Pattern of this Age

Friday: Not Conformed, but Transformed

Romans 12:2 The world pressures us to conform to its way of thinking, but as Christians we are to be dramatically changed from within as we become more and more like Christ.
Not Conformed, but Transformed

I want to look ahead one phrase to what Paul says we are to be: not “conformed,” but “transformed” by the renewing of our minds. There is a deliberate distinction between those two words, as I am sure you can see. Conformity is something that happens to you outwardly. Transformation happens inwardly. You will see this at once when I tell you that the Greek word translated “transformed” is metamorphoō from which we get “metamorphosis.” It is what happens to the caterpillar when it turns into a beautiful butterfly. 

And there is this interesting fact. This Greek word is found four times in the New Testament: once here, once in 2 Corinthians 3:18 to describe our being transformed into the glorious likeness of Jesus Christ, and twice in the gospels of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain where He had gone with Peter, James and John. Those verses say, “There he was transfigured before them” (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2). It is the same word. That is, the same word that is used by Paul to describe our transformation by the renewing of our minds so that we will not be conformed to this world is used by the gospel writers to describe the transfiguration of Jesus from the form of His earthly humiliation to the radiance that Peter, James and John were privileged to witness for a time. 

And that is why Paul writes as he does in 2 Corinthians, saying, “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). 

In 2 Corinthians Paul says, “It is happening.” In Romans 12 he says, “Let it happen,” thus putting the responsibility, though not the power to accomplish this necessary transformation, upon us. How does it happen? It happens through the renewing of our minds, and the way our minds become renewed is by study of the life-giving and renewing Word of God. Without that study we will remain in the world’s mold, unable to think and therefore also unable to act as Christians. With that study, blessed and empowered as it will be by the Holy Spirit, we will begin to take on something of the glorious luster of the Lord Jesus Christ and become increasingly like Him. 

Study Questions
  1. What is the difference between conformity and transformation?
  2. How are we transformed?
  3. What happens without the study of God’s Word?

Reflection: Can you think of any examples of how the evangelical church thinks like the world, rather than like God?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to James Boice’s messages, “Motes, Beams, and Hypocrites” and “Spiritual Discernment.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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