2 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.
Verse two states the special effects that should be the result of Christians offering themselves as a sacrifice to the Lord (v.1). The result is transformation of character.
Verse one is the what—present yourselves to the Lord. Verse two is the how—do not be conformed but be transformed. Both of these entities come at the believer. In one case the believer is to not allow something to happen to him, and in the other he is to allow it to happen. Verse one deals with committing ourselves to the Lord, and verse two deals with sustaining it.
The present tenses of “conformed” and “transformed” indicate that we are to have an ongoing presentation of ourselves to the Lord (v. 1). Our yieldedness to Him is to be fleshed out by not habitually conforming to the age about us. Instead, we should constantly transform and renew our mind.
2 Do not be conformed [be fashioned]
Cultural norms and traditions influence us, but we have the power to overcome them. The phrases “do not be conformed” and “be transformed” in the Greek indicate that it is our decision to reject the influence of these norms and traditions, and choose a transformed life over them (present imperatives). Christians can acquiesce or resist them.
Literally the Greek of “be conformed” says that we are not to “allow” outside influences to influence us (passive voice). “Conformed” refers to assuming something from the outside. It does not come from inner conviction. This person allows outside influences to control him. Something fashioned from the outside is fleeting and belongs to the accidental and to the circumstantial. The ways of the world are both false and fleeting. Conformation to the world is superficial; however, transformation changes the essence of the person from within. The world demands no more than the outward, superficial accommodation to its values.
The only other place that “conformed” occurs is in 1 Peter 1:14:
14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
The Christian marches to a different drummer than the values of this age.
People are naturally conformists. It is tempting to go along with the crowd. God, however, asks the believer to march to a different drummer no matter what the cost. He does this by transforming us so that we operate under an entirely different structure for living.
Ex 23: 2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.
The caterpillar changes to a butterfly; the believer operates on an entirely different system of values. Most North American Christians are secular in their core values; they operate as if this world is all that there is. All that matters is the now. We cannot conform to this thinking, otherwise we will lose the eternal point of view on our lives. This leads to deification of self and a disregard for the things of God. Because man is the center, this makes everything relative; there are no absolutes.
It is amazing how many Christians cannot withstand the milieu of opinions of their generation. They yield to and conform to the pressures of the prevailing age’s values. God demands that His people be different than the crowd. Christians are in hostile territory. Many things in the world are legitimate but some are not. This age glorifies lust, pride, and cruelty. There is a gravitational pull of sin in our lives
1 Jn 5: 19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world [komos] lies under the sway of the wicked one.
The world system has two faces, one pretty and the other dirty, but both hate God.
Jn 15: 18 “If the world [kosmos] hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world [kosmos], the world [kosmos] would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world [kosmos], but I chose you out of the world [kosmos], therefore the world [kosmos] hates you.
At any point we are either being conformed to the world or to Christ.