ARTICLE: DO NOT BE CONFORMED BUT BE TRANSFORMED! | JACOB VARGHESE

DO NOT BE CONFORMED BUT BE TRANSFORMED!
(Romans 12:1-2)
Our world is constantly changing. Advanced technology, people become more liberated, we have more options when come to our needs and wants, we become more exposed to ideologies, beliefs and values around us. We also want to copy what other people do. We always want to go with the flow, to follow the trend and to never miss out what most people in our surroundings are doing. This is a problem. In the midst of all these, Paul in Romans is calling us out “Do not confirm with the pattern of the world.” Do not let the world define you just because everyone is doing certain thing or don’t think we should also do it. No, let us be wise to differentiate right from wrong. Conforming to the world is not the solution. But transformation is the solution. Transformation is only possible by renewing our mind. Our minds can become so cluttered with negative thoughts. It can be so easily influenced by the people around us. What they do, what they say, can influence our thought patterns. But if these thoughts are not of God, why should we then confirm with it. So, let us transform our minds with the things that are of God. Do not
confirm with the world but be transformed by the Lord.
Romans chapter 12 starts with the word “therefore”. Whenever there is this word ‘therefore’, we should understand that the previous passage has something to do with this passage. ‘Therefore’ is a connecting word. So, we need to understand what Paul was trying to say here. Paul was in a city called Corinth and he had a desire to get to Rome because Rome was the capital of the world at that time. The cultures, the politics, the heritage, the sports, the philosophies, everything evolved out of this one city called Rome. That is why we have these sayings like Rome was not built-in a day or All roads lead to Rome. So, Paul was very much desiring to come to this city to present the gospel because if the gospel reaches Rome, it reaches the whole world, as it was the center of the world at that time.
Paul wanted to come to this city. It was his desire, but he was not sure about reaching there. Therefore, when he was in Corinth, he heard that there was one sister by the name Phebe was actually travelling to Rome so he wrote an epistle and gave that epistle to Phebe and that is what we have as the epistle of Paul to Romans. It has 16 chapters and it is dealing with few issues, the problems of humanity. It was dealing with why we are not able to achieve, why we are not able to be peaceful, why we are not able to enjoy our life and so on. So, he deals with those issues, the problems of humanity and he says it is all because of our sin. And then he says, there is a solution for that, the problem of Sin. Is there a provision or solution to sin? And he comes to a concept called salvation. Salvation through Jesus Christ. Sin is the problem of humanity and salvation is the provision of God in Jesus Christ. Then once you are saved, we need to live a sanctified life through the power of the holy spirit.
In chapters 1 to 11 Paul is talking about Sin, Salvation, Sanctification and plan of God. Having presented all these then in chapter 12, Paul starts with the word ‘Therefore’. Paul is mentioning our duties here. In this part we are going to see how God is going to modify us or how God is going to transform us. As an individual and as a church or group, God has to deal with us, mold

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us and transform us. God molds us, shapes us and see God can do wonders in and through us. Paul is telling us, I have presented to you the mercies of God, I have presented to you the love of God, I have presented you the grace of God, I have presented to you the goodness of God, the salvation of God through Jesus Christ. Now therefore, I urge you, I appeal to you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. It is a call to commitment. Giving ourselves or our bodies as a living sacrifice is a call to commitment.
As we seek to understand Paul’s words, there is an important observation, here Paul addresses his words to ‘brothers’, that means those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ, those who have experienced justification by faith. In our today’s language Paul is addressing the Christians. Paul’s words are a call to action. He is directing the Christians to apply their faith in to their practical life. We all have faith, right? But what about our practical life? Are we showing our faith to others through our practical, day today life? So, Paul here is challenging the Christians to make such a decisive commitment and to take action. Paul’s call to action is built on the foundation of his teachings in chapter’s 1 to 11. So, the word ‘therefore’ is most significant here. These words are not a demand but an appeal, an urge or an exhortation. It is very clear that every Christian should do that which Paul calls for in our text. God’s mercy, grace is the means and motivation for us to heed Paul’s exhortation. God’s mercy is evident in His eternal plan to save men from their sin, to declare them righteous, and to assure them the hope of glory. The goal of the Christian’s action is to please God. Living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. We can only live for God as a living sacrifice because we have first died and been raised to new life in Jesus Christ. And this call to action is to worship Him.
It is a call to Change. Everything begins to change when we change the way we think. How are we thinking? Are we thinking from our human perspective or through God’s perspective? It is always a shift towards seeing the world, our situation and even ourselves from God’s perspective. God’s word says “do not conform to the patterns of the world”. What does the word “conformed” mean to you? Compliance with the standards, rules and laws of this world. Conforming to the pattern of thinking of the world makes you a slave to our circumstances and bound by others. Instead, transform by the renewing of your mind. Take all that you are going through and make it an offering to God. Every one of us experiences the pressure to conform to the standards and practices of the world. If we are to conform, let us confirm to the image of Jesus. That will require a true transformation of the inner man. And through that we can demonstrate what is good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
We Christians are called to be different from the world. And how do we accomplish that? What makes a Christian stand out from the rest of the world? Is it our dress? Or maybe it’s how we speak. No, everyone around us should know that we are Christians by everything that we do. Therefore, we ought not to be conformed to this world but we should allow the Holy Spirit to transform us by the renewing of our minds. How do we transform our minds? We cannot do the transforming work by our own in our lives. We have to rely on the Holy Spirit to work in us. God

is waiting for us to invite Him into our life. The Christian experience should not be an inactive one, it is a journey. As we spend more and more time with God, we become more like him. But today’s world, is filled with so many open perversions. These days there are billboards everywhere with half-naked women, television shows that openly display all kinds of vulgarity and we may be tempted to think that this is all normal. That we should just go with the flow as the saying goes “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” No, Paul is saying do not conform to the patterns of this world. Therefore, in everything that we do we should consider God’s will. We must ask ourselves “Is this something God would have me to do?” In all things, we should strive to bring glory to God. The way we talk (Philippians 1:27) How we treat our bodies (Romans 12:1) The way we dress (1 Timothy 2:9) What we eat (1 Corinthians 10:31) What we watch/listen to/read (Psalm 101:3) Whatever we do (Philippians 4:8)
You have only two choices in life based on the text we read. You will either be conformed or transformed. There’s no middle ground. We see this in the life Daniel that he faced a choice. Either he could take the king’s food and be conformed to the ways of the Babylonian Empire, or he could refuse to defile his body and stay true to his values. Daniel stayed strong. He never forgot who he was. So, Daniel said, “You can change my address. You can change my clothing. You can change my name. But you are not going to change my heart. I won’t be conformed to the ways of this society.” Many of us choose differently than Daniel did. Instead of sticking to our values, we live like everyone else. We conform. But the Bible reminds us, “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God”
I get opportunities talk to the youngsters often in the seminary where I work. I understand they can’t figure out what God wants them to do with their lives because they are conformed to the world. They are more interested in being like everyone else than in being the unique person that God made them to be. As long as you are worried about conforming, you won’t worry about God transforming you. And in that case, you won’t know the will of God. But if you make Daniel’s choice and choose God’s best for your life, God will transform you. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good, pleasing and perfect.
As Christians, we have been set apart from the world. We have been set apart for the fellowship with God. We have been set apart to be holy, because God is holy. If you are “Set apart from” then you cannot be “conforming to” the world at the same time. God doesn’t want us to look like, smell like, act like, and talk like the world. Instead, He wants us to bear His image. God wants us to look like Him, smell like Him, act like Him, and talk like Him.

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JACOB VARGHESE

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