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)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world.”
A simple command, but how seriously is it taken?
Clearly not seriously enough in my case.
We are surrounded by the world. We are in it every day of our lives. Remaining untainted by it is impossible, without taking active measures. We can’t afford to be passive, thinking we’ll remain immune from its effects while casually going with the flow. That’s as likely as staying dry if we are walking into a swimming pool.
While we won’t get noticeably wet at first, (just our feet on the top step), it only needs another step to be taken for our knees to be submerged, and not many more before we find ourselves committed to a full drenching.
Conforming to the pattern of the world is rarely as sudden or intentional as taking a headlong dive into the water. It starts with a dipped toe, then a tentative paddle.
The only prevention is the right kind of change. Transformation. We can’t remain static and expect to escape the effects of the world in which we live.
Paul reveals the MEANS of transformation: the renewal of the mind. Changing the way we think, amending our point of view, to bring us into line with and able to recognise God’s will.
But how do we do that? How is our mind renewed?
Psalm 1 gives a good indication.
Don’t walk in step with the wicked, or stand in the way that sinners take, or sit in the company of mockers, but delight in the law of the Lord, and meditate on it day and night.
Proverbs 4 echoes the Psalmists instructions.
“Do not set foot on the path of the wicked,
or walk in the way of evildoers.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.”
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
But we should not be lulled into the false security that may come with church membership, or the fact we are listening to sermons, or reading Christian books.
While they can sometimes be helpful aids, it is only through a personal connection to God’s word that we’ll get the essential mind-renewal leading to the right kind of transformation.
But it needs more than a regular bible reading plan. Meditating on what is read, BELIEVING it and putting it into action is essential.
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1) NIV
If we deny ourselves that personal, active involvement with scripture, we will inevitably expose our thinking to unhelpful, even dangerous patterns, that may not necessarily have a worldly appearance or flavour. They may even seem to be spiritual, and be endorsed by your church.
So if we want our lives to conform to truth, we need to choose to love the truth, and not be satisfied with anything less.
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17) NIV