Sunday, June 11, 2023

Give Up the World (Romans 12)

"And do not be conformed to this world …" (Rom. 12:2).

Ironically, the greatest cost and the greatest hindrance in the Christian life are one in the same: the world. Jesus expounds upon this time and again in His parables and discourses. He teaches that you must be willing to give up the world to enter the kingdom of God. You must not look back. You must put your hand to the plow and move forward. You must not linger in Sodom, but you must flee to the hills. Like the merchant looking for fine pearls, when you have found the one of great value, you must sell everything to purchase it. Is there anything in this world worth all your possessions? Probably not. But Jesus says there is something given from above that is worth more than anything in the world—eternal life.

Yet, many in this world would trade eternal life for a moment of pleasure, for fame, for wealth, for comfort. They’ve conformed to the world’s way of thinking, and they do not understand the teaching of Scripture. They do not have the ears to hear the call of Christ, who said, “Sell everything and follow me.” Such as these are to be pitied. Like the rich young ruler, they go away sad, unable even to comprehend such a command. But what of the Christian who still clings to the world? 

Is it not all too common to find many “Christians” more comfortable with the world than with the church? Are you such a person? Paul teaches us to throw off everything that hinders and run the race marked out before us (Heb. 12:1). Does the world hinder you? Are you more conformed to the world’s way of thinking than to God’s? Do you love the applause of the world more than the approval of God? Are you afraid of being labeled a fanatic or an extremist? Are you willing to humble yourself and admit that you have believed certain things all your life that are contrary to the Bible?

The residue of the world clings to each of us in one way or another. If you want to clean it off, it will take a lot of work. Paul commands us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We cannot, of course, change ourselves, but here we see the mystery of sanctification. God gives us grace, but we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. “Be transformed,” then, by conforming your life and your thinking, not to the world, but to Christ.

Read Luke 21:34, Galatians 6, Colossians 3:2, and 1 John 2:15. Consider changes you need to make in your life to obey these exhortations. Do you need to pray more, watch less TV; fellowship more with God’s people, give up ungodly friendships? Ask God for grace to begin change today.