Message on Romans 12:1-2: Do not be conformed, but be Transformed

Revival Message at New Zion:



Let me thank you for this opportunity to preach tonight.

Revival means renewal and improvement on the condition of something.

Thanks for this opportunity. I love preaching with other churches.

This is a revival and revival starts in my heart

Revival will not happen without God’s Word reshaping and reforming and remixing us. If you are not in the Word, nothing is going to happen:

Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.

Luke 9:23:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Sermon Intro

Black is the opposite of white, wet is the opposite of dry, left is the opposite of right, winter is the opposite of summer. There are many opposites in our life. The world is the opposite of God. The world opposes God. James 4:4 says that friendship with the world is enmity (hostility, ill will) with God. In John 17 Jesus prayed about the world hating the disciples and Him. In Gal 1:4 Paul talked about this “present evil age” or “world.” There is dichotomy between Christians and the world. There is a difference between the things of God and the things of this world.

When I was thinking about what to speak about Romans 12:1-2 came to mind. I was required to memorize this passage when I was in High School. This passage is one of my prayer passages, meaning I pray that I, as well as my children will live this passage out in their lives. But it’s difficult. You see as Christians there is the increasing temptation to be like the world. In America, for the longest time, the world had Judea-Christian values, but we are losing those values real fast. The world is getting worse, and so far the church is not responding very well. Instead the church is becoming like the world.

But in Romans 12:1-2 Paul instructs Christians to not be conformed to this world, but instead be transformed. Let’s talk more about why we are to do this and how we are to do this.

Let’s read this passage:

Read Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.

This text says to:

  1.                     In verse 1 Paul is telling the Roman Christians and us to make our bodies “living sacrifices.”
  2.        Paul gives a reason for this. He says, “by the mercies of God.”

                                                              i.      In chapters 1-11 of Romans Paul had been talking about God’s mercy.

  1.       Paul had been talking about how Jews and Gentiles can be Christians.
  2.       Paul talked about the law.
  3.       He talked about how the law shows that we are sinners.
  4.       He talked about how under the law no one is righteous.
  5.       Paul talked about how death came by the law, but life came in Jesus Christ.
  6.       Now, in Romans 12:1 Paul makes a major transition. IN the first 11 chapters Paul talked about the theology of sin, the law and salvation. Now Paul transitions to talk more about the practical aspects.
  7.        Chapter 12 starts with a “therefore.” This is an inferential conjunction. That means “therefore” is making a summary or application. Paul is making an inference.

                                                              i.      Therefore, we have all this mercy, so let’s…

  1.       But notice how Paul does this. He says, “I urge you…” He says “I urge you, brothers” or “brothers and sisters.” Paul is strongly asking them to do this. This is almost a command. He uses family language to show his relationship with them. He doesn’t say, “I urge you, son.” He says brothers.

                                                              i.      This is important to Paul, but Paul still doesn’t talk down to them, even though he could have.

                                                            ii.      So we are to make our bodies living sacrifices because of God’s mercy.

  1.        but how do you become a living sacrifice?

                                                              i.      Living and sacrifice are contradictory terms. We always think of a sacrifice as being dead. The problem with a living sacrifice is it can crawl off the alter. I was in a Sunday school class that was led by an older man. This man was hunting with his grandfather during the depression. It was bitterly cold as they walked down the railroad tracks looking for food. His grandfather walked right passed a dead possum. But my Sunday school teacher, he saw it. He called out to his grandfather and they took it home. His grandfather gave it to his wife who put it by the stove to get it ready for the preparation process. Well as that possum got warm it got life back in it and started running around the house. They thought it was dead. It was on the alter to be food, yet it got off of their alter.

                                                            ii.      We as Christians must do this intentionally. Intentionally we must be sacrifices for God.

  1.        Our bodies as living sacrifices are to be “holy and acceptable to God.” Acceptable could be better translated, “Pleasing.” God is pleased by our sacrifice. But as we are a sacrifice we must be holy. We must be holy to come to the throne of God. God is holy. Lev 11:44: “be holy because I am holy.” Ex 3:5: “Take off your sandals for you are on holy ground.”
  2.       Being a sacrifice to God is worship. Worship is not just singing to God. It is worship to make our whole life a sacrifice to God.
  3.       This living sacrifice is a process. Since we are alive, this is not a one-time thing, but continual.

                                                              i.      What does it mean to be pleasing to God? The idea is of God having an attitude towards us as pleasing. The Old Testament sacrifices were said to have an aroma that was pleasing to God.

