In some Christian circles, the term “worldliness” is very well-known. What does it mean and what does it not mean? The concept is taken from Romans 12 verse 2, where Paul writes (CLV):
and not to be configured to this eon, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for you to be testing what is the will of God, good and well pleasing and perfect.
The expression, configured to this eon, in most Bible versions reads: “conformed to this world”. The word “world” here is literally eon (Gr. aion). “This eon” is the world-period/age that is currently ongoing and is in contrast to the “eon to come” (Eph.1:21) and to “the coming eons” (Eph.2:7), when Christ will reign. In 2Cor.4:4 the diabolos (devil) is named “the god of this eon”, and “this eon” in Galatians 1:4 is called “the present evil eon”. It is the eon in which the lie (falsehood) reigns.
The word “configured” is literally derived from schema and here indicates: coming into the schemes of this evil eon; be involved in the confusion of thoughts, motives, opinions, values, cries, attitudes and objectives of this evil eon.
In opposition to “be not configured to this eon”, Scripture states “be transformed by the renewing of your mind (thinking)“. This contrast makes it clear that “configured to this eon” means to think as one thinks in this eon. Not: do as one does things in this eon. The configuration is not focused on a certain outward behavior, fashion, hair style or other visible feature. These are at best an expression of that thinking, but the configuration lies in the thought itself.
When Scripture speaks of the evil in this eon, it always refers to thinking and speaking. Those two belong together. The barrel produces what is in it. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Mat.12:34). In the first chapters of 1 Corinthians, Paul writes about the wisdom of this eon (which is foolishness before God!) And also about “the discusser of this eon” (cp 1Cor.1:20, 2:6, 3:18). The so-called wisdom of this eon is the “treasure” of thought that is being presented to us in schools and universities, in religious institutions, in newspapers, books, magazines, television, radio, and on the Internet, etc.. With that kind of thinking, we are confronted, daily and continuously. Unless there is a substantial other input, we can not escape becoming involved in that kind of thinking. The believer distinguishes himself in his thinking by having it oriented on the will of GOD. God’s will “reforms” us, i.e., we become transformed in our mind (our thinking).
The word for “reformed” is in Greek: metamorphosis, which refers to a transformation such as a caterpillar encounters when it becomes a butterfly. This particular word is also used in 2 Cor 3:18. There, Paul shows how this metamorphosis affects us.
Now we all, with uncovered face, mirroring the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the spirit.
When we examine the context in which this verse appears, it shows that Paul was writing about the reading of the books of Moses. For the religious reader, these books are line upon line and law upon law, hence: “a ministry of death” and “a ministry of condemnation” (3:7.9). But when the covering, at the reading, is removed, we discover CHRIST and He makes us shine, according to Paul (3:15,16). We are then being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Lord Who is spirit. HE does this and we encounter it. What God wants is that we focus on Him so that we as a reflector, will reflect HIS glory.
Translation: Peter Feddema