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.Romans 12:2 NIV
What is to “conform?”
Conform can mean to behave according to socially acceptable standards. To comply with rules, standards, or laws. It can also mean to be similar in form or type; agree (Oxford).
When the author of Romans says, do not conform to this world he is telling us to make sure we are not behaving according to what is socially acceptable to the world. To make sure we are not agreeing with the rules, standards, and laws of this world.
The pattern of this world
The pattern of this world includes; a way of thinking that is like the world, a way of doing things that is like the world, and a way of seeing things that is like the world.
When we come to God we adapt to a new system. We find that God’s way of thinking is different from the world. God’s way of doing things is also different from this world and His perspective doesn’t look like the world.
1 John 2:15 adds, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. if anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but from the world.
John puts it so clearly –the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are of the world – these are of the pattern of the world. It’s what Paul is telling us not to conform ourselves to.
The lust of the flesh
Lust of the flesh is anything that satisfies our flesh. It’s anything that isn’t of the spirit and doesn’t glorify God. Paul in Galatians 5: 19 -21 calls them the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.
The lust of the eye
Lust of the eye is an (intense) longing to have what we see. The lust of the eye is rooted in greed and covetousness. Covetousness is wanting to have everything we see and behold. Covetousness tells us we cannot be content with what we have. We must have ‘that’ to be happy. The world is full of the lust of the eye. Social media has given us an overload of the lust of the eye.
The enemy’s trick is to lead us to a place of coveting everything and anything we see with the lie that we will find fulfillment and happiness in those things. But the more we see the more we want. the more we have, the more we want.
We are told, let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. for He himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5 NKJV
Some versions say, “let your life be free from the love of money… “
We can be free from the lust of the eye when we know that God will never leave us nor forsake us. We can be content with where we are and what we have in Him.
The pride of life
Pride of life is the desire to be exalted and glorified by others. It’s the desire to be better than others. It’s the very essence of the pattern of this world. We live in a day and age where everybody is striving to look or seem better than everyone else.
Pride of life is seen in our pride over our achievements, our job titles, our material possessions, our gifts and abilities, even our spirituality. Anything that gives us a sense of “we are better than others” is rooted in the pride of life.
Social media itself is built and thrives on this pattern. If you want to see the pride of life at its highest just look at social media highlight reels. Everyone is trying to outdo one another by what they have or who they are in life.
But be transformed by the renewing of your minds.
Transform can mean to change completely the character of something or someone (Cambridge). Therefore, we have to be completely changed to represent the father. We have to no longer look like the world but look like His Son.
We are being called from being conformed to this world to being transformed into the image of the son. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29
We become transformed by God’s presence. We are transformed by knowing God and His ways. We are also transformed by learning His word and applying it.
How do we renew our minds?
We have to come to a place of thinking differently. We learn how to think differently through the word of God. We see how God thinks; how He does things and His perspective through the scripture.
There is no renewing our minds apart from His word.
We have to replace everything this world has taught us with the pattern of the kingdom through His word.
Jesus prayed, “ sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth.” John 17:17 NIV Sanctification is part of the transformation.
He knew it’s only when we are immersed in God’s word(truth) that we can become kingdom-minded and not worldly-minded.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-
We can know what God’s will is. But we are only able to know His will when we don’t conform to the pattern of the world and are transformed by the renewing of our minds.
You could be trying to discern God’s will for your life. But you are so immersed in the world that you cannot be able to tell the difference between what is of God and what is of the world.
There are so many things in life that aren’t out rightly written out in the word. This is where we learn to test and approve God’s will for us.
Because we are transformed and renewed in the way we think. We can know God’s direction for our lives on specific matters. We can know what job God wants us to take, who to marry, where to go to church, what to do with our money, and so on.
Through our transformation, we discover the good, pleasing and perfect will of God. And we can order our lives in a way that is pleasing to God.