One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: August 13, 2022
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Be transformed – not conformed
Make it personal
Read Romans 12:2, but personalize it as if Paul is writing to you: [YOUR NAME], do not be conformed to this world, but [YOUR NAME] be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Know the Terms: Conform, Set apart, transformed, renewing
We might know what these words mean in everyday conversation, but in the context of Scripture, what do they mean?
The word conform means that we will comply with the rules, standards, or laws in our world. That is conforming in a positive way. God expects us to obey the laws of our land, unless they go against His laws. God’s laws will always supersede any law man makes.
The word can also mean, “behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards”. This is the conforming we should not do. Remember when your mother used to say, “And if everyone else jumps off the bridge, will you jump with them”? If you did, you would be conforming to what everyone is doing, even if it is wrong. You would be conforming, even if it cost you your life.
Most of us would agree we would not jump off a bridge just because everyone else is doing it. But what about sex before marriage? Or what about homosexual marriage? What about alcohol, smoking, or abusing drugs? What about the way we dress or talk? How about the way we use technology? What about what we post and say on social media? Or what about what movies and TV shows we watch? And how about the way we view other people? Are we conforming to the world in these – or other – ways?
As Christians, we have been set apart from the world. We have been set apart for fellowship with God. We have been set apart to be holy, because God is holy. Therefore, you can’t be “Set apart from” and “conforming to” the world at the same time. God doesn’t want us to look like, smell like, act like, and talk like the world. Instead, He wants us to bear His image. God wants us to look like Him, smell like Him, act like Him, and talk like Him.
Both of my children look enough like me that you would know they belong to me. However, my daughter is a mini version of me. I have photos of us side by side at the same age and the only way those photos give away which one is me is the difference in the style of clothes from one era to the other. As a child of God, we should look so much like him that if you put your photo next to Him it would be hard to tell the two apart. We should be continually transforming into the glory of God. So how do we keep ourselves from conforming to the world while living in the world?
From a Biblical standpoint, to be transformed requires a change or renewal from a life of sin marked by being conformed to the ways of the world to a Godly life that mirrors God’s image and therefore is pleasing to Him. Any time a spiritual transformation has taken place it will exhibit itself in our outward words and actions. Colossians 1:10 says that if we are going to live a life pleasing to God and worth of the Lord, then we must be fruitful in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. That’s being transformed. Ephesians 2:13 is another example of a person being transformed. This verse says: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
The Greek word for renewing is anakainosis and means renovation or to restore. So when the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Christ, He does a renovation within us. When something is renovated it is restored to either it’s former state or to a better state. As a Christian, we are not renovated to our former state, which is a sinner who is lost without Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work within us to renovate us to a better state – a holy state. He is transforming us from unrighteous to righteous.
Three ways to not conform to the world
We are a new creation
As a child of God, we became a new creation the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Before we were a Christian, we were ruled by the things of this world. And the ruler of this world is Satan. Jesus told us in John 8:44 who our father is when we conform to the world. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” So before salvation, our spiritual Father is Satan.
As a child of God, we are now heirs with Christ and we are ruled by our Heavenly Father, God. That makes us different than the world. We no longer “fit in” because we have been “set apart” from the world.
Set apart for a reason
God set us apart from the world for a reason. He expects us to be Light bearers. Since the Light of the World lives in us, we should shine His light into the darkness of the world. We should serves as a beacon to draw others to Him. But if we keep His Light hidden and we chose to live as the world, then the world sees nothing different about us. So if we are not going to conform to this world, we need to remember that we are a new creation in Christ. We no longer fit in with the world. Instead, we are set apart as heirs with Christ and bear His Light throughout the world.
Feast on the Word of God
There is a reason Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. Bread was a staple in the diets of Bible day people. It filled them up and kept them from feeling hungry. It gave them physical life. Jesus gives us eternal life but He also keeps our spiritual selves satisfied and filled. If we are not going to feel hungry, we have to keep feeding ourselves. The same is true for our spiritual selves. In John 6, Jesus said, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”.
Are you still filling up on milk or are you enjoying solid food?
In Hebrews 5:12, Paul told the Christians, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food”. We learn the basic principles by reading and studying God’s Word, meditating on it, asking the Holy Spirit how we need to apply it, and then being obedient and living it out. The only way to fill ourselves spiritually so that we are not spiritually starving is to feast on the Word of God. If we are not filling up with His Word, we will turn to the world and fill up on the things of this world.
