CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Living by the Word and Not the World
By Laurel J. Davis
See Laurel's blog at The Reluctant First Lady
Man, it's hard to live by the Word when we live in a world where the likes of Miley Cyrus and Bruce Jenner are cultural icons, "reality" television is actually thought to be real, and ad slogans tell us every day to "Have it Your Way," "Just Do It" and be "Up for Whatever." The world calls out to even the Christian's most basic fleshly appetites, ready and able to serve...while his "spirit man" — the apparent underdog in this battle — struggles to put up a good fight.
And what a fight it is, for it is waged on several levels. Added to the simple allure of the world are the deception of the world and the persecution of the world. Not only does the world entice our fleshly appetites, it also tries to cover up or belittle the consequences of sin and make us think it's more rewarding to feed the flesh than to deprive it. And then the world isolates and persecutes us when we speak and live contrary to what the "immoral majority" dictates.
Of course, part of what makes living by the world so enticing even to believers is because it is the "path of least resistance" in the battle between flesh and spirit. It's easier to ignore God's Word than to live by it, because living by it requires a lot of humility, sacrifice and rejection. As Jesus forewarned, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).
Yes, living by God's Word is hard.
But living by the Word and not the world is exactly the battle every Christian is commissioned (and equipped) by God to fight: "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, And be not conformed to this world..." (Romans 12:1b-2a). We do not have a choice. We are obligated to live by the Word.
Now, since it is such a hard battle — and any Christian, mega-pastor or not, who says otherwise is deceived and deceiving you! — notice what the next part of Romans 12:2 says: "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." You can successfully and consistently live by the Word and not the world if you submit to the full regenerative power of the Savior to change you. That is, to change your understanding and attitude and, in turn, your behavior and habits in this life.
The world is not going to change before Jesus comes back. You have to. Successfully and consistently resisting the way of the world takes more than just self-motivated, self-determined strength that relies on the empty calories of sugary pep talk from your favorite positivity preacher. Indeed, that kind of "strength" can only be mustered up for one moment at a time and then, because we think we've conquered one sin, at least for that moment, we reward ourselves with a little indulgence in — or tolerance with — another.
Allow yourself to be transformed and renewed, not on your own weak and temperamental strength but on the strength and staying power of the Word of God, the Bible. This means, of course, that you must read it, learn it, know it more and more, and meditate on it day and night. Also, pray. Then you will be better able to live by the Word and not by the World (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Your daily fight against the allurements, deceptions and trials of the world — i.e., your spiritual battle against the flesh — will be won. Over and over and over again, because the war will rage on until Christ's return.
Consider the Apostle Paul's description of this battle in Romans Chapter 7. It's an agonizing, ongoing war and only Jesus Christ can deliver your victory. But hallelujah! As Paul also points out, who else is able?!
With Christ, you can live by the Word and not the world. With Christ as your focal point, you won't be conformed to this world but will be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And that transformation and renewal comes through knowing, meditating on and practicing the sure Word of the Lord.
So, don't "Have It Your Way." Have it God's Way. Don't be "Up for Whatever." Be up for God's perfect will in your daily life. Then, when the battle of the flesh still rages and you're tempted to "Just Do It," you'll find strength in Christ's Word to say, "No, just don't."
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures; Untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Sin-Evil
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Published on 6-15-15