The Meaning of Romans 12:2 KJV & NIV
Paul implores us in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to this world, for all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and, pride of life (I John 2:16). Whosoever that is a friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4). You cannot be a friend of the world and be a friend of God, neither can you love God and love the world at the same time. It’s impossible!
Even though we are in the world, we are not of this world. Therefore, we must be transformed to the image of God by allowing the word of God to dominate our thoughts and mind. When your mind is renewed by God’s word, you will think like Christ and be able to discern what is good, acceptable and the perfect will of God.
This is the reason we must invest more time in the word of God by reading, studying and meditating, so that your conformed nature will be transformed to the mind of Christ which pleases Him.
Let’s unveil the truth behind this scripture and we pray it will lead us to transformation.
Who wrote Romans 12?
Apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans 12. He was a bond servant of Jesus Christ.
What is the context of Romans 12?
The context of Romans 12 is about sanctification and also foundation for living a Christian life. Paul urges us to live a sanctified life, a life that is pleasing to God, and also to resist conformity to the world but embrace transformation through Jesus Christ. We must not be controlled or shaped by the world or things of the world. Instead, be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 12 verse 4-8 mentions that we all are one body in Christ, having different gifts, yet unique within that one body. These spiritual gifts are to be used in humility to serve God. In the body of Christ, there is unity. The distribution of these gifts depends on the grace bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:11).
Verse 9 – 13 admonishes us to love without pretense, shun all evil, and cling to all that is good. As Christians, we must practice this. We must love others just as Christ loves us and gave His life for us. Hypocrisy must not be heard amongst us but reverence one another and be affectionate towards one another. Paul further admonishes us not to delay in our work but to be zealous in our service for God. He emphasized that we disperse to the needs of the saints and practice hospitality to everyone God brings our way.
He encouraged the people not to be hateful towards one another and to those that persecute them but rather bless them. Resist paying evil for evil but to live peaceably with all men. Paul tells us not to seek vengeance, for God is a God of vengeance and He will repay accordingly because if you trust God, you will not avenge by yourself.
He says we are to meet the needs of our enemies, by so doing you are increasing the suffering he will finally face. God will punish every evil-doers except he repents and turns to Christ. We must overcome evil by doing good.
What is the difference in biblical translations in Romans 12:2 (NKJV, NIV, ESV)
The difference between the three translations is that the NKJV and ESV talked “do not be conformed to this world” while NIV talked about “do not be conformed to the pattern of this world” The pattern of this world in NIV refers to system or style of the world (ungodly things) which is the emphasis of what of NKJV and ESV talked about.
Secondly, NKJV talked about “prove what is that good” which means to demonstrate what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
ESV talked about “that by testing you may discern” which means to ascertain what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect
NIV talked about “Then you will be able to test and approve” which means to accept what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
NIV emphasized to ‘accept’ what NKJV says we should ‘demonstrate’ and ‘ascertain’ by ESV. However, the three translations mean the same.
Romans 12:2 NKJV says:
“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 ESV says:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 NIV says:
“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.”
What is the meaning of Romans 12:2?
The meaning of Romans 12;2 is about abstaining from the pattern of this present time, but being converted by the renewing of your mind through the word of God, and acting according to His will which is good and perfect. It is an alteration of the mind which reflects on the outward appearance and how we live.
This transformation is to be in God’s likeness and image. Transformation is not magic but a lifelong task. The world has a pattern that is different from God’s.
Following the pattern of the world will lead to a broken life full of disappointments but renewing your mind and following after God will lead you to a better life that glorifies God. We must keep our focus on Jesus and cast everything that dishonors Him..
‘And do not be conformed to this world’ meaning
‘And do not be conformed to this world’ means we must not be shaped or molded into the pattern of the world. When you are shaped into the pattern of the world, you will eventually look like the world and the ways of the world rub off on you.
The pattern of this world is ungodly. The devil who is the ‘god’ of this world has created an ungodly atmosphere that leads people to sin. His aim in creating such an ungodly atmosphere is to make people follow such unholy patterns leading to sin.
You can never get God’s best when you conform to this world because you will always settle for less compared to what God has prepared for you (I Corinthians 2:9-10).
As Christians, we must be sensitive to the atmosphere around us recognizing who we are in Christ, have love for God, and reject the ungodly lifestyle the devil might want to force on us daily.
If you conform to the standard of the world, you will not experience God’s will and desires for your life. For the things of this world are temporary.
We can change our characters by living as a child of light that we are because we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise at redemption (Ephesians 1:13) “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,”.
‘But be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ meaning
‘But be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ means God’s transformation within the mind of a believer through the help of the Holy Spirit. This is a command from God. If we want to be like Him, we must be ready to be transformed and we will be blessed for it.
