Commitment to Holiness

Lesson 1998
Tags: Christian service; Sanctification; Romans 12:2
Excerpted from Serving God: A Plan for Success
Related Resources: Progressive Sanctification


Biblical Text

Romans 12.2

2     And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Exegesis

  • Service to God requires a commitment to holiness. Holiness involves separation in two senses: from the world and to God.
  • First, we are to separate from the world. Paul instructed us not to be conformed (suschematizo, to conform one’s self to another’s pattern, fashion one’s self according to) to the world around us. We should not “fit the mold” of the world. In a sense, the Christian faith is inherently antagonistic to human culture. This is not to say that Christianity requires a wholesale rejection of culture, rather that true Christian discipleship cannot avoid conflict with social norms. When confronted with a choice between being faithful to God and being accepted by the world, we should always choose the former.
  • Second, we are to separate to God and his will. Separation is not just a negative response. Paul said that we should be transformed (metamorphoo, to change into another form, transform, transfigure) through the renewal of our minds. The present tense of the command implies that the transformation will be an ongoing process. As our minds undergo the renewal process, we will be fit to prove (dokimazo, to test, scrutinize, approve, recognize as genuine after examination) the will of God for our lives.

Application

  • We must not think that we can live in the world without spiritual conflict. Following Christ will necessarily cause us to go against the current of culture from time to time. At the same time, we should avoid ostracizing ourselves from our culture on every front. When we do so, we lose our influence because the world sees us as irrelevant.
  • Spiritual growth involves change. This is a difficult reality for us to accept. We would like to think that we are all God wants us to be. But this is not the case. Whether we are aware of it or not, there are areas of our lives that God intends to change. He will do so by changing our thought processes so we can discern what his will is.
  • John Witmer makes the following observations concerning this text: “As a Christian is transformed in his mind and is made more like Christ, he comes to approve and desire God’s will, not his own will for his life. Then he discovers that God’s will is what is good for him, and that it pleases God, and is complete in every way. It is all he needs. But only by being renewed spiritually can a believer ascertain, do, and enjoy the will of God “(488).

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