I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Heb 12:1-2
We are perfectly useless as Christ-exalting Christians if all we do is conform to the world around us. And the key to not wasting our lives with this kind of success and prosperity, Paul says, it being transformed. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed.”
The Transformation Is Not Just External
I point this out for one reason: to make the point that the nonconformity to the world does not primarily mean the external avoidance of worldly behaviors. That’s included. But you can avoid all kinds of worldly behaviors and not be transformed. “His face shown like the sun, and his clothes became white as light”! Something like that happens to us spiritually and morally. Mentally, first on the inside, and then, later at the resurrection on the outside. So Jesus says of us, at the resurrection: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43).
Transformation is not switching from the to-do list of the flesh to the to-do list of the law. When Paul replaces the list—the works—of the flesh, he does not replace it with the works of the law, but the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-22). The Christian alternative to immoral behaviors is not a new list of moral behaviors. It is the triumphant power and transformation of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ—our Savior, our Lord, our Treasure. “[God] has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). So transformation is a profound, blood-bought, Spirit-wrought change from the inside out.
The Problem with Our Minds
The problem with our minds is not merely that we are finite, and don’t have all the information. The problem is that our minds are fallen. They have a spirit, a bent, a mindset that is hostile to the absolute supremacy of God. Our minds are bent on not seeing God as infinitely more worthy of praise than we are, or the things we make or achieve.
Romans 1:28 says, “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind.” This is who we are by nature. We do not want to see God as worthy of knowing well and treasuring above all things. You know this is true about yourself because of how little effort you expend to know him, and because of how much effort it takes to make your mind spend any time getting to know God better. The Bible says we have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man” (Rom. 1:23). And the image in the mirror is the mortal image we worship most.
What Then Shall We Do?
What then do we do in obedience to Romans 12:2, “Be transformed in the renewal of your mind”? We join the Holy Spirit in his precious and all-important work. We pursue Christ-exalting truth and we pray for truth-embracing humility.
Listen to rich expositions of the “gospel of the glory of Christ.” Read your Bible from cover to cover always in search of the revelation of the glory of Christ. Read and ponder the Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting writings of great, spiritual men and women. And form the habit of meditating on the perfections of Christ. And in it all pray, pray, pray that the Holy Spirit will renew your mind, that you may desire and approve the will of God, so that all of life will become worship to the glory of Christ.
By John Piper. Read the whole sermon here