by Mike Ratliff
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 12:2 ESV)
Truth is not relative. Truth is not found through some synthesis process through which one concept of the truth is ‘synthesized’ with that which opposes it until some sort of compromise can be reached. This is the Hegelian Dialectic process which states that truth is not found in the thesis nor the antithesis, but the synthesis of the two. This synthesis process may take countless evolutions, but the theory is that eventually change will occur and that is the real goal. This is not biblical transformation. It is not what God does in Christians when He transforms them from flesh driven, prideful, self-oriented people to spirit-led, humble, God-focused servants of the Most-High.
In Koine Greek we must pay special attention to the verb tenses in the grammatical structure when we study God’s Word in the New Testament in its original language. Verb structure is imperative for our understanding of what is being said just as it is in any language. For instance, in the passage I placed at the top of this post, Romans 12:2, the words translated as “do not be conformed” are μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε in Greek. The translation is very accurate, but the reason I am using this as an example here is that this is a negated present tense, imperative mood, active voice verb structure. In other words, it is a command to do something that in the future which involves continuous or repeated action. However, since it is negated, it is a command to stop living continually with ones life conformed after or patterned after this world. Just a bit over in the same sentence are the words, “but be transformed…” These are the Greek words, “ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε.” Again, this is a good translation. Again, Paul used the very same verb structure, which is present tense, imperative mood, active voice. This time, it is not negated so this is a command to be transformed as a way of life, continually. We are being to told live our lives, to pattern our lives in such a way that we will be transformed by God in the process. What process?
That process is given to us in the very next phrase, “by the renewal of your mind.” What is this? This is what happens as God works in His children as they walk before Him as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) and live in His Word imitating Him as His beloved children (Ephesians 5:1). In Ephesians 5:1 we run into another one of those present tense, imperative mood, active voice verbs. Here is the passage from the ESV and the GNT.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Ephesians 5:1 ESV)
Γίνεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ ὡς τέκνα ἀγαπητά (Ephesians 5:1 GNT)
Become then imitators of the God as children loved (Ephesians 5:1 word-for-word translation from Koine Greek to English)
Γίνεσθε, translated as “be” in the ESV, is in present tense, imperative mood, and active voice. Again, this is a command to do something continually or as a way of life. We are being told to be imitators of God, as His beloved children, as part of how we live each day of our lives. This is a huge part of what God uses to renew our minds and transform us. How do we do this? Carefully read the following passage (Ephesians 5:3-21).
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:3-21 ESV)
So you see, in our sanctification, our transformation, we do have a part to play. God transforms us, but we obey and walk in repentance. It is through this that God works in renewing our minds as we also spend time with Him in prayer, worship, and in His Word. As we learn to walk this way, then true transformation will take place as God works through us to change us from the inside out.
Soli Deo Gloria!