Transformed By The Word

Transformed By The Word

Transformed By The Word Romans 12

Romans 12

Between 2020 and 2021 I had preached 11 sermons on Romans 12, today I preach one to summarise what I see as the main thrust of the chapter seen in verse 2.

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.

As we read the balance of the chapter it is not difficult to see that the life spoken of is in every way a transformed life, one that no longer lives as it did before, one that is changed completely, even unnaturally so.

How can you otherwise explain the manner of life written of here?

Considering only verse 3;

Romans 12:3 

3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 

Truly; how many of us are naturally prone to think soberly concerning ourselves? Is not the natural mind of man tended toward thinking more highly of ourselves?

Does not the days we live in today testify of this? 

Paul wrote to Timothy in his second letter saying, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves,”  Are we living in days when so many simply have their greatest love toward themselves?

People today are often unwilling to consider themselves as less than what they perceive themselves to be. They cannot even be corrected without taking offence.

We are rebuked time and again for correcting peoples errors. 

People today are so easily offended. Every text message is read into and reinterpreted as hate mail. Acts where you have seen and liked someone’s social media post, but happened to have missed someone else’s on our feed, that ‘someone else’ then interprets you as NOT LIKING their post that has not been seen by you. In the minds of those who have a great love for themselves, there seems to be NO alternative explanation.

Such people take little to be offended, thinking so highly of themselves rather than soberly.

Beloved how on earth would such people cope in a time of WAR where the obvious goal is your death?

In this alone we see that there must be a life completely transformed for it “not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think; but to think soberly”.

What are we then to think of the transformation of life that is required to obey the commands from verse 9 on?

Romans 12:9–18 

9 Let love be without dissimulation. 

Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; 

in honour preferring one another; 

11 Not slothful in business; 

fervent in spirit; 

serving the Lord; 

12 Rejoicing in hope; 

patient in tribulation; 

continuing instant in prayer; 

13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; 

given to hospitality. 

14 Bless them which persecute you: 

bless, and curse not. 

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 

16 Be of the same mind one toward another. 

Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. 

Be not wise in your own conceits. 

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. 

Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 

How are such commands to come naturally to an individual who is NOT transformed from his current state?

Beloved, what we will see is that every part of chapter 12 of the book of Romans hinges on the effect of verse 2 as a continuing and ongoing effort.

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.

Be Not Conformed To This World

The first element we see within the verse is a negative one; it tells you first of all what you are NOT TO DO;

And be not conformed to this world:

DEFINITION:

CONFORMED

  1. A Transitive Verb: “To form, shape, or fashion according to some pattern, model or instruction; to make of the same form or character, to make like.” OED

What is interesting related to this word is that it is passive, in other words it is that which is being done involuntarily, and in this passage of the scriptures it is one we are to resist or rather, counter. We will come to that in the next point.

The word appears also in Romans 8:29. And you will again note that it is passive. 

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 

The end goal for those who have trusted in Christ as their Saviour, is that each one of us will ultimately bear the image of Christ.

John wrote in  1 John 3:2 

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 

This is the end for those who belong to Christ. 

Meanwhile, there is within this world, an active effort to change us into the image of this world. 

And so Paul writes;

And be not conformed to this world:

As to the means of this conforming work, how many are there?

Yes beloved, we could look to the subliminal workings of Music and Movies, of Social Media and a diverse number of forms of entertainments and amusements with which we amuse and entertain ourselves. 

Most of this is COVERT, that is, it is UNDER the surface, not really evident as a tool to conform you into the image of a disordered world. But happens as we allow it.

BUT, there are ALSO OVERT efforts to have you conform to the image of this world, efforts of OBVIOUS PRESSURE

  • You are commanded to use certain pronouns in an unnatural state. This is referred to in law as “Compelled Speech” and up until this day and age it was illegal to ask people to do.

