Good Conformity and Bad Conformity

“Be not conformed to the world” is Paul’s command in Romans 12:2. Believers have no business acting like worldly people. Come out from among them and be separate.

This is done by presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice to carry out God’s will. This is all highly reasonable, according to Paul.

Conformity means “to fashion yourself to another’s pattern.” To change into the same thing with someone else.

The world has a specific way of acting, living, and thinking. Don’t act, live, or think like them!

Peter’s version of Romans 12:1-2 is in 1 Peter 1:14-15:

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation

“Fashioning” is the same Greek word translated “conform” in Romans 12:2.

But Christianity is not just a list of things not to do; it’s also a new way of life. Since you are not spending all your resources on sin anymore, what should you be doing with those resources?

The answer is: live like Christ. Give yourself for the benefit of others. Instead of being conformed to the world (bad conformity), be conformed to the image of Christ, fashion yourself after His pattern (good conformity).

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son
–Romans 8:29a

Perhaps a more fascinating way of putting it, or more troubling, depending on how you look at it, is what Paul says in Philippians 3:10:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death

Being conformed to Christ’s death is a devastating teaching to your selfish flesh that wants its way all the time.

This is what Christ talks about when He tells His followers to deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. It’s what Paul means by being a living sacrifice.

Our old man is crucified with its affections and lusts. There is a real death to who we were before. Live like you’re dead. Live as though your life is not the main focus. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Conform yourself to His thinking and His death and His life.

There is much in here. A lifetime of discovery as you find out what areas of your flesh are still kicking, what deeds of the body need to be mortified, and how the new life in Christ needs to emerge.

This is all part of believing the Gospel and being set free from sin. It’s a beautiful thing. Don’t let your flesh convince you otherwise!

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