Summary: This message examines the necessity for Christians not to conform to the world.
These words were scribbled on the tomb of an Anglican bishop in the crypts of Westminster Abbey..."When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but, it too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me. But, alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world." Paul provides us in Romans 12 a plan for breaking free from the world’s mold. For us to be able to apply these principles to our lives we are going to have to make the decision to live counter-culturally. Yet in this world that touts individuality so few are bold enough to be different. God confronts each of us with a choice, either we are going to follow Him or we are going to conform to the world. In our text Paul urges us that in light of everything God has done for us through Christ, our lives should be presented to Him as a sacrifice rather than being conformed to the world. Today let’s take a look at how we can truly live as a non-conformist.
I. Understanding what it means to be conformed to the world.
A. What causes people to desire to be conformed to the world?
1. We are afraid of what might happen if we change our lives and live differently from everyone else.
2. We believe that we will have more enjoyment by living our lives like everyone else.
3. We enjoy the pleasure that comes from being like the rest of the world.
4. We are crippled by pride and a negative self image, so we believe that there is really no other alternative.
5. We do not want to make the sacrifices necessary to live our lives according to God’s will.
B. Conforming to the world’s pattern involves adopting the following ways of thinking.
1. I am entitled to enjoying life and having my desires fulfilled.
2. If I am going to get ahead in this world then I need to look out for number one.
3. I have the right to trample on anyone that gets in the way of me reaching my goals.
4. It is my right to be able to acquire all the wealth and stuff that I need to be able to enjoy my life.
5. I have the right to use my talents and abilities to advance my own agenda.
6. No one has the right to tell me how to live my life.
II. We are a non-conformist when we present our lives to God in worship.
A. As Christians we are urged to reflect upon God’s mercy shown to us through Jesus Christ.
1. The word translated “mercy” is oiktirmos, (“pity, mercy, compassion”); it is used only here in Romans.
2. Paul is describing the quality in God that moves Him to deliver man from his state of sin and misery and therefore underlies his saving activity in Christ.
3. Our Christianity is not based on pride in our own efforts, but entirely on God’s mercy to forgive us.
4. The gospel is precisely God’s mercy to inexcusable and undeserving sinners, in giving his Son to die for them, in justifying them freely by faith, in sending them the life-giving Spirit, and in making them His children.
B. The total commitment of ourselves to God is based on the totality of His mercy to us.
1. When you truly understand and contemplate all that God has done to save you through Christ, Paul shows that the fitting response is to offer your bodies as living sacrifices.
2. The concept of body in Greek thought is more than just our physical body it includes our emotions, our mind, our thoughts, our desires and our plans. It is the totality of our being.
3. The response of the believer to this mercy is absolute surrender, expressed in sacrificial imagery; offer your bodies as… sacrifices. This metaphor is a powerful one, picturing us at God’s altar baring our necks to be sacrificed for Him.
4. Such sacrifices are “holy and pleasing to God.” They are worthy of His acceptance. The possibility of bringing pleasure to God provides a powerful motivation for complete surrender of self.
5. This is a critical aspect of the Christian life—we must strive at all times to experience the new life of the Spirit so we might be sanctified or set apart to God and bring Him pleasure.