by Thomas Bass | Les Feldick
Now let’s jump right back into Romans 12 and verse 2. Remember Paul has just made the plea in verse 1:
We’re not under a mandate of law or rules and regulations, but we respond as the Holy Spirit leads us in our life of service, in our testimony, and everything. Now then verse 2:
“And be not conformed to this world:..”
Now I always like to explain the word `conformed’ this way: Most of you have seen your wife or someone pour that hot jello into a jello mold, and once that jello sets, it’s going to be just exactly the shape of that mold. You can do much the same thing with soft steel, it’s molded, and once it’s molded it’s set, and that’s the way it is. This is just exactly the analogy that Paul is saying, “Don’t be poured into Satan’s mold.” Oh, he has one ready for you, absolutely he does. We know he’s the god of this world, as we’ve seen over and over again. And remember in our closing remarks in the last lesson we find, “The world lieth in the lap of the Wicked One, and the whole world system out there is under his control.” And as soon as we come out away from that, of course, then we are marked people. The worlds knows us, and don’t think for a minute it doesn’t But this is what Paul is admonishing us now of our own free will, because we’re not being forced. So the whole plea here is, “Don’t be molded according to this old world which is in the control of the Wicked One.” But the opposite in verse 2 is:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed…”
And again a lot of time we miss the impact of these words. I’m no Greek scholar. I’m just like the average one of you, or a Sunday School teacher, But do you realize that again in the Greek that this word“transformed” here in Romans 12 is the same word,“Transfigured” when Christ was transfigured up there on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew Chapter 17. Now you all know what happened when Peter, James, John, and Jesus went up to that Mount of Transfiguration. Remember He was changed right before their eyes. He took on all the appearances of His glory. And the voice from heaven recognized Him as such:
“…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
Now that’s the same word that Paul uses here as “being transformed.” We’re not all of a sudden going to have that glorious appearance as Jesus did, and another word that comes out of the same Greek root is, “Metamorphosis.” We are to be metamorphosized. Now what’s that? When that old ugly cocoon suddenly opens up, and out of that caterpillar comes that beautiful butterfly. Now that’s to be the experience of the believer, we’re to be transformed, we’re to be transfigured, we are to be totally changed from what we were before. I had a young lady tell me once, “I’m sure glad I’m a Christian, because I know I’m bad enough even as a Christian, but what in the world would I be if I weren’t?” And isn’t that the way most of us have to look at it? I can be an ornery critter, even as a Christian, but remember we have been transformed, and Paul is reminding us of this. Now you don’t expect a beautiful butterfly to fly around looking like an old vulture do you? No, but rather you expect him to be the innocent fluttering beauty that it is, and that’s what we are to be. We’re to be different from what we were before.
How does it take place? Not by works. I’ll take you back to the car battery illustration. When your car battery is dead, you don’t go with a basin of soapy water, and clean it up. That’s ridiculous. But that’s what people try to do with the spirit. They’re constantly somehow trying to clean up their own act, somehow do something that will appease God. But listen, you can wash that battery till dooms day, and you’re not going to put a charge into it until you bring in an outside source. Well it’s the same way here. That why works religion is as doomed to failure as anything can be, because you cannot go into the invisible part of a man’s make up, and touch it. Remember, only God can do that. No preacher, priest, teacher or denomination can touch it. And the reason God can touch it is He is the Creator of that invisible part of us. Now the reason I’m touching on the invisible part is the next word in verse 2 is, “Mind.”
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind….”
Now you all know enough about your physical anatomy. And the mind is as real as your hands, feet, and eyes. You know it is or you wouldn’t be here, you’d be locked up some place. But who can see the mind? Now I have a pathologist setting right here in front of me, and he has done many autopsies, and I’ve asked him before, “Have you ever seen a person’s mind?” No, but we know it was in there while they were living. So it’s in that area of the invisible then that only God can work.
