What does it mean not to be conformed to this world (Romans12:2)? Some would take this to extremes, trying to avoid any contact with our current culture to avoid being contaminated by it. Others, in reaction, ignore the problem entirely. In the context it speaks of being transformed by the renewing of our mind. This is not falling into the world’s way of thinking, but following God’s way of thinking. In 1 John 2:15-17, it speaks of the things in the world as being the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of life. The attitudes of the heart. It also admonishes us that these things are not permanent but will soon pass away. In James 4:1-4, it traces unanswered prayer to praying with purely selfish motives and traces that back to love of the world. In John 17:15, our still being in the world is seen as an opportunity for temptation. Being conformed to the world is therefore allowing ourselves to fit in with the ways of thinking and acting around us. Particularly, it is an attempt to live and work for those things that are of value in the present time rather than those that are of value for eternity (2 Peter 3:10-13; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; Philippians 3:20,21). It has little to do with a list of petty legalisms or with regarding the physical world as evil (Colossians 2:20-23; 1 Timothy 4:3-5; Titus 1:15). It has everything to do with our attitude toward the things that are desired and valued in the present time.
How do we go about doing this? We need to recognize the great things that God has done for us. This is implied in Romans 12:1, as it refers back to the rest of the book of Romans. It is as we realize that we belong to God because he has rescued us from sin and death that we now live for Him and not for the standards of this world (1 Corinthians 6:20; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15). Based on that, we are to present ourselves to God to live for Him in a world hostile to Him (Romans 6:12-14; Matthew 16:24-26; James 4:7). Involved in this in Romans 12:2 is the renewing of our minds. We need to learn to think God’s way rather than the world’s way (Colossians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 8:1-3). This requires study of the things of God as found in His Word (Hebrews 5:12-14; 2 Timothy 2:15; John 17:17). It is through these things that we can change our basic way of thinking to fit God’s way of thinking. The issue is not to live a sheltered life and avoid all contact with the world around us. But we need to develop a different way of thinking based on our understanding of God and His Word.
Professor Erich's Take