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                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                        Be Transformed (12:1-2)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Ro 12:1-2, Paul makes the following plea regarding transforming
   our lives:

   "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that
   you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to
   God, [which is] your reasonable service. 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."

2. As we consider this text, several questions come to mind...
   a. What does it mean to be transformed?
   b. What is the goal of transformation?
   c. What should motivate us to undergo transformation?
   d. What does one do in order to experience transformation?

[Starting with the first question ("What does it mean to be
transformed?"), let's consider . . . ]

I. THE DEFINITION OF TRANSFORMATION

   A. THE WORD... 
      1. The Greek word is metamorphoo (met-am-or-fo'-o)
         a. Lit., "to change into another form" (Vine's)
         b. From which comes the word "metamorphosis"
         c. Used to describe a change of form (e.g., when a caterpillar
            becomes a butterfly)
      2. In the NT, this word is used to describe:
         a. What happened to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration - Mt
            17:1-2
         b. What is to happen to Christians in their service to God - Ro
            12:1-2

   B. THE CONCEPT...
      1. The idea being commanded by Paul is this:
         a. Christians are "to undergo a complete change, which under
            the power of God, will find expression in character and
            conduct"  (Vine's)
         b. I.e., we who are "caterpillars" are to become "butterflies"
      2. Note that Paul uses the passive voice
         a. Indicating that "transformation" is something we allow to be
            done to us
         b. Not something we do by our own power alone
         c. Rather, we submit to God's power and by His grace...
            1) We are "changed into another form"
            2) We become a "new creation" - cf. 2Co 5:17

[But this leads us to our second question ("What is the goal of
transformation?")...]

II. THE GOAL OF TRANSFORMATION

   A. TO BECOME LIKE CHRIST...
      1. As expressed by Paul - 2Co 3:18
      2. As predestined by God - Ro 8:29
      3. The purpose of being a disciple (to become like his teacher)
         - Lk 6:40
      4. The goal of Christian living - cf. Col 3:9-10

   B. TO LIVE LIKE CHRIST...
      1. To present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to
         God
         a. Is this not what Jesus did on earth? - cf. He 10:5
         b. So we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices - Ro 12:1
      2. To prove that God's will is good, acceptable, and perfect
         a. Was this not Jesus sought to do on earth? - cf. Jn 6:38
         b. So we are to demonstrate that God's will is right - Ro 12:2

[Such is the goal of being transformed; indeed, it is the goal of being
a Christian!  Yet why do many never experience the transformation God
offers?  Why do they remain "caterpillars"?  Perhaps they lack the
proper motivation...]

III. THE MOTIVATION FOR TRANSFORMATION

   A. THE MERCIES OF GOD...
      1. In our text, Paul appealed to transformation based on God's
         mercies - Ro 12:1
      2. What mercies of God had Paul discussed earlier in his epistle?
         a. Freedom from sin - Ro 6:16-18
         b. Gift of eternal life - Ro 6:23
         c. Peace with God - Ro 5:1
         d. Access to the grace of God - Ro 5:2
         e. Saved from the wrath of God - Ro 5:9
      -- Should not God's mercy move us to repent and seek
         transformation? - cf. Ro 2:4-5

   B. THE LOVE OF CHRIST...
      1. Elsewhere, Paul revealed the motivating power of the love of
         Christ - 2Co 5:14-15
      2. Such love compelled him to live for Jesus - cf. Ga 2:20
      -- Does not the love of Christ move us to live FOR Him and LIKE
         Him?

   C. THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE...
      1. The alternative to being transformed is being conformed to this
         world - Ro 12:1
         a. The word conformed (suschematizo, soos-khay-mat-id'-zo) as
            used here implies that which is "transitory, changeable,
            unstable" (Vine's)
         b. I.e., at the most we can only be an imitation, a cheap copy
      2. If not transformed, we will either be conformed to...
         a. The world
            1) Act like the world, be like those in the world
            2) In which we will bring shame to the name of Christ
         b. Other Christians
            1) Outwardly we may act like Christians, appear like them
            2) But it will be just a cheap "copy", which eventually
               reveals its true nature!
         -- Is that what we want? To bring shame to the name of Christ?
            To be "plastic" Christians, or to be the real thing?

