Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Sermons
Be not Conformed to This WorldCharles G. Finney Romans 12:2
Christian Character a MetamorphosisS.R. Aldridge Romans 12:2
Conformation and TransformationE. H. Chapin, D.D.Romans 12:2
Conformed and TransformedF. D. Maurice, M.A.Romans 12:2
Conformed and TransformedW. H. Etchers, M.A.Romans 12:2
Conformity to the WorldC. Hodge, D.D.Romans 12:2
Conformity to the WorldHomilistRomans 12:2
Conformity to the WorldP. Rutherford.Romans 12:2
Conformity to the WorldJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:2
Conformity to the World: its FollyRomans 12:2
Nonconformity to the WorldAbp. Magee.Romans 12:2
Nonconformity to the WorldDean Stanley.Romans 12:2
Nonconformity to the WorldBp. Beveridge.Romans 12:2
Nonconformity to the WorldBiblical MuseumRomans 12:2
Nonconformity to the WorldCanon Miller.Romans 12:2
Nonconformity to the WorldDean Vaughan.Romans 12:2
Nonconformity to the World -- InwardRomans 12:2
Nonconformity to the World -- OutwardM. Davies, D.D.Romans 12:2
The Christian Life a TransfigurationA. Maclaren, D.D.Romans 12:2
The Two LikenessesC.H. Irwin Romans 12:2
The WorldR. S. Candlish, D.D.Romans 12:2
The World an AtmosphereCanon Liddon.Romans 12:2
The World, Danger OfRomans 12:2
The World: Difficult to DefineC. Neil, M.A.Romans 12:2
The World: Spirit OfF. W. Robertson, M.A.Romans 12:2
TransfigurationA. Maclaren, D.D.Romans 12:2
TransformationR. S. Candlish, D.D.Romans 12:2
TransformationRomans 12:2
Worldliness: its Spirit Permanent, its Forms ChangefulW. H. Etchers, M.A.Romans 12:2
The Living SacrificeT.F. Lockyer Romans 12:1, 2
IndividualismR.M. Edgar Romans 12:1-3
The exhortation contained in this verse regards the human mind as impressionable, pliable, susceptible. It is especially addressed to Christians. There are two forms which seek to impress themselves upon the Christian, and the image of which every Christian bears in greater or less degree. The one is likeness to the world; the other is likeness to God.

I. LIKENESS TO THE WORLD. Against this the apostle warns the Christian: "Be not conformed to this world."

1. The exhortation is much needed. The ambition of many Christians is to be as like the world as possible. They talk of the extreme of Puritanism, and speak of being too strict. The danger now is from the extremity of worldliness. If I am to choose, let me have the extreme of being too scrupulous rather than too careless, ultra-conscientious rather than having a conscience that sees no harm in anything. Let me be like Abraham, who would not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet from the King of Sodom, rather than like worldly minded Lot, who pitched his tent toward Sodom, and by-and-by came and dwelt in Sodom, though he vexed his righteous soul from day to day with the filthy conversation and unlawful deeds of the people among whom he had chosen to dwell. Let me be like Elisha rather than Gehazi, like Daniel rather than Belshazzar.

2. Conformity to the world is injurious to the Church. When the Jewish people came in contact with the heathen nations, they began to imitate them, to conform to their customs. The result was disastrous to the spiritual life, and ultimately to the temporal prosperity of Israel. So it was with the Churches of Asia, Their worldliness proved their ruin. Sardis had a name to live, but it was dead. Laodicea was lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot. We may try as Christians to please the world by conforming to it, but in proportion as we do so we are unfaithful to our Master, and we are displeasing him. "The friendship of this world is enmity against God."

3. The conformity of Christians to the world is injurious to the world. Some Christians imagine that they will have more influence on the world by becoming more like it. It is a great mistake. If we want to teach children to write, we don't set them imperfect copies. The world was never made better by low ideals. The deities of paganism did not elevate humanity. It is not the half-and-half Christian, the worldly minded Christian, whose influence will tell for good upon those around him. If we are to make the world better, it can only be by keeping before us as Christians a high ideal of what the Christian life ought to be, and by striving faithfully, and with the help of Divine grace, to live up to it. Christians are living epistles, known and read of all men. What kind of copy are we setting to the world?

4. We are not to imitate the world in its estimate of religion. The world's idea of religion is that it is a thing of gloom, an irksome restraint, a weary bondage, something that it would be desirable to have when death is approaching, but which it would be well to live without as long as possible. Too often Christians give encouragement to this idea, Their religion has too little relation to their daily life, or a relation of routine form rather than of living and pleasant association.

5. We are not to imitate the world in its estimate of the soul. In the popular estimation, and in everyday life, the soul is thrust into the background. The chief concern is how to provide comfort and luxury for the body. No expense is grudged for these objects. Bodily health is scrupulously guarded, and rightly so. Education is carefully attended to. How anxious parents are, and rightly so, to secure a good education for their children! But how little trouble is taken to instruct them or have them instructed in eternal things! How little care, generally, is devoted to the concerns of the immortal soul! In this respect professing Christians are too liable to be conformed to the world. They become too much absorbed in the world's business to think as much as they ought of their own spiritual life and of the souls of others. Christian parents are often very careless in regard to the spiritual instruction of their children. Let us not bear the world's likeness. "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate;" "Be not conformed to this world."

II. LIKENESS TO GOD. "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."

1. This is the way to drive out likeness to the world. Likeness to God will exclude likeness to the world. The more desire we have for God, the less we shall have for the world; the more we think of the soul, the less we shall be anxious about the body; the more we think of eternity, the less we shall think of this present world; the more we think of the judgment of God, the less we shall think of the judgment of men.

2. The first step is the renewing of your mind. An external influence is here implied. We cannot renew our own minds. "Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." This is rightly called the saving change. To experience this change is the starting-point of the Christian life. It is to pass from death to life. Old things pass away; all things become new. There is a new way of looking at things. Things which we once took pleasure in have no attraction for us now; duties which we once thought irksome now become our delight. This is the result of the Holy Spirit working in us, producing in us likeness to God, transforming us into his image, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

3. This transformation will soon affect your whole life.

(1) It will affect your business. You will no longer regard your business dealings from the merely worldly, but from the Christian standpoint. Your question will not be merely - Will it pay? but - Is it right?

(2) It will affect your companionships. The question will be, not - Are they pleasant, but - Are they pleasing to God? are they helpful to my spiritual life?

(3) It will affect your amusements. The question will be, not - May I? but - Ought I? Not - Is there any harm in this? but - Is there any good in it? Is it the way in which I would enjoy myself if I knew that I was to die tomorrow? When Achilles Daunt, late Dean of Cork, was a student at Trinity College, Dublin, he was passionately fond of the drama, and used to go often to the theatre. One evening, after coming home and taking up his Bible for his usual evening reading - feeling that the scenes he had just witnessed made it a little irksome to do so - his eye lit on our Lord's words, "He that is not with me is against me." The passage seemed to seize him with an iron grip. He then and there battled out the matter with his own heart, and did not rise from his knees till he had resolved to dedicate himself to the Lord, to take his stand boldly as his servant, and never again to enter a theatre.

4. This transformation is to be developed by living near to God. Prayer, and the study of God's Word, are the means of obtaining this likeness to God. It is noteworthy that the same Greek word which is here translated "transformed" is the word which is used to describe the transfiguration of Christ: "And he was transfigured before them." And when did Christ's transfiguration come to him? When he was on the mountain-top in prayer. "And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering" (Luke 9:29). Prayer is the true transformation, the true transfiguration, of the soul. Thus here on earth we shall reflect in some measure the image of God until we reach that land where "we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." - C.H.I.







And be not conformed to this world.
1. "World" has various meanings.(1) Time.(2) An age — the Messianic, e.g., as contrasted with the Jewish, or the past as opposed to the present or coming age.(3) A state, as the present in distinction from the future in antagonism with the good.(4) "Worldliness," a spirit or principle of evil pervading the world. It is this to which we must not be conformed.

