do not conform in the grosser of the sins of this world. We do watch our tongues; we refrain from participation in the world’s most notably evil entertainments; we reveal not the terrible lusts of this world. Yet, are we not in far too many ways conformed to this world? I greatly fear that we are. And the trend towards greater and greater conformity is obvious. I could point, for instance, towards the Christian Reformed Church. There movie attendance has officially been condones. Pressure is being applied to allow the dance. But we need not look at others. The question we must face; in how far have we conformed to this world?
To what degree do you conform with the world in the seeking of entertainment? Its gross forms of wickedness you reject. What do you, however, enjoy to see on television? What songs prove to be entertaining to you? Does the movie tempt you? Do you begin to find also the dance to be appealing? Can’t we find many arguments whereby we can convince ourselves that the entertainment of the world is indeed quite worth-while? To what degree are you conformed to this world?
The question could be asked, too, to what degree do we conform with the dress of this world? To what degree do Christian young men and women imitate the world? Immodesty seems to be the order of the day. That immodesty is particularly obvious in young women’s dress. There seems often to be little or no difference in dress between members of the church and the citizens of the world. Are we simply conforming to the dictates of worldly fashion? Ought it not to be deeply disturbing that our outward appearance is essentially no different than the appearance of the members of this world? Be not conformed to this world!
Conformity is evident in our sense of values. Man has placed great emphasis on material things. He must have certain conveniences. He must have certain pleasures. The world itself speaks of “keeping up with the Jones.” We want to do this too. We conform ourselves to this present world.
The Word of God warns, ‘Be not conformed…” The child of God not only, positively, belongs to Christ, but at the same time he has no part with this world. Obviously, the Christian can not physically remove himself from this world. We live in it – and must for a certain span of time. But we cannot go along with its corruptions. Our separation, our difference, ought to be evident in every sphere. Is it?
Positively, there must be evident in the saint the transformation “by the renewing of your minds.” To conform emphasizes that which is outward; conformity is to put on an appearance similar to that which the world possesses. But transformation is inner or spiritual. Transformation is metamorphosis – a change which might be compared to that which takes place in the worm which changes to the butterfly. Transformation involves that change in us whereby we who possessed the image of the devil are now given, for Christ’s sake, the image of God. This change is not something outward or superficial, but it is inward and begins with the heart. It is part of regeneration – to be born again. Through this transformation, the image of God is again seen. There is evident true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. This transformation we confess has taken place in us. It is this fact which makes it impossible for the Christian to be conformed to this world. When one is transformed, he will not want to be conformed to the world.
Transformation is within- affecting the heart and the mind. From this, proceed all the issues of life. The transformation of the mind suggests that there is now new direction for the whole of our lives. Our thoughts, our words, our deeds are all affected by this amazing change. The Word of God continues by emphasizing in Romans 12:2 that transformation has this effect: “that ye jay prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
How is that transformation seen in you? There must be obedience in love to those in authority. There must be proper use of time and talents. There must be the seeking of proper entertainment. There will be proper dress. There will be proper conversation. This fruit of the Spirit must e revealed in our walk.
Young people, too, in this transformation reveal kindness and consideration one for another. Rather than trying to hurt through unkind words or actions, they, for Jesus’ sakes, encourage and help the other. And, for Jesus’ sake, young people can be of great help and encouragement to many who are much older than they. Transformation results in spiritual service to others in their need. Transformation shows itself in spiritual concern. There will be the study of God’s Word; there will be regular times for prayer and meditation. For those who are transformed are different from the people of this world.
Are you conformed – or transformed?
Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 1 March 1970