"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do 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."
Webster defines Conform as "To be similar or identical. To be in agreement or harmony. To be obedient or compliant. To be pressed into a mold. The SAME.
Webster defines Transform as "To change in composition or structure. To change the outward form or appearance of. To change in character or condition. To CHANGE.
The word Transform comes from the Greek work Metamorphoo, which is where we get the word metamorphosis.
Meta--Means change after being with.
The change can’t start without first presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice to God.
We offer ourselves on the altar of worship & prayer.
Morphoo--Means changing form in keeping with an inner reality.
This can also be defined as Christ’ sanctification work being done in our lives.
This takes place through the renewing of your mind.
I find it important to note that verse 1 of Romans 12 states that we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice. That is not something that is understood or thought of much today. A sacrifice by nature is something that is laid down and killed in order to cover over past transgressions, or to appease someone. In the old testament, we see where God's people are instructed to lay a sacrifice on the mercy seat altar of the Lord. The blood that would run down off of the mercy seat, was intended to cover over and wash away the sins of that person or people. What we see in this passage, is the Apostle Paul writing this letter addressing that no longer are we under the old covenant of animal sacrifice, but that God sent his son Jesus to be a propitiation (substitute) for the lamb on the altar. This is why he is called the "Lamb of God!" He was the sacrifice laid on the mercy seat, and his blood poured down and washed away our sins.
The second part of verse 1 states that we are to be holy and acceptable to God. What does this mean? Holy means to be set apart. It does not mean that we are instantly perfect, as Christ perfects his sanctifying work in us through our entire life. It does mean though that we are set apart. We are in the world, but not of it. Simply put, we are to set ourselves apart. When you think of the animal sacrifice in the Old Testament, we picture a dead carcass on an altar. Now granted it was not stinking flesh like road kill that has been sitting on the side of the road for days on end. However, if we are not set apart by being Holy, that is exactly the stench that rises up to God's nostrils. Are you presenting road kill to God?
As a Living Sacrifice, we are a fragrant smell in God's nostrils. Why? Because when Christ died on the cross, he was the substitute lamb. That in and of itself does not make a fragrant smell, but rather that Christ rose from the dead. That is where we get the Living Sacrifice part of the scripture, as He places His living Holy Spirit inside of us, and when we are Holy/set-apart for him, we are not a stench in His nostrils, but yet our worship and sacrifice is desirable to Him.
I have heard people say not to Conform. That is accurate and it is not. We are not to Conform to this world. We are however, to Conform to Christ. This happens through His Transformation process in us. We then become new creations in Christ, where the old is passed away, and we become new (II Corinthians 5:17).
So how does Christ transform us? First, we have to lay down our lives and surrender to Him. This comes through the regenerating power of salvation, and saving us from a life of sin and death. Second, we daily surrender our lives and crucify the flesh and the wants and the desires of instant gratification, by allowing His Holy Spirit to make us into His image. We ourselves do not "become" Christ-like per se, but rather sanctification is Him placed in us. So less of me, and more of Him shining forth.
How do we put a guard over what we "let/put" into our lives? Here are a couple of scripture passages that caution us against allowing the world to creep into our lives. I say this not as somebody that has it all figured out, but as one that needs a constant reminder to safeguard my heart.
I Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)
"Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals."
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
I John 2:15-17 (ESV)
"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 of life—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."
The below video is a great demonstration of how God uses a simple basic caterpillar, and transforms him through the chrysalis stage into a beautiful Monarch Butterfly. In many ways this is the process of Sanctification that Christ does in our lives. He transforms us when we do not conform to the ways of this world, but rather conform to him, and we allow Him to set us apart through Holiness, to be an element of transformation in Him.