“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  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.  For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:1-3).




We have already learned from Romans 12:1-2 that the key to a life of spiritual worship is change or transformation.  The question is, are we transforming or are we deteriorating?  What is truly amazing is the lives of our Christians, who do not transform even though we worship hundreds of times and say countless times that we have received grace from the word of God.  How are we to explain this?  Even the pastors, who are preachers of the Word, seem to give up lamenting at the unchanging appearance of the saints.  And from the standpoint of the congregants listening to the Word, criticism and dissatisfaction do not seem to stop at the unchanging appearance of the preacher.  How should we explain the appearance of Christians who do not change no matter how much we worship, even though we seem to faithfully handle worship, which is a religious ceremony, even out of habit?  What this teaches us is that there is a problem with our worship life.  No matter how much knowledge we have in the Bible, how many correct doctrines we have, and how many times we have held many worship services, we do not experience the work of transformation and are rather deteriorating.


There are two kinds of transformation.  Which direction we transform is important.  It is either a transformation in an evil direction or a transformation in a good direction.  While we worship, we can either transform in a bad direction or change in a good direction.  You may sound puzzled.  Let me give you an example.  During worship, we hear the word of God through the preacher, the pastor.  The Scripture says that the word of God is like fire and a hammer (Jer. 23:29) and the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17).  This word means that the preacher himself or the saints who truly receive grace through the word of God during the sermon have their hard hearts broken, their cold hearts melted, their hearts and consciences pierced, and there is a work of true repentance and a work of being established.  But at the same time, we must consider that God's word can harden our hearts.  Hearing the word of God through Moses hardened King Pharoah’s heart.  Likewise, those who hear the word of God through the preacher but do not obey it can rather harden their hearts by hearing the word.  Obedience is a blessing, but disobedience is a curse.  Then, in which direction are you and I receiving changes now?  The saints who are changed in the direction of evil through Sunday worship will be conformed to this world even after they go out into the world.  Outwardly, they may call themselves church members, Christians, and even worshipers.  But they are Christians who have lost the ability to change the world.  Greed and ambition to grow the church by increasing the number of Christians may not seem like it to people, but it is an abomination and hate in God's eyes (Isa. 1:13, 14).  The transformation God is pleased with is that we are established before God as true worshipers.  And the life of a true worshipper changes the world while worship and life are united and changed.  I would like to think about the three transformations that we believers must pursue, centering on the words of Romans 12:1-3.  Hopefully, while all of us are pursuing these three transformations, when we look back at ourselves later, we can see ourselves more transformed than before.


 First, we must seek a transformation of our hearts.


Look at Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform any longer 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.”  As we have already meditated on this word, we have learned that Jesus referred to this world as a wicked and adulterous generation (Mt. 12:39).  Apostle Paul also referred to this generation as “the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4).  At the same time, he says that before we became a new person by believing in Jesus, we followed “the ways of this world” (Eph. 2:2) or “the desires of the sinful nature” (Gal. 5:16).  Then, what are the ways of this world or the desires of the sinful nature that we followed before we became new people by believing in Jesus?  Look at Galatians 5:19-21a: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. ….”  A similar list is found in Romans 1:29-31: “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”  The problem is that there are times when we, who have already become new people by believing in Jesus Christ, still follow the desires of the flesh according to the habits of the old self, rather than living like new people as God's holy people.  What's the problem?  If we believe in Jesus and become new people, we should live like new people.  But why are we still unable to abandon the things of the old self?  What is the problem?  The problem is our heart.  We sin because we do not put the Word of God in our hearts.  Hear what the Scripture tells us: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11).  If we do not put the Word of God in our hearts, our hearts cannot be renewed.  As a result, we have no choice but to live according to our darkened foolish hearts (Rom. 1:21) or according to the lusts of our hearts (v. 24), imitating this wicked and adulterous generation.  What should you and I do?  We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  In a word, we desperately need a transformation in our hearts.


In his book “Renovation of the Heart,” Pastor Dallas Willard says, ‘The only thing that can surely conquer external evil is a deep inner transformation (Willard).  What do you think?  Do you really believe that the only thing that can truly conquer external evil is a deep inner transformation?  Personally, I am pursuing an inner transformation when I think of myself as well as my church members, who are not only my physical family members but also my spiritual family members.  In other words, I want to handle my personal spiritual life, family ministry, and shepherding ministry, focusing on the inner transformation God sees rather than the external changes.  The reason is because there can be no real change on the outside without a change on the inside.  I think the problem is that we Christians are neglecting inner changes and paying too much attention to external changes.  As we pursue superficial changes without a fundamental change of heart, we Christians are becoming corrupted by committing sins in front of God and people, living in imitation of the world by being influenced by the world instead of exerting the good influence of the world.  To us, our faith seems good, we pray very well, we seem to have knowledge of the Bible, and we seem to be serving the church diligently.  But since there is no fundamental transformation of heart, there is no change in character or change in behavior even after going to church for many years.  So, as I started this year, I set the church motto, “The Year of Meditation on the Word.”  With this motto in mind, all members of Victory Church would like to meditate on the Word of God more and more with me.  This is because the more we meditate on the Word of God day and night like the psalmist, the more our hearts can be transformed through the Word of God.  How is this possible?


  • The more we meditate on the Word of God, the more the Holy Spirit hears the voice of God.


Speaking again from the perspective of today's text Romans 12:2, the more we meditate on God's Word, the more we can discern God's will.


  • Then, as we obey the discerned will of God, true transformation take place in our hearts.


