“I beseech you, brethren, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Romans 12:1,2.
Do not be conformed to this world. But what is conformity to the world? The opposite of conformity to Jesus, for Jesus and the world stand directly opposed to each other. The world crucified Him. He and His disciples are not of the world. The spirit of this world and the Spirit of God exclude each other. The world cannot receive the Spirit of God, for it does not see Him and does not know Him.
And what is the spirit of this world`? The spirit of this world is the disposition which encourages mankind to continue in their natural condition, where the Spirit of God has not yet renewed them. The spirit of this world comes from the Evil One-the prince of this world-and has dominion over all who are not renewed by the Spirit of God.
And in what does the spirit of this world, or conformity to it, manifest itself? The Word of God gives the answer, “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). The three chief forms of the spirit of the world are: the craving for pleasure or the desire to enjoy the world, the craving for property or the desire to possess the world, and the craving for glory or the desire to be honoured in the world.
And these three are one in root and essence. The spirit of this world is–that man makes himself his own end. He makes himself the central point of the world. All creation, so far as he has power over it, must serve him; he seeks his life in the visible. This is the spirit of the world–to seek one’s self and the visible. And the Spirit of Jesus is–to live not for one’s self and not for the visible, but for God and the things that are invisible.
It is a very terrible and serious thought that one can live a busy, fashionable life–free from obvious sin or unrighteousness and yet remain a friend to the world, and therefore an adversary to God.
We are conformed to this world if our care for the earthly–for what we eat and drink, for what we possess or may possess, and for what we have brought forth in the earth and have made to increase–is the chief element in our life. It is a terrible and very serious thought that one can maintain the appearance of a Christian life–think that one is trusting in Christ–while yet living with the world for self and the visible. For this reason the command comes to all Christians with great emphasis–Be conformed, not to this world, but to Jesus.
And how can I not come to be conformed to the world? Read our text over again with consideration. There we read two things. One, it is those who have presented their bodies to God as a sacrifice on the altar that have it said to them–Be not conformed to the world. Offer yourself to God–that is conformity to Jesus. Live every day as one who is offered up to God, crucified in Christ to the world. Then you will not be conformed to the world.
Then, two, it says: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the perfect will of God. There must be a continuous growing renewal of our mind. This takes place by the Holy Spirit, when we let ourselves be led by Him. Then we learn to spiritually judge what is according to the will of God and what is according to the spirit of the world. A Christian who strives after the progressive renewal of his whole mind will not be conformed to the world. The Spirit of God makes him conformed to Jesus.
Christians, please believe that Jesus has obtained for you the power to overcome the world, with its deep hidden seductions to living for ourselves. Believe this. Believe in Him as Victor and that you also have the victory.
Precious Lord we have presented ourselves to You as living sacrifices. We have offered up ourselves to God. We are not of the world, even as You are not of the world. Lord, let our mind be enlightened by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, so that we may rightly see what the spirit of this world is. And let it be seen in us that we are not of the world, but are conformed to Jesus. Amen.