"Conformity To This World"
Most Christians wonder what's wrong with them-- why do I have such a struggle in my Christian walk, why can't I seem to get victory in certain areas, why isn't my love and devotion to the Lord what it should be, why don't I see miracles happening in my life and through me like Jesus said I would experience and do, why aren't my prayers answered, why can't I hear from the Lord? While there is not a "cut and dry" answer to these questions, I will give you one answer that I believe is probably the most common (and accurate) reason as to why.
The answer to our questions and concerns can be found in 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 answer--- conformity to this world. We have become too much like the world- we have conformed to their standards, to their way of thinking, and to their philosophies. This has resulted in a lack of spiritual power, the inability to hear the Lord when He speaks to us, lack of understanding of His will, and has caused us to lose our first love. Since conforming to this world has caused us to be in such a state, we need to understand exactly what conformity means and how we have been conforming to this world, as well as what we need to do in order to stop conforming. Let's start by defining the word "conform". Webster's dictionary defines it as- to make or be like; to bring into, or be or act in harmony or agreement. Now let's look at the definition in the Greek- fashion self according to, to fashion alike. Simply put, to conform to something is to act in agreement or behave in correspondence with it's example. There are several areas that we can conform to this world through- our actions, through our attitude, or in our speech.
How does conforming to this world cause me to have a lack of spiritual understanding and keep me from fulfilling the will of God in my life? It's very simple, let me reread Romans 12:2, but let me put it in "plain English." "In order that you may know what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, don't be conformed to this world; instead, transform your mind by renewing it." There it is, if you are conformed to this world you won't know what God's will is, what pleases Him, what is acceptable to Him. When we are conformed to this world, we can't be conformed to the things of the spirit (the things of God). It's like trying to serve two masters at once- you can't do it. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24)
So, how does one become conformed to this world? The answer is in this same verse. The verse gives you the solution so that you can come out of conformity (or at least recognize the areas that you are conforming in so you can do something about it). It's in knowing the solution that you will also find the root of the problem. What is the solution? "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..." If transformation comes as a result of renewing your mind, then conformity also came as a result of the renewing of my mind. When your mind is renewed with the world's views and opinions, you will conform to that view. You didn't just automatically and instantly conform to this world's example, it started as a thought that was planted in your mind. You heard someone say something that sounded "logical" or "good" and from there you let that "thought" began to transform your way of thinking until you conformed to it. This can be easy to do especially when you are "bombarded" by the world's views through the media of television and radio.
Too many Christians are allowing themselves to be conformed to the world's way of thinking. I have even had to repent as I judged my own life and saw that I have become conformed to this world's way of thinking also. I would like to point out some areas where I see this has happened.
When the hurricanes hit our nation's coastal regions, the first cry that came from the people was--- "Where is FEMA? Where is President Bush? Why isn't the government here to help us?" The "world" felt helpless, they looked for a savior, they were trying to find someone to help them out of their troubles and problem- they were looking to the government because they didn't know where else to turn. As I make my point this morning, please don't misunderstand what I am saying- I am not putting down on the government, God established governments and He raises up leaders over groups of people. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Romans 13:1) The point I want to make is-- the church has fallen into this same mentality. They are looking to the government to help them as well. They look to the government to solve their problems and to set up programs to help them in their work. The world sees the government as their "helper- their problem solver". The church needs to get rid of this thinking, the government is not your Helper. It's not the one who helps you out of your troubles, it's not the one who gives you peace in the storm. The government may provide some assistance in helping to rebuild your house, but it can't give you the inner peace and strength to get past the emotional storm that is raging inside of you- it can't rebuild your life, but God can. "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper." (Hebrews 13:6a) This is the thinking that you need to be conforming to.
