Don’t we all enjoy relationships? We have so many different relationships, no matter who we are in this life. In Romans 12, Paul addresses various relationships and responsibilities of the individuals involved in each one. As you look through the chapter, here is a simple break-down for your study and consideration:
1. Relationship with God (12:1-2)
2. Relationship to the talents given to us individually by God (12:3-8)
3. Relationship with other Christians (12:9-16)
4. Relationship with Non-Christians (12:17-21)
Give some thought to the first relationship that is addressed in this chapter – the relationship that we have as individuals with God. In the first two verses we read, “I beseech (encourage) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed (fashioned) to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove (test) what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The words in parenthesis may help to provide a simple definition of the word preceding them. Do we realize that when it comes to our relationship with God, there really are only three options? Only three options are available for all of mankind of accountable age when it comes to God and the world.
Option 1 – Be conformed to the world
The word ‘conform’ carries with it the idea of fashioning oneself to. Paul commands these Christians not to fashion their lives after the world. The world is that which is sinful and against God. Remember it was John who wrote not to love ‘the world’ or the things in ‘the world.’ In the world there is the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – these things are not of the Father but are of the world (1 John 2:15-17). The contrast can be easily seen between those things that are of God and those things that are of the world.
With that being said, this first option is the easiest of the three options. Most everyone that we see on a daily basis has chosen to take this option. The wide road is filled with the majority (Matthew 7:13-14). However, because it might be the easiest certainly does not make it the best. Because it is the easiest does not make it right. Thank God, there are more options!
Option 2 – Be reformed to the world
When the word ‘reformed’ is chosen it is to mean just what it says. Paul doesn’t use this word, but the religious world by and large has grown comfortable with this word. It is the attitude that says I am not going to go all the way and totally engage in the sinful activity of the world; I am going to just do a little better than the world. This is a very tempting option! It is tempting to look around you and see that you are a good person when compared to the world, people can see that you are trying to be better –but this is not the word that Paul uses to describe those in a right relationship with God in Romans 12:2. With this option, the devil is still provided at least a page in your life. Ephesians 4:27 says that we are to give no place to the devil! Jesus said these beautiful words in John 14:30, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” No, God does not want us to choose this option.
Option 3 – Be transformed away from the world
The word used when it comes to our relationship with God is transformed. It is the same word used in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 that is often translated transfigured. Jesus took on a completely different form in front of Peter, James, and John. When it comes to options and our relationship with God, the inspired Apostle tells Christians to take on a completely different form from the world. In the same letter, Paul has told the Christians in Rome that when baptized they were to be walking in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Christ is now to be our life (Colossians 3:4).
This is in no way to bring glory to ourselves, but as we are transformed from the image of the world to the image of God – it is for the purpose of God being glorified and for His people to praise Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). The Jewish leaders standing before Peter and John made the observation that these men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Let us strive to choose the best option and to remain in a right relationship with God to His praise. May we fight against measuring ourselves against the standards of the world, but strive always to walk with God in His marvelous light!
– Adam Orr