“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 12:2, NIV
What does Paul mean when he tells us not to conform to the pattern of the world? What is this pattern? How do we go about this renewal of our minds he mentions in his letter to the church at Rome?
The most obvious pattern of the world is selfishness. Many would use the word, evil. But I would also say that mediocrity is a pattern of our world, an acceptance of a life that is not excellent, but ordinary.
God calls us to transformation. We are to be changed (instantly at salvation and gradually over time through sanctification) by renewing our minds. We are called to be smarter.
How do we get smarter? I would say through the daily and thoughtful consumption of the Word of God. Through the Word, we learn the will of God which is perfection.
Yes, we are called to be perfect.
Paul himself struggled with this call to be perfect. He wanted to be perfect but found this calling impossible.
“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:18-25, NIV)
And Paul provides the answer. The answer is a person. The answer is Jesus Christ. Jesus provides deliverance — deliverance from the pattern of the world, from evil, from mediocrity, from the ordinary. He renews our minds through His Word and through His Holy Spirit and transforms us by His Power.