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.
The alternative to conforming to the values of this age is to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Worldliness or conforming to this age is not primarily behavioral but changing a way of thinking. Transformation is a change from the prevailing worldview. Today, most North Americans hold to the same worldview as non-Christians.
It is one thing to get the world out of the believer, but it is another thing to get the believer out of the world. I do not mean one should move into a monastery to avoid the influence of the world. That is unwholesome isolationism. That is to give up the battle. The Christian is to change his thinking to the biblical viewpoint.
but [strong contrast]
The strong contrast of “but” indicates that there is a difference between outward conformity and inward transformation. There is here a sharp contrast between being conformed to this world and being transformed by God.
The English word “transform” comes from two words: (1) trans—across—and (2) form. Transformation is to go across a form. Our character crosses to an entirely different form.
The Greek says, “Keep on being transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The Greek word for “transformed” is the word from which we get the English word “metamorphosis.” Transformation is a total change that works from the inside out.
2 Co 3: 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
It is also important for the believer to let himself to be transformed (passive voice). God will not force us to follow Him; true change comes from within. Dead leaves fall off the tree because new leaves form on the branch from within.
In the natural realm the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. That is fundamental change. Christians must experience vital change if they are going to walk with God. A transformed life makes everything different. This is a progressive dynamic.
Biblical transformation is not change effected from without but a radical realignment within the heart.
We need both a negative and positive on a battery or we would not get any juice. We need both the negative of “not conformed” and the positive “be transformed.” We need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, a power from without, for fundamental change in our lives.
Transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit. The believer’s responsibility is to let himself be transformed. Our task is to co-operate with the Spirit in His work on our lives.