Why not now? A renewed mind. Rom 12:2

Romans 12  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:26
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Last week we began looking at Romans chapter 12.
I spoke from this chapter at high school camp earlier this year where our theme for the week was why not now.
The idea was, as high school students.
Why not live your life of Christ now.
This idea continues to apply to each of us, no matter our age.
Are we living our lives for Christ?
If not, why not now?
What does it mean to really live for Christ?
How do we know if we are truly living for him?
basketball is life
What does that mean? Practice, games, travel, practice some more.
fishing is life
Spending as much time as you can with a pole in your hand.
hunting is life
Planing hunts, thinking about hunting, listening to podcasts,
Gaming is life
None of these are bad things.
These can all be amazing parts of our lives.
Sadly though, each of these, or whatever passion you may have, can also be a reflection of our relationship with God.
If any of these, is the greatest priority in life, there is a problem.
Is God simply a part of your life?
Or is He everything in your life.
That was the idea we looked at last week in verse 1 when Paul speaks of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice.
Not because it earns us anything.
But because of God’s mercy and grace.
Because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
Because of the sacrifice that he made for us.
For many Christians, we know this verse by heart, but we don’t know it by practice.
I think of myself as a young Christian, Christ was not my life.
God was there, but not a priority.
Often we get distracted.
Life is school.
Life is family.
Life is career, or life is some hobby or entertainment.
Warren Wiersbe said, “Life is what we are alive to.”
It is what really gets us excited.
For many, their passions lie outside of their relationship with Christ.
What does it mean to really live for Christ?
Jesus said this was the very reason that he came to the earth. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
He came so we could truly be alive to God—that he would be our passion and joy.
We are not left to our own devices to figure out how to live for Christ.
We have clear instruction in scripture.
Romans 12 is some wonderful practical application of how we can live as Christians.
What it means to follow Jesus.
Romans 12:1–2 ESV
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but 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.
Paul goes on in verse 2 to say again with another imperative -
Romans 12:2 (ESV)
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
Do not be conformed, but be transformed.
This means change.
Change is required!
Christian, if you are one, change is required in your life.
Change will happen in your life.
I want to offer some hope in this, first off, it’s not all up to you - God is the one initiating the change.
But are you helping him?
or are you working against him?
To be conformed is to be molded.
Do not be conformed, do not be molded by.

to form according to a pattern or mold

This molding can happen easily, it happens without us knowing or recognizing.
As we read what Paul is writing, the thing that is doing the molding is the world. The literal translation of that word in Greek is age or times.
The times we live in have a determining factor on our lives.
If you have read the Lord of The Rings or watched the movies, there is a part where Frodo is talking with Gandalf
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
He is speaking of the ring of power becoming active once again.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
God has permitted this present age to be under Satan’s dominion.
Paul writes in 2 Cor.
2 Corinthians 4:3–4 ESV
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
So the change that we need to make is to live in distinct contrast to this evil age.
The life we are to live is to be in different from what is on display.
In Galatians 1:4-5, Paul says that the Lord Jesus Christ
Galatians 1:4–5 ESV
4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Christ did not die to leave us to be conformed to this present evil age, but to rescue us from it, so that our lives would glorify God.
Paul describes two very different processes in this verse and the choices that each of us make related to them.
On the one hand, we have, as the the NIV puts it the “pattern of this world.”

behavior and customs of this world

Paul points out that the world around us – culture, media, co-workers, etc. –
The world has a way it wants us to live and spends a lot of time and money trying to get us to live that way.
How much money is spent on a single super bowl advertisement.
A 30 second slot during the super bowl this year was 7 million dollars.
If you make 50,000 a year - that would be 140 years worth of work, for that 30 seconds.
There’s a powerful wordplay going on here that doesn’t always come through in the translation.
He is describing what the world is trying to do as making us fit into a mold.
As children we often played with playdoh or clay.
We put it into things that formed the shapes.
Paul says this is what the world is trying to do.
In the case of the super bowl to the tune of 7 million dollars for every 30 seconds.
In contrast, Paul instructs us to “but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Paul’s instruction is to let God change us
The language he uses here is the kind of change a caterpillar undergoes when it becomes a butterfly.
Be transformed.

to change in a manner visible to others, be transfigured of Jesus, who took on the form of his heavenly glory

Be changed in a manner that is visible to others!
But also to change inwardly in fundamental character or condition.