2. It is well to define the term in order to avoid two extremes.(1) That which regards the world as a mere abstraction, something incidental to those early Christian ages, but of which nobody is in danger now.(2) That exaggeration which confounds it with almost every transaction of our lives.

3. We must be vigilant against this spirit precisely where it is the most subtle and concealed, e.g.(1) We may say that delight in the visible world is legitimate. "Surely this is not the world against which the apostle warns us." No; but suppose that nature becomes to us all in all, and cheats us into the belief that there is nothing higher than that which serves our senses.(2) We say indisputably that we ought to love our fellow-men; but what if with this there blends an influence that moves us to defer to their customs, and live merely upon the level of their ideals!(3) Even our religion may be worldly in its spirit. The objects of our faith in another state of existence may be sensuous, and the grounds of our obedience to God mercenary.

4. "The world," then, is a spirit, that is everywhere around us and within, and the injunction is most needed precisely where this spirit is most likely to be confounded with something that is good and true. Proceeding upon this assumption, let us examine the forms and achievements of our modern civilisation.

I. MUCH OF OUR MODERN CIVILISATION IS A PROCESS OF CONFORMATION. Man is not the master of nature. He learns to control its forces by submitting to its laws. His triumphs of art and mechanism are simply a conformity to nature, not a mastery over it. He mitigates pain and conquers disease by conforming to the laws of health. He has no wand of miracle to supersede law. Civilisation is simply the adjustment of man to the conditions in which he is placed. Now, precisely here we may detect an evil tendency. There is danger lest this habit of conformity fasten us down to a mere worldly level, and saturate all our desires with worldly estimates. On the other hand, THE GREAT PECULIARITY OF THE CHRISTIAN METHOD IS TRANSFORMATION — not simply obedience to external conditions, but a renewing of the mind. It is a great achievement for man to control new forces without; it is a greater achievement when in the inmost recesses of his being there unfolds a law which forbids all sin, even under the mask of the most splendid gain; when there is awakened a vitality of conscience which inspires him to make only a beneficent application of mighty instruments; when there settles in his soul a sublime patience by which if he cannot conquer pain he can bear it; and when in the midst of all physical terrors he enjoys a spiritual vision which pierces through calamity and looks beyond death.

II. CONSIDER SOME POINTS WHERE THE CONTRASTS BETWEEN THE CHRISTIAN METHOD AND THE METHODS OF THIS WORLD ARE MORE ESPECIALLY DISPLAYED.

1. Observe how largely men are influenced by excitement. There is a vast difference between the noble steamship that holds its way, trembling the waves and challenging the gale, because it has an inward force, and the poor vessel whose iron heart stands still, and that wallows the sport and victim of the relentless sea. But there may be a difference as great between the man who determines his action by reason and conscience and the man who is perpetually driven by the excitements of time and place. How many people depend upon excitements as the aliment of their very being! They are always whirling in the commotion of something new. And thus people lose true independence of thought and life. Opinions and habits go with the tide. These men and women live as others live, think as others think, do as others do. Nay, even religion may become too closely identified with mere excitement. The method of Christianity is not excitement, but incitement. That man is best qualified for the perils, yet not disqualified for the blessings of the world around him who is moved, not by pressure from without, but by principle from within, who in the midst of these changing tendencies holds a purpose, and whose personality does not dissolve in the social atmosphere around him, but who preserves a rocky identity of faith and conviction, a moral loyalty to his own ideal.

2. The power of our modern civilisation is the power of that which is visible and tangible. Present good, immediate success, are its conspicuous results. What vast sovereignty, what subtle temptation, in this possession of the present, in that visible dollar which I make by my compliance compared with the inward blessing which follows my sacrifice; in the concrete fact which I can grasp in my hand compared with the abstraction that only flits in transient vision before my inward eye! Cancel space, outstrip time, bridge oceans with steam, twitch nations together with electric arteries. Now no instructed Christian undervalues concrete facts and interests. The man who starts from great principles is not one who is most apt to overlook the real interests of the world. But he also regards a higher good. He believes that for the real purposes of this life we need something besides steam and telegraph, and currency and ballot-boxes. We need that which delivers man from sensual illusion and the lust of immediate attainment by fixing his eyes upon the glory of spiritual rectitude, the victory of postponement, and the gain of sacrifice.

3. Civilisation produces its most marked effect without. The best thing accomplished by it is adjustment to the world. Its tests and fruits are better outward conditions, a better social state, better houses, lands, and means of communication. Nevertheless, man's real life is not in outward things. It cannot be changed merely by external agents. In its wants and capacities it is the same as it was six thousand years ago. Strip the man of the nineteenth century of these externals, and how much is he like the man of ages since! With the telescope we see farther, but do we really see more than Abraham at the door of his tent, or Job gazing upon the Pleiades? If we do, whatever of larger vision or substantial good has come to us has come within — in more comprehensive truth, in more consecrated love, in more perfect assurance of final good. And wherever these results are wrought within us we can dispense with much that is merely outward and palpable. The time comes when the world to us will be as nothing. But while it crumbles we shall not fail. We shall perish with no perishing thing, being "not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of the mind."

(E. H. Chapin, D.D.)

I. The man who is in CONFORMITY WITH THIS WORLD is not the man who understands it best, or who admires its beauties most; nor can he adapt himself best to all its circumstances. He is too much a slave of the things he sees to look into the meaning of them; too much shut up in the habits of the society into which he is thrown, to have any power of entering into what lies beyond. The word "conformed" implies that he takes his form from the things about him, that they are the mould into which his mind is cast. Now this St. Paul will not for an instant admit to be the form which any man is created to bear. Man is created in the image of God; and the form of his mind is to be derived from Him and not from the things which are put in subjection under Him. The heathen was resisting the conscience which told him that he was God's offspring, and the very things he saw which testified to the invisible power of God in worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator. But we who have been redeemed out of this worship are striving far more directly and consciously against; this spirit; we are choosing a false way when we admit the world to govern and fashion our minds according to its pleasure, when we submit to receive its image and superscription. That image and superscription will vary in each new age, in each new locality; it is the very nature of the world to be continually changing. That is the reason why it is so ignominious a thing for a man to be conformed to it; he must become merely a creature of to-day; he must be fluctuating, capricious, insincere — a leaf carried about by every gale, floating down every current. How is it possible that such a one can know anything of the will of God, which is fixed and eternal? What signifies it that you give to such a one the Bible and persuade him it is a Divine book? You may persuade him of that as easily as of anything else; if it is the current opinion of course he receives it until the fashion alters, and then he will scoff at it. But while he embraces it what does he gather from it? Just what his worldly spirit wishes to gather and no more.

II. THE DELIVERANCE FROM ALL THIS IS TRANSFORMATION, and such transformation, instead of unfitting a man for the world, is that which alone can enable him to live in it, to appreciate the worth of it, to exercise an influence over it. It was this which enabled the prophet to see the trees and the floods breaking forth into singing; which enabled St. Paul to become all things to all men; which enabled St. John to see the kingdom of God and of His Christ emerging out of the kingdoms of this world. For they beheld all things in God's light, not in the false lights of this world. They saw the world as He had made it, not as men had made it by rebelling against Him. They had received the true form of men, they could therefore use the forms of the world, accommodating themselves readily to Jewish, Greek, Roman customs — never being brought into bondage by any. They were in communion with the eternal, so they could contemplate the great drama of history, not as a succession of shifting scenes, but as a series of events tending to the fulfilment of that will which is seeking good and good only.

III. THE PROCESS OF THIS TRANSFORMATION IS THE RENEWING OF THE MIND. Such a phrase at once suggests the change which takes place when the foliage of spring covers the bare boughs of winter. The substance is not altered, but it is quickened. The alteration is the most wonderful that can be conceived of, but it all passes within. The power once given works secretly, probably amidst many obstructions from sharp winds and keen frosts. Still that beginning contains in it the sure prophecy of final accomplishment. The man will be renewed according to the image of his Creator and Father, because the Spirit of his Creator and Father is working in him.

(F. D. Maurice, M.A.)

