Conforming vs. Transforming

Romans 12:2a Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The world has a “pattern” of ungodliness that we have all conformed to, but God has the ability to transform us into righteous individuals.  We are told here not to conform, but rather, to be transformed.

The dictionary defines these terms as such:

  1. Conform– “to act in accord with the prevailing standards, attitudes, practices. To be similar in form, nature, or character.” 
  2. Transform – “to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose. Tchange in condition, nature, or character; convert.”

The main difference is that conforming is mainly concerned with following a predetermined set of standards, rules, or expectations.  It is going along with a way of life.  Transforming, on the other hand, is something that happens to someone or something.  It is a process by which one becomes different.

  1. We behave (conforming) and become something because of our decisions (transforming).
  2. We eat a tub of ice cream every night (conforming) and become fat (transforming).
  3. We smoke cigarettes every day (conforming) and become a cancer patient (transforming).
  4. We ask God for forgiveness and believe in Jesus Christ (conforming) and are filled with the Holy Spirit and become a Christian (transforming).

A Christian is not one who “behaves” differently.  He/She is one who IS DIFFERENT.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Think of a man changing into a werewolf at the sight of a full moon.  There was some action that took place which caused him to be transformed.  In this case, he was bitten by another werewolf and therefore changes into something different because of that experience.  In the previous verse (Romans 12:1) Christians are urged to offer their bodies as living sacrifices.  Like the werewolf, something happens that causes a transformation.  The Christian is sacrificed and becomes something different.  The mind and the will are put under God’s submission and He uses that submission to transform a person into a gracious, wise, and powerful agent who can do (and know) His will (vs. 2b).

Application: What to do then?  First, recognize that there is a pattern to this world–selfishness.  Being concerned with #1.  As long as we are obsessed with self preservation we will never sacrifice ourselves.  We will never offer ourselves to be used by God to do whatever HE wants.  We will always do what WE want.  Second, once we know the difference between the world and God, we can submit to the Lord and believe in Jesus.  That means we truly give up our selfish and worldly position and desire to be yoked to the life of Jesus Christ.  This allows God to transform us into a werewolf…kidding, but the picture is similar.  We become something we could not become on our own–RIGHTEOUS.  The Holy Spirit (God) will become active in us and will guide us into powerful and miraculous living.  We will have completely different minds and will no longer have the mind of the world–we will have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.  ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

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