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)
Despite the fact that the unregenerate refuse to accept what I am about to say as being true, it does not change the fact that it is the truth. The true Christian walk is one of faith that results in faithfulness while the counterfeit or false Christian walk is one of works righteousness that results in a pragmatic form of religious works meant to counter failures of the flesh. The true Christian will be on a path of continual, progressive transformation unto Christlikeness that will result in God using him or her in doing His good works (Ephesians 2:10). On the other hand, the false Christian, not being regenerate, may still be fooled by their religiosity into believing that he or she is on that narrow path. They may even zealously do good works and call that a transformed life, but it is still nothing more than works righteousness. The enemy of men’s souls has produced a counterfeit version of Christian Transformation, but it is totally different and only produces temporal fruit while genuine Christian Transformation produces fruit that is eternal.
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Here is that passage in Greek:
2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:2 (NA28)
Notice that it is impossible for a Christian to be both conformed to this world and to be in the process of being transformed by the renewal of his or her mind at the same time. The Greek word translated here as “conformed” is συσχηματίζεσθε, which means to “be fashioned together.” However, Paul preceded it in this passage with the word μὴ, which mean “not,” therefore, we are being told to not be fashioned or conformed to this world or αἰῶνι, which could also be translated as “age,” and I think that is good way to understand what Paul is talking about here. If a person is fashioned together with this present age then he or she is not of God. He or she is not regenerate. If professing Christians are more in love with this present age than they are with denying themselves, taking up their crosses and following Christ because of what He has done for them on the Cross then they have not been truly saved. The real Christian is regenerate and will love Christ. Yes, the flesh remains and the tug of this world, this present age, will still be there, but there will be a difference for him or her. There will be a power to deny self and turn from evil to present self to God as a living sacrifice. That battle will always be there, but the power to repent will be with the regenerate. The battle to mortify our sins is part of our sanctification.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1 (NASB)
These living sacrifices present themselves to Christ and the process of mind renewal (v2). What is this? This is the actual process whereby the Holy Spirit changes our thinking through consistent study and meditation on Scripture (Psalm 119:11; cf. Philippians 4:8; Colossians 1:29; 3:10, 16). This is the mind that has become so saturated with the Word of God that the Mind of Christ has become sharp and full and in control. We see this in disciples that go through serious revivals where they go from self-centered religious people to Jesus-centered, humble, slaves of the most high after some considerable time in prayer and time in the Word of God. It is a work of God, not anything we do.
This is what all Christians are called to become. It is sad that so few actually make it this far. Usually those that do are the ones God uses to be the watchmen and guides to those who are on the way to becoming living sacrifices living truly transformed lives. Tragically, our enemy has muddied the waters by taking this concept and counterfeiting it with a works righteousness based system that includes Transformative Learning, the Hegelian Dialectic processes, Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Prayer, and other forms of mysticism that are not in any way Christian. This is tragic and we are seeing entire denominations going head over heels after this sort of thing.
I am so tired of hearing men like Rick Warren talking about the thousands of “transformed lives” that have resulted from their ministries. The Seeker Sensitive paradigm is nothing but religious pragmatism and the transformation they are talking about is the result of these man-made processes of works righteousness not what we just looked at above. We know this because they boast of how they are moved through their systems as part of “their plans,” they are put to work, and this is the reason they are transformed. I do not see that anywhere in Sacred Scripture. What I see is God transforming people who humbly submit themselves to Him as living sacrifices and He develops the mind of Christ in them and uses them in the Kingdom. Also, they never boast of what “they have done,” but give God all the glory.
What is a truly transformed life in Christ? It is not one that is produced via a man devised program. It is one that is the fruit of becoming a living sacrifice in which God develops the mind of Christ via his plan of mind renewal. I know that any Christian maturity that any of us possess is the work of God, by His grace, according to His will. I know that I am only a δοῦλος of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν. Remember no one on their own path or the path of the enemy is on the path of true Biblical Transformation.
Soli Deo Gloria!