If we pour into a mould a quantity of heated metal, that metal as it becomes cool takes the shape of that mould. If we soften a lump of wax, and then press a signet upon it, on its surface is left the impression of the seal. Just so our nature, susceptible at present of being moulded to one character or another, is now undergoing this process. According to the tastes we cultivate, the acts we do, the society we keep, the subjects that engross our interest, we are becoming conformed to the world or to Christ; we are being made into "vessels unto dishonour," or into "vessels meet for the Master's use." The process may be very gradual; but it is not on that account the less fatal and the less sure. Like that insidious disease consumption, the first beginnings of it are hardly perceptible; but though it only destroys life as it were by inches, the raging fever is not in the end more deadly. How many are there who, because they are not raging in the fever-fits of open sin, never dream that they are dying of worldly conformity, and who consider, though the Bible and their consciences sometimes speak to the contrary, that there can be no great harm in living to the world a little, provided that they keep within bounds! But the Word of God says plainly, "Be not conformed to this world." And if we would, fall in with this requirement we must strive to be "transformed by the renewing of our mind." We all know what a complete change is signified by the word "metamorphosis," which is the one here used. In describing this process we must go back one step further in the metaphors than in the case to which we before alluded. We must suppose the metal to have been cast into some faulty shape first, and then to have been melted down and re-cast. Just so our hearts, our wills, our tastes, in short our whole "mind" must be first of all softened by God's Spirit; then we must be transformed into a "vessel made to honour," and finally "sealed unto the day of redemption." In vain shall we seek to transform ourselves; we may give up this or that worldly pleasure or worldly pursuit; but unless we really, earnestly, perseveringly seek by prayer the power of God's Spirit we never shall be "transformed by the renewing of our minds."

(W. H. Etchers, M.A.)

I. WHAT IS THE WORLD? The mass of unrenewed men as distinguished from the people of God. It is Satan's kingdom. It has laws and maxims. Its manners and customs are determined by its reigning spirit. It has its consummation, which is perdition.

II. WHAT IS IT TO RE CONFORMED TO THE WORLD?

1. To be inwardly like men of the world in the governing principle of our lives, i.e., to have a worldly spirit, a spirit occupied with worldly things, mercenary, earthly.

2. To be so ruled by the world's maxims that the question is not what is right or wrong, but what is the custom of society. What is the public sentiment?

3. To be indistinguishable from men of the world in our —

(1)Objects.

(2)Amusements.

(3)General conduct.

III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS CONFORMITY.

1. The destruction of all spirituality. It is impossible to live near to God and yet to be conformed to the world. The Spirit is grieved and quenched.

2. The obliteration of the distinction between the Church and the world, and the consequent enervation of the former. What becomes of Christian profession when Christians are as sordid, gay, and unscrupulous as other men?

3. Identity of doom. They who choose the world will perish with it.

IV. BY WHAT RULE ARE WE TO DETERMINE WHAT IS AND WHAT IS NOT SINFUL CONFORMITY. This is more a theoretical than a practical difficulty, and will not trouble a man who is filled with the Spirit of Christ and devoted to His service.

1. We must avoid sinful things.

2. With regard to things indifferent.(1) One man should not judge another, but determine for himself what is and is not injurious to his spiritual interests.(2) We should avoid things which are injurious to others though harmless to ourselves.(3) We should shun things innocent in themselves, but which are connected in fact, or in the minds of men with evil, as cards, dancing, the theatre, etc.(4) The same rule as to dress and modes of living does not apply to all persons and places. It depends on usage, rank, etc. There is great danger of becoming pharisaical, and making religion consist in externals.

(C. Hodge, D.D.)

Homilist.
I. BE NOT CONFORMED —

1. To its selfishness.

2. To its presumption.

3. To its superstition.

4. To its carnal policy.

5. To its earthly-mindedness.

II. THIS DIVINE REQUIREMENT IS PRESENTED here —

1. Negatively "Be not conformed," etc., in —

(1)Affection.

(2)Principles or maxims.

(3)Conduct.

2. Positively — "But be ye transformed," etc. True religion does not consist in simply abstaining, avoiding, disliking, etc.; but also in being, doing, delighting, etc. We cannot be unconformed to the world, unless we are in spirit conformed to God. Therefore the only way to be unworldly is to become converted and spiritual (Galatians 5:16, etc.). The Christian is not simply to be unlike the world; he is to be like Christ.

(Homilist.)

I. ITS NATURE.

1. By "this world" is meant everything in it which is antagonistic to the truth or to the life of God in the soul of man. You can form a correct estimate of a man's character by his ruling principles. So you can the spirit of "this world." Here are some of its maxims —(1) "Every man for himself"; there is the selfishness that draws in everything to itself, and keeps firm grip of all it has, though the needy be perishing around!(2) "Quietness is best "; there is the cowardice, the selfish prudence of the world which will not stand forth and speak a word for God or man, lest trouble should come upon it!(3) "Honesty is the best policy." The man who is honest just because it is the best policy would for the same reason have been dishonest!

2. Conformity to this world means the adoption of principles such as these, and practices founded upon them, although there are great differences among men in respect of it.

II. ITS CAUSES. Apart from its first and great cause, there are secondary causes, e.g., —

1. The proclivity to do as other people do. A child may act thus, but may a man? If so, where is his independence? In the dust.

2. The fear of giving offence. There are people who are so dependent upon the good opinion of others, that to gain it they will forfeit their own respect by doing things which otherwise they would have left undone. They have interests of their own, but they are laughed or frowned out of them; they have opinions of their own, but they modify and explain them away! Many a man may date his destruction from the day he began to be afraid of losing the good opinion of bad men!

3. The inability to stand alone. When any public question is debated, the question is, "What side are the respectable people on?" When a side must be taken, "Which is likely to win?" The "expediency" men are many; the "principle" men are few.

II. ITS CURE.

1. The realising of our own personality and responsibility, refusing to live in the crowd, resolving that by God's grace we shall live the life He calls upon us to live.

2. The withdrawing of ourselves from under the power of that tendency within us which prevails with us to disobey this command. Sometimes it is of very little use to fight, the only thing is to get away. A young man is beginning to acquire a taste for low pursuits and company: how will you help him to get above them? Not surely by leaving him to fight it out with them, but by creating within him a taste for higher pleasures, and the society of the good. If we would not be conformed to the world, we must rise above it.

3. Transformation by the renewing of the mind. Thus transformed, you will not be conformed: another model will be realised by you in your lives: the world will lose its hold and Christ will be all in all.

(P. Rutherford.)

I. IN WHAT IT CONSISTS. In cultivating —

1. Its spirit and temper.

2. Its maxims and principles.

3. Its company and conduct.

II. HOW IT MUST BE AVOIDED.

1. By the renewing of our minds.

2. By the adoption of other —

(1)Principles.

(2)Rules.

(3)Ends.

III. WHY IT SHOULD BE AVOIDED. Because this is —

1. Good in itself.

2. Acceptable to God.

3. Beneficial to man.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

A member of his congregation was in the habit of going to the theatre. Mr. Hill went to him and said, "This will never do — a member of my Church in the habit of going to the theatre!" Mr. So-and-so replied that it surely must be a mistake, as he was not in the habit of going there, although it was true he did go now and then for a treat. "Oh!" said Rowland Hill, "then you are a worse hypocrite than ever, sir. Suppose any one spread the report that I ate carrion, and I answered, 'Well, there is no wrong in that; I don't eat carrion every day in the week, but I have a dish now and then for a treat!' Why, you would say, 'What a nasty, foul, and filthy appetite Rowland Hill has, to have to go to carrion for a treat!' Religion is the Christian's truest treat, Christ is his enjoyment."

1. There is no command in Scripture about which there is more debate than this. Are we required to separate ourselves from all who are not Christians, and avoid all employments except those of devotion? This is manifestly impossible. Are we then to abstain from those practices which are common among irreligious persons? Then the question arises, What practices? Where shall we draw the line? Many draw for themselves a line within which they keep; but unfortunately each person draws it differently. To some, this world means profligacy and sin; to others, great luxury; to others, certain fashionable amusements, or dress; to others, the use of secular music, or the reading of light literature. Each believes himself in the right, and blames his neighbours for going beyond or not coming up to the line he has drawn for himself. Each is alternately accuser and accused; while the ungodly consequently declare that it is quite impossible to say what is and what is not worldly.

