Thursday, July 5, 2018

Spiritual Tweaking

"Do not conform 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." Romans 12:2

I was a pretty good baseball player. I was good enough to crack the starting lineup at one of the larger high schools in Indiana and later become a regular starter on a college baseball team. My mastery of the fundamentals and my understanding of the game elevated my level of play beyond my natural physical ability.

Honestly, I was only an average athlete and my physical stature was also on the average side of the scale. I lacked the speed and size to play at a higher level.

My dream of being a professional baseball player was limited by those physical factors. Gaining an inch in height or an extra step of speed wouldn't have been enough to make up the difference.

In other words, a minor tweak or two would not have made enough difference in my ability to have a chance in the pros. It would have taken a complete and miraculous physical transformation to get me where I wanted to be!

I share that not just to reminisce but to make this point. There are no minor tweaks we can make in our fallen spiritual nature that will make us into what God requires us to be. We can't reform ourselves into salvation.

And yet it seems many religious people believe they can make some minor tweaks or adjustments and make themselves acceptable to God. It goes something like this, "If I just spent more time in prayer" or "If I just read the Bible regularly" or "if I just get baptized" then I would be spiritual enough.

But as Paul clearly informs the Christians in Rome, they don't need a spiritual tweak they need a spiritual transformation!

You can't conform yourself into spirituality or salvation.

Neither can you reform yourself into salvation.

Only the transforming power of Jesus and His shed blood can pull you out of conformity and beyond mere religious practices!

You need a fundamental change in your spiritual nature! The Greek word Paul used is "metamopho" which is the root word for our English word "metamorphosis".

A metamorphosis is what happens when an ugly caterpillar changes into an elegant butterfly. It is a complete transformation of your nature!

Only Jesus can do that in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Have you been transformed by Jesus?

Conformed To This World

"Do not conform 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." Romans 12:1-2

If giving yourself to God as a living sacrifice is the "reasonable" thing to do why don't more people do it?

And if offering yourself to God as a living sacrifice allows Him to transform you by the renewing of your mind, why aren't more people offering themselves to Him? 

At least part of the answer, and I suspect a big part, is that it is easier to conform or to try to reform rather than surrendering to be transformed by a holy God.

But rather than surrender to transforming power some choose to revert to their default setting and allow their thinking, their values, their decision-making and their behavior be shaped by their sinful nature. 

Paul would call that "being conformed to the world".

You are born as a sinner because your nature has been shaped by the sinfulness of Adam. Unless you choose to do something about that condition you will remain as Paul describes "conformed to the world" . And if you die that way you have no hope of making Heaven.

Since the mind that is "conformed to the world" is controlled by the sinful nature it will not recognize it's need to change and merely do what comes naturally - sin. Sin will keep you from God and it will keep you out of Heaven.

So, denying that you are really that bad of a person is a "conformed to the world" thing.

Deciding to just fit in with the ways of the world is a "conformed to the world" thing.

Choosing to "go along just to get along" is another is a 'conformed to the world" thing.

No wonder Paul emphatically states, "But do not conform to the pattern of this world".

If you were a passenger on a sinking ship at sea, would you be concerned about fitting in and being like all the other passengers? 

Of course you wouldn't!

No, you would make every effort to do the reasonable thing - find a way to get off the ship and survive!

Apart from Christ, your life is a sinking ship!