Romans 12 Series - The Kind of Life That Is Pleasing to God:
The Christian's Service - Non-Conformity to the World
Cape Coral, Florida
A. It is said that a very beautiful statute of a Greek slave girl once stood in the market place of an Italian city. The statue represented the girl as a neat well dressed young lady. One day a dirty, ragged little girl found the statue and for a long time stood and gazed at it with admiration and awe. She went home and washed her face and combed her hair. Before long she went to the market place again and admired the statue. She went home and washed her clothes. Each time she stood before the statue she found desirable qualities to emulate, and finally she was an entirely different girl.
1. As we behold Jesus in his word with no interposing obstructions we are transformed from the image of our worldly idols into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
2. Inasmuch as "the issues of Life" are out of the mind (Prov. 4:23), transformation must begin in the mind (Phil. 4:8).
3. There is a whole curriculum for the mind given (Phil. 4:8).
4. The only religion that can save your soul and show to others the way of salvation is the one that "reflects upon the world the rays of the Sun of Righteousness, through a loyal discipleship that has discovered that life becomes resplendent when Jesus Christ is believed in and loved" (A.Z. Conrad).
5. We must be mindful of the fact that even unspiritual people know whether or not we live close to Jesus (Acts 4:13).
B. Today we wish to look at the Christian and his transformation (Text).
1. This is the second phase of Christian service in relation to self that calls for self-sacrifice (12:1-2).
2. The body is offered to God so that we be not conformed to the world (vv. 1-2a); the mind is renewed so that we may be transformed (2b).
C. We offer to God our bodies as a "living sacrifice":
1. It is not offered to self so that one lives as he wishes or does his own thing.
2. It is not offered to others such as a spouse, family member, companion, sexual partner, mistress, or employer.
3. Nor is it offered to something else such as houses, boats, cars, jobs, possessions, professions, recreation, retirement, etc.
4. It is a living sacrifice because:
a. It is to be constant, continuous and not occasional.
b. It is to be sacrificed wherever that body is for it is not dependent upon place.
c. It sacrifices its own desires and life for God.
d. This sacrifice lives for God daily by serving him. This very thing Christians seek (1 Cor. 6:20;.2 Cor. 5:9). They know that life does not exist for this life alone. It has a more supreme purpose, i.e., its resurrection some day.
D. Too, there is a contrast of kingdoms in existence: one is fleeting, the other eternal; one is carnal, the other is spiritual; one appeals to the flesh, the other to the spirit; one leads to destruction, the other to life eternal. We should be impressed with this sobering fact: there is a wide difference between the world from which we have been translated and the kingdom into which we have been placed (Col. 1:13).
I. "Be Not Conformed To This World."
A. Before defining "conformed" let us note two passages:
1 . Romans 12:2. We are to turn away from our past (do not be conformed to this world). We are to be "transformed" (our manner of life is to be changed).
2. Romans 8:29.- We shall be conformed to the Lord Jesus Christ at his coming.
3. The two words are thus used in connection with Past, Present and Future (I Thess. 1:9-10, this passage displays all three).
B. "Conformed" defined: Gr. sunschematizo, from the root schema which means fashion, the outward form, the appearance of a man. It is the appearance that changes from day to day and year to year. (Example: a man dresses differently for work than he does when he comes into the assembly to worship. A man looks different as a young man than he does as an older man. His schema, his fashion, his outward appearance changes.) Webster defines it: "to make or be like." Illustration: The chameleon has the ability to change its skin color rapidly by conforming to its surroundings. It has come to symbolize a fickle and changeable person. God's people are to be steadfast (1 Cor. 15:58).
1. We are cautioned in Scriptures not to be like the world (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
2. When one conforms to the world he becomes a part of a mass "herd," losing individuality and denies himself self-expression. He's just another lost sinner.
3. Illustration: Compare 1 Cor. 10:2 and Rom. 6:3, with special note to the fact those "baptized into Moses" came under his leadership, i.e., they committed themselves to him. Those who refused to obey him were destroyed, "overthrown in the wilderness." Even so, in being baptized into Christ one's past life is changed. Having been delivered from those sins we commit ourselves to him and are obligated to a transformation of the pattern of our lives (1 Cor. 10:5-11). This is the essential meaning of conversion: to turn from one belief or course to another. A definite, decisive adoption of a transformed life.
4. Even so, Romans 12:1-2 admonishes us to be "transformed" and not "conformed to this world." One thing is certain, the pay may not be what we would want, but the benefits of such dedication are out of this world.
C. "World" defined: Gr. aion, age, the appearance of the world, not the universe (Rom. 1:20), material resources (Matt. 16:26), or necessarily the people (Jn. 3:16). It is the general course, way of life, the sphere of evil, including everything contrary to the spiritual (1 Jn. 2:16; 1 Pet. 1:14-15). Cf. R.C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, 204.
1. Fashions in the world change and what seems good in it is not always fashionable in the spiritual. (Mack-Levine Hat Company, St. Louis changes their hat style for men each year and I found that the changes did not always suit my taste.) The problem with some Christians is that they have been watching the wrong fashion shows!
2. Furthermore the very fashion and appearance of the world seems lasting, permanent, unending; it seems to offer the very best of everything: pleasure, happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, etc. These things are for a "season" (Heb. 11:24-25; 1 Cor. 7:31).
3. But, the fashion of the world is a lie, a mask, or a masquerade in that the appearances have within them the seeds of corruption: selfishness, greed, bitterness, hatred, anger, ungodliness, war, division, savagery, deceitfulness, ignorance, etc.
4. That some in the body of Christ have conformed to some degree is seen in their conduct toward others in the body of Christ. Without scruples, it seems, they bite and devour one another, and treat them with less courtesy than they would business associates, etc.
(continued next outline)
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 21, pp. 651-652