“Be not conformed to 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
Romans 12:2 is a popular verse that’s regularly quoted by Christians. But I don’t think we often pause to think of how it actually, and practically, applies to our life.
There’s some incredible truth in the Romans 12:2 meaning that we need today. So in this blog post we are going to dive into what it means to “be not conformed to this world” and rather “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
I think if you take a few minutes to learn the power of this verse your life and faith will be deepened. Let’s jump in.
The Context Of Romans 12:2
To understand the depth of the Romans 12:2 meaning we need to take a look at the context in which it was written.
Let’s start by looking at the verse that comes before.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1
Whenever you see a “therefore” in the Bible you need to ask what it’s there for. It’s often there to make an important point that we need to lean into.
In this case Paul is drawing a conclusion from all that he has presented so far in Romans. Romans 3:20, 5:1, 8:1, and others all lead us to the “therefore” in Romans 12:1.
In other words, when Paul tells us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice we shouldn’t view that in a vacuum. He’s arguing it’s the only reasonable thing to do because of what God has done.
When we ignore this context, the Romans 12:2 meaning can seem like a steep ask. But Paul’s not telling us to do this so that we can earn something, but rather we should do this in response to ALL that God has done for us.
Romans 12:1-2 is dealing with our relationship with God and how we should act in light of what he has done. The following verses will be continuing this theme dealing with a Christian’s conduct. It’s from our relationship with God that everything else flows.
Romans 12:1 is talking about making a commitment with God and the Romans 12:2 meaning is about living it out.
The Romans 12:2 Meaning
Okay, now that we know more of the context of this verse I want to break down the three most popular sections of Romans 12:2 to see what they mean and how they apply to our lives:
1. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
2. Be not conformed to this world.
3. Test and approve God’s will.
“Be Not Conformed To This World” Meaning
The world seeks to mold us and conform us to it’s own image. It wants us to view life, make decisions, and operate under it’s wisdom. The problem is the world is fallen. It doesn’t not live by truth and will always let you down. It cannot deliver what it promises.
This first section is a challenge to view things through a godly lens and not a worldly lens. When Paul uses the word “world” here he is implying anything that seeks to exclude God from our life.
Be not conformed to this world means that followers of Jesus need to be on constant guard against being conformed to this world. For more check out: What Is The Armor Of God? (the powerful truth)
We should be careful here. While we are called to not be OF the world, or conformed to it, we are called to be IN the world. Many Christians have taken this command too far and withdrawn from the world. There’s endless Christian subcultures that allow Christians to never interact with the “dirty” world around them.
But that’s not what Paul is trying to communicate here. We should not withdraw from the world. Rather, we should not be conformed to it.
After all, we are supposed to be a light for the world which is hard to do when we won’t go anywhere near it.
Be Transformed By The Renewing Of Your Mind Meaning
Instead of being conformed to this world, you ought to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
This idea of being renewed is not a one time event, rather it’s something we need to continually do. The world is not going to stop confirming us to it’s own liking. Therefore we need to constantly be renewing our mind.
So, what does it mean to renew your mind? It means to remind yourself of God’s truth.
When you find yourself drifting towards what the world says is best to renew your mind, remind yourself of God’s truth.
When you sin, repent (return to God) and step back into the life that God has for you.
The renewing of our mind is not a one time or overnight deal. It’s a lifelong process. And if we continually do this our thinking will resemble God’s more and more. We will become more like Christ.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you can live in the peace and the joy that God has for you.
Test And Approve God’s Will
If we do the prior two things the result will be that we will be able to test and approve God’s will.
To “test and approve” means that we will be able to do what God says is best while rejecting the lies of this world. We will be able to see where the good life is truly found. Not in what the world has to offer, but rather in God.
You can think of this kind of like a filter. As we go through the world we will be bombarded with it’s messages and wisdom. When we follow this passage will be able to sort through what is true and reject what is not.
This is how we can be IN the world, but not OF it. We ought not be afraid to be in the world when we are in a constant state of renewing our mind and testing what is true. When we do this the evil of this world will not affect us. Instead we will be able to see it as God does.
Applying The Romans 12:2 Meaning To Your Life
Followers of Jesus should be dedicated to God in response to the mercy of God. Again, this isn’t something we should do to earn anything, rather it’s a voluntary commitment we should make out of love, and in response to, Jesus.
So, what does it mean to apply the Romans 12:2 meaning to your life? It means that you make Jesus the king, the ruler, of your life. That we look to him for what is best, rather than what the world says is best.
This is not an easy process. But it is a worthwhile one. It requires that we daily surrender what we want and instead go after what God says is best. Jesus compares this to picking up our cross, an instrument of death, and following him. He’s illustrating for us this daily surrendering of our will in pursuit of his.
If you want to live this verse out invest in your relationship with God. Your mind cannot be renewed if you refuse to go to the one who can renew. God has something incredible for you, you just need to go to him.
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