It was an ancient form of tyranny. The legend of William Tell was one example where he was arrested for refusing to salute the hat of a ruler, he was arrested and then commanded to shoot an apple from the head of his son with his crossbow as punishment.[1]

Another was that of man named August Landmesser, seen in a photo that has become incredibly popular in recent days. It is a picture of a lone figure in a cast of hundreds of people giving the Nazi Salute to Adolf Hitler, he stands uniquely resolute with arms folded. The Photo was taken by Nazi Propagandists who would be paid handsomely for turning in evidence of people NOT CONFORMING to the state. [2]

We are beginning to be compelled to use certain words unnaturally, but there is another form where we are compelled NOT to use certain words also. Both are overt efforts to have you CONFORM.

  • Only certain opinions are allowed to be expressed. Is an overt conforming to the world.
  • Censorship of speeches, or information, or statements etc, are all forms of being overtly conformed to the worlds image.
  • The entire Cancel Culture and Woke Ideologies that are forcing people to behave one way and not another.

How many of you are comfortable talking about Christ openly at work? That ‘feeling’ of fear is one demonstrating the CONFORMING work of the world is ACTIVE in you.

  • There will certainly be also, as there were in days gone by, an active pressure to become a religious conformist. That is, that your religion will be pressed overtly into conforming with the one world religion yet to come
    •  
      • In days gone by we have heard of the conformists and non-conformists
        • We have only just come out of a time that perhaps identified many churches willingly conform to government decrees in opposition to God’s Word.

The overt pressure sees you as being told what is acceptable to believe, what is not acceptable. 

These are some examples of active Conformity to the worlds image, I’m sure you have already thought of others. Our Jobs were on the line recently for one effort.

So we see in the world both covert and overt efforts to have you conformed to this world, which Paul simply states;

And be not conformed to this world:

But Paul also writes of this to be your responsibility!

And be not conformed to this world:

You are charged here as making the choice!

Each one of you are pleased to indulge the books or writings or videos or entertainments in this world. But what of the books that show the wonderful work of God?

What of the books of Christian men and women who God has been pleased to have set before us as living and honest testimony of his faithfulness? 

We make the choice which to indulge.

The Ladies just completed an incredible biography of the life of a Christian woman persecuted for her faith. I read the book some years ago, but let me tell you, that book is MORE valuable and relevant today than it was when I read it several years ago.

Those of you who have read it, know exactly what I am referring to. Ladies, please be sure to give the book to your husbands, they will need it.

The testimony of Christians who are contemporary with us, CHANGES US. THIS ENCOURAGES US. So many Christians are blessed by the biographies of other Christians, it’s like having the testimonies proving that good, and acceptible and perfect will of God right in our hands ready for our blessing and encouragement.

What a shame it is for you if you spend your time indulging the filth of the world but no time being encouraged by the testimonies of your brethren. 

But most people seem to actively choose to read material that has them conform to this world, rather than that which will transform them through the renewing of their minds.

  • I’m too busy to read my bible and pray.
  • I just fall asleep when I read.
  • I just don’t read books

That’s some of the excuses on the outside. 

But these might also be interpreted more truthfully as

  • I’m not interested in making Jesus my priority.
  • I am just not interested in the lives of other brethren.
  • I don’t think anyone else has anything of value to teach me.

In short, these are the words of willful ignorance and sloth.

If that sounds harsh then let this portion of the sermon be your reproof.    

If you are not being transformed, you are being conformed. 

According to Paul, it is you that is making this choice.

The truth is, We ALL HAVE TIME TO DO WHAT WE WANT.

When you don’t make the time for the Lord, what you are actually saying is “I DON’T WANT TO SPEND TIME IN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ONE WHO DIED FOR ME”.

No need to make excuses beloved. This is one literal translation of your actions. 

Some people are dyslexic, or even can’t read, the Bible is available on audio. Some are both blind and deaf, the Bible is available in braille.

I don’t think there can be an excuse not to pray, other than you don’t have a relationship with the Lord.