“…but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,…”
We can’t renew the mind only God can do that, but even God can’t do it until we believe. And then God moves in and yes, He transforms us. In II Corinthians Chapter 5, starting at verse 14, Paul is writing to that carnal congregation at Corinth. They had just recently come out of an immoral pagan background, and were still having problems with their own morality, but here Paul sends this letter to these people and says:
II Corinthians 5:14-17
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, (or conclude)that if one died for all, then were all dead: (the whole human race)And that he died for all, that they which live (spiritually now as a result of their new birth)should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; (Paul is reflecting back on Christ’s earthly ministry)yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, (in other words Paul was contemporary with Christ, he knew Him during His earthly ministry.)yet now henceforth know we him no more. (now here is the verse that I wanted.)Therefore if any man (person) be in Christ, he is a new creature: (creation)old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Now that’s part of the new birth, that’s part of Salvation. God has created within us a transformed mind. He is the One that transfigured us from a hell-bound sinner to a heaven-bound saint, and it’s just that simple, and we can’t do a thing, except stand open before Him and say, “Lord, there’s nothing I can do.” So then The Lord moves in just like He did with Israel on the shores of the Red Sea. My, what did Israel do there? Did they start looking for something that would float? No! God told them to stand still, don’t do anything, don’t try to build a bridge that will float, just stand still. And that’s exactly where the unbeliever has to come to, and that he too can do nothing until God moves in, and performs then the miracle of Salvation which in this verse He creates within us a whole new mind, will, and emotion. The personality has to be totally re-created. The old Adam has to die, old Adam with all of the things concerning the world has to die. And then in his place, God with a miraculous work, will then give us that transformed mind. Now back to Romans Chapter 12. Now once we’ve had that renewing of the mind, the Salvation experience, that creating within us a new man, then we can prove or live out daily:
“…what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
You know I’ve had so many people over the past 25 years say, “Les, how can I find God’s will for my life?” And that is a good question, but how do you start? Well, first you have to start by becoming a child of His, because God doesn’t fool with the unbelieving world, He just let’s them go. He’s waiting for them to respond to His Salvation, but He is not in control of their lifestyle, and that carries on even into our own everyday living. You can’t legislate morality, it’s just impossible to pass laws that will force the unsaved world to live a Christian life, it just won’t happen. But rather it has to be that act of God that transforms us, and makes us that new creation as a result of His work, and then all we have to do is just search the Scriptures, you’re in an attitude of prayer, you’re in an attitude of fellowship with other believers, and God will show you His will. I can’t claim to have had some great light from heaven, because I was a victim of circumstances if you want to put it that way. Just circumstances, doors opened, doors closed, doors opened, doors closed, and that’s how I got to where I am, and I think it’s that way with every believer. So that’s how we come to that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
Beginning with verse 3 are the various gifts that God has given to every believer. Every believer has at least one of these gifts, some may be fortunate enough to have two, but again that’s according to God’s will. We were just talking to Elsie who is visiting from California, and she has that unique gift of approaching people who are usually unapproachable. Now that’s a gift, and I hope she will always use it to the fullest. I remember a lady in Iowa who would open up her home for our Bible Study on Saturday nights for about 40-50 teen-agers, and she was complaining one night to me that she didn’t have a gift. I said, “Are you crazy? How many people could get that many young people in here for 3 hours on a Saturday night, singing, and studying the Word? That’s a gift.” She had never thought of it that way before. But that’s the way so many of us are, we have that gift, we practice it at times, and we just don’t realize what we have. So don’t go looking up your gift, but rather as we go through the list you’ll know where you’re strong. Now verse 3 and 4:
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:”
I Corinthians Chapter 12 says it so much better than I can. And here Paul is using the analogy of a human body.
I Corinthians 12:12,15
“For as the body (the human body) is one, and hath many members, (in other words we have ten fingers and toes, two eyes, etc.)and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ, (or the Body of Christ)For by one Spirit are we (not just the most spiritual, not just a chosen few, but how many believers?) all baptized (or placed) into one body, (of Christ. Now it’s not a denomination,) whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (now Paul comes back to the physical body again for an illustration.) For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, `Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?’”
Now here Paul is being ridiculous, of course, to the extreme to make his point. What if our human foot would say to the mind, leave me alone I’m not part of you, but you see that’s not the way it works. Or your little toe which is usually unseen, and you don’t really comprehend it, but just lose that little toe, will you miss it? You’d better believe it, because that little toe is part of the body. Now come back to Romans, and this is exactly the illustration Paul is drawing. This illustration of the Body of Christ is going to have some members that are just as unseen, and unknown as the little toe on your foot, but are they important? Absolutely, that believer is important, he’s a member of the Body of Christ. Others are going to be more visible, you’re going to have your Billy Grahams, and famous evangelists, but are they anymore important? No. They are no more important than that believer who is represented in the little toe, and so never sit back and and say, “Oh, God can’t use me because I’m a nobody.” Hey, if you’re in Christ, you’re a somebody.
