Not only are we challenged by God’s mercy we are also changed by metamorphosis. There must be an ongoing transformation within us to become what we need to be. When we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, it isn’t a once-for-all time. That’s what it means in the Greek. We must adopt a plan of action that will allow the resurrection life of Christ within us to change us into Christ’s image—from glory to glory.
However, we have a problem. There is a danger that we will submit to the pressures around us as we live in this world. So Paul directs us:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world . . . (Romans 12:2)
The problem we face is that the world works very hard to shape us after its own image. There is pressure for us to look as much like it as possible. The word for conformed in the Greek is suschematizo, which refers to an outward appearance or likeness, being shaped after the fashion of something. Now I am not talking about what kind of clothes you wear, or how you style your hair. Being fashioned after the world is more than that. The world is humanity apart from God. It is going our own way. It is doing our own thing. The world is putting self at the center. This is the attitude that permeates the world. You can find it in Christians as well. Some Christians look at church in a worldly way. They choose a church based solely on whether it meets their needs, as if church was to center around them. This is the philosophy of the world.
Our calling is to reject that philosophy and lifestyle outright. We have had a warning issued and if we do not heed it, we do it to our own peril. We must fight against conformity to the world. Now, some things are not worth fighting for. Vance Havner once said, “A dog can whip a skunk, but it just ain’t worth it.” Well, this is worth it. This is worth fighting for.
. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . . (Romans 12:2)
We become more like Christ by a process. It is the process of being transformed. The word here in Greek is metamorphousthai, from which we get our word metamorphosis. It is an interesting word in that it contains the Greek word morphe, which means essence. What this is talking about is a change of nature, not merely an outward change. Just like the change from the caterpillar to the butterfly is so radical that you could not tell they were ever the same. That is the change in the Christian.
Part of the process is the renewing of the mind. As our minds are renewed, our inner selves are changed. It is in the inner person that we become like Christ. We must retrain our mind to think in the right way. In the fourth chapter of Philippians, we discover that we are to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. We can only do that by meditating on the Word of God. We must seek out every opportunity to read and hear God’s Word. As we read it for ourselves, as we hear it taught in our Bible study, as we hear it expounded in our services, we are challenged with its truth about how we are to live and think. We must be challenged if we want to renew our minds. Not only that, we must respond to that challenge by committing ourselves to be obedient to that Word.
If you read these studies or my Morning Messages or the teachings from your Pastor and don’t allow the teachings to “move” you; “challenge” you; change you, then you are wasting your time and energy. You may as well go have a beer and watch TV, you will get just as much out of it.
As you meditate and “consider” God’s Word, it will bring you the proof of the change working in you. As the renewing of our minds changes us, we come to the place where we not only know the will of God, but we begin to live by it.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome