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, NIV)
Paul assumes that for the one who has been a recipient of God’s mercy of justification by faith, there is a motivation for refusing to conform to the pattern of this world and to instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds. That motivation is that by so doing we will be able to test and approve God’s will. In other words, we will know what God’s will is and then, presumably, we will be able to bring our lives into conformity with it.
Why does this motivate a Christian? Why does this motivate me? Do I want to know God’s will? Yes, I do. But why? I can think of several reasons:
- I love God and am eternally grateful to Him for giving me life when I deserved death. He forgave my rebellion against His will and my wrong commitment to doing my own will.
- I have become convinced that doing my own will is devastating to my well-being. When I consider the consequences of doing my choice above God’s choice for my life in specific areas, I get scared to death of where my choice would take me. The people it would hurt, the trusts it would compromise, the discouragements it would engender, and the shame it would evoke in me all combine to make it clear that God knows what He is doing.
- He is God! Why wouldn’t His will be superior to mine? He knows all things, all possible consequences for all possible actions, and He is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. He is the most loving Being in the universe and the most just. I would be a fool to consider my thoughts superior to His.
But the sad truth about all this is that there is still in me a strain of doubt about the consistent value of God’s will. When I am in enough pain I begin to wonder if God really knows what He is doing. When I look at world events and see the suffering taking place at astounding levels, I question in my heart whether this is really the best will or plan for the world.
Am I merely supposed to submit my reason and my will to God’s and accept what He says is the right thing to do? Given what I have learned about Him and the way He does things, as mentioned above, the answer must be “Yes.” Why would I begin to think that my will is more good and pleasing and perfect? It would be the height of arrogance to think that I know better than He how to run His world.
In fact, the pattern of the world (“this age” according to the Greek) is just that arrogant pattern. Humans, as a race, are incorrigibly committed to determining their own will and destiny. It was the first sin in the garden of Eden. It sprang from the doubt of whether God was really good, just and wise or not.
Lord, preserve me from my own arrogance, but move in me to be transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I don’t mistake my own thoughts for your will but am able to test and approve what Your will is. Enable me to know Your Word well enough and Your world intimately enough to not make mistakes in this most crucial of determinations. Thy will be done.