Sunday Sermon: ‘Changed!’

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If you’re anything like me, living the pure Christian life is sometimes a great struggle. Last week we studied Romans 12 –

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

To me that verse is saying – ‘In light of all that God has done for you, the only reasonable thing to do is to live for Him.’

That is true – the only logical, reasonable thing to do as a Christian is to give our lives to live for the One who gave His life to die for us. Yet knowing what we should do and doing it is sometimes two different things. I often feel so much like Paul who in just a few chapters prior to this wrote –

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

In other words, ‘I often do exactly what I don’t want to do, and what I don’t to do – that’s what I do!’

As we continue to study Romans 12, we find Paul not only encouraging us to live for God, but how to do it.

Romans 12:2 And 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.

I. Be Not Conformed to This World

What does it mean to be conformed? The word conformed means to be ‘molded to a pattern or to a standard.’ Peter uses this same word and thought  in 1 Peter 1:14 –

1 Peter 1:14 – ‘As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.”

In other words, don’t allow yourself to be drawn back into the lifestyle that you used to live before you were made to understand spiritual truth.

We know that all of this is true. Why then is it so hard to live the Christian life? Let me give you three reasons:

1. We have a fleshly nature that still craves sin.

The human nature became corrupt when Adam and Eve sinned and as a result we are born with a contaminated sinful nature. Some believe that once we become a Christian, that old sinful nature is gone, yet notice what Paul says in Romans 7 –

Romans 7:20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Paul is saying, “Although I want to do what is right, I have a very difficult time doing it because sin is still in my old fallen flesh.”

James tells us  – “…every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (Jas 1:14) Notice, every man has his or her area of weakness where it is easy for them to be tempted and drawn away. The book of Hebrews speaks of ‘the sin which so easily besets us.’

One day our flesh will be changed and this corruption will put on incorruption and never again will we struggle with it; but until that day comes, we’re in a major battle with ourselves.

2. We have an enemy that is always working against us

Jesus told Simon Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Simon Peter was a believer when Jesus said that to him. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12, “For we (Christians) wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Satan is our enemy and he is doing everything he knows how to cause us to sin and to live a defeated Christian life. We should note that refers to Satan’s tactics as his ‘wiles’ or ‘schemes.’ Satan went after Simon Peter, not as some hideous creature, but as a little girl who wanted to know if Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples.

3. We live in a world that is ruled by sin.

Paul said – ‘And be not conformed to this world …’

Sometimes when the Bible refers to the world, it is referring to planet we live on. Other times it is referring to the people who live on this planet. But often the use of the word ‘world’ is a reference to the godless mindset and way of living of those who don’t know Christ.

When Paul says – ‘Be not conformed to this world’, he is saying – ‘Don’t let the world set the standard for how you should live and act. Don’t embrace its way of thinking. Don’t live your life by its standards. Don’t behave like those who don’t know Christ.’ As someone has said – ‘As believers are IN the world but not OF the world.’

For years preachers preached against worldliness. Often worldliness was defined as drinking, dancing, card games and movies. But worldliness goes beyond a deck of cards. Worldliness entails anything and everything we might do that is contrary to the nature of God. Warren Wiersbe defines worldliness as – ‘Not so much a matter of activity as of attitude.‘ A person can appear to be very godly on the outside and have a worldly attitude and spirit on the inside. Wiersbe goes on to say that worldliness is  – ‘anything in a Christian’s life that causes him to lose his enjoyment of the Father’s love or his desire to do the Father’s will.’ I judge myself as conforming to the world whenever I put my will ahead of God’s will. It’s setting self before the Savior.

When you put together an environment that condones sin, an enemy that causes sin, and a nature that craves sin – you’ve got a powerful obstacle to overcome. Yet notice what Paul says –

Romans 12:2 And 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.

II. But Be Ye Transformed

Romans 12:2 And 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.

The world ‘transformed’ simply means change. Don’t be conformed; be changed! It’s the Greek word from which we get the English word ‘metamorphosis.’ A caterpillar goes through the process of metamorphosis and is changed into a butterfly.  A Christian is to continuously go through a process of spiritual metamorphosis whereby he or she is changed from someone who is anti-will of God to someone who is recognizes, accepts and does the will of God.

How does this happen? Let me point out that it is not something that we can do to ourselves. We can’t write out a list of rules that will cause us to be more Christlike. ‘Be ye transformed’ is written in such a way to reveal to us that this is a process that must happen TO us, and not BY us.

Consider Paul’s teaching on this subject as he wrote to the Corinthians –

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror –  the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Sometimes we sing –

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Instead of looking at the well-water plains of Sodom, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Paul is telling us that as we continuously look upon the Savior, we will be increasingly be transformed to become more and more like Him. From ‘glory to glory’ refers to growth. ‘As by the Spirit of the Lord’ refers to guidance.

Here are three simple words to help us understand what it takes to transform us into the image of Christ:

1. Spirit

2 Corinthians 3: 18 … just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Transformation in a believer’s life is the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote to the Galatians – ‘Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.’ (Gal 5:16) Jesus said – ‘Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…’ (Jn 16:13) It is the Spirit who convinces us of sin and who encourages us to live for Christ. It is He who guides us and gives us the strength to do it. Christ-likeness is the fruit of the Spirit. (see Gal 5:22-23)

Here is a blessed spiritual truth – every born again believer has the Holy Spirit of God inside them. No doubt that’s part of the blessings that Paul referred to in Romans 12:1.

2. Scripture

What does the Spirit use to teach us and guide us? How does the Spirit convict us of what is sin and what is righteousness? He does so by the Living Word of God. God’s Word is:

  • Light – able to penetrate darkness
  • Surgeon’s scalpel – able to perform spiritual surgery
  • Water – able to wash us and make our conscience clean
  • Bread – able to give us the strength to live for God

Paul refers to the Word as a mirror. Combine Paul’s teaching with that of James and we see that the mirror of God’s Word does two things:

  • Reveals the sin in our lives
  • Reflects the glory of Christ.

3. Surrender

Romans 12:2 And 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.

God has given to us everything that pertaineth to life and godliness, yet we must avail ourselves of what is available. We have to present ourselves to God as a ‘living sacrifice’ – something that is dead to the world, but alive to Christ. We have to yield our bodies as instruments of righteousness. We have to walk in the Spirit and not grieve and quench Him. We have to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Our minds have to constantly be renewed.

All of this has to happen so that we can recognize and accept the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. That’s what the word ‘prove’ means. It means to have the ability to examine and recognize that which is good and therefore receive it into our lives.

Conclusion –

Many of us know this, but how many of us are actively doing it? Many of us are prone to procrastinate. Procrastination is putting off until tomorrow what we should be doing today. Unfortunately  the #1 thing many people put off is their walk with the Lord. ‘I’ll get around to it – next week, next year, sometime later …’ Yet while we’re putting off what needs to be done, we are living a dry, defeated Christian life. Not only that, Satan is doing all he can to keep us conformed to the world. After eleven chapters of teaching on spiritual truth, Paul came to this conclusion –

‘In light of all that God has done for you, the only reasonable thing to do is to live for Him.’

Are you?

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