Holiness: Do not be Conformed, but Transformed.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

As we begin focusing our attention on pursuing holiness, the word “pursue” means to chase, hunt, or search for something or someone. A pursuit is an important quest. The important quest for the believer in Christ is the pursuit for the holiness of God. Romans 12:1-2 is a key biblical test regarding this subject. A brief review of what we have thus far examined from this text is in order.

 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers.” Paul is urging and imploring his brothers and sisters in Christ to do something. What is the basis for what the apostle is urging and imploring the Roman Christians to do?

“By the mercies of God.” The appeal by the Apostle Paul is because of the manifold mercies which belong to and originate from the Lord. These are the mercies Paul spoke of in Romans 1-11. What then, on the basis of our redemption, justification, reconciliation, adoption, does the apostle urge believers to do?

“To present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” The purpose of believer’s offerings their physical beings to God is to become a living sacrifice. The Lord compels the Christian to offer their physical life and living to Him as a display of love and devotion for all that God has done.

“Holy and acceptable to God.” However, our sacrifice is to be holy. To be holy means to be separate from sin. It also means superior moral qualities and possessing certain essentially divine qualities in contrast with what is human. Second, our sacrifice is to be acceptable which means pleasing to God.

“Which is your spiritual worship.” In other words, to pursue holiness is the very definition of genuine praise and honor to God alone.

“Do not be conformed to this world.” This is the first negative statement contained in today’s text. To not be conformed means to shape one’s behavior or mold one’s pattern for living according to a set standard. The set standard that believers in Christ are not to be conformed to is the world. The word “world” (αἰῶνι; aioni) means age. It refers to a set system of secular standards without any reference to God. If the believer in Christ is to be holy, then there can be no conformity to the fallen worlds system dominated by a lust of the flesh, a lust of the eyes and a boastful pride of life (I John 2:15-17).

“But be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” To be transformed (μεταμορφοῦσθε; metamorphousthe) means to be changed in one’s nature, and subsequent behavior, from the inside out. A metamorphosis or change is to occur within each believer’s life. This happens when the believer’s mind is renewed by the Word of God.

Dr. Don Carson writes, “not by a mere outward disconformity to the ungodly world, many of whose actions in themselves may be virtuous and praiseworthy; but by such an inward spiritual transformation as makes the whole life new—new in its motives and ends, even where the actions differ in nothing from those of the world—new, considered as a whole, and in such a sense as to be wholly unattainable save through the constraining power of the love of Christ.”

“That by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The purpose of this lack of conformity, and biblical renewal of one’s mind or thinking, is so believers may evaluate and examine what is the biblical will of God, which is good, acceptable and perfect.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “As one’s mind keeps on being made new by the spiritual input of God’s Word, prayer, and Christian fellowship, his lifestyle keeps on being transformed.”

John Calvin writes, “This is the purpose for which we must put on a new mind –that bidding adieu to our own counsels and desires, and those of all men, we may be attentive to the only will of God, the knowledge of which is true wisdom. But if the renovation of our mind is necessary, in order that we may prove what is the will of God, it is hence evident how opposed it is to God.”

Let us not be deceived by false imaginations, but rather be renewed each day by the Word of God.

Soli deo Gloria!


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