Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
This verse is attached to the previous one in this post. Within it Paul is explaining how we should act if we are living sacrifices.
Do not conform to the Pattern of this world
The world is full of ideas, values, actions and plans, most of which are built from our sinful hearts and motives. As Christians we shouldn't just be chasing after the new trends, trying to be popular in the world. As churches we shouldn't just be introducing new and exciting things for the sake of getting people in. Some of these things may be good (we'll get to that later), but we shouldn't just do them because they work. We should do them if they fit with God's word and will.
What are the general patterns of the world at the moment? There are many, but here are three:
- Sex whenever you want with whoever you want. That's what we're told from almost every TV show and through so many other means, and it's how most non-christians live. It isn't how God calls us to live (Hebrews 13:4, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
- Selfishness. I'm constantly told that it's all about me. Everything should go how I want. life should be easier for me. No, that's all selfish - but it does make us feel good an thats why its so attractive. God tells us the opposite (Philippians 2:4, Galatians 6:2)
- Science is better then religion. We're told constantly that Science is right and God is wrong. In reality, true science always lines up with the bible. Theories such as evolution are not based on face or experimental method. They're theories based on things that cannot be proven or seen today. God's word is the truth and is useful (2 Timothy 3:16)
We need to stop conforming to the values of the times we live in, and instead we need to be transformed.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The word transformed "implies a radical, thorough, and universal change, both outward and inward." (Clarke). As Christians we should be completely different to those around us in how we think and act, and we should be completely different to how we used to live as non-Christians. The mind means the intellect - it is a choice to follow God and to obey him.
How are we transformed?
Well 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
If we are Christians, if we have repented of sin and have put our faith in Jesus, then we are new creations. We are changed and we are made alive in Christ instead of dead in sin. That's the start of the transformation process, but we still need to be sanctified - we're still sinful and we still have to work at weeding out sin from our lives.
We do that by knowing God's word and applying it. God's word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16 again) and if we want to be transformed we need to take it on board. We also need to do this prayerfully, asking God for help and for the Holy Spirit to convict us of areas in our lives that we need to change.
The result is that we will be able to know God's will. His good, pleasing and perfect will. God's desire is for us to obey him - not out of legalism but out of joy and love for him because he has transformed us through Jesus. No, it won't always be easy or enjoyable, but we should find joy in trusting and submitting to God. His will is good - it is good for us and there is no evil in it. It is pleasing - it pleases God and it should please us to do it. Lastly it is perfect - God knows everything and his will is faultless. It is good to follow.
If we are Christians then we have been saved from our sins. We are no longer slaves to it. Instead we are transformed, made new creations and adopted as God's children. If we have been changed, then our lives and minds and hearts should reflect that - we should be looking to God and attached to him instead of the sin and evil in this world which we used to love.
Will you give your entire life to God for him to transform through his word?
The design of this passage is doubtless to produce a spirit that should not find pleasure in the pomp and vanity of the World; and which will regard all vain amusements and gaieties with disgust, and lead the mind to find pleasure in better things. (Barnes)