“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
This passage commands Christians to “not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2a). In other words, followers of Christ must not have the desire to be like others. Jesus’ disciples must not prioritize doing what the rest of the world does, saying what the rest of the world says, and wearing what the rest of the world wears…not if it is condemned as sinful in the Word of God. Christians must not be afraid to be different. They must not feel the need to be like everyone else.
There is a reason for this. Having a conformity mindset easily leads to doing things which one knows are wrong in the sight of God. If everyone uses bad language, conformists will use bad language also. They will dress immodestly because everyone else does so. They will drink alcohol since everyone else is drinking at the get-together. Conformists do this because they are afraid of the scorn and ridicule which inevitably comes from their peers if they do not conform and instead behave differently than them. Fear makes it much easier to conform, all the while forgetting or ignoring the fact that conforming to the sinful ways of the world makes one an enemy of God (1 John 2:15-17).
Instead of conforming, Christians are commanded to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2b). Followers of Jesus will allow themselves – and allow God – to transform them into something else. This process starts when one initially receives salvation by God’s grace through faithful, penitent baptism; it is then that one is “regenerated,” “renewed” and “born again” (Titus 3:4-5; cf. John 3:3-5; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). It continues as the Christian’s mind is continually renewed through repeated meditation of and obedience to the Word of God (Psalm 1:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:16). As a result, Christians who are obedient and faithful will not have the feelings of insecurity held by conformists because they realize that they are special due to being children of God (1 John 3:1). They will not desire to “follow the crowd” because they remember the words of Jesus: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14). The majority of this world are not heaven-bound. Why follow them?
In a sense, Christians are followers in that they follow Christ…but they are leaders also. They are those who “prove” to others that God’s will is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2c) when they choose to dedicate their entire lives to the service of their Creator and Master. That’s what is meant by the command to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). The lives of disciples of Christ must completely revolve around God instead of the other way around. If such is the case, they will meditate deeply upon God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1:2). This will result in them growing in knowledge so that they will know the difference between right and wrong (Hebrews 5:12-14). In turn, this will produce the “intestinal fortitude” needed to reject the wrong and influence others to do the same. Joshua exemplified this when he challenged Israel to “choose this day whom you will serve,” all while making it clear that “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). His stand for truth motivated Israel to serve the Lord while he was alive (Judges 2:7). Christians must do the same today.
Which do you allow to happen to you each day? Are you a conformist or are you allowing God to transform you into the mirror image of His Son by allowing your mind to be renewed?