Why Should We Not Be Conformed to this World? (Romans 12:2)
In the Bible we are urged not to be conformed to the pattern of this world.
Romans 12:2 says: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
What does it mean to not conform to the pattern of this world? If we live in the world, then how can we not be conformed to the world? Why is the world so bad according to God?
What is “The World”?
In Romans 12:2 “the world” or “the pattern of this world” refers to the ungodly value systems, the ideologies, the culture, the philosophies, and the corrupt agendas of this world which actively oppose Biblical teaching and the Kingdom of God.
The world refers to the godlessness and the corrupt belief systems that the people in the world have embraced and normalized as part of their daily lifestyle and culture.
The world has many belief systems that rebel against God and oppose Biblical Christian values. For example worldly perspectives such as LGBTQ ideology, evolution, woke culture, new age mysticism, corrupt economic systems, satanic entertainment and many other worldviews, philosophies and lifestyles which counter the value systems of the Kingdom of God.
Colossians 2:8 says: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Therefore the world thinks differently from God because its beliefs and values are different from God.
We should not be conformed to this world for the following reasons:
1. The standards of this world are immoral and ruled by the works of the flesh
The world teaches you to do what makes you feel good, even if what you feel is unbiblical. The world no longer promotes restraint and self-control. Instead the world indoctrinates people to satisfy the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:19-21 says: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So the world promotes the works of the flesh such as sexual immorality, idolatry, sorcery, drunkenness, orgies and the like as morally acceptable value systems. However God is opposed to the works of the flesh and instead He teaches that people should obey His commandments and walk in the Spirit.
Romans 8:5-8 says: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
2. The moral state of this world is continuously becoming worse
The moral and spiritual state of this world is not getting better. Instead immorality continues to get worse. People continue to think of new ways to sin and rebel against God.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 says: But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Just like in the days of Noah, the world has embraced and normalized godlessness as a part of its lifestyle and culture. Wicked thinking is increasingly becoming the norm where evil is promoted as good, whilst truth and good are perceived as evil (Isaiah 5:20).
3. This world hates Jesus Christ
The world hates Jesus Christ. The world also hates anyone who represents Jesus and who faithfully proclaims the Gospel and teachings of Christ. The world hates God, because God exposes the darkness and wickedness that is in the world.
In John 15:18-19 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
The moment a person becomes a genuine born again Christian, he/she is no longer a citizen of the world. Instead a Christian is a spiritual citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). Therefore the world and the Kingdom of God are at enmity with one another.
James 4:4 says: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
So God discourages us from conforming to the world because the world hates God and seeks to pollute mankind with its false ideologies.
4. The things of this world are temporary
The things of this world are temporary and we leave them behind when we die.
1 Timothy 6:7 says: For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.
The world cannot offer us eternal things of value. Instead the world only offers temporary satisfaction.
2 Corinthians 4:18 says: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The world is materialistic and places emphasis and value on outwards appearances. However materialism is temporary and it does not bring eternal satisfaction or eternal benefit.
The world brainwashes people into pursuing the temporary things that ultimately lead to destruction whilst neglecting godly values which lead to eternal life and peace.
Jesus said that our life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions (Luke 12:15) and that we should store our treasures in heaven and not on earth (Matthew 6:19-21).
5. This world is influenced by Satan, the false god of this world
The devil is at work deceiving and blinding the world so that people do not receive the true Gospel so that they worship God.
2 Corinthians 4:4 says: In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
So ultimately this world is under the influence of the devil who is God’s archenemy. Many of the sinful ideologies, practices and lifestyles of this world are formulated by satan. For example, the Bible speaks of “doctrines of demons” which people will obey.
1 Timothy 4:1 says: Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons
Furthermore secular and occult practices such as divination, new age mysticism, astrology, witchcraft and many others have direct origins from demonic spirits.
Therefore there is are aspect of the world from spiritual, social, economic, culture and entertainment which are under satanic influence and satanic rule. Satan himself also tempted Jesus by offering his own satanic kingdoms if Jesus worshiped him (Matthew 4:8-10).
Do Not Love the World
The Scriptures tell us not to love the world or the things of this world. The world conforms to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. These are the 3 categorical ideals that the world and the devil promotes to all humanity.
1 John 2:15-17 says: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
To emphasize the enmity between God and the world, 1 John 2:15-17 states that if we love the world, then the love of the Father is not in us. Furthermore, the world and all its desires are temporary.
We must Transform & Renew our Minds
Romans 12:2 mentions that we should not be conformed to this world but instead we must “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”
To be transformed by the renewal of your mind means that we must think differently from the world. Our minds can only be renewed when we become born again or become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Having a transformed mind means that we think like Christ. The evidence of a transformed mind is through how we think and how we act based on our belief in Christ and Gods word.
When we become born again, Christ is able to renew our mind as we study and meditate God’s word. The more we allow Gods word to change us, the more our minds are renewed.
Therefore, transformation and renewal of our minds is only possible through a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ where we walk in the Spirit and not according to the works of the flesh.
Colossians 3:1-2 says: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
The ways of the world are temporal and spiritually dangerous to the soul. The world is at enmity with God and it hates godliness.
The world has been damaged by sin ever since the fall of man in the garden of Eden. The world and its ideologies are influenced by the sin nature of humanity and the devil himself.
Therefore Christian believers must not conform to the world but instead be transformed so that we become more like Jesus Christ in our daily living.