Monday, July 9, 2012

Conformity...biblical or non-biblical

       Let me start by saying, as always, that while I am firm in the stances I take based on scripture and often direct in the seriousness of the issues, I strive to love God and people in my presentation.  Love does not always mean being light in subject matter or delivery.  The bible says speak the truth in love that in all things we will grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.(Ephesians 4:15)  Verse 12-13 are in the context of the different spiritual offices.  These verses say that the purpose of the different spiritual offices is to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
       This is the purpose of this blog.  To share the truth in love, with a strong biblical foundation, that all may grow and mature in Christ.  If what I say makes people uncomfortable or angry sometimes, that's ok.  Sometimes, growing pains hurt. The other purpose is to draw any unsaved person who may read this blog unto the knowledge of their need for Jesus and hope that the seed planted will grow unto salvation.
       Let me remind everyone reading this that I am always looking in the mirror.  Everything that I post is something that I have grown in or am still growing in myself.  I was not, nor will I ever be perfect.  However, I have hungered after God, chasing the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus, and he has placed a fire in my belly for his Word.  He has also placed this desire to share the revelations of His truths, that he has placed in me, with others.  Therefore, this blog is not my own.  It is God's and he has made me a steward of it.  I will always strive to be faithful in being truthful yet constructive in all that I present here.
     With that said,  as I continue working on posts regarding the depth of the Gospel and it's function and application in life, I am wrestling with a concern right now, so I thought I would post on it.  Conformity.  Two definitions I found for the word conform are: 1. to comply with rules, standards, or laws, 2. to behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards.  Websters dictionary defines it as : to be similar or identical; to be in agreement or harmony.  The 1st definition and Websters definition are God's idea of conformity.  The 2nd definition is the worlds idea of conformity.
       It concerns me greatly that many professing Christians today are prone to formulating their "Christian" views based on what they want.  They choose to believe in a God that fit's THEIR idea of "Love".  It fits THEIR idea of "Justice".  They formulate a God  that fit's their beliefs instead of formulating their beliefs to fit God.  Unfortunately, this means that they have placed their faith in a lie made up in their heads vs. placing their faith in the truth of the God of the bible, who chooses them, and by his grace places a revelation of himself in their hearts. The former are quite likely false converts.
      Similarly, even true, yet immature converts, rationalize (self-deceive) themselves into thinking that ungodly things are ok to have in their lives.  To the point that if someone challenges these things, that person is called "holier than thou", "religious" or "legalistic".  I understand that more often than not, when someone is angry with a Godly idea, they often displace that anger on the person delivering the challenge.  Yet still, sometimes it surprises me.  I guess because sometimes it comes from people whom consider themselves to be solid Christians. Who may have even appeared to be mature until confronted with the truth. The truth of the matter is that if someone is truly secure in their faith, they will not need to feel defensive.  In fact, they may even pray about it, asking God to help them change.  Those that lash out, do it out of a lack of confidence in what they believe and why the believe it.  Maybe it even causes them to question their salvation.  That could be a legitimate concern.
       I am not composing this post because of recent personal experience, though I have experienced the "shoot the messenger" mentality before in regards to theological challenges.  I am mostly writing this because I am tired of people who profess Christ while continually justifying, supporting and still engaging in things that are clearly sinful and not pleasing to God. Of course, I want to be very careful because I absolutely believe that it is God's grace that enables change but, that work begins the moment we are born again.  We are to desire transformation and growth and be crying out for God's grace to help us in this from the moment we are justified (saved).  Therefore, if someone is defending their right to continue pursuing sinful things or they are still living a sinful lifestyle, they are in direct contradiction to the very nature of God that is in us if we are truly born again.  Now, obviously I do not know for sure if someone is born again.  Only the Holy Spirit knows that for sure.  However, we can look at the spiritual fruit of obedience and the attitude toward obedience and know that we may need to challenge someone to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith.
(2 Corinthians 13:5-6).
          Romans 12:1-2 says,"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing, and perfect will".
            Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...think about this one.  What is the pattern of this world?  2 Timothy 3:1-5 Paul says, "there will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying it's power.  Have nothing to do with them".
Sound familiar.  Sounds like the world today doesn't it?  We are not to be like the world or to love worldly things!
          Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  That is the only way you will know God's will.  How do we renew our minds?  We must study to show ourselves approved(2 Timothy 2:15).  Psalm 119  is all about dependence on God and obedience to God that we may be blameless and not sin against God.  Psalm 119:11 specifically says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you".  THAT, is how  we are able to not conform to this world and how we are able to know his good, pleasing, and perfect will.  God told Joshua in the book of Joshua 1:7-8,  "be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.
       As I have said before, and will probably say again, we must study God's word until it is on the inside of us, transforming us.  Then the Holy Spirit can bring it to our minds when we need it for strength, or as a reminder of what is acceptable or unacceptable in God's sight.  We also cannot share the Gospel or make disciples effectively if we do not first have a solid foundation in God's word ourselves.   