As a child of God, we must obey His commands because He is the Lord over our lives. Luke 6:46 says, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
Transformation is not a once and for all thing, it is gradual but a lifelong work of which we are responsible. It is the inward change in the character of a believer that corresponds to his/her outward appearance. It changes the mind and life of a believer regardless of the worldly trend.
Paul tells us that we must change how we think from the inside out so that our minds can be renewed and we will begin to understand the will of God for our lives. Our mind is the control center of feelings, actions, and thoughts.
Paul is aware of this that is why God wants to be in full control of our mind, He wants us to think His thoughts.
We must allow the word of God to control our thinking and not the system of the world, for we act as we think. Every sin of disobedience begins from the mind. (Proverbs 23:7) “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee”
That is why we must guard our heart with all diligence. We must adjust our minds to the image of Christ. When God becomes the center of our life, we can present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.
The primary source for renewing our minds is knowing God and His word. Renewing our minds to everything said by God will change our lives into the new creation that we are.
‘That you may prove what is that good’ meaning
‘That you may prove what is that good’ simply means describing the result or expectation of being renewed in your mind. It is proving or testing what God’s will is with the prospect of putting it into practice. We are to prove by practicing what pleases God.
Ephesians 5:8-10 mentions that “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth ;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.”
We must be different from the people of the world by showing casing God’s righteousness in us.
‘And acceptable and perfect will of God’ meaning
And acceptable and perfect will of God’ means striving to know and do the good that is acceptable and pleasing to God. God expects us to be holy and to present ourselves as living sacrifice which is our reasonable service.
When we do this, we will be acceptable and pleasing to Him. II Timothy 2:20 says, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.”
For you to have a relationship with God, you must be holy and acceptable by God. Everyone who wants to be identified with God must depart from iniquity.
How does the transformation happen?
Transformation happens majorly by the instrumentality of the word of God and by His Spirit. Transformation occurs when we accept to spend time in God’s presence pondering on His words both day and night and as such, we stand against conformity to the pattern of the world.
The scriptures say in the book of Jeremiah Chapter 15 verse 16 “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”
The Spirit of God will take the word of God you are eating gradually and renew "the spirit of your mind".
As Christians, we must allow the living word of God to permeate our minds both day and night because inside the word of God lies His Spirit, which will, in turn, transform us into God’s image and likeness.
You will begin to think, see and feel the mind of God. This does not jump on anyone neither can it be wished for. When you feed on the word of God, the Spirit behind His word will enter into you and will enable you to do the things that please Him.
How to be transformed?
You can be transformed by feeding on the word of God regularly. The word of God is God Himself. You must allow the word of God to dwell richly in you because you cannot be transformed if you don’t fill your heart with the word of God. (Colossians 3:16).
Feed on the word of God daily. II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” The more you feed on the word of God, the more you be like Him.
Have an intimate relationship with God by studying the word of God, meditating on His words, and putting them to practice. Let the word of God be your guide or manual for living and you will know God’s will and desire for your life. Don’t indulge in words not edifying.
You can also be transformed by being mindful of the people you hang around with and the influences people have on you. Be cautious of the influences people have over you, they can lure you into the pattern of the world.
The company you keep determines what accompanies you. I Corinthians 15:33 says, “be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
Examples of Transformation in the Bible
An example is the story of Amnon who kept the wrong company with his friend Jonadab. Jonadab advised Amnon to lie with his half-sister Tamar, which he did. The consequence of his action was death. Amnon died because he kept the wrong company. He allowed himself to be influenced wrongly. (II Samuel 13:1-39)
Another example is that of Lot, Abraham’s nephew who became prosperous because of his company with Abraham. The blessings of Abraham rubbed off on Lot (Genesis 13: 1-6). Disengage from people that will influence you wrongly. Friendship is by choice and not by force.
How do I apply Romans 12:2 to my life?
You can apply Romans 12:2 to your life by controlling what you feed your mind with. Whatever you allow in will either transform or break you. What you see and listen to has a lasting effect in your life. Guard what you listen to, read and watch.
When you allow God’s word rule your heart, you will only think and speak like Christ and the things of the world will not be able to gain entrance into your mind.
Philippians 4:8 also reminds us to think on things that are true and praise worthy. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
If you will fulfill destiny and accomplish God’s plans, you must observe the above diligently.
A Romans 12:2 prayer
Gracious Father, thank you for the revelation of Your word. I ask that You transform me, make me holy, acceptable and pleasing to You all the days of my life. May I not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Grant me the grace to make a difference in my life and, may it be visible to people around me in Christ’s name I pray. AMEN
Transformation is mandatory if we want to see God’s will manifest in our lives. Our mind and thought must be in line with God’s word and must be transformed inwardly by the Holy Spirit. Note that you must guard your thought jealousy because you are a product of what you think. This is why you must control what you think. Think the word!
To become like Christ is not an easy task but with some efforts and knowledge of the word, you can get closer day by day.