December 2, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Here is the scripture upon which we will concentrate for the next two blogs – Romans 12:1 through 3:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you pre-
sent your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your
reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be trans-
formed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that
good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say through the grace
given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more
highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to
everyone a measure of faith.
Have you ever heard of Silky Sullivan? Neither had I. But then again, I am not into horse racing. But Silky Sullivan was an American Thoroughbred who is known as the greatest come-from-behind racing horse ever! Participating in many races over four years starting in 1957, his style was to hold far back from the pack until he determined it was time to turn it on. Wikipedia, tells us, “Of his 27 career starts, he was in the money 18 times with 12 wins, 1 place, and 5 shows.” But he was often so far back in the field, he seemed out of the race altogether – usually ten or more length’s back! In one unnamed race at Santa Anna, February 25, 1958, he came from 41 lengths back to win by three! If it hadn’t been captured on film – I watched it at www.punters.com. au/news/Silky-Sullivan-the-greatest- swooper-of- them-all-_134653/ – the win would have been dismissed as mythology!
We are also in a race, according to Hebrews 12:1: “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….” This is a marathon, so to speak – the life-long task of living for Jesus Christ after we have accepted Him as Savior and been born into God’s family (see John 3:3-5).
But there is a problem! We do not come to that spiritual decision until later in our life – in my case when I was 19 years old. A neighbor I had to privilege to lead to the Lord last January was 52 years old when he opened his heart to the Lord. The world – the godless society which surrounds and inputs itself in all of us – has quite a head start! St. Paul speaks of such input in verse 2 of our scripture: “…do not be conformed to this world….” J. B. Phillips in The New Testament in Modern English, translates it this way: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold….” And it will certainly try to squeeze you in! Remember three things the Bible teaches us about the world (godless society):
• The kingdoms (societies) of this world are under the control of Satan! (See Luke 4:5-7, II Corinthians 4:4).
• The world is diametrically opposed to God! (See James 4:4; Revelation 18:11-13 – Notice what is first and what is last in this list of earth’s merchants!).
• As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 1:21, “…the world through [its own] wisdom did not know God…”
So how do we go about Overcoming The many years Head Start that the world has in our lives? How do we go about not letting “…the world around you squeeze you into its own mold…”?
Instead of being conformed to this world, Paul tells us, “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). What is it that renews our mind – our inner selves (called a new heart in Ezekiel 36:26, a new creation in II Corinthians 5:17, and the new man in Ephesians 4:24)? In Colossians 3:10 Paul tells us, “…the new man…is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him….” What kind of knowledge renews us as believers? It is the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ, recorded in the Scriptures! When we take in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit transforms that Word in us as the energy to manifest the life of Jesus Christ through us! (See II Corinthians 3:18; II Peter 1:3-8). After all, Paul plainly wrote in Romans 1:17 (Bible in Basic English): “The man who does righteousness will be living by his faith.” And in Romans 10:17, “…faith comes…by the word of God.” This Christian life – from beginning to end – is a matter of faith! And faith is built up and made strong by the Word of God !
I met a man, Frank, yesterday. In the course of our conversation I asked if he was a Christian. “Oh yes!” he said, “I was raised a Catholic and went to a Catholic school.” Not satisfied with his answer, I further questioned him, “Do you read your Bible? ” It turns out he did not. So I challenged him to read the Gospel of John, with this attitude, “God, what do you have here for me? Show me.” I knew that if Frank had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, he had been given “…a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3). But because he was not in the Bible, his faith would at best be weak and ineffective because he was not allowing the renewing and transforming power of the Word to do its work!
In our next blog, we will further examine how do we go about Overcoming The Head Start of the world in our lives? And I will give you some practical steps to take according to our scripture, Romans 12:1 through 3.