Romans 12 Series - The Kind of Life That Is Pleasing to God (4)
The Christian's Service in Relation to Self-Transformation (Romans 12:2)
Cape Coral, Florida
A. Briefly review lesson #3.
B. The Christian is not to conform or fashion himself after the world: he must not follow . . .
1. Its fellowship (Jas. 4:4; 2 Cor. 6:17-18).
2. Its lusts (1 Pet. 1:14).
3. Its course (Eph. 2:2).
4. Its god, Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).
5. Its leaders (1 Cor. 2:6-8).
6. Its false security (Matt. 24:38-39; 1 Thess. 5:2-3).
7. Its deceitful riches (Matt. 13:22).
8. Its crowd (Exod. 23:2).
C. Our greatest danger: the seeing of how someone else is molded by the spirit and fashion of the world, yet be blind to our own worldly practices. The very excuses for sin that are rejected at one point may be used at another point to justify what we do and what we love.
1. David could see the abuse of a poor man by a rich man, but he did not see himself in the parable (2 Sam. 12, "thou art the man").
2. Even so the worldly mind points to the sins of other men while excusing its own sins.
a. Many things trigger a reflex defense by the worldly rationale, but that rationale has no validity at all in reference to those other sins so readily condemned.
b. Some examples.
1. "But be ye transformed" - Gr. metamorphousthe, "change the form of." The Greek root of the word is morphe. Morphe means the real being of a man, the very nature and essence of a man. The man in evening clothes looks different than he does in work clothes, but he is still the same man inwardly. The elderly man is still the same man inwardly that he was as a young man.
A. It is evident: the believer must undergo a radical change within his inner being in order to escape the world and its doom. He must be transformed and changed inwardly (his real self must be changed). However, there must be the inward change of the mind (Prov. 23:7), before there can be an outward change of the body or actions (Rom. 6:13,16).
1. So the first step is "be not fashioned according to the world," i.e., there must be a change of character first (Col. 3:9-10).
2. Then the center of the mind, being different, can produce an outward change of behavior through its transformation, i.e., the "renewing of the mind" (Rom. 12:2).
3. This begins with one's obedience to the gospel (Rom. 6:3-6,11,16-17). Having put on a new relationship he should live better the longer he lives (Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:2). This is the point of 2 Corinthians 3:18, "glory of the Lord" (his effulgence, Heb. 1:2), "are changed" (present tense, gradual).
B. "Renewing of the mind" - Renewed (anakainosis, which means to be made new, readjusted, changed, turned around). Before this renewing takes place the mind is basically worldly, i.e., selfish (centered on this world), self-centered (centered on the flesh) and self-seeking (centered on this life).
1. It can become vain in its imaginations (Rom. 1:21), reprobate (Rom. 1:28), carnal (Rom. 8:7), blinded (2 Cor. 4:4), etc.
2. It is renewed in Christ when one is born again (1 Pet. 1:23), made a new man (Col. 3:10), becomes a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17) and given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Whereas the believer's mind was once centered upon the world, it is now centered on things spiritual.
3. When his life is transformed he is to:
a. Love the Lord with all his mind (Matt. 22:37).
b. Center the mind on spiritual things (Rom. 8:5-6).
c. Cast down every thought that interrupts knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
d. Think on things of virtue (Phil, 4:8).
e. Arm himself with the mind of Christ (1 Pet. 4:1).
II. "That Ye May Prove." "Prove" (Gr. dokimazo), to find and to follow God's will, to experience (Heb. 11:1). Again, to put to the test for the purpose of approving and finding that the thing tested meets specifications laid down.
A. This is done by the focus of and the keeping of one's mind on the things of God (what a challenge!).
B. The will of God is described by a threefold description that stirs one to crave after God's will:
1 . "Good" (Gr. agathon) - beneficial, rich, bountiful, moral.
2. "Acceptable" (Gr. euareston) - pleasing satisfactory, welcomed.
3. "Perfect" (Gr. teleion) - without error, flawless complete, free from need.
C. The earlier chapters of Romans describe the revealing of the will of God in Christ. Chapter 12 shows that our response to that mercy and grace should be done in such a way as to be well-pleasing and agreeable to him.
1. The one who acts in accordance with his will as described here, whether he later falls away or not, will agree that such action is good, acceptable and perfect.
2. Nothing which is worthwhile is left out (2 Pet. 1:3).
3. It is so practical, why should we not practice it?
1. When God's people under the O.T. came into contact with heathen people in the promised land they began to imitate them and conform to their customs. The result was disastrous both to their spiritual life and their temporal prosperity.
2. So it was in N.T. times with certain churches of Asia: Sardis had a name, but she was dead. Laodicea was lukewarm, etc. Worldliness proved their ruin.
3. Those who obey the gospel have the right to enter into the sublime joy of moment by moment submission to his will.
4. If we present our bodies a living sacrifice unto him, we shall be transformed and prove the truth of what is good, acceptable and perfect for ourselves.
5. There are no circumstances that are beyond God's power, and nothing is so trivial that it is beyond his love. We must submit ourselves unto him.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 1, pp. 14-15