The New American Standard Bible translates Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
In years past, I have read entire books based on the premise that God had three levels of “will” for us….one was “acceptable,” which began at the point of choosing salvation in Christ and reflected choices like letting the “little sins” go and making a genuine effort to learn and follow His teachings. Moving higher up the ladder of righteous living, you could accomplish His “good,” will, in which we are to constantly crucify more of the “old man” so that our actions are even more obedient to Christ’s teaching; and the highest level of attainment to shoot for was the “perfect” level of God’s will.
I know people who have wandered in search of finding and entering God’s “perfect” will for years. They have faced nagging questions, a sense of having never reached a goal set before them, a disheartening perspective of having never heard the voice of God clearly, that He plays hide-and-seek with them, endlessly; the belief that a season of apparent senselessness in their lives clearly reflected the reality that they were not living in the perfect will of God.
And that’s a pretty powerful deception. It’s pretty pervasive. In fact – and here I go into opinion mode – I think that is the foundation upon which a general understanding of Christian spirituality is often built…and it explains a great deal about the apathy, the fear, the resistance that rises during times of discussing that concept of knowing and walking with God personally, fearlessly, in harmony with His Spirit.
The Message translates Romans 12:2 with these words: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (italics added)
“You’ll be changed from the inside out.” That’s a promise. That’s a result of fixing your attention on God. It isn’t an issue of seeking-searching-wrestling with the achievement of an intangible perfection…It’s a confirmation of what Jesus stated when He said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29, NASB)
Might I paraphrase that to…this is the work of God – the way to recognize and walk in His good and acceptable and perfect will – is that you believe in Him whom He has sent. There is no ladder to climb to get closer…and no trap door that opens and drops you out of His sight in times of struggling or uncertainty.
Paul teaches through Galatians 2:19-21, “What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not ‘mine,’ but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.” (The Message)
Paul then asks, “Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God?” (Gal.2:21, The Message)
The Blood-bought opportunity to offer people a personal and free relationship with God.
What a fantastic gift and opportunity we have to share with people.