Thursday, May 17, 2012

Conformed to Our Own Image


Yesterday I responded to an opinion piece published by CNN.  While the author may have been an extreme example, he is only doing what many of us do to a lesser extent.  Many of us have a pet sin that we try to find some way to justify.  Unfortunately, what we are doing is lying to ourselves and to God.  Sin is sin and it is not for us to conform God to us but to conform ourselves to God. 
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
We should never seek for conform the Word of God to our lifestyle.  Unfortunately, that is something we normally do.  When we see a passage we do not like we do several things.  First, there are those who say something like they were "looking for Jesus" in that passage.  What they are really doing is projecting an image of Jesus the have in their own minds over that passage and somehow then justifying the behavior it disagrees with.  It is never a bad idea to look for Jesus in any passage of the Bible, but what we should be doing is learning from the Bible more about Jesus and not trying to teach the Bible an idea we have about Jesus already.  For example, when James write that faith without works is dead and someone who is lazy might read that and wonder what they should do with such a verse.  The right answer is to see what God is saying through that passage and what we can learn from it.  The wrong thing is to say to yourself "well I am not saved by works so this passage must be about the law and is therefore irrelevant to my walk with God." 

Another thing that we do is that we create some cultural context for the passage and somehow make it irrelevant to today's world.  One example of this would be the claim that women can be pastors.  They choose to ignore passages that give the proper role for men and women in the church by saying that those passages were written at a time when women were not educated.  The argument, of course, being that times have changed and women are just as educated and therefore just as qualified to pastor a church.  Of course, they ignore the fact that Paul reiterates that the roles and men and women were established at creation nor does he ever acknowledge that education is a prerequisite for being a church leader.  What they are doing is trying for conform the Word of God to today's world instead of realizing that today's world is living in rebellion to God. 

We also have the example of what I shared yesterday.  In these cases, we try to re-translate words to alter the plain meaning of Scripture.  Yesterday is a great example of trying to show that different words can be translated different ways and create a brand new alternate translation that suits whatever sin need you have.  We do what Bill Clinton did during his impeachment ordeal when asking what the meaning of "is" is.  The sad thing in these cases is that if we spent as much time trying to change the Word as we did actually just studying the word, we may not have gotten into trouble to begin with. 

Sometimes we ignore the Bible altogether knowing that what we are doing is sin but justifying by the argument that "nobody's perfect,"  While it is true that none of us are perfect, it does not mean that it excuses our sin.  It is really a silly argument and I really think that those who take this approach should really evaluate what they are saying.  There is no such thing as a perfect mechanic, so should all mechanics stop caring about their mistakes and purposely cut corners and put others in danger because perfection is impossible anyway?  Should a surgeon be lazy and reckless with your surgery because there is no such thing as a perfect surgeon?  The impossibility of perfection is no excuse to just give into sin whenever we feel like. 

The point is that we need to stop holding onto our pet sins because eventually they will grow and devour us.  It is not for us to alter God into our image, but to allow God to do the work to alter us to His image.  It is not for us to try and fit the Word of God into our lifestyle, but to fit out lifestyle into the Word of God.  Please return to the verse I began with.  We are called to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.  That means it is on us to change for God not for God to change for us.  I realize we can not change on our own, but we must give up those pet sins and allow God to do that work in us.  That is not exceptional service, that is merely what we should reasonably do as children of God.  We are also not to conform ourselves to the world, but to allow ourselves to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.  Try as we might to justify our sins, we are not fooling anyone, including ourselves. 
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Romans 8:29 NKJV

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