08 April 2007
To Conform or Be Transformed
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed by this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
I can understand the first verse. It is exhorting each of us to keep our minds and bodies as a clean and pure vessel to be used of God. This isn’t to say that we reach a state of sinlessness—we’re human and all of us sin, but we all have within our reach the act of atonement and forgiveness, accompanied by the intention of repentance to present ourselves as that sacrifice. To present ourselves as that living sacrifice is to put ourselves before God and allow His handiwork to create in us a pure and new vessel—a vessel willing to be used by God according to His will. We are, in effect, stating, “Here am I Lord, use me.”
This is not an easy state to maintain. The believer must examine his or her heart daily to determine what sins, no matter how trivial they may appear, have been committed that day (sin is sin, and no one sin is greater than another, and all have consequences). To commit a sin separates us from God until we ask for forgiveness, so living a sinful life, or allowing a sin to control us simply inhibits us to be able to be a willing servant to be used by God. God can only use a clean vessel that is willing to be used to accomplish His work. This person must be in a right relationship with God in order to be used, a relationship filled with God’s grace—that gift of receiving that which we do not deserve
Verse 2 is more difficult to achieve. There is the inherent observation that there are followers of Christ living side-by-side with those that do not, or choose not to believe in His teachings. This verse asks us to be aware of our surroundings without becoming part of the actions of this world that are not of God—a delineation that is sometimes difficult to discern. This is where the work of the Holy Spirit comes in to play. By having a discerning Spirit within each of us, we are able to discern that sometimes imperceptible line. We each have the ability to choose to emulate the questionable ethics of this world—yes, to choose sin—or to rise above that and merely observe the behaviours of this world, but not getting sucked into its quicksand. Each of us has the capacity to be in the world—a fact that cannot be ignored—yet not be of this world by choosing behaviour that is pleasing in God’s eyes. This truly is the hard road to take and certainly the narrow path.
To be of the world is a matter of circumstance, a situation that none of us can escape. But, to merely be in it and not of it requires each of us to choose that which is harder—absolute obedience to God. Only in this obedience and our openness to be a clean vessel to be used by God can we discover what is that perfect will of God for each of us. And finding that will may not be one grand and glorious achievement—it could be as simple as living daily a humble and obedient life in service to God while seeking to be closer to God’s own heart with a fresh examination of our hearts each and every day for the revelations of imperfection.
None of us will ever achieve that state of perfection—only Jesus had that capability from the moment of conception. However, it is in this pursuit of attempting to be as close to perfect as we can that allows us to discern that Spirit to show us what that perfect will is. This pursuit of perfection is the act of allowing God to transform ourselves by the renewing of our minds. This requires one of the hardest concepts in a Christian’s life—the ability to let go of our earthly desires in order to achieve that place where we allow the freedom of God to truly work through us as His instruments in this world.©2007