Conformed? Or Transformed?

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2 NKJV

The word conform means things like abide by, follow, accept, obey, go along with, fall into, fit in, age with, be like, and be consistent with. The original Greek word is συσχηματίζω (syschēmatizō) is used only twice in scripture and gives a very similar message in 1 Peter 1:1

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
I Peter 1:13‭-‬16 NKJV

Yes, Romans 12 as a chapter is about “Being a Living Sacrifice”(v1-2), “Serving God with Our Gifts”(v3-8), and “Behaving like a Christian”(v9-21).

In fact,  verse 9 tells us what Godly love looks like –

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. – Romans 12:9 NKJV

The world would ask us to be accepting, tolerant, and conformed to its evil ways – it would say that wickedness is love, because that enemy is a liar and there is no truth in the father of lies.

True, Godly love is to see the good and cling to it and encourage it in people,  and to resist the evil. It is to conform to the ways of Christ. Christ did not leave people in their same broken and sinful lives – His touch and His words changed lives. It either pushed the hard hearted enemies of truth and love into a deeper fury against Him – or it transformed and healed and delivered people’s life to something radically different than before and they grew more and more in His way.

Christ does not say,  come accept my religion,  say a prayer, get baptized in water,  and then go back to fitting in with the ways of the world. He doesn’t say,  keep doing evil and coming back again and again for forgiveness once a week or on holidays to hear about me.

He says,  come, surrender your whole life to me, turn away from evil,  and be transformed to be like me.

He says, come, be set apart for holy use, by the Lord God Almighty,  who loves you enough to pay an ultimate sacrifice to bring you into His family.

He says, I have a purpose today, for the world to see something quite peculiar and different in your life – because they will see Me, My ways, reflected in your transformed life.

A transformed heart and mind produces a different life – a sober, obedient, holy life. And if this type of life seems distasteful to you, then I encourage you to ask yourself who it is you are really deciding to serve today with your life. If you want to serve the Lord,  if you want to call upon His name, if you want Him to hear your prayers, do not remember that sinner of your past, repent, turn to Him, and walk in righteousness, you saints, you children of God. You are freed, your chains are broken. You need not walk powerless,  but strong and bold.

Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58:8 NKJV

I encourage you, do not doubt in the strength of the Lord to deliver you from the flesh to walk upright in the Spirit. Do not put on that old title of Sinner unless you have become a proud hypocrite. Put bear the title of Saint, Child of God, boasting only in what He has done for you. Stand tall,  not in your own power, but humbled by His mercy and His Godly love that is alive in you.

Guilt or Conviction?

Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
1 John 3:21-22 NLT

I’m learning that guilt is a corruption of conviction and a trap of the enemy. Yes,  I’ve known this intellectually,  but I’m beginning to understand it in my heart. You see, guilt is dwelling on past things that we cannot change, just like anxiety is dwelling on the future that we cannot yet affect. Guilt and shame paralyze us and bring no honor or glory to God. They are perversions of God’s wonderful gift of conviction.

But conviction is one of those amazing gifts and blessings from God. Conviction identifies those dangerous and poisonous things in our lives so that we can:

1) Ask forgiveness for past shortcomings
2) Accept Christ’s atoning blood that washes away our sins
3) Ask for deliverance and guidance as we repent and resist temptation
4) Believe. Know that He will overcome.
5) Trust Him to prove himself faithful and true, even when in His time and not ours
6) Rest in the peace of our faithfulness,  remembering the price He paid, and the value and purpose of our life as part of His Kingdom

Conviction is an opportunity for transformation now,  in our hearts. It moves us forward,  it presses us on toward our goal. Conviction leads to prayer,  to communication and a drawing into the presence of God in that humble position before God that allows us to worship God and receive His grace and mercy fresh and new.

And His grace poured out upon these old bones, as our hearts cry out to Him,  “Great are you,  Lord!” What a blessing is this conviction that leads us to praise our Lord and rely upon Him as our comforter,  as our protector, as our Savior,  and as our Lord.

So I encourage you,  friend,  do not run from conviction – for it is the light that shines down and offers us the blessing of His touch. Do not fear the light revealing your imperfections, because His refining fires will burn away the imperfections,  His blood will wash over the wounds and heal and restore you. Stand with confidence in His presence,  friend. Not because you are worthy or proud, but because He is worthy and His promises are true,  and He will forgive you. He will restore you. He will redeem you and deliver you.

Let Him make you brave, friend. Know that He is for you and not against you,  friend. Even as the waves crash against us, He is our rock and our foundation,  and He will not be overcome.

Receive everything that you need to walk in the path that He has set before you. Walk in His will and see the enemy conquered and defeated and see His hand upon the lives around you as you learn to love and serve, as you grow to be more like your teacher,  as you accept the imprint of Christ who lives in you upon your life choices and actions.

Live,  bride of Christ. Arise to meet your Love in the heavens. Come,  Lord Jesus,  come. Rescue us into your presence. Release us from our waiting,  from our yearning for your face, deliver us together as one into your eyeball courts,  to sing your praises eternal.

We are no longer lost,  we are no longer blind,  we can see the love in your example,  Lord – in your grace you are revealed to us,  and we are humbled at your feet. Amazing grace,  that saved a wretch like me – so sweet a sound, to be found in your arms, even a prodigal like me. Your mercies reach so deep into the darkness to rescue even me,  Lord. Even me.

Even me.

Even you,  friend.