And be not conformed to this world

But Be Ye Transformed

Paul concludes the negative at the beginning of verse 2, with an abundance of positive 

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.

but be ye transformed

Transformed: The Dictionary definition is;

a. “To change the form of; To change into another shape or form; to metamorphose.”

b. “To change in character or condition; to alter in function or nature

The single greatest evidence of those who are born again is in the transformation of their lives.

Their outward manner of living is one thing, but also their inward peace and joy is evident. They are changed, they are transformed by the gospel, they have gone from death to life simply because they have believed that the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our very life, died for our sins.

Turn to 

1 Corinthians 6:9–11 

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 

Turn to 

Ephesians 2:1–3 

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 

Turn to 

Titus 3:3–6 

3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 

Turn to 

1 Peter 4:3–4 

3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 

4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 

We see that there has been a transformation in our lives by the sake of the Gospel, Nevertheless we also see the charge we have lest we fall again into the same state from which we are saved;

Colossians 3:5–7 

5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 

So now we see that there has been a change in us, a transformation that is greater than anything that has occurred before.

Paul also here in this passage speaks to a voluntary decision we are all to make to be ye transformed

To not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed, and he shows the purpose in the conclusion of the verse;

that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God

The transformation of our lives demonstrates first to ourselves the Glory of God.

We are all moving in one direction or the other. But it is our voluntary transformation that has us rejoice in the Lord time and time again.

We prove to ourselves what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God when we are transformed by the renewing of our mind (which I will speak to next). 

As a Church our desire should be to take every opportunity to be transformed to the image of the Lord. As a pastor my desire is to give you every opportunity I can to help you be transformed. This is my responsibility.

But as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink it, and so the rest is your responsibility.

Paul alludes in this passage of individual responsibility, but he makes it very clear in the book of Acts as he ends his ministry to the Church. 

Turn there with me to Acts 20:26–32

26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. 

As for me beloved, I do have a responsibility to you before the Lord. But I cannot transform you, Paul tells us that this is our responsibility individually, and to attend to this transformative work by the renewing of your mind.

Transformed By The Renewing Of Your Mind

Romans 12:2

2 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. 

I find this portion of the text the most exciting of all. It tells me that there is a way in which I am to be transformed and it is through the mind. It is my mind that makes all the difference and it is through the mind that I have opportunity to change voluntarily.

God is the one who created the mind of man. He knows its function. He knows its state and all that it needs to function properly. The Lord also is fully aware of how the mind has been affected by the fall. 

He knows perfectly also how the mind is affected by sin. We know it by experience and scripture.

We are shown in the Bible that it is due to sin that the love of many will wax cold.

Matthew 24:12 

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 

Paul writes about what things will be like relative to the sin nature getting worse in the latter days;

2 Timothy 3:1–4 

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 

Romans 1 tells us how the mind becomes “Reprobate”, unable to properly function due to sin.

There is also the link between the building up of sin in man that leads them to minds that no longer have the natural affection toward fellow man.

  • We have witnessed this recently in the hospital and “Care” systems during Covid. Elderly people are left to die without treatment.
  • A mother not permitted to attend the nearest hospital to save a child because the border is closed to them, and the child dies.
  • Brothers not permitted to say goodbye to their dying father in hospital because the hospital is unwilling to provide the same PPE they use around patients.

I attended a funeral service last year which included, following the hearse to the Crematorium, parking our cars outside it, and without getting out of the car, watching the hearse back into the building and the roller door close. This is an evidence of a system conforming people to be “without natural affection”.

But that is a system representative of THE PEOPLE individually.

On Wednesday this week, a security guard was shot and killed outside a restaurant in Atlanta in broad daylight. 

The report goes on to reveal the video footage and to say;

After the shooting, the video shows the man going through the guard’s pockets and walking away. In the video, investigators believe a man sitting on the curb saw and heard what happened. He can be seen shaking his head and walking past Frazier’s body.

The video shows several other people walking past Frazier’s body.”

