2a And be not conformed to this world.
Having exhorted Christians in the previous verse to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”, the apostle now urges them not to conform to the world. In other words, if Christians desire to please God, they must not be worldly. It is impossible to serve the Lord in a holy and acceptable manner, if one is conformed to the world.
Christ and the world do not coalesce. Jesus clearly said that the world hates Him and all His disciples (cf. John 7:7; 15:18-19). The world neither believes nor yields to the Lord Jesus. It has its own prince, even the devil (cf. John 12:31; 14:30). Its ideologies are carnal and materialistic, while Christ’s is spiritual and eternal (cf. 1 John 2:15-17). Hence, Christians should not be shaped by the worldly habits, philosophies, trends, styles and all that are contrary to God’s will for His people. Biblical Christianity and the world do not merge. Christians ought to be nonconformists in this world.
The word “conform” (suschēmatízō) conveys the idea of fashioning or moulding one’s conduct in accordance with a particular pattern or set of standards. To conform to the world is to shape one’s behaviour according to the world’s ideologies and principles; that is totally unacceptable and displeasing to the Lord. While we live on earth, it is very easy for us to be influenced by the world. Hence, we must watch our steps to make sure that we are not being led away by ungodly philosophies and trends of the world. Our choices, our ambitions and our pursuits are to be constantly vetted to eliminate any conformity to the world that would displease the Lord and hinder our service to God.
Many who profess to be Christians follow the crowd rather than Christ. Crowd-pleasers cannot be Christ-pleasers. The epistle of James cautions us that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God”, and “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Either we live under the influence of Christ and His righteousness, or we live under the influence of the world and its ungodliness. Christians cannot have it both ways if they desire to please the Lord.
Let us remember that Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4).