Those who will be followers of Christ, children of God, are called to a higher standard. They are called to be light in a world darkened by sin. Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 4:17-20 are two passages of scriptural instruction that summarizes the life of a true believer. Paul’s instruction to the Romans and Ephesians – and to Christians today – is that believers must be different from the world, holy, and not one to wallow in their flesh. In order to be what God has called them to be, followers of Christ must be willing to make the sacrifice and fulfill their responsibility to be transformed into the image of Christ.
In Romans 12:1-2 Paul provides the following instruction:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Ephesians 4:17-20 he provides further guidance:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;
Both of these passages are cohesive in their counsel. Paul says that true Christians are not to live as the world lives. The world is an enemy of God, it is filled with perversion and all kinds of wickedness, however, this is not so for those who know Christ. There is to be a distinguishable difference between the people of God and people of the world. In order for believers not to live as those of the world, they must present themselves to God – that is, they must give themselves over to the will of God. Believers must sacrifice themselves to God daily.
Both of these passages point towards steps for spiritual formation. Believers cannot be conformed to this world. To be conformed means to
- To make like, in external appearance; to reduce to a like shape, or form, with something else; with to; as, to conform any thing to a model.
- More generally, to reduce to a likeness or correspondence in manners, opinions or moral qualities (Webster, 1995).
How are believers to avoid being conformed to this world and living as the unregenerate do? The answer encompasses the disciplines of spiritual transformation.
To be continued…