to change inwardly in fundamental character or condition

In the case of a caterpillar, when it becomes a butterfly, is it still a caterpillar?
This is not a temporary or small change.
It is a radical change into a new creation.
The verbs for both are present tense and are imperatives (commands), conformed - transformed.
They are not one-time decisions but ongoing actions.
We have to continually choose to not allow ourselves to be squeezed into the world’s mold for how we should live and who we should become,
but instead allow God to radically change us into new people, starting with how we think.
God’s mold is the only right mold, the only good mold.
The only one that brings true goodness, peace, happiness, righteousness.
Not that it will be easy.
We’re not talking about a quick fix or a dramatic, instantaneous change, but steady, lifelong progress toward godliness.
The verb is in the passive voice, indicating that this is a work of God in us.
But it is also in the imperative mood, indicating that we are not totally passive in the process.
We are responsible to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7).
The balance is
Philippians 2:12–13 ESV
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
We have to obey and work out the salvation that God has given to us, but He is also willing and working in us at the same time.
Paul says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of your mind….”
We act as we think.
All sin and all obedience begin from within.
Did you catch that?
Where does sin begin? - From within.
Where does obedience begin? - From within.
So to overcome sin and to grow in godliness, you must change how you think.
How you think about God is immensely important.
For example, if you truly think daily about the fact that God is with you and
that He knows your every thought,
He knows your every word,
He knows your every deed,
it would have a profound effect on your behavior.
Before you stretch the truth
lash out in anger,
Say that mean thing,
you’d stop and think, “I can’t act like that because God is here with me.”
So the process of change is directly linked to changed thinking.
Do you really believe that God’s word has all we need for life and Godliness?
Because it does!
The Bible is the only proper filter by which we can interpret life and the world around us.
Columnist Sydney Harris who wrote for the Chicago daily news said,
“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we want is for things to remain the same but get better.”
I don’t need to give up that sin, I can just try to not do it as often?
It’s not hurting anyone else, what does it really matter?
For things to get better in your life, you must change.
How do we change?
How do we renew our minds?
Sometimes God works instant, permanent change.
I’ve known alcoholics who got saved and never had an urge to take another drink.
I’ve heard of drug addicts who got saved and never used drugs again.
On rare occasions, a person with a fierce temper gets saved and they never explodes in anger again.
But those are exceptions, not the general rule.
Generally, the process of change is a lifelong battle where the saved person has to learn to depend on the Lord daily.
I know this has been my experience.
At first there are usually many setbacks.
We learn through failure, as Peter painfully did.
But as we learn to walk by means of the Holy Spirit, we should see progress in transformation as His fruit is produced in us
To change, you must be involved in the process of renewing your mind by God’s Word,
I cannot emphasize enough that if you are not saturating your mind with God’s Word, you will not change for the better.
You must come to know God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
How did Satan get Eve to sin?
He slandered the goodness of God and cast doubt.
Scripture also reveals our own natural inclination.
We are all inclined to sin.
Born that way.
Straight from the womb!
Even David, the man after God’s own heart, after he had written many of the psalms, was capable of adultery, deception, and murder.
Do you think that your heart is immune toward sin?
1 Corinthians 10:12 ESV
12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
Did you know that the Bible speaks to virtually every area of life.
How should we think about trials or success?
How should we think about our relationships, especially when we’ve been disappointed or wronged?
How should we think about money and possessions?
What priorities and goals should we adopt in life?
What moral standards should we hold to?
What entertainment is wholesome and renewing?
How do we process world news? War, threats to freedom.
What political position should we adopt?
Should we be concerned about the environment?
What is good art?
Should Christians be involved in the media?
How should we educate our children?
The Bible speaks to these and many more issues.
Do not be conformed, but be transformed!
so that you are proving in practice God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will.
Another resource for renewing our minds is books (audio or print),
Articles - TGC, 9 Marks,
there are some great podcasts,
youtube videos/channels.
(Of course listen/read with discretion and take things back to scripture).
God has given us godly examples of men and women, both in history and people we know who can mentor us.
The Bible has many godly examples, but also we have biographies of saints who have walked with God.
A couple I have enjoyed - Bonhoeffer (Eric Metaxas) The Sacred Acre (Ed Thomas Story)
The best biographies show you the warts and all of these dear people, so that you can learn from both their strengths and weaknesses.
You may think, “I don’t have time to read”,
I agree with you!
It is hard enough for me to get my duties done and then add more reading on top. (I am not the fastest reader).
But it is truly a matter of priority and perspective.
Mark Dever who is Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and the president of 9Marks, interviewed a man named Greg Beale who is a biblical scholar, currently a Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.
At one point Dever mentioned a scholarly book and Beale said that he read that book while he was brushing his teeth!
Dever was surprised and asked him about this.
Beale said that he read a page in the morning and another page at night while brushing his teeth,
and got through the book in that manner!
So you can find time to read if you want to grow!
This is an extreme example I know.
The point is that it takes dedication and determination to grow.
How much practice does it take to be proficient shooting 100 yds with a bow?
How much practice does it take to make free throws consistently?
It is a matter of priority and perspective.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind

Paul ends this verse saying

that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The word that in this verse is a marker of motion.
Paul is describing the result of being renewed in your mind.
The will of God” here does not refer to issues like whether you should go to college or not, or what career you pursue.
Paul is talking about the moral will of God as revealed in the Bible.
What are some of the moral things described in the Bible?
10 commandments.
Marriage - man and woman - not to an unbeliever.
Read through Jesus sermon on the mount.
Good refers to moral goodness or holiness. It is also good for you, because sin always damages you, whereas holiness always restores and blesses you.
Acceptable primarily means, “acceptable or pleasing to God.”
Do you have a mature spiritual mentor who can help you grow?
Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
Perfect refers to God’s absolute moral perfection, which we will never attain to perfectly in this life.
But the word also means “mature” or “complete.”
meeting the highest standard
This is done Paul says by testing.
He uses this same word in Eph 5:10

Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

We are to prove in practice what pleases God.
Of course, this is also pleasing to us in the long run.
Often obedience to God’s moral standards is difficult at the moment.
You don’t cheat on a test and those who do get the better grades.
In the long run, God’s will is always more pleasing for you than disobedience is.
I encourage you to set a reasonable goal to begin growing in the process.
Begin a daily time in the Word if you don’t have that.
Aim at reading or listening to a few good Christian books this year.
If you need an idea for one, I would be happy to recommend you something.
There are many free online bible courses you can go through as well.
I would be happy to share some resources with you to find one of these courses you could go through with your spouse or even your family.
Find a good podcast to listen to or Youtube channel that will encourage you in your growth in the Lord.
Why not now?
Why not now?
If you have trusted in Jesus, make the commitment here and now, to live a life transformed by gospel.
If you have not trusted - why not now?
There is no better time than the present.
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