Romans 12:2

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 5, 2009


Have you ever wondered what God’s will was for your life?

Is it even possible to know God’s will for your life?

One of the ways our culture tells us about finding God’s will is to ask a guru, ask a wise man, ask someone more knowledgeable than you.

And truthfully, it is good to ask for advice from wise people.


Predicting The Weather

A film crew was on location deep in the desert. One day an Old Indian went up to the director and said, “Tomorrow rain.” The next day it rained. A week later, the Indian went up to the director and said, “Tomorrow storm.” The next day there was a hailstorm. “This Indian is incredible,” said the director. He told his secretary to hire the Indian to predict the weather. However, after several successful predictions, the old Indian didn’t show up for two weeks. Finally the director sent for him. “I have to shoot a big scene tomorrow,” said the director, “and I’m depending on you. What will the weather be like?” The Indian shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know,” he said. “Radio is broken.”

For some of us, the idea of understanding God’s will is a lot like trying to predict the weather. We go to “experts” who try to tell us what is going to happen. For some of us, we just feel like the radio is broken and we aren’t hearing anything.

We began chapter 12 last week by looking at the beginning thoughts of understanding God’s will:

(Rom 12:1 NKJV) 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.


God’s will starts with a living sacrifice

Understanding what God wants for your life starts with being a person who is on the altar. I need to let Him have my body to do with as He wants.
It’s total commitment. Being a sacrifice involves total commitment.
Do you remember the difference between involvement and commitment?
 “When you look at a plate of ham and eggs, you know the chicken was involved. But the pig was committed.”
If you want to know God’s will, He doesn’t want you “involved” in religion, He wants you “committed” to Him.

Paul goes on to tell us the rest about how to get to God’s will.

:2 And do not be conformed to this world,

conformedsuschematizo – to conform one’s self (i.e. one’s mind and character) to another’s pattern

From schema – everything in a person which strikes the senses, the figure, bearing, discourse, actions, manner of life etc.

This is the outward form of something.

Paul’s painting a picture of clay being squished into a mold, a mold that is shaped by the world.

worldaion – forever, perpetuity of time; period of time, age

aion is usually better expressed by age, it is the world at a given time, a particular period in the world’s history.  It might be expressed as the “spirit of the age” or perhaps the “culture of the age”.

It’s keeping up with the current trends and fashions. It’s the pursuit of staying perpetually “cool”. It’s learning to buy everything that Madison Avenue says you ought to buy.

More about this “world” –

1. Satan is called the “god of this world (aion)” (2Cor. 4:4).
2. It’s something that once was a part of our life before Jesus:
(Eph 2:2 NKJV)  in which you once walked according to the course of this world
3. The “world” will ruin your spiritual fruitfulness:
(Mat 13:22 NKJV)  "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world (aion) and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
4. We still need to relate to the world.
It’s not that we should be irrelevant to our “world” around us. I don’t think we need to get rid of our cars and live on farms in the country.
We need to be “all things to all people” for the sake of relating to them and reaching them for Jesus.

(1 Cor 9:22 NKJV)  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

But we need to be careful that we don’t get shaped by the world and then caught in its trap.

The action part of this phrase (the verb) is a “Present passive imperative”, which means,

“Stop allowing yourself to be in a place where the world shapes you into its mold.”


What shapes me?

How do we allow the world to shape us?
Fashion – how do you dress?

What constitutes marriage?  Why even get married?

The Madoff scandal – cheating for success.

Information / news / editorializing

Get two people in a room – one watches only NBC news, the other only FOX news.  Ask them what is happening in government.  Stand back and watch the fireworks.

I’m not promoting either news channel.  My point is that we often form our opinions based on what our news sources tell us, and they may have a bit of a slant to their ideas.

The real issue is: What shapes your life?
Is your life driven by wanting to look good on the outside? Is your life driven by wanting all the things that other people have?
Are you drawing your values from what the world says is right and wrong?

:2 but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

transformedmetamorphoo – to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure

A couple of years ago there was a movie made from a line if children’s toys, “Transformers” – where cars and trucks are really robots in disguise.

From morphoo – to form

Schema (from “conformed” above) is the outward form of a thing while morphe is the inward quality of a thing.

It speaks of a permanent change, not a temporary one.

Present passive imperative – Allow yourself to continually be in a place where you are permanently changed from the inside out.

How does this change take place?

renewinganakainosis (“again” + “new”) – a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better

from kainos – new. This is not “new” as something that has just come into existence, but “new” as something that is not old and worn out (“just like new”). It might describe something unusual (“that’s a new idea”).