“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us (we’re not all going to have that same gift. Who’s in control of gift giving? God is. God imparts your particular gifts whether it’s great or small. He’s the one who is building the Body),whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith:”
Remember at the time Paul was writing these letters, the New Testament hadn’t come together yet, the Four Gospels I don’t think were even written. And Paul’s letters hadn’t become part of Scripture, so how was God promoting the Word? Through gifted men who spoke forth the Word of God. That’s what prophesy means. It doesn’t mean telling the future like Isaiah did, but rather they were gifted men to speak the Word of God. Now let’s go on to the next one.
“Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;”
Now you can have all kinds of ministry, but whatever it is determines that it’s your gift, and put it to use. The last part of that verse speaks of teaching. Granted not everyone can teach, but there’s a lot more people that can than do. Why don’t they? Well they’re afraid like I used to be. I was scared to death to get up in front of even ten of my own peers when I was a kid, but God overcame that, and now I know that He’s given me the gift of teaching, but it isn’t me that is teaching. It’s Him. And the same way with you. Whatever your gift is, don’t ever say, “Look what I can do.” It’s a gift that God has given, and He has designated. Now verse 8:
“Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation…”
Not everybody can exhort someone without making them mad. Do you know what it means to exhort someone? To push them, encourage them, and a lot of people will rebel at that if it’s from the wrong person, but if you have that gift, get after it. The lady in Iowa who opened her home to the teen-agers, encouraged one of those lads, after he had come out of Iowa State University, to go to a good Bible School, and as a result he has gone into the ministry full time. And that’s what it takes, and as a result there was a life that became productive. Now giving:
“…he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity;…”
Not everybody has that ability, not everybody has the gift of giving, and I’ve experienced some that do, and my they know how to give, and they know when to give. Why? Because it’s a gift that God has given them.
“…he that ruleth, with diligence:…”
Here I think it’s going into the working of the local church. Not everybody has the ability to be a leader in the local church, but if you have leadership ability, and people are willing to follow you, get after it, and give God the credit.
“…he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness….”
My wife, Iris, is a nurse, and she can tell you better than I can that some visitors come into the hospital room and make people sicker than they were before. But some can come into that room, and make that sick person feel like a million dollars. Now that’s also a gift that everyone doesn’t have.
“Let love (which is the very core of Christianity anyway)be without dissimulation….”
Now don’t just skim over a big word like that. If you don’t know, go get your dictionary. What does dissimulation mean? Don’t be hypocritical, and just try to use your gift with the wealthy people, but you’ve got to be able to do it with the lower echelon also. Don’t sort people out according to where they are in the social ladder. Your love and gift has to be without dissimulation.
“…Abhor that which is evil;…”
You see this is one of the failures of Christianity today. Christianity is no longer showing it’s hatred for evil. They’re rolling with it, they’re condoning it, and will say “So what? There’s nothing we can do about it.” Listen we are never to stop abhorring that which is evil. I’m not one to point these things out, and never have been, because I feel that if I teach The Book, and can get people into The Book, they’re soon going to see what God calls evil, I don’t have to tell you. All you have to do is go back into the Book of Leviticus, and you can find out real fast all the things that God forbade Israel to do. God hasn’t changed. Those same wicked sins are just as wicked today as they were back then. But it’s not in the legal context that it was back there. Now reading on:
“…cleave to that which is good.”
Now we’re living in a time where there is a concept that what is black is white, what is evil is good, what’s good is evil. We are totally seeing our values mixed up, and of course it’s a ploy of Satan. That’s all a part of what I call this end time conspiracy, and it’s getting the world ready for the appearance of the Anti-christ. Everything we see, this explosion in technology, is all God’s way of letting Satan have his free course, but what’s he working for? A world government, a world leader, a world religion, and you think it isn’t coming? It’s so close it should keep you awake at night. And it would if we didn’t know that The Lord is going to come first, and remove us. I, for one, don’t believe that you and I are going to go into the Tribulation, and so this is our prayer, that The Lord will come and take us before this world leader comes and makes his appearance.