And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind

by Mike Ratliff

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NASB)

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. That 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 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 NASB and the NA28.

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; (Ephesians 5:1 NASB)

1 Γίνεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς τέκνα ἀγαπητὰ (Ephesians 5:1 NA28)

1 Be, therefore, imitators of God as beloved children  (Ephesians 5:1 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Γίνεσθε, translated as “be” in the NASB, 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).

3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,
“ Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:3-21 NASB)

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 all according to His will.

Soli Deo Gloria!

5 thoughts on “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind

  1. Good encouragement and solid teaching, my brother – many thanks! It is simple-minded, but false, to think one can “let go and let God” with regards to sanctification and it is self-centered and false to think we can sanctify ourselves. Truth is, we cooperate with the Spirit of the living God in this process of being transformed – but He is able to work this even when we are disobedient or negligent.

    Let the saints praise the name of the Lord! He is the faithful One!

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  2. Ah yes Manfred, and just what is our part in the sanctification process? Learning to more quickly surrender to His Will.

    Thanks brothers!

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  3. Mickey Merrie – it is that and much more, I think. we are to pursue righteousness and hate sin in our own lives. We have an active part to play – as the Spirit wills and equips us.

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