Romans 12:1,2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Non-conformity/conformity. These are not concepts that we can opt out of. Everyone is conformed to something. Often times we are conformed by default. That is we don't necessarily choose to be conformed to a certain set of ideas but having made choices about our environment, recreation, acquaintances, and so forth we are pressed into a certain mold, we are conformed.
The Bible raises the issue of conformity with the statement, "be not conformed". "Be not conformed to this world" is the standard of Scripture. This imperative gives rise to several considerations.
1. The world has a way of doing things (attitude, spirit, behaviour, speech, appearance, etc . . .)
2. The world's way is not the way of God.
3. I can be conformed to this world. And more to the point I am naturally conformed to this world.
4. Being conformed to the world is a bad thing.
5. I have a spiritual responsibility to identify the way of the world and not be conformed to it.
The Scripture sets forth a very clear picture of the world as the few following verses indicate:
John 7:7 - The works of the world are evil.
Ephesians 2:2 - The course of this world is established by the prince of the power of the air and embraced by the children of disobedience.
1 John 2:16 - The way of the world is charaterized by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
1 John 5:19 - The whole world lieth in wickedness.
1 John 2:17 - The world passeth away and the lust thereof.
This can be a most difficult directive to follow. Our natural tendency is to accept what the world does not find objectionable. If it is not condemned socially then it becomes acceptable spiritually. This is not a good rule of thumb. The standard is not determined by any society at home or abroad. It is not determined by any generation past or present. The standard is the word of God.
Therefore I have a responsiblity to study and meditate in relation to the Scripture so that I might be equipped to identify worldliness and keep myself (by God's power and through his grace) from being conformed to it. Again, this is not easy. The desire to be accepted and "normal" is a powerful force that requires great spiritual strength to overcome.
Our effectiveness in relation to not being conformed to the world can, according to the Scritpure, be determined by the world's response to us.
2 Timothy 3:12 - Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
John 15:19 - If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
John 17:14 - I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Non-conformity is a clear teaching of Scripture beginning with the Jewish people in the Old Testament with its principles being carried over to God's people in the New Testament. In fact the grace of God that bringeth salvation teaches us these things.
Titus 2:11-15 - For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.