THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 5-22-11
LESSON TITLE: “HE WHO OVERCOMES THE WORLD: BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD”
“Trust in Him at all times…God is a refuge for us,” Psalm 62:8! No wonder we have assembled this day to laud and magnify His Wondrous Name!
Let me welcome each of you to the Living Word program on this glorious Lord’s day morning! How wonderful it is to know that you have chosen to put God first this day and to assemble for this time of worship before His Mighty Throne!
As always, it will be our privilege to offer sacrifices to God this morning, with the fruit of our lips and the obedience of our actions, may we all be encouraged on this the Lord’s day. However, may we each do our part so that ultimately we will offer praise to God according to His truth as is found in His Precious Will. So as we begin our focus on the Creator, will you bow with me in prayer?
Now let’s join in our first hymn of the day. It’s name, “The Gloryland Way.”
(SONG # 1)
The idea of God being our refuge is certainly a very comforting fact. The verse we mentioned at the first of the program also encourages us to “pour out your heart before Him!” Wow, this shows us that we can really trust and count on God. He is always there and ready to help us in all areas of life.
David goes on to explain God as our refuge in many places throughout his writings. Another specific passage we would like to consider begins in Psalm 71:3. In this verse we learn, “Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth.” Notice all of the things in this text which prove to us that God is our refuge. We read that we can turn to Him, for He is our rock and fortress. Another idea which David confirms about our God is that He can deliver us from the wicked. God is also proclaimed as our hope and trust. Is there any doubt why we can and should seek refuge in our God?
Finally, let’s consider a verse in the New Testament which encourages us with the same idea. In 1 Peter 5:6-7, there we read, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you...” Again we have God referred to as one who we can humble ourselves before and thus find safety in His hand. Furthermore, notice that we are exhorted to cast our care on Him! What more could we ask of a refuge, what more can we expect from our God!
Let me ask you to consider if you have made God the refuge of your life! If not, why not choose today to obey the commandments of God and thus find refuge in the most powerful and wondrous place available on this earth. Why not allow God to be your refuge and strength in the time of need?
Today we will continue our series of study entitled, “He Who Overcomes the World.” Our lesson this day is, “Be Not Conformed to This World.” So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, we will be lead in the main thoughts of the day.
As far as our guest speaker. We are happy to again have brother Brent Green with us. Brother Brent is the preacher for the Carthage Church of Christ. Now it’s time to join in our second song, the name of this hymn, “To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way.”
(SONG # 2)
By Brent Green
What a privilege it is again to open the Word of God, the Living Word and be encouraged by what it says.
If you think about what Romans chapter 12 verses 1 and 2 gives to us as Paul gives the exhortation there to the brethren in Rome. He says, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” That encouragement gives us something to think about in relationship to overcoming this world, the things of it.
But before we continue down that pathway and thinking about what that verse means to us today, I want to think about something from an example that we see in secular history. Back in the 1800’s, from 1803-1870, there was a Texas cattle rancher who, as he had his calves that were born alongside the others that were born by the neighboring cattle ranchers. The practice of the day was to brand those calves so that you could keep them separate so that you would know which ones were yours and know which ones were somebody else’s. That brand might be the initials of your letters of your name or some symbol that would distinguish yours from somebody else’s. Well this man refused to brand his calves and so the neighboring cattle ranchers would see an unbranded calf and they would refer to it by that man’s name because they knew who it belonged to because it stood out. It was different and didn’t look like all the others who had a branding on them. Do you know what that man’s name was? Samuel A. Maverick, and hence the word “Maverick” entered into our English language meaning someone or something that takes an independent stand, something that doesn’t go with the flow, something that doesn’t do what everybody else is doing. And so those calves that didn’t have that branding were known as mavericks.
Well think about in relationship to our lives as Christians. Well shouldn’t we also be those who take an independent stand and stand out and be different from the world around us because we’re not conformed to it? Well think about that in relationship to these verses here in Romans chapter 12 verses 1-2 that we as Christians indeed should be mavericks from the world that we should stand out. These two verses here in Romans chapter 12 give us the way in which we can be mavericks from the world, the way in which we can stand out.
