Once Israel was in their promised land, “the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations…” (I Sam. 8:19-20). This was an unwise decision on the part of Israel. God had been governing them through a series of judges who represented the Lord. These judges certainly were not perfect, but this had been God’s design. Jehovah’s response to their virtual demand to Samuel to give them a king was, “they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (I Sam. 8:7).
This pattern of imitating the world later worsened. “They rejected His [the Lord’s] statutes, and His covenant…and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them” (II Kings 17:15). Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people frequently became too close and familiar with the lost people around them. In the case of Lot, he first pitched his tent toward Sodom but before long he was living within the city and had completely lost his testimony. In other instances, Israel made treaties with the heathen nations, began to intermarry with them, and in short order began to worship their false gods. They were imitating the wrong things and the wrong people.
The Lord tells us in Romans 12:2: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” As believers, our lives are to be so transformed that there is a marked difference between us and the unsaved. Our standard ought not to be what the world is doing, or what the latest fad dictates. Our standard should be what would please and honor the Lord. There is no virtue in being weird, strange, or odd. These things do not enhance our testimony or effectiveness as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, we believers should be different from the world in many ways.
Believers do have someone they should be imitating. We should “mark them [godly believers] which walk so as ye have us for an ensample” (Phil. 3:17). Godly, knowledgeable Christians who followed Paul as he followed Christ and are fervent in their walk with Christ are the ones we should imitate. source