2. Now all this arises from overlooking the fact that the precepts of the gospel are addressed to our new and inner nature; that they supply principles and motives on which we are to act always, not laws applying to any particular act or set of acts. "Be not conformed to the world" is defined by "Be ye transformed," etc. It is clear, then, that that conformity is forbidden which interferes with our being transformed. Now that into which we are transformed is the image of God (2 Corinthians 3:18).

3. Now, the rule of the renewed man is simple, always applicable — "The one thing I am to seek is conformity to God's image, and in order to that, constant communion with God; whatever, then, I find to interfere with this, however good it may seem, is the world to me." Now the application of this rule is matter of personal experience, and it is impossible to draw a line; for what is the world to one person is not the world to another; and the question is not so much where you are as what you are. To lay down a rule for all lives is as difficult as to prescribe a diet for all constitutions. If you ask us whether certain food will agree with you, we answer — That depends upon your constitution; we can only give you the broad rule — eat nothing that you find to disagree with you. So we lay down the broad rule — whatever disagrees with your soul's health you must avoid.

4. This is a rule which we would plead with worldly people. Christians are often perplexed when asked — Why do you not join in this or that amusement?(1) If they answer — Because they are sinful, they say what they cannot prove. Sin is the transgression of a law, and they can cite no law which expressly forbids such things. And then if we call them sins, we may induce others to consider sins as not much worse than amusements.(2) If they say, we object to these things because they are worldly, then they will be asked, What is the essential difference between the amusement in question, and some other which they hold lawful?(3) Now if in all such cases the Christian would be content to say — I refrain because I find I cannot enjoy it and afterwards have communion with God, he would give an answer which, if not understood, could certainly not be gainsaid. To ask for a law when this reason is given would be as unmeaning as to ask for a law of the land forbidding all imprudence in our diet, or exposure to the weather, or to the risk of infection. We cannot prove these acts to be crimes, but they are dangerous, and all come under the general principle which makes it wrong for a man to injure himself.

5. In this way we should deal with all cavillers on this subject. Worldly men set down the objections of ministers to prejudice or envy. "Of course, clergymen abuse theatres, etc., but where is the harm? Where are they forbidden in Scripture?" We answer this question by another: "What is the state of your soul? Are you the possessor of a spiritual life? If not, then you cannot possibly understand our objection; for we object to these things as injurious to that which you tell us you have not got, namely — life in the soul. To understand a spiritual precept you must be spiritual yourself.

6. But there are those in whom this spiritual life is as the tender blade, or as the just kindling fire, who ask, anxiously, What is the danger? To show this, we will take —(1) The theatre. If we are asked, Is there any sin in a theatrical representation? We answer — There is no more sin in a person presenting to your eyes a certain character than there is in writing a description or painting a picture of it. But what we have to consider is, not the abstract idea of a theatre, but what it practically is. Now not to enlarge upon the evils connected with the stage, to which you give your countenance and aid by attendance and payment for admission: we will admit that these are not essential to the stage, though somehow they are always found connected with it. We are willing to allow all that can be said for it, and will not ask whether, in the course of the play, vice is not often made attractive, and whether the recollection of the pleasure of sin does not outlast the impressions made by the moral at the end, when the vicious characters meet with that punishment which we so rarely see them visited with in real life. We will suppose every play to have its moral, and the audience to be duly impressed with it. Yet we must ask, What character would you be conformed to if you followed out the lessons there taught? Would it be to the image of God? Is the good man of the stage the good man of Scripture? Who would venture to produce upon the stage one in whom was the mind of Christ? Would such a character crowd houses? Men would throng to the playhouse to hear sentiments which they do not care to study in their Bibles, or to witness a display of qualities which, in real life, they hold in contempt. Our objection to the stage, then, is this: it sets up a false and worldly standard of morality; and he who desires to be transformed to the image of God will find here another image set before him.(2) The card table. Is there any sin in moving about pieces of painted pasteboard? Certainly not. And yet it becomes a cause of sin; because, however small the stake, it excites, in however slight a degree, that desire of gain which is of this world. In proof of this note the greater zest with which men enjoy the game when some small stake is played for, "just to give an interest to the game." And by indulging in this we hinder that renewing of our mind which we should cultivate so carefully.(3) The ball-room. Is there any harm in the act of dancing? No more than in any marching to the sound of music. But is there not temptation there for the indulgence of vanity, frivolity, envy, and evil speaking? We ask whether one renewed in the image of God would find himself a welcome guest there? — whether his spiritual life would be strengthened, and his conformity to Christ increased, by constant attendance? — and whether the guest as he returns is in that frame of mind which best fits him for communion with God? In short, in all these matters we ask you simply to use your own judgment. Try honestly the effect of these amusements upon your own spiritual life; and if you be really renewed in the spirit of your mind, you will find that their atmosphere is injurious to the new life, which you desire to cherish.

7. But we must not forget that the principle may be applied in an opposite direction. There are others who need to be told that what is forbidden is worldliness of heart; viz., those who are sure they do not conform to the world, because they never enter a theatre, etc. Their idea of unworldliness is the abstaining from these things, and a few others, e.g., display in entertainments and equipage. Add to this, becoming members of religious associations, frequenting religious society, and attending a gospel ministry, and their definition of unworldliness is complete. Now it is possible to do all this, and more, and yet still be conformed to the world. Worldliness can no more be excluded by a fence of conventional rules and habits than a fog or a miasma by a high wall: it is in the atmosphere. They avoid the theatre, and eschew fiction: to what purpose, if they are daily acting out the characters they will not see represented, or read depicted? They will not gamble. Are they the better for this, if they indulge the covetous spirit elsewhere? They will not frequent the ball-room. Are they any gainers, if they indulge the same spirit of display, etc., in a quiet party, or in a religious meeting? They will not wear fashionable dresses; to what purpose, if they are secretly as proud of their plain dress? Conclusion: To attack at once the worldliness of the religious and the irreligion of the world, is to risk the displeasure of both. But the world and the fashions of it are passing fast away; a few short years, and we shall all be where the applause or censure of men shall be alike indifferent to us — upon our dying beds. Then the question to be decided shall be, not how far may I go in my enjoyment of the world, or where must I fix a limit to my pleasures, for the world can be enjoyed no longer, and death is fixing the last limits to its pleasures, and there remains but one act more of conformity to the world — that last act in which all flesh conforms itself to the law of dissolution; but this shall be the great question: — Am I fitted for that world which I am about to enter? Am I, or am I not "transformed in the renewing of my mind"? Ask yourselves this question now, as you must ask it then.

(Abp. Magee.)

may be seen —

I. IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLDLY VIRTUES. There are graces which are sometimes seen more in the world than in the Church, and here we cannot go wrong in conforming to the world. Yet it is possible for an unworldly spirit to transfigure them. And unless occasionally so transfigured they would be corrupted and lost. One high heroic instance of truth, justice, or courage is worth a hundred lesser cases — the world is startled by it. But remember in proportion to the dignity given by an unworldly spirit to a worldly virtue is the mischief wrought by the absence of worldly virtues in those who call themselves unworldly. They are salt which has lost its savour. There is no greater stumbling-block than want of candour, justice, and generosity in those who profess to be "not of the world." But the soldier who is more brave because of a higher than earthly courage; the judge who is more scrupulously just because he has before him a higher than earthly tribunal, the men of business who "ply their daily task with busier feet, because their souls a holy strain repeat," are instances of what the apostle means by being "transfigured through the renewal of our minds."

II. IN THE EXHIBITION OF QUALITIES WHICH ARE UNWORLDLY IN THEMSELVES.

1. Humility. In pagan times there was no name for this grace. The very word is a new creation of the gospel. Nor does the thing now exist in worldly minds. You may prove this by telling an average man of his faults and watching the result.