We don’t have our minds replaced with a new brain, but our old minds are changed into something better.

mindnous – the mind, what allows you to perceive, understand, and feel.

It’s the way you think. God wants to change the way we think.



If we do a word study on how this word “renew” is used in the New Testament, we can come up with some helpful ideas of what can renew us.
1.  The Word
(Col 3:10 NKJV)  and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

How are we renewed through knowledge?  I think it happens through God’s Word.

Being “renewed” is a bit like having a beauty treatment, going to a spa, getting a face lift.  Look how Jesus does those things for us:

(Eph 5:25-27 NKJV)  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, {26} that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, {27} that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

He uses His Word to wash us and make us new.

2. The Holy Spirit
(Titus 3:5 NKJV)  not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

We need to learn to be yielding our lives to the Holy Spirit – allowing Him to work in our hearts and minds.

3. Faith – trusting in the unseen
(2 Cor 4:16-18 NKJV)  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, {18} while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

We are renewed the more we learn to trust God for all our situations.


Change your thinking.

It’s the mind that needs to be renewed. It’s the way we think about things. The battle is all over your mind. What will it spend it's time processing?
(Phil 4:8-9 NKJV)  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things. {9} The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

When you are in your car, who decides what station to listen to? Who decides what CD to play? You do.

You have a choice of what you’re going to put into your mind. God wants you transformed by having your mind made new, by playing His “CDs”.

Sometimes we can get so preoccupied with a certain situation that it’s all we think about.  We work ourselves into a panic, we get depressed, we lose hope.

It wouldn’t hurt every once in a while to “change the channel”, to get your mind off your problem and think about something good.

One way we can do this is through not only reading, but memorizing Scripture.

Charles Swindoll writes,

“Why is the expenditure of time and energy so worth the effort entailed in memorizing Scripture? Because our life is lived in our mind. More than 10,000 thoughts a day pass through that gray matter neatly tucked between our ears. Theologian A.W. Tozer once said, “Our thoughts not only reveal what we are, they predict what we will become. We will soon be the sum total of our thoughts.” The Holy Spirit feeds on the spiritual nourishment of the Word to rewire our mental computer, thereby effectively changing our attitudes and actions.”

– Charles R. Swindoll, The Christian Life, (Vision House, 1994), p. 79.


Speaking of the mind and memory …
The Indian Chief 
An Australian travel writer touring Canada was checking out of the Spokane Hilton, and as he paid his bill to the manager, he asked, “By the way, what’s with the Indian chief sitting in the lobby? He’s been there ever since I arrived.”   “Oh that’s ‘Big Chief Forget-me Not’,” said the manager. “The hotel is built on an Indian reservation, and part of the agreement is to allow the chief free use of the premises for the rest of his life. He is known as ‘Big Chief Forget-me Not’ because of his phenomenal memory. He is 92 and can remember the slightest detail of his life.” The travel writer took this in, and as he was waiting for his cab decided to put the chief’s memory to the test. “’ello, mate!” said the Aussie, receiving only a slight nod in return. “What did you have for breakfast on your 21st birthday?” “Eggs,” was the chief’s instant reply, without even looking up, and indeed the Aussie was impressed. He went off on his travel writing itinerary, right across to the east coast and back, telling others of Big Chief Forget-me Not’s great memory. One local noted to him that “How!” was a more appropriate greeting for an Indian chief than “ello mate” On his return to the Spokane Hilton, six months later, he was surprised to see ‘Big Chief Forget-me Not’ still sitting in the lobby, fully occupied with whittling away on a stick. But, remembering his friends advice he greeted Chief Forget-me Not in the more appropriate fashion. “How?” said the Aussie.  Scrambled,” said the Chief.

:2 that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

If you translate this strictly by word order, you get something like what the NAS has:

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

It’s when you’ve presented your body to God, shunned the mold of the world,  and have allowed Him to renew your mind, that you are now in a position to “prove” or “test” what God’s will is.

provedokimazo – to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognize as genuine after examination

from dokimos – accepted, particularly of coins and money.

In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honor who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called “dokimos” or “approved”. (Donald Barnhouse)

willthelema – what one wishes or has determined shall be done; will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure

This isn’t necessarily God’s almighty decree that He declares and nothing can stop it. But this is a little more the idea of what God desires, what God wishes for us.

Paul has been telling us how to “test” to see if something is God’s will or not.