Beginning there in Romans chapter 12 and verse 1, the first way we do this as Paul says, “To present our bodies as a living sacrifice.” Well the sacrifices that God required of old or to be a certain type, those that were the best of the flocks, those that were without spot, without blemish, those that truly required sacrifice on the part of those who would give them to the Lord/
Well, how do we present our bodies as a living sacrifice? Not one that is going to be offered upon an altar where we will be killed, but rather our lives. How do we offer ourselves as living sacrifices? Well he goes on to explain this in this verse. He says to, “Be holy.” Well what does it mean to be holy? Well to be holy is to be someone who is set apart from common use. Not just like everyone else, not just like everything else, but that which is sincere, that which is pure, that which is separated from those things that are unclean and defiled.
Well think about your spiritual life. Have you defiled yourself? Have you been those that are no longer holy because you have associated with things that aren’t correct? Well how do we present our bodies as living sacrifices? Well we present ourselves as those who are holy.
The same word translated here as “holy” in Romans chapter 1 and verse 7; there the word is translated as “saints” in relationship to those who are Christians, those who are pure, those who are God’s children, those who are saints in the eyes of God. Be holy!
But furthermore think about what it means to be holy even in 1 Peter chapter 1 and verse 15 tells us to do, and to be holy in all of our conduct. Not just when we are at work or when we are at school, and not just when we are at worship services, but in all of our conduct, and in all of our daily lives to be set apart from the world, to be holy. When indeed we live holy lives we stand out from the world. Our speech is that which is uncommon. Uncommon compared to the common practice of what most people say, the things and the words that most people use in this daily life. So to be holy is one way in which we present our bodies as a living sacrifice.
The other exhortation here in verse 1 is that we might truly present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Paul goes on to say that, “We present ourselves in a way that is acceptable to God.” Well think about what this means. To be acceptable before God is to act in such a way that is well-pleasing in His sight.
Philippians chapter 4 there in verse 18 talks about an acceptable sacrifice that is well-pleasing before God, one that God would accept because it is what He expects, one that is according to His standards, one that is as He commanded, an acceptable sacrifice.
Well think about even the Old Testament example in Leviticus chapter 10 and verse 1 where Nadab and Abihu offered an unacceptable sacrifice when they offered profane fire before the Lord. Well it wasn’t accepted by God. It wasn’t well-pleasing.
Well indeed if we want to offer our bodies, present ourselves as a living sacrifice we have to do so in an acceptable way according there to the standard of God.
This is what we find in Hebrews chapter 13 concerning the sacrifices that we would make in this life that is of our lives. Hebrews chapter 13 beginning there in verse 15, here the Hebrews writer says the following, “Therefore by Him, let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name, but do not forget to do good and to share for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased.” Well when we live in such a way, when we do good for others, when we follow God’s commands, it is a sacrifice of our lives that is well-pleasing in the sight of God so that we live holy, so that we live acceptably in the sight of God so that we can present our bodies as a living sacrifice.
You might say, “Well this is just too much. How can God expect me to do this on a daily basis? How can I live in such a way every day as holy, as acceptable in the eyes of God? It’s just too much. Well Paul points out there if that is your objection; think about what he says there. “This is your reasonable service.” For all that God has done for us, even the culmination of all the great gifts, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He (did what?) gave His only begotten Son.” Well if God gave us His Son, what should we be willing to give to Him? Our lives! Now that’s what Paul was talking about here, “Present your bodies (your lives) as a living sacrifice.” That’s one way we stand out from the world and to be mavericks from that world is to do just that, to present our bodies as a living sacrifice.
Verse 2 gives us another way in which we can be mavericks from the world. He says there in verse 2, “Do not be conformed to this world.” Well to conform to something is to put yourself into its mold, squeeze yourself into what somebody else expects or desires of you other than God is what we are talking about here. We’re talking about that idea of conforming and it is to fashion after something else. So you might see somebody else dress in a certain way or live in a certain way, and you fashion your lives after them. Well if you are to fashion your life after somebody like Christ or even somebody like Paul as he fashioned his own life after that of Christ (1 Corinthians 11 verse 1) then that would be okay. That would be a suitable way to fashion yourself after a premier example, that of Christ.
