The Pattern of This AgeRomans 12:1-2Theme: “Isms.”This week’s lessons teach us about the dangers of secularism, humanism, relativism, and materialism. LessonI 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 metamorphoo 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, telling 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, “And 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 lustre of the Lord Jesus Christ and become increasingly like him. Study Questions
What is the difference between conformity and transformation?
How are we transformed?
What happens without the study of God’s Word?
Further StudyRead 2 Cor. 3:18. Who is being transformed? What is the result of this transformation? When does it happen? Who is the source of the change?
PrayerOur Father, we confess that we are far too much like the world around us–that the world’s thought patterns, the world’s values, the world’s activities, and the world’s desires are far too much the way we think and the way we operate, in spite of the fact that by your grace, we’ve come to know Jesus Christ as Savior. We confess that the reason is, we know so little of your Word. And even when we know it, we act upon it so little. Forgive us for that, and renew within us a desire not to be like the world we see, however glamorous it may present itself to our thinking, but rather to be like Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal and whose glory surpasses anything we can possibly see or know here and now, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.