        How often do we do this?  For a long time, when I would get home from work, my first inclination, even as I drove home, would be to watch TV.  I had an addiction to it. I would stay up to late, eating all the wrong things while watching all the wrong things. Even in this disobedience however, I desired to change.  I desired to be more Christlike.  I would cry out to God to help me grow and make me new, and deliver me from this. I would beg him to give me a hunger for his word, meanwhile the TV was an idol in my life.  It had a greater priority for me than God's word.  But, THANKS BE TO GOD, that he heard my cry and by His grace, he gave me a new heart for his Word and a distaste for television.  That is not to say that I do not stumble in this area but, it is no longer a primary force in my life. Now I stay up too late sometimes, reading the Word or listing to sermons by podcast and learning from the teaching of others.  It is so much more about God now. :-) There have been other areas in life where I have seen success, but initially, I did not take action.  I was made aware of the potential lack of obedience, but would say, "I don't feel that God is convicting me about that at this time".  Even though scripture made it plain that I was in disobedience.  Gratefully, God corrected me in this.
       I believe that  God makes us aware of a need for change.  He does this either by his Word or by someone sharing a biblical principle with us.  Once he shows us that there is a potential area of improvement in our Christian walk, we are then responsible to begin striving to bring correction in that area by crying out to God to give us the grace needed to have success. If scripture supports a need for change, and we are made aware of it, then to say that we don't feel any conviction about it is not acceptable.  Once we are aware of it, IF we care about what God cares about, we should feel conviction about it.  Once we are aware of it, we are responsible to take action in faith, by grace, to begin changing that behavior.  
      A few glaring examples of disobedience in today's culture are sexual immorality, verbal sins, and our sources of entertainment. These are all things that I have been guilty of at some point in my life.  I want to address each of these briefly in hopes that you will examine your life to see if you are in disobedience.
       SEXUAL IMMORALITY. Matthew 5:28 says, "anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart".  I believe he targeted man because he understood that men are, by their nature, more influenced by what they see.  It is certainly true of both sexes though. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, "flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body".  1 Corinthians 6:9-20 is loaded with examples of wickedness, to include the sexual sin of homosexuality, and exhortation that we are not to take part in these things.  I hope you will go back and read all of those verses. Romans 1:26-28 is another solid reference to homosexual sin.  Galatians 5:19-21 lists acts of the sinful nature, to include sexual immorality.  It goes on to say that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
     VERBAL SINS.  Profanity is one of those verbal sins that tends to be excused.  One that people often don't prioritize as something to correct.  Ephesians 4:29-31 says,"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Ephesians 5:3-5 says, "but among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person---such a man is an idolater---has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
I typed out much of this because I want us to see just how seriously God takes these things.  Things that we tend not to give enough weight to, God lumps in with other sins that we tend to take more seriously.  He says that if these things are still part of your lifestyle, and you see no need to change it, or are making no effort to change it that you have no inheritance in God's kingdom.  That seems like a really good reason to evaluate your relationship with God and see if you are in the faith.
      ENTERTAINMENT.   There are previous posts regarding this and I hope you will revisit them. I will touch on it again because this is major area of conformity and compromise today.  If we consider ourselves to be in the faith.  If we truly believe that we are children of the Most High God.  We should evaluate EVERYTHING that comes into our spirits/hearts by audio or visual means.  Suffice it to say that I believe most entertainment today is froth with unholy material that does nothing but glorify and make commonplace that which displeases God and separates us from God. If any entertainment is allowed into our lives it should only be that which is glorifying to God and draws our attention to God's ways and thoughts.  Some may label this idea religious or legalistic but I call it scriptural and biblically supported. Philippians 4:8-9 says, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think on these things".  Galatians 5:17 states that the sinful nature and the Spirit of God are in conflict with each other because the are contrary to each other. Again, Galatians 5:19-21 lists the acts of the sinful nature, "Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Those who live like this WILL NOT inherit the kingdom of God.  
       Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings (idolatry and witchcraft), Pirates of the Carribean (most of the other acts of the sinful nature), or even most romantic or comedy storylines.  Even action flicks surrounding Marvel comics.  All glorify the sinful nature.  Music in the form of oldies, rock, R&B, Hip Hop, Country or any other style.  If it glorifies Love, Romance, or Sex, in any form outside of the way in which God designed them to be thought of it is sinful.  Revenge, drugs, violence, and fornication are all sinful acts that today's music, TV and movies, books, and video games glorify. 
      We want to see these things as harmless. But Satan uses all of these ideas to mask and make more appealing, acts and ideas that are ungodly.  Oh we don't want to see it because we don't like change.  We want to argue that as long as it does not cause us to stumble into these acts then we are ok.  If these forms of entertainment cause us to dwell on ungodly, sinful acts, even if it is only for the period of time that we are engaging in the entertainment, it is still contrary to what scripture says we are to dwell on. As I have said before, why would we argue for the right to enjoy entertainment of any form, lyric, or storyline that supports the sinful nature if that nature will keep people from the kingdom and steal Glory from the one who died for you.  These things are contrary to the Spirit.  They do not bring glory to God and bringing glory to God is the purpose for which we were created (Isaiah 43:7)  If you are offended or put off, ask yourself, Who's interest are you serving?  God's or yours?
     Is this post a little lengthy?  Perhaps.  But I dare not risk a thorough representation of the truth on this matter in the name of brevity.  Especially when souls are on the line.  Are these ideas considered radical by societies standards, even Christian society?  Absolutely!  Are these ideas supported by scripture and is this message needed today?  YES!  These are not new ideas.  They have been in scripture from the beginning and many bold, obedient pastors today are teaching the message, in one form or another.  I am just another voice proclaiming the truth.  That message is, you are conformed in one direction or the other.  Either to Jesus, or to the world.  One leads to the kingdom of God and the other away from the kingdom of God.  You cannot desire and strive to live in both directions and be certain of your eternal destination.  Which one are you?  2 Corinthians 13:5-6 says, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you---unless, of course, you fail the test.  Think about it.      
Love in Christ,

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