Romans 12:2 is a powerful and well-known verse in the Bible. It reads: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
This verse is often used to encourage us to live our lives according to God’s will, rather than the world’s standards. But what does it really mean? In this article, we’ll explore the meaning and the explanation behind Romans 12:2 so that we can better understand how to apply it to our lives.
Romans 12:2 Meaning And Explanation
Paul is urging Christians to respond to God’s mercy. Then he writes that we should no longer conform to the world. The word “world” is often used in the New Testament to refer to the “world system,” or the way each human being lives by default.
John described this worldly way of life as “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Instinctively, we all pursue those things in search of happiness. Paul tells us to give up the persecution for pleasure, possessions, and status, and to stop living like everyone else.
Instead, it urges us to transform ourselves from the inside out. Specifically, he writes that we must change our thinking so that our minds are renewed and we can begin to understand God’s will for our lives.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Explanation of Romans 12: 2
Romans 12: 1–2 answers the question, “How should we respond to God’s great mercy to us?” The answer is to come alive, breathe sacrifices, and use our lives in the service of God as a continual act of worship.
This is not a means to earn salvation, but the natural response we should have to be saved. To do this, we need to free ourselves from the world’s first pattern and change our minds in order to understand what God wants. Then we will know how to live.
1. Don’t settle for this age of evil
The world is literally age, referring to the present evil age, which is passing, in contrast to the coming eternal age in which justice dwells (2 Peter 3:13). In Galatians 1: 4-5, Paul says that the Lord Jesus Christ “gave himself up for our sins in order to rescue us from this age of present evil, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom will be the glory for forever.
“Christ did not die to conform us to this present evil age, but to rescue us from it, so that our lives may glorify God. God has allowed this present age to be under the dominion of Satan. We need to live in stark contrast to this age of evil.
I am not suggesting that not settling at this age has nothing to do with external affairs. We should appear respectable and not draw undue attention to ourselves by appearing or extravagant attire. We should not wear seductive clothing. Even some of the “big 5” have some validity: We must care for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, which means no smoking or getting drunk.
But deep down, not conforming to this evil age is a matter of how we think. John Murray (The Epistle to the Romans, 2: 113) explains: “Conformity with this age must be involved in temporal things, have all our thinking oriented to what is seen and temporal. If all our calculations, plans and ambitions are determined by what falls within life here, then we are children of this age ”.
2. Transform yourself by renewing your mind so that you test in practice the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
To give the explanation of Romans 12: 2 correctly, several factors must be taken into account:
The transformation process is a lifelong work of God for which you are responsible.
I base this point on the tense, the voice and the mood of the verb. It is present tense, which indicates a continuous process. We are not talking about a quick fix or a dramatic and instantaneous change, but a constant and lifelong progress towards godliness.
The verb is in the passive voice, which indicates that this is a work of God in us. But he’s also in the imperative mood, indicating that we’re not totally passive in the process. We are responsible for disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4: 7).
God does not change our basic personality type; rather it changes the sinful manifestations of our personality. Before he was converted, Pablo was a man who ran everything for the cause. After he was saved, he left for the Lord. But he softened and became kinder as he grew in the Lord.
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The meaning of transformation is the renewal of our minds.
We act as we think. All sin and all obedience begin in the mind. So the key to overcoming sin and growing in godliness is to change your mind. How you think about God is immensely important. For example, if you think daily about the fact that God is with you and that He knows all your thoughts, words, and actions, it would have a profound effect on your behavior.
Before stretching the truth or lashing out at anger, you would stop and think, “I can’t act like this because God is here with me.” Therefore, the process of change is directly related to the change of thought, which is derived from two main sources
The main source for changing your thinking is the word of God.
You must come to know God as He has been revealed in His Word. Satan is always trying to distort our view of God. He led Eve to sin by slandering God’s goodness and casting doubt that she would carry out her threatened punishment (Genesis 3: 1-5). Also, you must come to know your own propensity for sin as revealed in God’s Word.
Even David, the man after God’s own heart, having written many of the psalms, was capable of adultery, deception, and murder. Do you think you will then be immune to your own sinful nature? “He who thinks he is standing, be careful not to fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
As secondary sources to change your thinking are talented teachers and examples of the word of God.
God has given us godly examples of men and women, both in history and in the people we meet who can be our mentors. The Bible has many examples.
The result of the transformation is that you will prove in practice the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
Paul in this opportunity is describing what is the result after being renewed in the mind: “to be able to truly experience the will of God, the decisions of God, which are good, acceptable and perfect”.
You must demonstrate in practice what the will of God is.
“The will of God” here does not refer to questions such as whether you should go to college or not, or what career you pursue. Paul is speaking of the moral will of God as revealed in the Bible. To “test” means to discern and approve by testing.
To “approve” the will of God means to understand and agree with what God wants of us in order to put it into practice.
God’s will is good, acceptable, and perfect.
Good refers to moral goodness or holiness. It’s good for you too, because sin always hurts you, while holiness always restores and blesses you. Acceptable mainly means “pleasing to God.” We must prove in practice what pleases God. Of course, this also pleases us in the long run.
Obedience to God’s moral standards is often difficult at this time. You don’t cheat on the exam and the others get the best grades. You refuse to compromise your moral purity and your boyfriend leaves you for a girl who will sleep with him.
But in the long run, God’s will is always more pleasing to you than disobedience. Perfect refers to the absolute moral perfection of God, which we will never achieve. But the word also means “mature” or “complete”.
For things to improve in your life, you must change. To change, you must be involved in the process of renewing your mind by the Word of God, so that you demonstrate in practice the good, acceptable, and perfect will of our heavenly father.
I encourage you to set a reasonable goal to start growing in the process. Start a daily time in the Word. Aim to read five good Christian books this year. Connect with a mature mentor who can help you grow. Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.