We’re supposed to offer ourselves back to our Lord, completely and wholeheartedly and unreservedly. Each day, actually each moment, we have to make a conscious choice to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. That’s the worship he’s looking for, and quite frankly, that’s the only type he accepts.
But how does this work out in our daily life?
There’s so much in this verse, but I don’t know of any other way to approach it except by submitting my notes on it:
· “Do not conform,” per MacArthur, the wording in the Greek implies that his readers have been doing this already and must stop doing it. The NET Study Bible says that likely it’s a passive middle, so it’d be better rendered as “Do not let yourselves be conformed any longer.” The passive is very very important here. To be conformed to the pattern of this world is not something you need to put any effort into. It’s not something you need to make a conscious choice about. You just drift along, don’t think about it too much, and bingo! you’re squeezed into the mold of this world.
· “to the pattern of this world.” Again, not the best way to render it, according to the commentators I’ve read. It’s not referring to the physical world, nor is he encouraging us to be nonconformists to the basic traditions of our culture. Again, here’s MacArthur: “Better translated, ‘age,’ which refers to the system of beliefs, values—or the spirit of the age—at any time current in the world. This sum of contemporary thinking and values forms the moral atmosphere of our world and is always dominated by Satan (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4).”
· “but be transformed” metamorphousthe, look familiar? It’s the same word we get “metamorphosis” from. We need to be transformed, but really it’s talking about changing our outside to match what’s inside us. The Spirit of Christ who lives inside of us needs to be revealed to the outside world. And unlike being conformed to the spirit of this age, you do have to make a conscious choice to do this. Like a salmon, you have to go upstream.
· “by the renewing of your mind.” How do we do this? How do we renew our mind? By filling our minds with his word. As his word runs through our minds, it acts like a filter that you run water through (sorry about the mixed metaphor). We need to hide his word in his heart—read it, listen to it, meditate on it—so that we don’t sin against him.
· “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is” You want to know what God’s will is? You want his direction for your life? It all starts here. You expose your mind to his word, he shows you what his will is through it, and your spirit (with the Spirit’s help) will agree with it. And even if you’re exposed to other voices which claim to be true and right and from God, you’ll be able to “test” them by holding them up against the measuring rod of what he’s already said to you.
· “his good, pleasing and perfect will” Not that he has a will that isn’t good, pleasing, and perfect. But this reminds us that his will for us is good, pleasing, and perfect. What’s my favorite aphorism? I gotta get this copyrighted: “No one in the history of mankind who did things God’s way ended up regretting it.”
Again, it all starts with my thought life. All around me is the spirit of this age, pressing upon me, pressuring me to let myself be squeezed (again) into its mold. Will I give in, or will I rinse out my head?
Lord Jesus, it gets really hard sometimes. Please use your word to cleanse out my head, my heart, my mind. Where my thinking doesn’t match yours, mine needs to change. Please help me, as only you can.