What Mold will You be Formed by?
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, 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 you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
This message is a follow on to my last message covering these 2 verses from Romans 12. I want to look closer at verse 2 regarding our conformity to this world (or non-conformity).
The Greek word for “conformed” used in verse 2 is “syschematizo” meaning (from Strong’s Concordance): “to conform one’s self (i.e. one’s mind and character) to another’s pattern, (fashion one’s self according to)” or figuratively, it means to take on the form of a “mold” or “pattern”. Most of us are familiar with baking molds used for cakes or cookies, or jello molds. Some may even be familiar with industrial molds and patterns used for plastic or metals to make parts for appliances or automobiles. A cast iron manhole cover is made by pouring molten iron into a sand mold. The iron is cooled and then hardens to take on the shape of the mold. I think you get the idea.
The question is, “What is molding your mind and character?” or “What pattern are you fashioning yourself after?” Every day, either directly or indirectly, our thoughts and opinions are being influenced, or molded, by the information that we absorb. We have a choice to either continue to be molded into the pattern of this world system, or to be re-molded, or transformed, into the pattern of God’s kingdom.
I’m assuming that you want to be molded into what God requires (or you would have stopped reading this message much earlier). Let’s look deeper at what this means.
We must first realize that we all have some core belief system that we hold to that determines our actions or reactions, our attitudes, feelings and moods, and is the foundation of our character. This belief system has been established by the ideas and conditions that we have come to believe as being true and have embraced and made a reality in our minds and hearts. It guides the daily decisions that we make and how we view the world around us.
The message from the Scriptures, as indicated by these verses in Romans, is that we must abandon the belief system that was molded in us by the world, and discontinue our conformity to it. We must instead be re-molded, or transformed, by the new belief system that has been revealed by God and communicated to us through His word, the Bible, and by the example and teachings of His Messiah – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at the belief system of the world. Although every individual is different and has a unique view, in general, the world’s belief system has man at the center. Although some may have an intellectual consent that there is a God, the reality of what they believe does not include His existence. They embrace the concept that we originated from some impersonal force or phenomena that set in motion an evolutionary process of life that resulted in the life forms that exist today with man being the highest form. Included with this is the conclusion that man must then be totally responsible for the destiny of this planet and all life that is upon it. In their view, man is also responsible for determining what is right and wrong, based on intellectual knowledge and genius, not on a higher law that was revealed to us from our Creator. Additionally, for most there is a need to get the most out of life now because there is no guarantee of the future. The focus is on accumulating material items and getting the most pleasure from our existence as possible. There is no established hope outside of this life, since death is an unknown condition that most can only guess about and therefore block out of their mind and don’t include directly in their belief system.
We are constantly being bombarded with this pattern for the world’s belief system. It’s taught in schools, presented in news broadcasts and commentaries; it’s the underlying message in most movies and television shows. Also, our success is measured by the standards of this world system.
For the world system, the absence of God in practice puts the pressure on individuals to perform and be successful. People must either trust in themselves or in other men for safety, advancement, prosperity, and future contentment. Thus there is the attention that is paid to governments (politicians) and scientists, or other so called geniuses who can steer our future to utopia.
The most critical item to consider in our belief system is hope. For those who have been molded by the world system, there is only hope for things in this life, but it is based on a lie or an exaggeration. The hopes and dreams that we have are rarely fulfilled, and when they are, they are not what we expected them to be. For example, I worked with a man who waited until he was 70 years old to retire. He planned to save more money and travel with his wife. His wife died when he was 69. This is the stark reality for most of the hopes of this life.
As Christians, we see that our source of truth, or the mold that forms our belief system, must be the revealed truths as found in the Word of God, the Bible. This is the authority that must overrule all other truths. In these Scriptures we find the source of all needed information to transform us into what God has intended for us to be. God’s will for us: what is good, and acceptable, and perfect, can be established by absorbing the truths of the Scriptures and allowing them to transform us.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12: 2
Here are some of the core tenets that we as Christians must allow our minds to absorb and our belief system to be molded by:
- We have been reconciled with our Creator God by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He paid the price for our past sins and we are now children of the living God and part of His family and will inherit His future kingdom.
- God is in complete control of the universe and we can wholeheartedly trust Him for our lives and our future, even for the future of this planet and mankind. He has promised to keep watch over us individually, knowing the hairs on our head and every need that we have he is aware of and able to take care of.
- Our hope is now in heaven, not focused on the fading and unfulfilling things that this world has to offer to us. We have been guaranteed a place in heaven with eternal life in a resurrected body. We rejoice in this truth.
- All difficulties, trials and struggles that we encounter are used for our own good. God will test us and discipline us to work into us a mature character, desiring that we become more and more like His Son, and the image of His nature, Jesus.
- There is an enemy of God, and therefore he is our enemy, the devil, who will attempt to deceive us and confuse us, so we need to be aware of his tactics and his presence and not disregard his power.
Making this transformation in our minds at the core of our being by ripping out the old belief system of the world and replacing it with God’s belief system based on His truths is the key to attaining victory in our Christian walk. The battle is won or lost in our minds. The way that we think and the opinions that we hold directly influences our actions.
To be molded by the truths of God’s word is, in essence, to walk by faith. The error that many have made throughout the ages is to attempt to act in a righteous manner and to be freed from sin, without transforming their belief system. It is impossible to live a righteous life when our belief system is still molded by the world (i.e, without walking in faith). The root cause of any problems with sin is our ability to walk in faith, adhering to the belief system based on the truths of God’s word. This shift to faith transforms us. It is radical and life changing. We become spiritual rather than carnal. We can walk in true, deep, unselfish love. The law is then written on our hearts and we can do by nature what is required by it with our conscience guiding us.
In conclusion, Paul’s exhortation in Romans is that we become living sacrifices to God, dying to the lies of the world system and embracing the truths of God’s word, allowing us to be molded by a new, godly belief system. This transformation in our thinking causes us to walk in the spirit, to walk in love, and to become holy and acceptable to God and it is our way of serving and worshiping Him.
Later in Romans 12, Paul expands this idea by adding some practical advice, building upon this idea of dying to this world as a living sacrifice, not conforming to it, but being transformed with a new spiritual mind fueled by faith (the below mentioned actions should be the outgrowth of the transformation):
“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12: 9-18