Points on Biblical Nonconformity to the World
In Romans chapter 12, after the Apostle Paul so wonderfully places the Christian faith in its proper context, explains it so clearly, and defends it so well against its opponents in the first eleven chapters of the epistle, he makes the following statement as he begins to especially focus on the specifics of properly walking in and living out the Christian faith.
Romans 12:1-2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (logical service – think render unto God the things that are God’s). And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Being a part of Christ’s people means adopting a mindset and set of values at odds with the world’s values. Here are some examples of how this is practically walked out (this is surely not a comprehensive listing and the number of points here is not significant in itself, just a way to keep things organized). And there is doubtless some overlap regarding the points which are mentioned here too.
One) Not murmuring and complaining when Christian duties are inconvenient nor murmuring and complaining in adverse circumstances in life altogether. Paul thus wrote to the Philippian Christians who were on the narrow way in Christ already regarding continuing thereon faithfully in relation to every knee bowing to Jesus Christ in His exaltation and coming kingdom.
Philippians 2:12-16: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Two) Seeking the approval of God and not being swayed by how doing what is right in His eyes will affect your reputation before men (and that includes any individual or segment of society).
Galatians 1:10: “For do I now persuade (that is, seek the approval of) men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 7:23: “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”
Three) Not seeking personal revenge against one’s enemies but rather committing vengeance to God and not acting outside of His boundaries towards one’s enemies. This is not being a Pacifist. Christians should protect themselves and others against criminal action; and they must report truly criminal behavior to the State. This has been proven from several of our other messages but we’re talking here about the carnal mentality the world system approves of which says it’s good to get back at people and retaliate for wrongs, or perceived wrongs, they’ve done to you (and this is possible to do verbally without ever being physically violent).
1 Thessalonians 5:15: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.”
Proverbs 24:29: “Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.”
Four) Doing what is in your power to defend those who are being attacked and victimized rather than shrinking away to preserve yourself.
Proverbs 24:11-12: “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”
Also, consider Luke 10:36-37 here: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”
Read Luke 10:25-37 for the entire story of the Good Samaritan.
Five) Not being conformed to this world in a Biblical sense also means not being governed by instant gratification like fornicators certainly are, and like Esau who forfeited spiritual blessing from God which had eternal implications for the instant gratification of a meal to relieve himself when he was faint (see Genesis chapters 25 to 27 if you don’t know the story). We also see the third point again here.
Hebrews 12:14-17: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears (that’s is a preview of Judgment Day).”
Consider Ephesians 4:17-24 as well here: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (this is referring to a seared conscience). But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Six) Not seeking to enlist God’s help as a means to inordinately fulfilling one’s carnal passions.
James 4:1-4: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
Especially note here the context in which that phrase about being a friend of the world is spoken in.
Seven) And being a part of Christ’s people, which means adopting a mindset and set of values at odds with the world’s values, also means not being like Diotrephes who loved to have the preeminence in the church nor being like Korah and his company seeking to be Levitical Priests, and also like King Uzziah trying to execute the priest’s office (the Levitical Priest office was off limits to them since they were not descendants of Levi through Aaron). Faithful men of God, and just about anybody in a legitimate position of authority who is faithfully executing their authority will still get accused of seeking to exercise authority outside of their boundaries, especially by those whose unrighteous endeavors they are standing in the way of. Nevertheless, being faithful to Christ and not conformed to the world Biblically means not attempting to exercise authority which doesn’t rightfully belong to you nor being high minded so that you would ever seek authority through manipulation or at the expense of doing what is right before God in any way.
Psalm 131:1-2: “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.”
Eight) Visiting those whom you know to be in need while in no way excusing sin in your life in another way nor neglecting your other duties before God and other people in any other way.
James 1:27: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Nine) Not having some people in higher regard than others nor giving preferential treatment to certain people. You’d better really believe that race doesn’t matter in how you treat people. You’d better not see yourself as a judge who has to treat a certain race of people better or worse than others to allegedly equalize past injustices which the people in your presence, and everyone alive today wasn’t even involved in, and which you are not a qualified judge in anyways. This social justice stuff is actually social injustice. And that is just like the devil, to call evil the very good which it opposes.
James 2:1-4 (these verses actually right after James 1:27 and are an elaboration on what it means to keep oneself unspotted from the world): “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay (expensive) clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”
Also, consider here Proverbs 24:23-25: “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.”
Proverbs 17:15: “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.”
Ten) Not being governed by the moral trends of your age and culture. Just because something is called “progressive” does not mean that it is not actually regressive.
Every age and culture has thought that it was the most morally enlightened one. Believing this about your age and culture, or about any other age and culture, does not make that so. And if you follow the moral trends of your day and are jumping on the bandwagon of public opinion, then you have no good reason to think that you would have opposed slavery had you lived in the southern USA in 1850 (and some did oppose it then- so don’t think on the other hand that it is impossible to do anything besides go with the flow of your culture and don’t think that you’ll get a pass on Judgment Day because most everyone around you did the same and/or believed the same).
Exodus 23:1-7: “Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment (that is a reference to overturning proper judgment): Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause (don’t side with someone in the wrong just because they are poor; we’ll see a few verses later here a command not to side against someone because they are poor: and siding with someone because they are rich and you regard them too highly is also implicitly forbidden here). If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass (donkey) going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass (donkey) of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. Thou shalt not wrest (overturn) the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.”
What God’s Word calls evil is evil; and what God’s Word calls good is good. God did not give warnings like the following ones for no reason.