[Why not let the mercies of God and the love of Christ motivate us to
seek transformation?  The process is not as difficult as one might
think...]

IV. THE PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION

   A. IN THE BEGINNING...
      1. Remember, transformation is a passive process ("be
         transformed") - Ro 12:2
         a. We cannot change ourselves by our own strength or
            meritorious works
         b. As Paul vividly illustrated his dilemma prior to his
            conversion - Ro 7:14-24
         -- We must submit to God's working on us!
      2. It begins when we are baptized into Christ!
         a. For there we experience the working of God - Col 2:11-13
            1) Spiritually circumcised as our sins are removed
            2) Buried then raised with Christ
            3) Made alive with Christ, forgiven of all trespasses
         b. For there we experience the renewal of the Spirit - Tit 3:5
            1) Saved by the mercy of God
            2) Involving a washing of regeneration and renewal of the
               Holy Spirit
         c. For there we rise to walk in newness of life - Ro 6:3-8
            1) Having been buried with Christ by baptism into His death
            2) Having been crucified with Christ that we might be free
               from sin
            3) Having been raised to live with Christ
         -- When joined with faith and repentance, baptism becomes the
            starting point in which true transformation can take place!
            - cf. Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38

   B. RENEWING THE MIND...
      1. The process of transformation continues as we renew the mind
         a. As indicated in our text - Ro 12:2; cf. also Ep 4:20-24
         b. Unless there is a renewing of the mind, any change in our
            lives will be superficial
      2. Renewing the mind is made possible by where we set our minds
         a. Setting our minds on things above - Col 3:1-2
         b. Setting our minds on the things of the Spirit - Ro 8:5
         c. I.e., feeding our minds with the Word of God, prayer,
            fellowship, etc. - Ac 2:42
      3. With our minds "renewed" we can experience a true
         transformation!
         a. By putting off the old man and putting on the new man - cf.
            Col 3:2,5-10
         b. By living according to the Spirit - cf. Ro 8:5,13
      4. The process of transformation is really quite simple
         a. Set your minds on things above in order to renew your mind;
            for example...
            1) Meditate and contemplate on God and His Word
            2) Keep your mind in communication with God via prayer
            3) Involve your mind in spiritual worship via frequent
               assembling with others
            4) Center your mind on Jesus via the Lord's Supper
            ...and your mind will gradually be renewed!
         b. With renewed minds, it becomes possible to put off the old,
            and put on the new!
            1) To put off the old man with its sins
            2) To put on the new man patterned after the example of
               Christ
      5. Modern studies in self-improvement confirm this truth
         a. We become what we think
         b. We can change attitudes and behavior by filling our mind
            with positive mental images
      -- In our efforts, we are not alone; God is at work with us! - cf.
         Php 1:6; 2:12-13

   C. WHAT HINDERS MANY CHRISTIANS...
      1. If it is so easy, why do many Christians remain "caterpillars"?
         a. Were they not regenerated at their baptism? (yes)
         b. Don't they have the promise of God's help? (yes)
      2. The problem is likely a failure to renew the mind
         a. Can a mind be renewed on a starvation diet? (e.g., irregular
            Bible study)
         b. Can a mind be renewed on a junk-food diet? (e.g., trashy
            movies and novels)
      3. Why many Christians do not experience transformation...
         a. They become what they think, and much of what they think
            upon is not becoming!
         b. They spend more time watching things of the devil than
            reading things of the Spirit!
      -- Our attitudes and behavior is but a reflection of what goes
         into our minds!

CONCLUSION

1. We have been called to be "transformed" into the image of Christ...
   a. We have all the motivation we need (God's mercies and Christ's
      love)
   b. We have the opportunity to start anew by the washing of
      regeneration
   c. We must allow our minds to be renewed by setting them on things
      above
   -- Are we submitting to "brain surgery" by the Great Physician...?

2. God wants to give us a complete "make over"...
   a. He has provided the means (Jesus' blood)  to remove the deformity
      of sin
   b. He provides the tools (Bible study, prayer, fellowship) to fashion
      a new person
   -- Are we making good use of the mercies of God?

In light of God's wonderful grace, this is our "reasonable" service.
Shall we not prove to the world that God's will is "good, acceptable,
and perfect"...?
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