Summary: Our thinking drives our behavior. Rather than blindly accepting the trends in our society, Christians should allow their thinking to be shaped by revelation in the word.
How to Living Right
I begin this message today with an assumption. My assumption is this: Deep in the heart of every Christian is the desire to live right before God. I can’t imagine someone who is truly born again not wanting to please God. When the cry “Abba Father” comes into our hearts bearing witness that we are the children of God —there comes with that cry a desire for holiness—a cry for being absolutely and completely right with our Heavenly Father. If there is no desire for righteousness I have to wonder if there has been a genuine new birth. Those of you who have been born again, do you desire—do you long—to please God with everything in you? I do. Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:9 “...we make it our goal to please him.... (NIV)”
But in Romans 7 we find this same Paul in a struggle to actually live that out. In verse 18 he says, “...for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” Paul then says that the good he wants to do, he often fails to do; and the wrong that he intends to avoid he sometimes falls into. Rom 7:21-24 “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Some people say that is the cry of an unsaved man. I don’t think so; I don’t think unsaved people “delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” That delight in righteousness comes with knowing Christ. It comes with being born again with a divine nature. The ungodly are not lamenting their sin. They’re like pigs wallowing in the mire. They feel perfectly comfortable in that environment. The difference between a sinning unbeliever and a sinning Christian can be described this way this way. It’s the unsaved person’s nature to sin. Just like its pig’s nature to wallow in slop. He can live there quite comfortably. But put a sheep or a lamb in that same slop and he’s out of his element. That sheep will be crying “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me....?” I think today I’m mostly talking to sheep; and some may be crying out like Paul did, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
In the next breath Paul answered his own question, Rom 7:25 “I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord!” There is deliverance in Christ. There is victory out of the struggle you may be experiencing in your life right now. This morning I want to talk about how that happens.
Turn with me to Romans 12:1-3
“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. 2 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.” We were in Romans 7 when we talked about Paul’s struggle to do right. Romans 8 gives a lot of information about the victory that is ours in Christ. We will revisit Romans 8 in a few minutes. Between the end of Romans 8 and the beginning of Romans 12 is a big parenthesis. In Romans 9-11 Paul digresses and talks extensively about God’s dealings with the nation of Israel. Now he comes back to his subject. Romans 12 is not disconnected with Romans 7 and 8. How do we live pleasing to God as His dear children?
There is a double instruction for us in Romans 12:2.
On one side of the coin, we are to not allow ourselves to be conformed to this world. The world in which we live has a way of thinking and a way of living that is contrary to the will of God. The god of this world, Satan, has blinded the minds of the ungodly (2 Cor. 4:4) so that they think wrong and live wrong. Many of them may live perfectly fine according to the standards of this world; but they are living in opposition to God’s will.
I was amazed at the honor the liberal media gave Dr. George Tiller when he was killed last month. Tiller was the late-term abortionist in Wichita, Kansas who was shot and killed May 31st. The Associated Press article wrote, “The family said its loss ‘is also a loss for the city of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality health care despite frequent threats and violence.’” I’m not defending the man who shot him; but this abortionist was no hero. He was a greedy man making lots of money off of slaughtering innocent, unborn babies. By the world’s standards he was an upstanding citizen. There are greedy businessmen making all kinds of crooked deals in this country who are highly esteemed in our society. The world has its standards. And if we’re not careful we will buy into to those standards. If we don’t know what the Bible says—if we don’t know what God thinks, we can easily be deceived along with the whole society.