Isaiah 5:20-21: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”
Isaiah 8:20: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
It is not necessarily a sin to not have children. It sure is a very great sin to kill children after they are begotten. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Adam can’t identify as Brenda without defying God. Eve can’t identify as Edward without defying God. These things are not only Biblical, they’re also just plain common sense. To not accept this common sense is extreme- even if society calls it normal. Yet it’s also possible to conform to the world in terms of moral judgments and not be so extreme.
Eleven) One’s attitude towards sex and romance. If you’re going to be involved in such at all, it should be between a man and a woman as long as both live, unless sin in one causes them to end the marriage or sin in one makes it a righteous necessity that the marriage by the other due to how the other’s sin is defiling to them and their household.
1 Corinthians 7:1-2: “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”
Hebrews 13:4: “ Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
The corrupt world system says otherwise, and a small segment of mankind even mostly agrees with the Bible’s verdicts related to this- except that particular small segment still doesn’t heed the entire counsel of God because they don’t interpret Jesus’ words regarding divorce in the Gospels in line with the rest of Scripture. The practical evil result of this is that their doctrine leaves people trapped in marriages where sin reigns in their homes; and it also wrongfully demands that marriages be dissolved in which one or both partners have been previously divorced.
False holiness (alleged holiness not in line with Biblical holiness) and strictness contrary to God’s own Law are aspects of the corrupt world system. They are things which can cater to man’s pride and gratify his carnality. Sin can be extremely deceitful.
Twelve) Biblical nonconformity to the world means having a moderate outlook regarding the joys and pleasures of life, as well as not treating the misfortune and heartache of earth as if all hope is lost over whatever caused these. And this point is true regarding the joys and pleasures, as well as misfortune and heartache, which might even happen to the righteous in their righteousness. How much more should people then not get excited over joys of life related to things which are ungodly, or at least involve ungodly values?
1 Corinthians 7:29-31: “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”
Is it right then for a Christian to be at a sports stadium cheering and jeering with a mob that obviously idolizes men and has given themselves over to momentary thrills? And I think that’s a very gentle rebuke of sporting events too- at least, at the very least, regarding organized sports at the college level and beyond.
Thirteen) One’s attitude towards money. It is typical to be driven by money so that righteousness is neglected in order to be able to earn more and/or righteousness is compromised in earning money itself. It is also typical that those who do not do either of these things have an entitlement mentality which expects others to take care of them and any under their care. And often even those who are driven by money still have an entitlement mentality which says that they ought to be taken care of by the Government if they were to fall into hard circumstances; and this mentality underlies their drive to earn lots of money. Though potentially looking so different, these are all ungodly attitudes which conform to ungodly values promoted by the corrupt world system. Having an authentic Christian mindset means not expecting that the Government or anyone else take care of you (and this is not ruling out accepting help which is freely offered). And as we’ve seen, it also means being willing to not live as well as one might be able to live in order to give to the needy and to have proper time for godly duties (and this is not saying we should enable moochers and freeloaders who could work but refuse to). Having an authentic Christian mindset towards money also means not placing the burden of providing for yourself and those under your care on others (and this does indeed mean that Socialists and Communists are going to hell since this entitlement mentality, and even simply agreeing with and enabling others who have it, is in itself damnable due to the theft and covetousness involved in it). A proper Christian mindset is molded by all of the Bible’s precepts regarding earning and giving, giving due heed to all of them. Here are some key examples of these.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12: “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”
Matthew 6:30-34: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”
These things are put together well in the Apostle Paul’s own testimony which is recorded in Acts 20:33-35: “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Fourteen) In relation, adopting an authentic Christian mindset and set of values at odds with the world’s values also means being ready to alter your plans, dreams, hopes, etc. or forego momentary pleasure should pursuing such things collide with doing what is right before God according to His Word. And it also means renouncing boasting about the future for (at least) this reason. It goes back to esteeming God’s authority properly, and therefore not esteeming our own lives, in terms of our own pleasure and happiness, higher than we ought to.
James 4:13-17: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Note also that these points surely encompass not being companions with sinners in their sin, and they surely encompass not thinking you need to be part of a large crowd in most circumstances that a large crowd would gather, but they also do not mean that you need to go live out in the country or separate from society altogether. And yet many think of that when they think of Biblical nonconformity to the world. That is the first thing, or one of the first things, that many think of when they think of this. And that is just plain wrong. The fact that the Apostles wrote letters to Christians who lived in cities and didn’t demand that they move out to the country alone is proof of this. We should indeed flee environments which are centered around sinful activities and environments where there is excessive temptation put directly in front of us on a normal basis. Yet the Apostles did not see living in a city and working among heathen as necessarily qualifying as such things. Some think that removing from populated areas and moving to not highly populated areas will solve (or, has already solved) their spiritual issues and qualify them as not conformed to the world. To think this way though is a great delusion. The epistles to the Christians at Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, etc. are proof of this. Yeah, there was sin in some of these churches which the Apostles rebuked. Yet getting out of the city was not the solution which the Apostles put forth for the people whom they rebuked.
The cross of Jesus Christ operating in an individual who is actually exercising a living faith in Him kills the values of the world system, a corrupt system before God which is at enmity with Him. The corrupt values of the world are not something which one’s geographic location nor lack of interaction with society will deliver them from. Those who think otherwise lack sound spiritual insight and need to re-evaluate the basis on which they trust that they are overcoming the world. Being dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ transcends the population density of the area in which you live, though it will surely mean fleeing corrupt environments which someone must have zero business in if they are to be righteous before God- whether that is the brothel in the red light district of the city or the carousing happening at the barn in the township of eighteen people in rural Pennsylvania or Montana.
Aaron’s email is: [email protected]