2. Independence of the world's opinion. "With me it is a small thing to be judged of man's judgment. He that judgeth me is the Lord" — is a true unworldly maxim. It is safe, prudent, to conform to the fashion of the world, to swim with the stream, to desert the sinking vessel, to avoid the stricken deer or howl with the wolves. That is the world's way; but there is a way which is not the way of the world. The old Christian virtue of chivalry still lingers amongst us — the leaning to the weaker side because it is weaker, the desire to protect the weak and repress the strong, etc., may run to excess, but even Quixotism is refreshing. How invigorating to see men dependent on God, though independent of man, stand up against professional clamour and popular prejudice, to see men resist the tyranny of public opinion which will not hear the other side, and refuse the popular and give the unpopular praise!

3. Purity.

4. Resignation.

(Dean Stanley.)

I. WHAT ABE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY THE WORLD (1 John 2:16).

1. The lust of the flesh (Titus 2:12).

2. The lust of the eye (Ecclesiastes 5:11).

3. The pride of life (Romans 1:30).

II. WHAT IS IT NOT TO RE CONFORMED TO IT?

1. Not to approve of it (1 John 2:15).

2. Not to imitate it (1 Peter 4:4).

3. To use it as if we used it not (1 Corinthians 7:30, 31).

III. WHY SHOULD WE NOT BE CONFORMED?

1. We are separated from the world to God (1 Peter 2:9-12).

2. We have put on Christ.

3. All that is in the world is not of the Father (1 John 2:16), and is contrary to the love of Him (1 John 2:15).

4. The fashion of this world passeth away (1 Corinthians 7:31).Conclusion: Conform not to this world.

1. You have higher things to mind (Colossians 3:1-3; Philippians 3:20).

2. This world cannot satisfy you (Ecclesiastes 1:8).

3. You must give an account of what you do here.

(Bp. Beveridge.)

Biblical Museum.
I. ITS NATURE.

1. Not ceremonial.

2. Not civil.

3. But moral. Be not conformed —

(1)To the spirit of the world.

(2)In your rules of life.

(3)In your company.

(4)In your practices.

II. SOME REASONS FOR ITS PROHIBITION.

1. Duty.

2. Profession.

3. Self-love.

4. Love of your neighbour.

5. The commands of Scripture.

III. HOW IT MAY BE PREVENTED. By —

1. The renovation of your natures.

2. The exercise of daily prayer.

3. Guarding against temptation.

4. A constant dependence upon God.

(Biblical Museum.)

There will arise in the Christian's course, from time to time, occasions on which he will be in doubt as to some points of his duty in relation to social intercourse and amusements. Well, in such cases be turns to his chart — on that chart (his Bible) though he find not every rock and shoal and quicksand, marked down by name — he finds it laid down plainly and decisively that the whole coast is dangerous, i.e, he finds a general principle, "Be not conformed to this world" — "The friendship of the world is enmity with God." By whom is the amusement patronised? Are they these who are the votaries of other and less dubious pleasures? Are they those who wear the world's badge and have its mark stamped on their foreheads? Then let the Christian pause — let him fear to find himself surrounded by crowds of worldlings, drinking with them of the same cup. It must be at best but a suspicious cup that meets tastes which should be opposite — it must be at best a suspicious path in which, even for a moment, the Christian walks hand in hand with the man of this world. Be quite sure the world would not be drinking of that cup, if it were not in some way spiced to their taste. Alas! it is far, far more likely that the Christian should have stepped out of his narrow path, than that the worldling should have forsaken his, to walk, even for a moment, with the Christian. And remember that in such cases there is great need that you watch against self-deception. The remark of Jeremy Taylor is but too true: "Most men choose the sin, if it be once disputed whether it be a sin or no." Although grace teaches and inclines you to distaste the world, yet corruption remains, and to that corruption sin and the world are but too palatable. See to it, then, that while you are professing to inquire into the lawfulness or unlawfulness of such an action, your mind is not biased beforehand, and you have not a secret desire to find the Word of God on your side — a secret determination to make it out, if possible to be so. Beware, too, of that religion which is anxious to take up its lodging next door to the world. If you are determined to go as far as you can you are not safe — you will very soon be on the other side of the line. And if, after all, a given case seemed doubtful, remember, religion, not the world, is to have the benefit of the doubt. It is better to abstain from mistaken scrupulosity from a hundred lawful things than to run the risk of one unlawful act of conformity to the world, or of throwing one stumbling-block in the way of another.

(Canon Miller.)

There are two words for world, αἰών and κόσμος. The former regards time, the latter space. Once they are combined (Ephesians 2:2), "in accordance with the time-state of this matter-world."... The direction, therefore, is, "Be not like the men of this world, whose all is the present. Wear not the garb of time: live for eternity."

(Dean Vaughan.)

As the mother of pearl fish lives in the sea without receiving a drop of salt water, and as towards the Chelidonian Islands springs of fresh water may be found in the midst of the sea, and as the fire-fly passes through the flames without burning its wings, so a vigorous and resolute soul may live in the world without being infected with any of its burnouts, may discover sweet springs of piety amidst its salt waters, and fly among the flames of earthly concupiscence without burning the wings of the holy desires of a devout life.

( Francis de Sales.)

The bird of paradise, which has such a dower of exquisitely beautiful feathers, cannot fly with the wind; if it attempts to do so, the current being much swifter than its flight, so ruffles its plumage as to impede its progress, and finally to terminate it: it is, therefore, compelled to fly against the wind, which keeps its feathers in their place, and thus it gains the place where it would be. So the Christian must not attempt to go with the current of a sinful world: if he does, it will not only hinder, but end his religious progress; but he must go against it, and then every effort of his soul will be upward, heavenward, Godward.

(M. Davies, D.D.)

is fallen human nature acting itself out in the human family; moulding and fashioning the framework of human society in accordance with its own tendencies. It is fallen human nature making the ongoings of human thought, feeling, and action its own. It is the reign or kingdom of the carnal mind, which is enmity against God. Wherever that mind prevails, there is the world.

(R. S. Candlish, D.D.)

It is like the dense atmosphere which on a November day hangs over your vast metropolis, the product of its countless homes and the proof of its vast industrial efforts; and yet the veil which shuts out from it the light of heaven, destroys the colour on its works of art — the dark unwholesome vapour which clogs vitality and undermines health, and from which a Londoner escapes at intervals with a light heart, that he may see the sun, and the trees, and the face of nature as God made them, and feel for a few months what it is to live. Even thus the world hangs like a deadly atmosphere over every single human soul, brooding over it, flapping its wings like the monstrous evil bird in the fable, or penetrating and entering into it like a subtle poison, to sap the springs and sources of its vigour and its life.

(Canon Liddon.)

As you love your souls, beware of the world: it has slain its thousands and ten thousands. What ruined Lot's wife? — the world. What ruined Achan? — the world. What ruined Haman? — the world. What ruined Judas? — the world. What ruined Simon Magus? — the world. What ruined Demas? — the world: And "what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

The world cannot be clearly marked out as if it were a kingdom on a map, and every year makes it more difficult to draw any line of demarcation or to lay down any hard and fast lines upon the subject, because society is being leavened by Christian principles, the moral conscience of the nation quickened, and a public opinion, on the whole of a healthy character, making itself powerfully felt. And, further, what is the world to one person is not the world to another. The fact that the world cannot be defined as to locality is an advantage, not a disadvantage: for it calls forth from us a constant spirit of inquiry and watchfulness before we enter upon our pursuits, form our connections, or enter into society. The believer should at all times test every relationship into which he is brought, to see whether beneath its possibly plausible and pleasant surface there may not lurk the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The Christian, too, should examine not only what is without, to see whether the place he is entering is the world, but also what is within himself, and whether he is not converting even what is the kingdom of God into the world by the worldly spirit which he brings with him. We may infect as well as be infected.

(C. Neil, M.A.)

The spirit of the world is for ever altering, impalpable; for ever eluding, in fresh forms, your attempts to seize it. In the days of Noah the spirit of the world was violence. In Elijah's day it was idolatry. In the day of Christ it was power, concentrated and condensed in the government of Rome. In ours, perhaps, it is the love of money. It enters in different proportions into different bosoms; it is found in a different form in contiguous towns, in the fashionable watering-places, and in the commercial city; it is this thing at Athens, and another in Corinth. This is the spirit of the world, a thing in my heart and yours to be struggled against, not so much in the case of others as in the silent battle done within our own souls.

