Do you ever wonder how you can experience God’s best for you? The answer is found in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The author, Paul, is telling us that there are some steps we can take that will lead us to conclude that God’s will is indeed good, acceptable, and perfect.
What are those steps? First of all, Paul tells us that if we are going to experience God’s best, we’ve got to guard against allowing the world to shape our value system. The truth is, many of us don’t experience God’s best because we get seduced into believing the lies and adopting the values promoted by our culture. This is why we often find the Christian life to be difficult. We are living in two very different kingdoms at the same time: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world.
The most tangibly visible kingdom is the kingdom of this world. And according to the Bible, it has a ruler too: his name is Satan. He is the architect of this toxic environment in which we are trying to live out our faith (2 Cor. 4:4). It is important we realize that we have an enemy whose goal is to destroy our lives, our relationships, and our Christian testimony.
But realizing that we have a spiritual adversary isn’t enough; we need to know where and how he operates. The Bible tells us that the realm of Satan’s operation is “the world,” or what is commonly referred to as the “world’s system.” We gain some insight into this secular world system in I John 2:15-16: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” As you can see, there are three passions that make up the world system. Each of these worldly passions is rooted in legitimate needs and longings that God has given us as human beings.
Let’s consider first the “lust of the flesh.” The need for food, the desire for sex, and the importance of recreational pleasure are all legitimate desires. But the world’s system seeks to give you a good thing, in an illegitimate and destructive way. (Remember Satan came to kill, steal, and destroy.)
The second worldly passion is the “lust of the eyes.” There is nothing wrong with owning material possessions. But the “lust of the eyes” is an insatiable passion to possess more, and bigger, and better, usually in an attempt to prove our worth, and impress those around us. It is the “lust of the eyes” that tends to produce workaholics and shopaholics. It is this same worldly lust that accounts for the massive personal debt and financial pressure that many Christians live under today.
The third worldly passion the apostle John speaks of is “the pride of life.” This is the passion to be significant, to be important…in fact, to be more significant and more important than others. It is the “pride of life” that leads athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs, even when they know those drugs can be destructive. The pride of life leads business people to lie and cheat in order to get a leg up on their competition. Politicians are notorious for engaging in bribery and backroom dealings in order to increase their power.
But the truth is, none of us are immune from the tug of the world’s value system. The “lust of the flesh,” “lust of the eyes,” and “pride of life” are constantly promoted in the media. These worldly passions are designed to seduce our hearts away from Christ, and to tempt us to meet legitimate needs and longings in illegitimate and destructive ways.
Let’s take a closer look at Paul’s command in Romans 12:2: “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The verb “transformed” is in the passive voice—indicating that God is the one who brings about this transformation. It is also an imperative or a command. The idea is that we have a responsibility to cooperate with God in this transformation process. And finally, this verb is in the present tense, indicating that it is a continuous, ongoing process. We might paraphrase this portion of Romans 12:2 this way: “But allow God to completely change your inward thinking and outward behavior by cooperating wholeheartedly, moment by moment with the Holy Spirit’s renewing process.”
What most of us don’t realize is that we are being transformed in our thinking all the time— either by the world’s value system or by the truths of God’s Word. Beginning today, let’s make a concentrated effort to ignore the world’s messages, which constantly bombard us, and instead choose to saturate ourselves in God’s word, allowing it to transform us by the renewing of our minds!
Application / Challenge
- How has Satan drawn you away from total devotion to Christ through appeals to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life?
- Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 and draw upon it’s truths as you face temptation this week.