And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Does this verse represent the HOW-TO practicality of the grace life? Are you sure? Truthfully, we have had to make some very obvious oversights to produce such a concept in the first place. Just take a good look at the syntax (phrase structure):
And do not BE CONFORMED to this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by THE RENEWING of your mind,
Where is the action in the above statement? Re-read that and notice it does NOT say: Do not conform yourself to this world, but transform yourself by renewing your mind. No, we have been taught to automatically rearrange the sentence structure in our minds so that we miss the simple expression of a STATE OF BEING. Of course, when we're trying to get a handle on how to live this miraculous life it's not at all surprising that the miraculous gets bumped right out of the life!
And do not BE CONFORMED to this world...
Now, I realize this is a novel idea, but what if we were to assume that everything Paul wrote in this letter was so connected that it built upon itself? Imagine that!! :) Paul presented the truth of the good news of Christ in his letter to the Romans by alternating between declaring the reality and then the logical human reaction against it. He posed fleshly objections in the form of questions throughout the whole letter.
These questions represent the wisdom of this world that is pushed at us all day, every day, from every side. It is nothing less than a bottom-line rejection to the life of Christ. And the religious world has capitalized upon it, having done so by veiling it with Christian lingo and Bible verses. But you know what? There is only one reason why we even HEAR this passively-phrased declaration: we have been given ears to hears!!
Let me tell you what this statement -- "do not BE CONFORMED to this world" -- does to me. It CONFIRMS the reality of Christ's life within me, for I desire the reassurance that I'm NOT crazy for questioning the BS in the world around me!!
You see, we're often so ready to DO this Christian life, especially egged on by fleshly demands of religion, that we will act against the wisdom of Christ within us. We've been duped! The religious lie of this world would have us suspect our problems are found by running after SIN, when in fact, we've been tricked into pursuing a fleshly RIGHTNESS ... which is nothing but LAW! It is right here that we need to be reassured of the miraculous life of Christ within us that speaks: Don't take heed to these lying demands no matter how right they sound!!
but BE TRANSFORMED...
In Galatians 5, Paul also wrote this:
For we through the Spirit, by faith, are WAITING for the hope of righteousness. Galatians 5:5
Different words, same truth. Both in the letter to the Galatians and in the letter to the Romans (Romans 4) Paul called up the imagery of Abraham's forced wait for God's miraculous working to produce what He had promised! Abraham had given in to that shared fleshly sense that says we need to DO something in order to make God's work happen. Though we may regard Abraham to have lost faith when he had sex with Sarah's slave-girl, thereby producing the fleshly-son Ishmael, Paul states clearly that his faith did not waver but that he grew in faith knowing that God was able to perform what He said.
"But be transformed" is a summary of the reality Paul described in Romans 8. For what the law could not do Christ does IN us. It is all HIS doing because HE is our righteousness. Once again, WE HEAR THIS because of the Spirit who is in us.
"But be transformed" is like having it said, "Stand still and watch the deliverance of God!" Hmmm ... sounds like a scriptural theme, huh? :) The truth of the matter is that God IS and HAS BEEN working His deliverance in us the whole time. This is also the meaning behind this statement:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
For we, just like Abraham, continue to question the true value and reality of the works God has us walking in because the perception based upon fleshly appearances demand that nothing is happening, nor ever will.
One more part to consider:
but be transformed by THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND
Remember how I asked where the action was? Ever notice the little word "the" preceding "renewing"? How is it that we so quickly read OVER it as if it's not there? As a verb of action we could say, "I need to renew my mind", but if we had to fit the word "the" in front of it we would be hard-pressed to make an intelligible sentence.
"The renewing" is a noun; as in, person, place or thing. I think it has been read as if it describes the course of action believers are supposed to perform ... but this actually violates the passive "be transformed by ...". It is a call to the miraculous work of God, the hope of the very righteousness that God works within us.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet OUR INNER MAN IS BEING RENEWED DAY BY DAY. 2 Corinthians 4:16
There is no suggestion here that WE are the performers of this "being renewed" is there? This is a statement of the reality of the contrast between the constant decaying outward and the constant renewing inward. "Therefore we do not lose heart" Why not? Because of its reality, for God Himself is the sustainer of our hearts. Remember, this is the same man, who in this same letter had just said,
For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:6-10
God is the one who lit up our hearts! The treasure is Christ, but it is contained in earthen containers.
The surpassing greatness of the power WILL BE of God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7
Notice the contrasting language used to describe how this affected Paul as an earthen vessel:
AFFLICTED IN EVERY WAY ... PERPLEXED ... PERSECUTED ... STRUCK DOWN ... ALWAYS CARRYING ABOUT IN THE BODY THE DYING OF JESUS,
You know, if it were not for the reality of Christ that would be a very sad story! Somehow, the reality of the life of Jesus renewing his inner man made it so "that the life of Jesus also may be manifested". For though afflicted he was not crushed; though perplexed, not despairing; and so on. In other words, Paul counted on this miraculous renewing of his mind, which is his inner man. This renewing does not stop ... but our eyes can become clouded so that we think nothing is happening, and then we become discouraged so that we question God's non-stop work inside us.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
This is a reinforcement of the miraculous work of Christ within us to simply wait upon the righteousness of God as it works itself out in our lives despite all the sneering and ridicule from the world logic as its collective voice says, Where is this 'miraculous' God who can't seem to bring about anything of real value in your life? What does Christ do for you ... really? Why can't you measure up to those who far outshine you?
I tell you, don't listen to these lies, even when you are the one repeating them!! God is the one who renews your mind ... count on this faithful and consistent renewing, for it is Christ himself who IS this to you!! Stand still and watch the salvation of your God!!