(F. W. Robertson, M.A.)

The world in our days is not a heathen world, as it was in the days of the apostle; but it is not a whit less "the world that lieth in wickedness." The outward developments are different, but the inward character, principles, and spirit are the very same: changing a few of the mere external circumstances, the apostle's description of the "world" of his own day is equally applicable to the "world" of ours. There are now, indeed, no idolatrous banquets, no savage gladiatorial conflicts in the blood-stained arena of the amphitheatre, no midnight orgies to some disgraceful deity. The world, perhaps, now, at least the world of the upper classes of society, is not quite so rough, but more polished in its sinfulness; but its scenes of amusement, its theatres, its luxurious tastes and habits, its nightly revels, and too lavish entertainments, partake as essentially of the elements of worldliness as the less advanced indulgences of a ruder age. In its thirst after wealth, in its restless strivings after fame and glory, in its grasping selfishness, in its love of splendour and show, we question whether the world, as it presents itself to the Christian of the nineteenth century wears any materially different aspect from that of the world of the apostle's days. But, when we speak of worldliness, either as it is developed in business or pleasure, let it not be for a moment supposed that worldliness exists only in these developments: these are only indices or marks of an inward and rooted principle, innate in every man born into this world, and dominant in every man, without exception, who has not been "born again of water and of the Spirit."

(W. H. Etchers, M.A.)

But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind
This word is used to denote the Lord's transfiguration, when His body was seen invested with the glory in which He is to appear at His second coming. You will then see Him thus transfigured, and the result will be your own transfiguration (Philippians 3:21). For He is to "change your vile bodies," etc. But there is a transfiguration in the life that now is (2 Corinthians 3:18) also into the image of the Lord; and therefore it is a transformation into glory, but not into the glory that was seen on the Mount, but what was seen in the manger, in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, and on the Cross. Note: —

I. THE MANNER OF IT. Christ was transformed by becoming man; you are to be transformed by becoming new men in Him. The renewing of your mind is your being brought to have the same mind which Christ had. "I come to do Thy will, O God," is the language of the Son in the very act of taking the new nature; the renewing of your mind is your making that language your own. Note the closeness of the analogy.

1. The agency is the same — the Holy Ghost. It is He alone who can make the Son partaker of your human nature, without making Him to be as fallen man; it is He alone who can make you partakers of the Son's Divine nature, without making you to be as God.

2. These two operations fit into one another: the one effecting that supernatural birth by which the Son becomes a servant, the other that supernatural birth by which the servants become sons. The one transformation is the cause of the other: not only as being that without which the other could not have been, but also as being the means of the other. It is through your believing and appropriating His transformation, that you are yourselves transformed. For the transformation in either case is a union. His being transformed is His being united by a new creation with you; your being transformed is your being united by a new creation to Him.

3. To the Son Himself His being born of the Spirit brought a new mind. It was a new thing for Him to have the mind of a servant, and to say, "I come to do Thy will, O God." And it is a new mind in you when, as sons, you say the same. Naturally, self-will is the ruling principle of your mind. Insubordination to God is that "fashion of the world" to which you are not to be conformed.

4. The transformation effected in the case of Christ, when He humbled Himself to do the will of God, was voluntary on His part; otherwise His humiliation and obedience unto death could have had no efficacy. Equally voluntary must be the change on your part: "Be ye." You must say, with renewed minds, entering into His mind, "I come to do Thy will, O my God." It is true, that in order to your thus acting, you must be acted upon by the Holy Spirit. But you are not acted upon as inert matter may be acted upon.

5. Note two practical applications.(1) If the transformation in you is thus like the transformation in Him — see to it that it be very complete. It was so in the case of Christ; it must be in yours. He emptied Himself. Do you also empty yourselves. He laid aside His natural position of equality with God. Do you also lay aside your usurped position of seeking to be equal with God.(2) That you may be thus transformed into the image of your Lord — appropriate as available for you your Lord's transformation into your image. Behold Him transformed for you; and be you, after a corresponding manner, transformed in Him. He becomes a servant, continuing still to be the Son; you become sons in Him, feeling yourselves now, for the first time really, to be servants. He, being the Son, comes to do the will of God as a servant; you, being servants, come to do the will of God as sons.

II. THE END OF THIS TRANSFORMATION. "That you may prove," etc. The will of God needs to be proved. It can be known only by trial. Essentially, the will of God is and must be the expression of His nature. But the nature of God far transcends the comprehension of finite minds; and therefore His will may well be expected to be incomprehensible too. But in that formal aspect of it as the assertion of the authority of God, let His will be put to the test of actual trial, and then will its real character as the expression of His nature come out; for while neither God Himself nor His will can be grasped in the speculative understanding, both He and it can be grasped in the obedient and loving heart. But apart from any inquiry into the reason of it, the fact is pregnant with important consequences. For one thing, it partly explains the economy of probation, and tends to show how trial must be both summary and decisive summary, that it may be ascertained once for all whether the authority of God is to be acknowledged or disowned; and decisive, for if His will is acknowledged, the way is opened for proving it as the expression of His nature to be "good and acceptable," etc.; whereas, if disowned, all opportunity of knowing its real character is hopelessly lost.

1. The probation of man turns upon the willingness of man to put the will of God to the proof. The will of God, as it was announced in paradise, was not such as to command either approbation or consent on the part of our first parents. The command not to eat of the fruit did not obviously commend itself as "good," etc. Doubtless, if they had kept it, they would have found by experience —(1) That it was in itself "good" as the seal of God's covenant of life, and as the preparation for the unfolding of His higher providence.(2) Acceptable. Suited to their case and circumstances, deserving of their acceptance, sure to become more and more well-pleasing as they entered more and more into its spirit.(3) Perfect. That thus only could God's perfection be vindicated — the perfection of His sovereign right to rule; that thus only could the perfection of the creature be wrought out in an onward and upward path of loyalty and love. All this our first parents would have learned concerning the will of God, if only they had consented to prove it; but this they would not do; they passed judgment upon it unproved; they refused to give it a fair trial; they chose rather to make the opposite experiment, and they have left this experiment as their sad legacy to their descendants, so many of whom are now occupied in proving, trying, how they may be best conformed to the world so as to make the most of it; proving, in short, what is the will of this world and this world's prince.

2. The probation of Christ proceeds upon the very same principle. He is tried as the first Adam was tried, and upon she same issue, namely, His willingness to prove the will of God; and in His case also the will of God may be so presented to His human soul as to appear neither reasonable nor desirable. In such a light, accordingly, Satan tries to put it before Him. The pain, shame, weariness, and blood awaiting Him, the tempter ingeniously contrasts with the shorter road to glory which he would have Him to take. The Second Adam will not, like the first, accept Satan's representation; He will prove it for Himself; and so He "learns obedience by the things which He suffers." But He proved it, and in the proving of it He found it to be "good and acceptable and perfect." He tasted the delight of obedience, as He learned it.

3. It is into this image of Jesus, thus "proving that will of God," that you are now to be "transformed," etc. You are to prove God's will —(1) In what must be the first act of your obedience — namely, your believing on Him whom He has sent. What this will of God is as an expression of His nature you cannot know until you prove it. You must "taste and see" how good the Lord is, etc. You would fain have all made quite clear to you before you surrender yourselves to the gospel call. Nay, you stand aloof, and start objections and difficulties. You do not see how this aspect of the gospel call can be incompatible with that. Nay, try this dipping in the Jordan. It may seem to you an unlikely mode of cure; but at any rate try it. In the embrace of Christ, not while you are standing out in the attitude of rebellion, all difficulties vanish.(2) Then ever after, following on the path of your new obedience, you are to be proving "what is that good," etc. At every step it will be a trial to you. It may be very hard sometimes to believe that the will of God concerning you is "good, and acceptable," etc. But give it a full and fair trial; and you will soon find that in the very "keeping of God's commandments there is great reward." Conclusion: Mark —

1. How opposite are the two habits, namely, being "conformed to this world," and being "transformed," etc. There are here two types, of one or other of which you must take the fashion. To be conformed to the world is to take things as they are and make the best of them. The opposite habit is to try things as they should be.

