Conformed or Transformed
As we continue in our study of Romans 12:1-2 I remind you of the two major divisions of this Epistle. Chapters 1-11 deal with the doctrine of our salvation, concluding with the doxology of praise to God in 11:33-36. Chapters 12-16 deal with the practical applications of the doctrinal truths of the earlier chapters.
In these chapters we deal with our relationship as Christians with the world, the church, our enemies, human government, our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
THE WORLD SYSTEM
First, let’s consider our relationship as Christians with this world. We’re not referring to God’s beautiful creation which He has given us for our enjoyment and for our reflection on and worship of Him who created it. Instead Paul in Romans 12:2 and II Corinthians 4:3-4 warns of the cosmos; the world system presently under the domination of Satan, “the god of this world”.
This includes the man-centered religious system, educational system and entertainment system: including music, art, the Hollywood film industry and the immodest clothing fashions. Most of this comes from the minds and hearts of the wicked and unregenerate of this world and it enters and affects our lives through television and the internet.
Let me warn Christian parents of little children. Guard the influences you allow to come into your home. Guard your children from them as you would guard them from child-molesters.
HOW THIS SATANIC WORLD SYSTEM AFFECTS US
All of us; both sinners and saints, are touched, influenced, permeated and contaminated by Satan and his wicked world system. It’s sad, but it appears that most Christians are enamored with and influenced by Satan and his polluting world system, even though Paul warns us to not be conformed to it in Romans 12:1-2.
In John 17:9-19 the Lord Jesus, in His last evening before His crucifixion, prayed for His disciples and for us that we would not be trapped and enslaved by this Satanic world system.
Not one of us is untouched by the world’s philosophies and influence, Paul writing to the Christians of Ephesus in Ephesians 2:1-3 reminds them and us that “we all” have been enamored, touched and indoctrinated by Satan and his evil world system. No one escapes it. It taints our thinking and influences our values in every area of our lives. We are permeated and contaminated with Satanic influences every day. We have been blinded and enslaved by it, II Corinthians 4:4 reminds us.
In I John 2:15-17 we are warned not to love this world system. We are reminded that it is headed for damnation and destruction.
THE CHRISTIAN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS WORLD
It’s God’s plan that we live in and are surrounded by this wicked world system. God could have saved us from it and instantly whisked us off to Heaven, nevermore to be contaminated by Satan and his world system. Instead, He leaves us here after we are saved to share the Gospel and impact this world for Christ.
Jesus reminds us in His High Priestly prayer in John 17:15-20 that He desires His redeemed children in this world throughout their lifetime to be a witness and a blessing to others. We are IN the world, but not OF it, John 17:16-17 reminds us. But we are to separate ourselves from the lies and false, sinful philosophies and contaminating influences of the world by our immersion in His Biblical Truth.
Do you know what we are as Christians? Hebrews 11:13 teaches that we as Christians are to recognize ourselves as pilgrims and strangers in this sinful world. Think of it, pilgrims and strangers; not at home and well adjusted and comfortable in this world!
Furthermore, although we are never to be hateful towards others, we are to expect the hatred and persecution of this world. Jesus said so in John 15:18-21. The reason most of us in America do not experience persecution as Christians is because we are so at home and well-adjusted in this world. At the same time, many Christians in other parts of the world are being persecuted and martyred for their faith in Christ, perhaps more than at any time in history.
HOW ARE WE TRANSFORMED?
Our hearts are immediately transformed at the moment of salvation. We call it conversion. The moment we are saved, we are converted and God begins the process of transforming us by the renewing of our mind. The Christ we once ignored or even hated, we love. The sins we once loved we hate. Salvation is more than an instant mental transformation.
It is far more than that. It involves a supernatural transformation that begins in the heart and gradually extends to every area of life. That’s the message of Romans 12:1-2. It involves first a receiving of the Truth of God. Then as we yield out lives to Christ we are constantly being renewed in our thinking as we read God’s Word and receive it into our hearts and lives. We are constantly being renewed in our thinking as we read and ponder this and other biblically-based web sites and books and as we hear Biblical messages in churches where the Bible is faithfully preached. That’s the major reason for faithfully attending a church where the Bible is faithfully exposited and taught.
The attraction and affection for this sinful world system is gradually changed by the cleansing and renewing of our minds as we receive and absorb the engrafted Word of God into our hearts. It is an ongoing process that gradually drives out the contaminating thinking of the world. The Psalmist refers to it in Psalm 119:9, Paul talked about it in such passages as Colossians 3:16-17.
DANGERS AND REWARDS
This decision as Christians as to whether or not we are going to yield our lives to Christ and allow Him to direct our ways in every area of our lives: including marriage, education and life work, is not a casual take it or leave it decision. It is a life and death matter.
The danger of refusing to surrender to Him means staying in the world system and suffering the consequences. James 4:4 addresses such unfaithful Christians. “You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship with this world system means that you are at enmity with God? Whoever is a friend of this world system is an enemy of God.”
To get a picture of how things are going to turn out for such a Christian, read the story of Lot and the choice he made in Genesis 13:1-13 and the consequences of his wrong choice in Genesis 19.
My wife and I, now in our late 70’s, rejoice together that life for us has been a wonderful adventure. We don’t regret receiving Christ as our Saviour, nor do we regret turning our lives over to God as young people, even before we met each other. God has given us wisdom for every decision and has blessed us with fulfillment and joy beyond measure, meeting every need of our lives. We highly recommend God’s perfect will for you. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed in the man who trusts in Him.” Psalm 34:8-10
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