Another area that I see we have conformed to the world in is that of knowing who our "source" is. Who is your source? Without hesitation most of us would say, "God is my source", but is that really true? Is He truly your source? The mentality of the world says that the government is their source- through welfare, through Social Security, through various other programs. The world thinks that their jobs are their source. They think that the economy, a good business day, the Stock Market is their source. Let me ask you this question again, "Who is your source?" What if you lost your job? What if your welfare check was cut off? What if the Social Security system failed? What if the Stock Market crashed? What would you do? "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)
One of the biggest areas that we see a conformity to the world in is that of health care. The pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. The world looks to the doctors and medicine to heal their diseases, to save their lives, to come up with a cure for everything. The church has fallen into this same state. We take a pill every time we don't feel good. We go to the doctor hoping that a new medicine has been invented to take care of our aches and pains. We spend millions of dollars every year hoping that the doctors and their prescriptions can heal us. Doctors aren't the healer, they can only treat symptoms. They can only give you a prescription and hope for the best. (I want to repeat myself, please don't misunderstand, I am not trying to condemn you if you go to the doctor or take medicine- The Bible says, "According to your faith be it unto you." (Matthew 9:29b)- if this is where you faith level is then you should take the medicine and not feel condemned for doing so.) But the doctors aren't your healer. "For I am the LORD that healeth thee." (Exodus 15:26b) "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." (Psalms 103:2,3) "O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me." (Psalms 30:2) "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2:24)
For the third time I want to say that if you are on some sort of government assistance, if you are going to the doctor, if you are taking medicine, I am not here to judge or condemn you, I am here to remind you that these are just "avenues"; they are not your helper, they are not your healer, they are not your source. If you continue to conform your thinking to that of the world then you will see them as more than an avenue. You will begin to believe that the government is your source and without them you will have nothing. If you continue to conform to the idea that the doctor has your cure and the ability to heal you, then you will believe that and give up all hope when the medicine doesn't help. Can you see how this thinking produces hopelessness as well? When you see something as more than just an avenue but a source, then when something happens and the source fails it will leave you devastated. If you don't know who your true source is, when the winds and waves begin to beat upon your house it will fall. "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Matthew 7:27)
I believe the Lord wanted you to be reminded of this especially in light of the day in which we are living. There is so much happening in our nation- natural disasters in every region, attacks on Christianity, terrorist threats and attacks, exposure in government, an unstable economy, a rise in unemployment, wars and rumors of war. (Actually, the whole world is being affected by something.) These are all signs of the end time. If you are living in conformity to the world's thinking, when these things come to pass and intensify, instead of looking up because you know your redemption is getting near (Luke 21:28), you'll get fearful. "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." (Luke 21:26)
You must know where your hope and confidence lies. It's not in a man, it's not in a job, it's not in the government, it's not in any human resource. One of my favorite hymns says, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus Name. On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand."
So how do we change our way of thinking? How do we stop conforming to the world's way of thinking and conform to the way God wants us to think? In order to conform to God's view of things you must develop a Godly mindset. That's a mindset that is governed by the Word of God- not popular opinion, not by the liberal media, not by enticing words of man's wisdom, not even by your own emotions. It's a mindset that thinks like God thinks. Look back at 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". Listening to the world, their thoughts and view point and agreeing with them, got us into trouble to begin with; listening to God will get us out. Our thought life must undergo a complete transformation. We must transform our way of thinking by renewing our minds (thoughts). Renewing our thoughts with what? With the Word of God. The word of God is the will of God. It tells us what the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God is. It gives us instruction on how to live, how to act, how to react to situations. It will bring peace, faith, trust, and confidence to our hearts and minds. It will show us who this wonderful God that we love and serve is. The Bible tells us, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5). We are to have God's mind- think like He thinks, view things the way He views them, see things from His prospective- not the world's. As you continually renew you mind with God's word it will cause you to conform to His way of thinking and not to the world's way.
We are either conforming to the world by accepting it's views or we are conforming to God by accepting His "view"- which is plainly written in His Word. Which are you conforming to? "But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16b)