2. How complete the transformation must be if, instead of being conformed to this world, you are to "prove," etc. You must make full proof of God's will. But that you cannot do if you yield a forced submission. A son yielding obedience to his father's will reluctantly, never can be acquainted with its true character and blessedness; but let him throw himself heart and soul into the doing of it, then will he prove it of what sort it is. To have the mind to do so implies a great change, a new creation, a new heart.

3. Now, so long as the fashion of this world lasts, so long as that second transformation which awaits you is postponed, this proving of the will of God must throughout be more or less an effort. But take courage, O child of God! "The fashion of this world passeth away." You "look for new heavens and a new earth." The fashion of that new world and the will of God will not be opposed to one another. The proving of the will of God, then, with your whole nature changed into the image of the heavenly, what a joyous exercise of liberty and love will it be!

4. In the meantime, a signal encouragement as motive. The more you prove the fashion of this world, the less you feel it to be "good," etc. It looks fair at the first, but who that has ever lived long but re-echoes the wise man's complaint — "All is vanity"? The will of God looks worse at the beginning; but on, on, child of God, and you will find a growing light, encouragement, and joy. "The path of the just is as the shining light, etc.; and in the trial of them you find that "wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."

(R. S. Candlish, D.D.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO BE TRANSFORMED? To be new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).

1. In our judgment concerning —

(1)God (Matthew 19:17).

(2)Christ (Philippians 1:21; Philippians 3:8).

(3)The world (Ecclesiastes 1:1, 2).

2. Our thoughts (Psalm 1:2).

3. Consciences (Acts 24:16).

4. Wills (Lamentations 3:24).

5. Affections (Colossians 3:2).

(1)Love and hatred (Matthew 22:37).

(2)Desire and abhorrence.

(3)Joy and grief (Psalm 42:1, 2).

(4)Hope and fear (Psalm 27:1).

(5)Anger and meekness (Matthew 11:29).

6. Words (Matthew 12:36).

7. Actions (1 Peter 1:15, 16). Towards God and men (Acts 24:16).

II. WHY ARE WE TO BE TRANSFORMED. Till transformed —

1. We are altogether sinful (Proverbs 15:8).

2. We can enjoy no happiness here nor be capable of happiness hereafter (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

III. EXAMINE WHETHER YOU BE TRANSFORMED OR NO. Look to your heads (2 Corinthians 13:5); your hearts (Proverbs 4:23); your lives (Matthew 12:33). Note the reasons for this examination.

1. Many are mistaken about it, and think they are renewed, because turned —

(1)From one sin to another.

(2)From one sect to another.

(3)From debauchery to mere morality.

2. This is the most dangerous of all mistakes.

3. If you never examine yourselves, you have the more cause to fear your condition.

IV. SIGNS OF OUR BEING TRANSFORMED. All our actions proceed —

1. From new principles.

(1)Obedience to God (1 Samuel 15:22).

(2)A desire to please Him (1 Thessalonians 4:1; Hebrews 11:5).

2. After a new manner.

(1)Not hypocritically but sincerely (2 Corinthians 1:12).

(2)Not proudly, but humbly (Luke 17:10).

(3)Not interruptedly, but constantly (Luke 1:75).

3. To a new end (1 Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 5:16).

V. MEANS.

1. Read the word written (James 1:21).

2. Hear it preached.

3. Meditate upon it.

4. Pray (Psalm 51:10).

5. Receive the sacrament.Conclusion:

1. By renovation you become again as you were created (Genesis 1:26).

2. God Himself will change to you.

(1)His anger to love (Isaiah 66:2).

(2)All His actions to your good (Romans 8:28).

3. If now transformed from the world to God, hereafter you shall be transformed from misery to happiness.

(Bp. Beveridge.)

In the preceding verse the apostle gathers the whole sum of Christian duty into one word. And so in this. As all is to be sacrifice, so all is to be transformation. Mark: —

I. WHERE PAUL BEGINS — WITH AN INWARD RENEWAL

1. He goes deep down, because he had learned in His school who said: "Make the tree good and the fruit good." To tinker at the outside with a host of red-tape restrictions, and prescriptions, is all waste time and effort. You may wrap a man up in the swaddling bands of specific precepts until you can scarcely see him, and he cannot move, and you have not done a bit of good. The inner man must be dealt with first, and then the outward will come right in due time. Many of the plans for the social and moral renovation of the world are as superficial as a doctor's treatment would be, who would direct all his attention to curing pimples when the patient is dying of consumption.

2. There has to be a radical change in the middle. "Mind" seems to be equivalent to the thinking faculty, but, possibly, includes the whole inner man. The inner man has got a wrong twist somehow; it needs to be moulded over again. It is held in slavery to the material; it is a mass of affections fixed upon the transient; a predominant self-regard characterises it and its actions.

3. This new creation of the inner man is only possible as the result of the communication of a life from without; the life of Jesus, put into your heart, on condition of your opening the door of your heart by faith, and saying, "Come in, Thou blessed of the Lord." And He comes in, bearing in His hands a germ of life which will mould and shape our "mind" after His own blessed pattern.

4. That new life, when given, needs to be fostered and cherished. It is only a little spark that has to kindle a great heap of green wood, and to turn it into its own ruddy likeness. We have to keep our two hands round it, for fear it should be blown out by the rough gusts of passion and of circumstance. It is only a little seed that is sown in our hearts; we have to cherish and cultivate it, to water it by our prayers, and to watch over it, lest either the fowls of the air with light wings should carry it away, or the heavy wains of the world's business and pleasures should crush it to death, or the thorns of earthly desires should spring up and choke it.

II. WHAT HE EXPECTS FROM THE INWARD CHANGE — a life "transfigured," the same word as is employed in the account of our Lord's transfiguration. In that event our Lord's indwelling divinity came up to the surface and became visible.

1. "A transfigured life" suggests —(1) That the inward life will shape the outward conduct and character. Just as truly as the physical life moulds the infant's limbs, and as every periwinkle shell on the beach is shaped into the convolutions that will fit the inhabitant, by the power of the life that lies within, so the renewed mind will make a fit dwelling for itself. Did you never see goodness making men and women beautiful? Have not there been other faces besides Moses' that shone as men came down from the Mount of Communion with God? Certain weeds that lie at the bottom of the sea, when their flowering time comes, elongate their stalks and reach the light and float upon the top, and then, when they have flowered, they sink again into the depths. Our Christian life should come up to the surface and open out its flowers there. Does your Christianity do that? It is no use talking about the inward change unless there is the outward transfiguration.(2) That the essential character of our transfiguration is the moulding of us into the likeness of Christ. Christ's life is in you if you are in Him. And just as every leaf that you take off some plants and stick into a flower-pot will in time become a little plant exactly like the parent from which it was taken, so the Christ-life that is in you will be growing into a copy of its source and origin. The least speck of musk, invisibly taken from n cake of it, and carried away ever so far, will diffuse the same fragrance as the mass from which it came; and the little slice of Christ's life that is in you and me, will smell as sweet if not as strong as the great life from which it came.

2. But as with the inward renewal so with the outward transfiguration, the life within will not work up to the surface except upon condition of our own honest endeavour. The fact that God's Spirit is given to us is not a reason for our indolence, but for our work, because it gives us the power by which we can do the thing we desire. What would you think of a man that said, "It is the steam that drives the spindles, so I need not put the belting on"?

III. THE ULTIMATE CONSEQUENCE WHICH THE APOSTLE REGARDS AS CERTAIN, FROM THIS INWARD CHANGE; unlikeness to the world around. "Be not conformed," etc.

1. The more we get like Jesus Christ, the more certainly we get unlike the world. For the two theories of life are clean contrary — the one is all limited by time, the other lays hold on the eternal. The one is all for self, the other is all for God. So that likeness and adherence to the one must needs be dead in the teeth of the other.

2. And that contrariety is as real to-day as ever it was. Paul's "world" was a grim, heathen, persecuting world; our "world" has got christened, and goes to church and chapel, like a respectable gentleman. But for all that it is the world still, and we have to shake our hands free of it.