If you are like me when the big family and holiday dinners come around, you look eagerly at the desserts and plan which ones you’ll sample. But after you eat the meal and your belly is full, the desserts don’t have quite as much appeal. They are less of a temptation as then did were before you filled up on the healthier items. The same is true with spiritual hunger. If we fill up on the Word of God the temptations of the world don’t hold the same appeal. So feat on the Word of God to keep form conforming to the world.
Just say, “No!” – it doesn’t really work
Some years ago an anti-drug campaign ran the slogan of “Just say no”. It makes it sound quite simple, doesn’t it? We could run the same campaign for anti-world-conforming. But it isn’t always easy to “just say no.” Why? Satan studies us. He knows us well. He knows what tempts us and what doesn’t. He’s not going to tempt us with things that we’ll easily say no to. He tempts us with the salted-caramel cheesecake (or whatever you’re likely to say yes to). If you know there is an area of temptation that you struggle with, it can be a good idea to avoid it all together. Maybe that means you have to go a few miles out of the way so you don’t pass the bakery on the way home. However, if what tempts you isn’t available easily, then it holds less power.
Make an exchange
Just saying no also doesn’t work when saying no to what tempts you isn’t replaced with saying yes to something that honors God. If you want to avoid conforming to this world, you have to replace the world’s way of life with God’s way of life. Removing something from our life creates a hole where that something used to be. So we have to fill that hole in with something else and that something should honor God. So I have to exchange my worldly habits with Godly disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, fellowship with other believers, listening to sermons, witnessing, loving others the way God loves them (including our enemies), and being salt and light to the world.
Resisting temptation to conform requires God’s strength and power
Just saying no sounds like a good idea but when we are saying no under our own strength and power, we’re likely to fail every time. But when we ask God to give us his strength and power, we are more likely to be victorious. Jesus understood this. When he was tempted, he defeated the temptations by quoting scripture. This is why it is so important to study and memorize God’s Word. It is the power we need to avoid conforming to the world.
World conforming vs. God conforming
Conforming to the world is so much easier than conforming to God. Why? Because we are born in sin. Our natural tendencies are to live like the world because Satan is our Father until we surrender our lives to Christ. Then God adopts us into His family and we have to then do what doesn’t come natural to us.
All of us want to fit in. We don’t really like sticking out in the crowd. We don’t like being made fun of or talked about. But when you stick out, that exactly what tends to happen. But as Jesus hung on the cross suspended between earth and heaven, He stuck out of the crowd for us even to the point of death. God calls us to be set apart for His service and the world that is lost and dying without Him is depending us not conforming to their way of life, but to bring the Light of the World and the Bread of Life to their spiritually starving souls.
Evidence that transformation is occurring
Spiritual transformation produces fruit that gives evidence that transformation is occurring. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that we should demonstrate and increasing and growing reflection of the likeness of Christ and His glory. The more we grow to be like Him, the more we should exhibit His qualities and characteristics in our lives. These include: love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Each of these should show a steady and continuous growth and the more they are evident in our lives the more transformation has occurred. We should never cease being transformed until we reach heaven.
Where do we get the power for a transformed life?
When we become a child of God, the Holy Spirit moves in and takes up residence within us. Romans 8:9 says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” It is the Holy Spirit that works within us that is transforming us, growing us, and developing our image into the likeness of Christ. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no way we would have the power to transform ourselves. It is the work of the Holy Spirit within who transforms us. We are not capable of transforming ourselves.
When does transformation begin and end?
Our transformed lives begins with the hearing of the gospel which leads us to salvation. At the moment of salvation, we “put off our old, sinful self” and put on a new self that is created in the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:22-24). As we study God’s Word, allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us, fellowship with other believers, attend church, pray, and apply God’s Word to our lives, we are being transformed more and more. James 1:22 says that we are to be “doers” of the Word and not “hearers” only. You can’t be transformed just by reading or hearing the Word. You must allow the Holy Spirit to direct you in how to apply the Word to your life and do what it says. The doing is the transformation.
Peter’s Final Instructions
In 2 Peter 1:3-11, just before his death, Peter gave some last words about being transformed. He said, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. If we are to live out our transformed lives then we must give diligence to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
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