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 approve what the will of God is, that which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (LSB)
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 exhort you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—living, holy, and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1 (LSB)
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. God has taken me through this process. It is a work of God, not anything I have done.
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 Rick Warren talking about the thousands of “transformed lives” that have resulted from his ministry. The Purpose Driven paradigm is nothing but religious pragmatism and the transformation he is talking about is the result of these man-made processes of works righteousness not what we just looked at above. We know this because he boasts of how they are moved through his system as part of “his plan,” 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 I possess is the work of God, by His grace, according to His will. 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!
Mike truly a most difficult thought. But I would agree it appears to be the Biblical way.
“ 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 I possess is the work of God, by His grace, according to His will. 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.”
To the extent that most religions in the would encourage their followers to be “good” persons is of course better than the alternatives. But the Bible speaks of a narrow way. Some texts that come to mind are…
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
John 6:60-66 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
John Gill commented, this way…
and have not charity;
by which is meant not giving of alms to the poor, for in 1Co 13:3 this is supposed in the highest degree it can be performed, and yet a man be destitute of charity; nor a charitable opinion of men as good men, let their principles and practices be what they will; for this is not true charity, but rather uncharitableness, and acting the most unkind part to their souls, to consider and caress them as such, when destruction and ruin are in all their ways; but the grace of love is here meant, even love to God, and love to Christ, and love to the saints, which is a grace implanted in regeneration by the Spirit of God; and which, if a person is destitute of, as he may, who has never so great a share of learning, or knowledge of the languages, or even the extraordinary gift of speaking with divers tongues; all his learning is but an empty sound, his eloquence, his diversity of speech, is but like the man’s nightingale, “vox & praeterea nihil”, a voice and nothing else; or as the apostle here says, supposing it was his own case,