3. How is the commandment to be obeyed?(1) Well, of course there are large tracts of life where the saint and the sinner have to do the same things, feel the same anxieties, weep the same tears, and smile the same smiles. And yet "there shall be two women grinding at a mill," the one shall be a Christian, the other not. They push the handle round, and the push that carries the handle round half the circumference of the millstone may be a bit of religious worship, and the push that carries it round the other half may be a bit of serving the world and the flesh and the devil. Two men shall be sitting at the same desk, two boys at the same bench at school, two servants in the same kitchen, and the one shall be serving God and glorifying His name, and the other shall be serving self and Satan. Not the things done, but the motive, makes the difference.(2) And there are a great many things in which not to be "conformed to the world" means to have nothing to do with certain acts and people. Have nothing to do with things which in themselves are unmistakably wrong; nor with things which have got evil inextricably mixed up with them, like the English stage; nor with things which, as experience shows you, are bad for you. This generation of the Church seems to be trying how near it can go to the world. It is a dangerous game, like children trying how far they can stretch out of the nursery window without tumbling into the street; you will go over some day when you miscalculate a little bit.(3) Rather "be ye transfigured," and then you will find that when the inner mind is changed, many of the things that attracted tempt no more, and many of the people that wanted to have you do not care to have you, for you are a wet blanket to their enjoyments. The great means of becoming unlike the world is becoming like Him, and the great means of becoming like Him is living near Him and drinking in His life and Spirit.

4. And then, "as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." But we must begin by opening our hearts to the leaven which shall work onward and outwards till it has changed all, The sun when it shines upon a mirror makes the mirror shine like a little sun. "We all with open face, reflecting as a mirror does the glory of the Lord, shall be changed into the same image."

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

One master word, for the whole Christian life is sacrifice, self-surrender, and that to God. Paul here brackets, with that great conception of the Christian life, another equally dominant and comprehensive. In one aspect, it is self-surrender; in another, it is growing transformation. The inner man, having been consecrated as a prince, by yielding of himself to God, is called upon to manifest inward consecration by outward sacrifice; an inward "renewing of the mind" is regarded as the necessary antecedent of transformation of outward life.

I. Note, then, THAT THE FOUNDATION OF ALL TRANSFORMATION OF CHARACTER AND CONDUCT IS LAID DEEP IN A RENEWED MIND. Now it is a matter of world-wide experience, verified by each of us in our own cases, if we have ever been honest in the attempt, that the power of self-improvement is limited by very narrow bounds. Any man that has ever tried to cure himself of the most trivial habit which he desires to get rid of, or to alter in the slightest degree the set of some strong taste or current of his being, knows how little he can do, even by the most determined toil. The problem that is set before a man when you tell him to effect self-improvement is something like that which confronted that poor paralytic lying in the porch at the pool; "If you can walk you wilt be able to get to the pool that will make you able to walk. But you have got to be cured before you can do what you need to do in order to be cured." Only one Christ presents itself, not as a mere republication of morality, not as merely a new stimulus and motive to do what is right, but as an actual communication to men of a new power to work in them. It is a new gift of a life which will unfold itself after its own nature, as the bud into flower, and the flower into fruit; giving new desires, tastes, directions, and renewing the whole nature. And so, says Paul, the beginning of transformations of character is the renovation in the very centre of the being. Now, I suppose that in my text the word "mind" is not so much employed in the widest sense, including all the affections and will, and the other faculties of our nature, as in the narrower sense of the perceptive power, or that faculty in our nature by which we recognise, and make our own, certain truths. "The renewing of the mind," then, is only, in such an interpretation, a theological way of putting the simpler English thought, a change of estimates, a new set of views; or, if that word be too shallow, as indeed it is, a new set of convictions. It is profoundly true that "as a man thinketh, so is he." Our characters are largely made by our estimates of what is good or bad, desirable or undesirable. Why, we all know how often a whole life has been revolutionised by the sudden dawning or rising in its sky of some starry new truth, formerly hidden and undreamed of. If you want to change your characters — and God knows they all need it — change the deep convictions of your mind; and get hold, as living realities, of the great truths of Christ's gospel. If you and I really believed what we say we believe, that Jesus Christ has died for us, and lives for us, and is ready to pour out upon us the gift of His Divine Spirit, and wills that we should be like Him, and holds out to us the great and wonderful hopes and prospects of an absolutely eternal life of supreme and serene blessedness at His right hand should we be, could we be, the sort of people that most of us are? Truth professed has no transforming power; truth received and fed upon can revolutionise a man's whole character. Make of your every thought an action; link every action with a thought. Or, to put it more Christian-like, let there be nothing in your creed which is not in your commandments; and let nothing be in your life which is not moulded by these. The beginning of all transformation is the revolutionised conviction of a mind that has accepted the truths of the gospel.

II. Well then, secondly, note THE TRANSFIGURED LIFE. The life is to be transfigured. Yet it remains the same, not only in the consciousness of personal identity, but in the main trend and drift of the character. There is nothing in the gospel of Jesus Christ which is meant to obliterate the lines of the strongly marked individuality which each of us receives by nature. Rather the gospel is meant to heighten and deepen these, and to make each man more intensely himself, more thoroughly individual, and unlike anybody else. But whilst the individuality remains, and ought to be heightened by Christian consecration, yet a change should pass over our lives, like the change that passes over the winter landscape when the summer sun draws out the green leaves from the hard black boughs, and flashes a fresh colour over all the brown pastures. Christ in us, if we are true to Him, will make us mere ourselves, and yet new creatures in Christ Jesus. And the transformation is to be into His likeness who is the pattern of all perfection. We must be moulded after the same type. There are two types possible for us: this world; Jesus Christ. We have to make our choice, That transformation is no sudden thing, though the revolution which underlies it may be instantaneous. The working out of the new motives, the working in of the new power, is no mere work of a moment. It is a lifelong task till the lump be leavened. And remember, this transformation is no magic change effected whilst men sleep. It is a commandment which we have to brace ourselves to perform. But this positive commandment is only one side of the transfiguration that is to be effected. It is clear enough that if a new likeness is being stamped upon a man, the process may be looked at from the other side; and that in proportion as we become liker Jesus Christ, we shall become more unlike the old type to which we were previously conformed. "This world" here, in my text, is more properly "this age," which means substantially the same thing as John's favourite word "world," viz., the sum total of godless men, and things conceived of as separated from God. Only by this expression the essentially fleeting nature of that type is more distinctly set forth. And although it can only be a word, I want to put in here a very earnest word which the tendencies of this generation do very specially require. It seems to be thought, by a great many people, who call themselves Christians nowadays, that the nearer they can come in life, in ways of looking at things, in estimates of literature, for instance, in customs of society, in politics, in trade, and especially in amusements — the nearer they can come to the unchristian world, the more "broad" and "superior to prejudice" they are. And it seems to be by a great many professing Christians thought to be a great feat to walk as the mules on the Alps do, with one foot over the path and the precipice down below. Keep away from the edge. You are safer there. There is a broad gulf between the man who believes in Jesus Christ and His gospel and the man who does not. And the resulting conducts cannot be the same unless the Christian man is insincere.

III. And now, lastly, note THE GREAT REWARD AND CROWN OF THIS TRANSFIGURED LIFE. The issue of such a life is, to put it into plain English, an increased power of perceiving, instinctively and surely, what it is God's will that we should do. To know beyond doubt what I ought to do, and knowing, to have no hesitation or reluctance in doing it, seems to me to be heaven upon earth. And the man that has it needs but little more. This, then, is the reward. Each peak we climb opens wider and clearer prospects into the untravelled land before us.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

Links
Romans 12:2 NIV
Romans 12:2 NLT
Romans 12:2 ESV
Romans 12:2 NASB
Romans 12:2 KJV

Romans 12:2 Bible Apps
Romans 12:2 Parallel
Romans 12:2 Biblia Paralela
Romans 12:2 Chinese Bible
Romans 12:2 French Bible
Romans 12:2 German Bible

Romans 12:2 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Romans 12:1
Top of Page
Top of Page