"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing, and perfect will." [Romans 12:2]
This word "renewing" in the Greek is found only two times in the New Testament and literally means "a renewal or change of heart and life." This passage of scripture is the first time its used. The second time its used in Titus 3:5 where Paul writes, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit." Every time I read this passage in Romans, that word "renew" never ceases to stump me. I just can't read and overlook the implications of that word. This could not be more practical for our lives today. It is a direct call to each and every one of us living in the 21st century to not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. This passage is calling us out from any and every "pattern" associated with this world. The Greek word for "conform" is suschematizo which means "assuming a similar outward form by following the same pattern." We need to look at our lives, our habits, our thoughts, our devotions, and analyze how closely do we resemble the world. The Bible is rife with declarations from God calling us to come out and be separate from the world--to live totally different from the world around us. When people see us, they should see something strikingly different from the pattern of this world.
That is step one. Do not conform any longer! Step two: Allow God to renew your mind. How? Through the reading of His word: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might now sin against you." [Psalm 119:11] As we bathe ourselves in His Word, our lives become transformed from the inside out. We gradually start to die to self and live for Christ. Once step one and two have been completed, Romans 12:2 says THEN we will be able to test and approve what God's will is. When we have fully surrendered the pleasures of this world and taken up the joy of an intimate relationship with Jesus, our minds are renewed. And when our minds are renewed, we will be able to test and approve God's will--his good, pleasing, and perfect will. Our minds become synced with God's. God infiltrates our thoughts, and His ways become our ways. How amazing is that?
On our own accord, we are incapable of living sinless, perfect lives. We are sinners by nature and have a tendency to rebel against our Lord. However, we do have within our reach the power to quit conforming to the pattern of this world. We can choose to be different from our friends and classmates. We can choose to dress modestly instead of revealing. We can choose to give up worldly entertainment that blasphemes God and fill our minds with all that is good and pure. We can choose to save sex for marriage as God intended it to be. We can choose to stop letting foul language come out of our mouths, but rather uplifting words that heal rather than tear down. All these things and more are within our capability to choose. Once the decision has been made, then the Holy Spirit can begin to give us a change of heart and life and we can truly experience that divine oneness with our Creator.