Romans 12:2 is one of my all-time favorite Bible verses. It tells me I am not to “conform to the pattern of this world.” As I was creating my journal entry, I spent time reflecting on the words of the passage. What do they mean? What does God expect from me? In the Greek, the words, “conform… to the pattern of this world…,” mean “to form according to a pattern or mold.” The word, “world,” does not refer to the created world. Instead, it refers to all thoughts, opinions, principles, ideals, goals, and desires present in my world at a given time (Arndt and Gingrich).
As a Christian, it is my responsibility to identify how I am being influenced. Is the influence godly or ungodly? Am I so well adjusted to my culture that I fit into it without even giving a second thought? Do my actions and words influence others to Christ or away from Him? As I began to think about the answers to these questions, this thought occurred. I cannot blindly do what everyone else is doing. Instead, I need to actively think about my choices and actions and why I am doing them.
In Sunday school, we have been spending a lot of time discussing how the culture in which we live influences just about every aspect of our lives, and if I don’t make a conscious effort not to conform to the messages I see and hear, I could easily, without warning, find myself far from becoming like Christ, which is something I desperately desire.
The next part of the verse tells me, “…to be transformed by the renewing of [my] mind…” In the Greek, the word is written in the imperative mood, which means it is a command. The transformation is outward rather than inward. It is a change in my character (Arndt and Gingrich). Believe me when I tell you this does not come easily or naturally! That is why in the previous verse, Paul has written that I am to “present myself [daily] as a living sacrifice.”
God’s grace has provided me the ability to change my character. My heavenly Father has sealed me with the gift of His Holy Spirit; He influences me towards godliness. Because of the Holy Spirit, I have the power to change any part of my character that has become unlike Christ. Yes, old habits and desires will creep in; however, the more I work at becoming like Christ, the easier it becomes to push them away.
I serve a good and gracious God; He never gives a command without presenting how to accomplish it. In this case, the command is accomplished “by the renewing of [my] mind.” How do I renew my mind? In a perfect world, it would mean to simply think new thoughts. However, this is not a perfect world. I cannot do what God has asked by having new thoughts. Instead, it requires me to bring my thinking up to a new standard, God’s standard. It is not enough for me to say, “I won’t think this way anymore.” It requires me to learn to adjust my thinking and redirect it towards godly principles. Yes, the Holy Spirit is there to guide and teach me through the process; but I must play an active role. In Corinthians, I am “…destroying assumptions and every lofty thing that has raised up against the knowledge of God, and I am taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” Transformation of my mind requires my persistent and purposeful action. This is the only way I can keep from “conforming to the pattern of this world.”
William Arndt and F. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BibleWorks 7.0 BibleWorks LLC., Norfolk, VA, 2006).
Don’t forget to leave a comment. How did God speak to you?