We must purify our souls by obeying the truth (1 Pet 1:22).  Our hearts must be cleansed by the Word of God and live a holy life (Eph. 5:26).


 I sincerely hope that a fundamental transformation of heart will take place in us as we all get closer to the Word of God, listen, read, meditate, study, and obey it.  May our hearts be whole.  Therefore, I hope and pray that all of us will no longer be conformed to this generation but become more and more imitated by Jesus to change the world.


Second, we must seek a transformation of our minds.


Look at Romans 12:3 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”  The word of French modern rationalist philosopher R. Descartes spoke of revealing the essence and core of human beings.  It is none other than ‘I think.  Therefore, I exist’.  What differentiates us humans from animals is that we humans have the ability to think.  Animals live by instinctive impulses.  The life of animals can be summed up in these four words: ‘Eat, sleep, reproduce, and die.’  But we humans are thinking beings.  We have reason, and through that reason, we are beings who think and live.  In other words, we humans live while thinking and thinking (Internet).  But for some reason, it seems that we are living impulsively like animals rather than thinking more and more.  We are committing sins against God by speaking, acting, and living in emotions and impulses lacking in reason and logic.  If we talk about these phenomena from the apostle Paul's point of view, it is because of our futile thoughts.  Because our thoughts have become futile, we are living in sin against God.  Look at Romans 1:21 – “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  After all, even if we know God, unless we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, we will neither glorify God nor give thanks to God.  And our thoughts are bound to become futile.  In other words, our thoughts are bound to be worthless and vain.  In these futile thoughts, there is no choice but to do worthless and vain things.  But the problem is that these worthless and vain things in the eyes of God are being done in the church as well.  For example, in the church “… sexual immorality … discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like” (Gal. 5:19-21).  So, in today's text, Romans 12:3, Paul says, “…  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  What does it mean?  We can think of it in two ways.


  • It means not having arrogant thoughts.


Why are these and other sins such as division and dissension being committed within the church community?  It is because of arrogance.  Why is there such a thing as spiritual superiority?  Why is there such a preconceived notion?  Isn't it because we overestimated ourselves?  That's why Paul says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought” (v. 3).


  • It means to think humbly.


Look at Romans 12:3b – “…  but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  What does it mean?  In a word, it means to think rationally. The word to think according to the measure of faith means to know oneself and think humbly before God, and to think soberly (Park).  Those who know grace are humble.  Those who know grace never think beyond their means.  Rather, he is humbled.  That is why Paul said, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you” (v. 3), and in the midst of the grace he received from God, he humbly wrote a letter of exhortation to the saints in Rome.


We need a change of thinking.  When we do not follow the example of this world and receive change only by renewing our mind, our thoughts are also bound to change.  In other words, it comes with a change of mind and a change of thought.  A renewed heart and a mind that submits to the will of the Lord can never think proudly before the Lord.  Rather, a renewed heart and a submissive heart make us humble before the Lord.  I hope and pray that this change of thinking continues for me and you.  May we all humbly hold the same mind as well as the same thought.


Third and last, we must seek transformation in our lives.


Look at Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.”  When there are changes in our hearts and minds, our lives are bound to change naturally as well.  How is it bound to change?  We no longer follow the customs of this world or the lusts of the sinful nature, but live a life of obedience to God's good, pleasing, and perfect will.  And we will live a humble life, not an arrogant life.  In a word, the fruit of life that comes from changing our hearts and minds is “holiness”.  What does “holiness” really mean?  The Hebrew word “קֹדֶשׁ” (kodesh) for “holy” means to cut off, separate, and separate the unclean.  In a word, the life of our saints refers to a life separated from the world and sin.  In other words, the saint's life refers to a non-secular life.  The Greek word for “saints” is “ἅγιος” (hagios), and holiness is a combination of the negative word ‘ha’ and the word ‘ge’ for land and world, meaning non-secular (Internet).  But what about reality?  The church has become secularized.  Why was the church secularized?  The reason is that we are secularized.  We are no different from the people of the world.  While we also have the values of the people of the world and speak and act like them, our life patterns are generally not distinguished from those of the world who do not believe in Jesus.  A life that is not distinguished from these worldly people is never a saintly life, a holy life.  Are you and I living a holy life, the life of a saint?


Among the books I am reading these days, there is a book called “Gospel-Powered Parenting”.  This is a book that teaches us how the gospel changes us parents and nurtures our children.  If we look at Chapter 4 of this book, Pastor William P. Farley, the author, under the title “A Holy Father,” says that our fathers should be holy just as our fathers in the family are holy to Heavenly Father.  And then he tells the wonderful truth about God the Father's holiness: “Such is holiness of the Father that when his Son bore our sin and transgressions, God separated himself from him” (Farley).  What do you think of the holiness of this Heavenly Father?  How should we react to the holiness of Heavenly Father, who separated Himself from Jesus, the only begotten Son who took on all our sins?  We must live a life separated from sin.  We must live a life separate from this sinful world.  We must never be secularized and make our words and actions no different from the people of the world.  Rather, we must be transformed by renewing our minds, discerning what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God, and living a holy life in this sinful world.  Therefore, the holiness of God must be revealed in this sinful world through our holy lives.


 There must be transformation in our lives.  There must be a transformation in our hearts, a transformation in our thoughts, and a transformation in our lives.  I hope and pray that you and I will be transformed more and more by obeying the Word of God.







Pursuing transformation, not distortion,





James Kim

(Yearning for the wilderness more than the palace)