  1.                  In verse 2 Paul calls us to avoid worldly contamination and have spiritual transformation. Let me repeat this for emphasis, Paul calls us to avoid worldly contamination and have spiritual transformation:
  2.        We can present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, by not being conformed to this age, but by being transformed.
  3.       These words: “Conformed” and “transformed” are both commands.

                                                              i.      Transformed is the word for metamorphosis. This is the same word used to describe a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. We must have a gradual change to be more and more like Christ.

                                                            ii.      Any of you like superheroes?

                                                          iii.      I think of Clark Kent changing into Superman

                                                          iv.      How are you doing with this?

  1.       I think, as I look at the church overall, we are doing a very poor job. We ARE being conformed to the world. We ARE NOT being transformed by God.
  2.       I am going to give a few examples and some of these might sting a little.
  3.        When Christians are missing church worship because of sports that is being conformed to the world.

                                                                                                                                      i.      This is one that I expect to especially sting a little, but it must be said.

                                                                                                                                    ii.      If we can’t learn to prioritize our worship of Christ over sports, then how in the world can we prioritize our worship of Christ over other things.

  1.       Someday, maybe soon, Christians are going to face physical persecution in America. If we can’t prioritize now, then how can we then.
  2.       Kids everywhere are missing youth group and children’s ministries because of their commitment to sports. Adults and families are missing mid week Bible studies because of commitment to sports.
  3.        Dads you all have a responsibility under God to disciple your children. Part of that responsibility is bringing them to church.

                                                                                                                                      i.      Sadly, this is not a new problem. Way back in the 4th and early 5th century a man named John Chrysostom preached about the same problem. Christians were missing church for horse races and theatre.  

  1.       Let’s apply more. What are you and your children listening to on the radio? What are you viewing on television?

                                                                                                                                      i.      Christians are called to be separate from the world, but we are entertained by filth.

                                                                                                                                    ii.      This is something I especially have to fight as well.

                                                                                                                                  iii.      Remember: revival starts in my heart…

Let’s keep the passage in front of us:


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.



So, how do we do this? How do we allow ourselves to be transformed by God?

  1.        This happens by renewing our mind

                                                              i.      Paul doesn’t tell us what to renew our mind in, but I can take some guesses

                                                            ii.      I think of walking according to the Spirit in Romans 8, which sets one’s mind on things above.

                                                          iii.      I also can’t help but think of Jesus’ command “to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me”

                                                          iv.      Luke 9:23:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

                                                            v.      (Mark 8:34//Matt 16:24//Luke 9:23) = Don’t be conformed, but be transformed to discern God’s will.

  1.       We should renew our mind in God’s word: Phil 4:6-9 read

                                                          vi.      This, “don’t be conformed” passage is quite memorable: I like it. This is a rhetorical nice and memorable verse

  1.       When we are transformed we can test God’s well

                                                              i.      1 Thess 5:1 says to “test everything”

                                                            ii.      We must test things to make sure they fall under God’s will. We can’t do this when we are of the world, but only when we are of God. God’s will is good and acceptable.

                                                          iii.      Look at Eph 4:22-23

                                                          iv.      Look at Romans 6:1-2

  1.       We cannot test these things when we are still in the world.
  2.       I had a student in my youth group ask me, “How can I know what God wants?” you can do that by knowing His Word, and by being transformed to His interests. If you are of the world, you will not. 
  3.        Come out of the world, be Christ like. There is a difference between the world and Christianity.


I had a social psychology professor that said, “Opposites attack. Birds of a feather flock together.” We are Christians. If as Christians we are conformed to the world, then we have a battle inside us. The world and Christ, they don’t get along. Be transformed to Christ. Then, you can really know God.

Back in the 1920-1940 there was a man named Dietrich Bonheoffer. There is a wonderful biography about him right now. He was German and he was a genius. He was a very well educated pastor. He was a pastor with a doctorate. He did work in America, England and other countries. But he resisted Hitler. Many other German churches caved. Many German churches didn’t stand up to the many anti-Semitic statements going on in the country. But Bonheoffer did stand up. He was involved in a network of churches that were anti-Hitler. Bonheoffer was hung in a concentration camp for that. You know that he didn’t have to be hung. He could have gone along with things like the other churches did. He was also in America. He could’ve stayed over here. But he didn’t he went back to Germany specifically to help the churches resist Hitler and he died for that cause. He is one who wouldn’t be conformed to the world.

How about you?

But do you know Jesus? Some of you need to rededicate your life to Christ today and some of you need to dedicate your life to Jesus for the first time now. Think about that during this song and come forward and I want to pray with you.


God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Think about that as we sing Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord.

After song pray.





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