When you do these things (living sacrifice, not conformed to the world, transformed by renewing the mind), you are entering into the process of testing to see what God’s will is.


You are more important than the answer

Sometimes we get consumed with certain issues regarding God’s will. We want some kind of guidance as to the specific decisions we face in life. We want to know who to marry, what job to take, where to live, etc.
But if you pay attention to what Paul says is the key to testing God’s will, it’s all about what kind of person you are becoming, not the specific answer to your question.
But it’s become my impression that God isn’t as much concerned about specific decisions as He is about what we’re becoming. Don’t get me wrong, I believe God is very concerned about which specific decisions we make. But I believe He is even more concerned about what kind of person we’re becoming.
In the movie “Bruce Almighty”, Bruce is a guy who is unhappy with his life.  He blames God and everyone else for his misery.  God decides to give Bruce the job of being God.  For a time Bruce has all of God’s powers – and he finds out how difficult it is to be God.
Play clip from “Bruce Almighty”
Some of us are afraid of surrendering ourselves to God completely because we have this idea that we too would be run over by a semi truck as soon as we do.
The thing I liked about this clip was seeing the work that had been done on the character of Bruce – he had changed.  It wasn’t that he had learned to pray the magic prayer, but that his prayer came from a changed heart.  See the difference?
When you get to the point where you’ve presented your body to God, you’ve refused to be molded by the world, and you’ve been letting Him renew your mind, then you’re in a position to know God’s will.
Chuck Smith writes,
“Too often we assume that God only reveals His will in exotic ways such as tinglings down the spine or fiery letters in the sky. When I entered Bible college, I learned that some students had seen visions or messages emblazoned in the sky calling them into the ministry. I didn't have any such experiences. Actually, I had the least spectacular call to the ministry of anyone in school. All I had was a desire to serve God by learning more of His Word. After all these years I'm one of the few from my class still in the ministry. Many former classmates are selling cars or working in some such occupation. I sometimes wonder what happened to those fiery letters in the sky. When we expect the will or call of God to come in dramatic ways, we don't anticipate the natural ways by which He so often leads us. Many times during the day God's hand is leading me, but I'm not even aware of it. Some people expect a divine signal system to give them directions. "Turn left! Beep! Beep! Go forward..." They're looking for the spectacular, so they bemoan the fact that they've never been led by God. In looking over my life's situations, I realize that God has worked out things with perfect timing. My hindsight shows me that my promptings to do a particular thing had come from God. God leads us in natural ways. He said that He would write His Law on the tablets of our hearts.”
Focus on the character that God is building in you, and you will be learning to walk in the will of God.

When you find God’s will, you will find out three things about it:

goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful; agreeable, joyful; excellent

There is nothing bad or evil about God’s will.

(1 John 1:5 NKJV)  This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

We all know people who try to trick us and manipulate us to do their “will”, and it’s something that is not a good thing.

But God’s will for us is pure and good.

acceptableeuarestos – well pleasing, acceptable

God’s will is wonderful. This is the same word used to describe the living sacrifices we are to make to the Lord (Rom. 12:1). We are a sweet aroma to the Lord as a living sacrifice, and His will for us is a sweet aroma for us.

perfectteleios – finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness

God’s will is all we need. We don’t need to be seeking things outside of God’s will to be complete people.


Don’t be afraid of His will.

I think that sometimes we get the idea that God is out to ruin our lives. He’s always doing “good” things for us, but they’re always the yucky, brussel-sprouts kind of “good”. We’re afraid that if we give ourselves totally to the Lord, then He’ll send us to Africa. We’re afraid that if we really stop worrying about who we’re going to marry, and put it in God’s hands, that God is going to pick out some really ugly, weird person with very bad breath.
(Psa 37:4 NKJV)  Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
We often look at that verse and focus on the “promise” at the end and say, “Gosh, I can get whatever I want from God!”
But God’s focus on that verse is to for us to become people who find their delight in Him. The issue isn’t the “getting of stuff”. The issue is whether or not I’m becoming a person who is falling more and more in love with God. And in fact, when I find myself delighting in Him, I find that all the “stuff” fades away and isn’t all that important any more. I find that when I’m delighting in Him, all that’s left in my heart, all the “desires” that are left are only the kinds of things that He desires for me. I’m not so sure this verse is a promise about getting “things”, it’s a promise about getting “desires”.
It doesn’t say He will give us the “dreads” of our heart, but the “desires”. God’s will is good. It’s well-pleasing. It’s perfect.