But so often that is not what takes place. We would rather fashion ourselves and imitate the lives of those who aren’t living according to that godly standard. We don’t want to be conformed to this world, to be squeezed into its mold. You see the fashions and the trends that now are hip and cool or whatever the word might be, you see tomorrow those things will be fading and fleeting. But you know what endures forever? The Word of God! To pattern ourselves after that and not to be conformed to the standard of this world. You see the world no longer seems to care very much about right and wrong. Well yeah they are concerned about pleasures and even (inaudible) what Peter mentioned there in 2 Peter chapter 2 and verse 13 where they even caroused in the daytime. Well that description back then would be even fitting for today and the evil that takes place even in the light of day. People no longer are concerned about right and wrong. Do you know what they are concerned about? Pleasing themselves, pleasing their fellow man just like there in Galatians chapter 1 and verse 10. And even more than that they are eaten up by this love of money (1 Timothy chapter 6 and verse 10) so much so that all of the things of this world have consumed mankind to the point that they no longer seem to care about right and wrong. Even beyond that they want to remove any name of God and any thought of God out of the picture, seeking an amoral society where we no longer have to think about God or even His name.
Reality is morality matters! Think about all that is in the world, we should not conform our lives to it but rather listen to this admonition and do not be conformed to this world. Think about living for God. Think about the fact that morality does indeed matter. “Do not love the world or the things in this world,” 1 John chapter 2 and verse 15. Or even as the prophet of old, Isaiah, said in Isaiah chapter 52 and verse 11, “Go out of there,” speaking in relationship to that which is sinful, leave that place. Same thing that even Paul quoted there in 2 Corinthians 6 and verse 17 when he said, “Do not touch that which is unclean.” He was quoting from the prophet Isaiah. You see morality matters! Do not be conformed to this world. Do not be just another branded calf that is the branding of this world. Don’t let the world, the evil thereof, and all that entails it, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, don’t let that branding be upon you. Do not be conformed.
Well lastly we look at another point here in verse 2 of how we can be mavericks from this world. Well consider with me also the second point that Paul makes in verse 2 when he says, “Be transformed.” The same word that we have here in the New King James Version in our English translation, as “Transformed” as the same Greek word from which we derive our English word “metamorphosis.” Just as a frog doesn’t begin like a frog, but it first starts out as a tadpole and then changes into something brand new. Or a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. That transformation is something we have to do as Christians leaving behind the old and becoming that which is brand new.
These ideas are brought up in relationship to this change inside and out, to renovate oneself. Well this is first what takes place when we become Christians initially, putting off the old man and becoming a new creature, a new man. (Colossians chapter 3 verses 9-10). But in relationship to this, I want us to consider the words as written to the brethren at Ephesus, Ephesians chapter 4 there beginning in verse 23 thinking about this idea of transformation. Here Paul as he writes to another set of Christians says in verse 22 that you put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lust, but be renewed in the spirit of your mind that you may put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness. In other words, do not be conformed to this world. Put that behind you. Put the old man behind you, the old lifestyle, the old way that you talked and become this new creature. Be transformed by that renewing of your mind. And that we might do it, as it says again there in Romans chapter 12 verse 2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
This transformation of our lives, our continual transformation throughout our lives from the old to the new is how we prove that our faith is indeed genuine in the sight of God. Even 1 Peter chapter 1 and verse 7 talks about the genuineness of our faith being tested by fire, the many trials that we have to overcome that we might make it to that heavenly home so that indeed we can be those who are truly transformed not of the world, although we live in this world, but we stand out as those who are living for God.
Are people going to think it strange as we are transforming our lives and continue to be transformed by the word of God? Yes they might. 1 Peter chapter 4 and verse 4 says, “They think it strange that you don’t run with them.” You know people might have thought it strange that Samuel A. Maverick didn’t brand his calves. Everybody else was doing it. Everyone else had their own symbols, their own lettering, their own branding to put on their calves, but Samuel A. Maverick didn’t do what everybody else was doing. He took at independent stand. He did what he thought was right according to that principle. But we’re talking about things greater than a worldly sense. A spiritual realm is what we’re considering. Well let’s be mavericks from the world, not conformed to it, but rather those who are transformed, those who really are indeed present our bodies as a living sacrifice, those who are not of this world even though we live in this world.
Consider this as we close. We want to be those who are not a thermometer, not as we conform ourselves to what somebody else might set as the standard, but we want to be thermostats, those who set the standard for the world around us according to the Word of God. Let’s live in this world, present our bodies as living sacrifices, do not be conformed to this world, rather be transformed by the renewing of your mind that indeed you stand out and you take that stand against all that is evil, standing for God, making sure you live right amidst a world of sin. Truly love God, and live for Him!
(SONG # 3 - “Lord We Come Before Thee Now.”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I know our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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May we never conform ourselves to this world of the things of it. Rather, let’s conform ourselves to God and His Perfect Word, and thus be found pleasing in His Sight. Have you been transformed for God, according to His Will?