The reports do not go on to say that anyone stopped to help or see if the man was ok.

Sin has the natural effect upon the mind of man that only God understands to the fullest degree. But the passage we have commands a renewal of the mind, a renewal I believe occurs in the reading of his Word.

Beloved, I know that in the minds of many people I may be considered to be a naïve fool for the trust and faith I have in the power of this book to change a man.

But I have read time and again in the Bible of its transformative work and I chose to believe it. I gave consideration to the damage I have long done to my own mind in my early years, and I thought that if my mind is going to be renewed, and the Bible teaches me that his words are a wellspring of life that changed me from death to life through the Gospel, then there is something truly miraculous about the words of God that might renew this failing mind.

I chose to believe that the words of God are transformative.

They have saved me from sin and given me eternal life. And I believe this is just the beginning of the work. 

Turn to;

Isaiah 55:6–11 

6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. 

I am not convinced that the grass of the field understands the composition of water, how its molecules are fashioned and how they bind and influence growth. But I am convinced the seed simply receives the water and grows.

The Words of God are likened in this passage to the water that waters the earth and blesses and nourishes it, not ever returning to the Lord in vain. And so this I see as the power of God to renew my mind and transform my life.

I have read many books. And in many of those books I read testimonies of people completely transformed by the word of God. 

They no longer think the same way.

They are no longer impatient.

They are filled with love for people.

They care about the concerns of others.

They no longer think of themselves too highly.

They are no longer hurt by unkind words.

They have their trust in the Lord alone and have in them the peace that passes all understanding.

I would like to talk to you men for a moment.

You are charged by God to bear the responsibility of the home.

You are the men, you are the leaders but sadly far too many of you are following.

Some are childishly following your wives. She has become the spiritual head of the home. 

Some of you are vainly following your own desires, the things you THINK are necessary, and give every excuse under the sun to shirk your responsibility before God.

Sadly, on average, your Children will follow your example before the example of your wife. Why? Because God has ordained man with the responsibility of the home. 

How are you living your life as Godly example to your wife and family?

Why is it that your choose to hide in your work rather than reveal your heart to the Lord that he might transform you?

What are you afraid of?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like me as I am. I want to change. I want to be transformed, and according to Paul, that will only come through the renewing of my mind!

The reason the world is in the mess that it is, is because Godly men avoided their responsibility as leaders in the home.

Men, decide to become the men God created you to be, and take responsibility to be first “transformed by the renewing of your minds”.

You Will Not Remain As You Are

I would like to close this sermon with this thought.

YOU DO NOT HAVE THE OPTION TO REMAIN AS YOU ARE

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed

We are putting the two here together that you might recognise something that now should stand out to you.

One is an effort by the world to Conform you, to press you into its image. The other is the command to be Transformed, changed. 

The Point is that EITHER WAY, YOU WILL NOT REMAIN AS YOU ARE.

There SIMPLY is NO option to remain the same.

There will be either the one or the other; you will either be changed involuntarily by the World OR you will be changed voluntarily by the Word.

There is the one or there is the other, there is NO in-between. Stagnant water is dead water. 

Nothing lives in The Dead Sea in Israel. Because there is no flow.

The world that is before us needs men and women of faith who are not filled with sloth respecting the transformation of their lives.

You have been given a calling.

You are here today for such a time as this and you are desperately needed to show the world the hope of Christ in you.

Yes beloved, you are here today for a purpose. Of all the years of history God could have had you live, he chose now. And don’t tell me God makes accidents or mistakes.

We have given consideration to the second verse in the 12th chapter of Romans. For an understanding of what is expected of us, let the first verse be your memory verse.

Romans 12:1 

1 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. 

My Lord deserves NOTHING LESS THAN MY REASONABLE SERVICE.

How do I respond to the one who gave his all to me?

Romans 12:2 

2 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. 


[1] https://revolutionsincommunication.com/law/compelled-speech/

[2] https://allthatsinteresting.com/august-landmesser

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