If you have been following along the 31-day writing challenge with me, you will already be familiar with R. C. Sproul and his book The Holiness of God. Today I would like to share an extended excerpt from his book as we consider the difference between being non-conformed versus transformed. Let us consider the challenge of the sacrifice that is required for the renewing of one’s mind and to not be “out of it” Christians but to be “in Christ” children of God.
Anyone can be a nonconformist for nonconformity’s sake. Again I want to emphasize that this a cheap piety. What we are ultimately called to is more than nonconformity; we are called to transformation. We notice that the words conform and transform both contain the same root word form. The only difference between the two words is found in the prefixes. The prefix con means “with.” To conform, then, is to be “with the structures or forms.” In our culture a conformist is someone who is “with it.” A nonconformist may be regarded as someone who is “out of it.” If the goal of a Christian is to be “out of it,” then I am afraid we have been all too successful.
The prefix trans means “across” or “beyond.” When we are called to be transformed, it means that we are to rise above the forms and the structures of this world. We are not to follow the world’s lead but to cut across it and rise above it to a higher calling and style. This is a call to transcendent excellence, not a call to sloppy “out-of-it-ness.” Christians who give themselves as living sacrifices and offer their worship in this way are people with a high standard of discipline. They are not satisfied with superficial forms of righteousness. The “saints” are called to a rigorous pursuit of the kingdom of God. They are called to depth in their spiritual understanding.
The key method Paul underscores as the means to the transformed life is by the “renewal of the mind.” This means nothing more and nothing less than education. Serious education. In-depth education. Disciplined education in the things of God. It calls for a mastery of the Word of God. We need to be people whose lives have changed because our minds have changed.
True transformation comes by gaining a new understanding of God, ourselves, and the world. What we are after ultimately is to be conformed to the image of Christ. We are to be like Jesus, though not in the sense that we can ever gain deity. We are not god-men But our humanity is to mirror and reflect the perfect humanity of Jesus. A tall order!
To be conformed to Jesus, we must first begin to think as Jesus did. We need the “mind of Christ.” We need to value the things He values and despise the things He despises. We need to have the same priorities He has. We need to consider weighty the things that He considers weighty.
That cannot happen without a mastery of His Word. The key to spiritual growth is in-depth Christian education that requires a serious level of sacrifice.
That is the call to excellence we have received. We are not to be like the rest of the world, content to live our lives with a superficial understanding of God. We are to grow dissatisfied with spiritual milk and hunger after spiritual meat” (118-119).
As a dear friend shared with me on the day I was finalizing this post: “Milk is good for the bones but meat and solid food strengthens the BODY! The BODY of Christ!” Mr. Marvin went on to share this verse:
“Who is it he trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned form their milk, to those just taken from the breast?” Isaiah 28:9
Oh, Father forgive us for having such weak digestive systems. Help our stomachs to absorb more of the bread You desire to feed us daily. Help us to search out Your truths and to sacrifice the television, the computer, food, whatever it takes to allow the transformation You desire to perform in our lives.