Conformed or transformed?
“And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
In Romans 12 verse 1 we are told to offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. One question that arises is with what motivation we should do this. The answer is - out of gratitude for the mercies of God, which are described in the first eight chapters. Devotion does not come about through legal pressure, but is the answer to God's love for us, as John aptly writes, "We love because he has first loved us." (1 John 4:19).
The Son of God demonstrated His love for the Father by obediently going to Calvary (see John 14:31). His love for each one of us was shown in that He "gave Himself for us" (Eph 5:2). Now we are challenged to be imitators of God and to show our love as the Lord Jesus did - through sacrificial giving (Eph 5:1-2)!
God longs for a response to His love in your life. The Lord Jesus is looking with holy jealousy for you to give Him the best love (Rev 2:4). He desires that you surrender yourself to Him without reserve and live in devotion to Him.
This raises the question of what such a life looks like in concrete terms and what exactly each of us should do for God. To find this out, we should examine "what the good and acceptable and perfect will of God is for us". This requires for dependence.
Paul mentions here in Romans 12:2 two things that help us to live in dependence on God:
1. We should not conform to the world.
2. We are to be transformed by bringing our thinking into conformity with the thoughts of God.
Before we go into more detail about the dependent life of the Lord Jesus, let us first ask ourselves how we can put the two points just mentioned into practice.
What does Paul actually mean by the term "world"? What characterizes this "world" and why is it so dangerous for children of God? What do the words of John mean, who writes: "Love not the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)?
In the following devotions, a brief journey through the history of the Old Testament should help us to understand a little better why this subject is so fundamental for us today.
What does it mean for you to offer your life to God as a "living sacrifice"? How does devotion become concretely visible in your life in specific ways? What is it that motivates you to do the will of God?