Anyone can be a nonconformist for nonconformity’s sake. Again I want to emphasize that this is a cheap piety. What we are ultimately called to is more than nonconformity; we are called to transformation. We notice that the words conform and transform both contain the same root word form. The only difference between the two words is found in the prefixes. The prefix con means “with.” To conform, then, is to be “with the structures of forms.” In our culture a conformist is someone who is “with it.” a nonconformist may be regarded as someone who is “out of it.” If the goal of the Christian is to be “out of it,” then I am afraid we have been all too successful.
The prefix trans means “across” or “beyond.” When we are called to be transformed, it means that we are to rise above the forms and the structures of this world. We are not to follow the world’s lead but to cut across it and rise above it to a higher calling and style. This is a call to transcendent excellence, not a call to sloppy “out-of-it-ness.” Christians who give themselves as living sacrifices and offer their worship in this way are people with a high standard of discipline. They are not satisfied with superficial forms of righteousness. The “saints” are called to a rigorous pursuit of the kingdom of God. They are called to depth in their spiritual understanding.
The key method Paul underscores as the means to the transformed life is by the “renewal of the mind.” This means nothing more and nothing less than education. Serious education. Indepth education. Disciplined education in the things of God. It calls for a mastery of the Word of God. We need to be people whose lives have changed because our minds have changed.
True transformation comes by gaining a new understanding of God, ourselves, and the world. What we are after ultimately is to be conformed to the image of Christ. We are to be like Jesus, though not in the sense that we can ever gain deity. We are not god-men. But our humanity is to mirror and reflect the perfect humanity of Jesus. A tall order!
To be conformed to Jesus, we must first begin to think as Jesus did. We need the “mind of Christ.” We need to value the things He values and despise the things He despises. We need to have the same priorities He has. We need to consider weighty the things that He considers weighty.
That cannot happen without a mastery of His Word. The key to spiritual growth is in-depth Christian education that requires a serious level of sacrifice.
That is the call to excellence we have received. We are not to be like the rest of the world, content to live our lives with a superficial understanding of God. We are to grow dissatisfied with spiritual milk and hunger after spiritual meat. — R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, page 163-164