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Home The Light Articles from 2009 The Urge to Conform

The Urge to Conform

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Life is in all of us a desire to be accepted by those around us. In order for this to happen, we must con­form to their standard or customs. This is not always possible since the ways of the world are not the ways of Chris­tianity. We must be very careful. James 4:4 warns, "Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Jesus told his followers in John 15:19, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." Paul, writing of Christ in Titus 2:14 said, "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Peculiar means being different. We are to be more con­cerned with pleasing our Lord than pleasing the world.
First Peter 2:9 tells us, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." The darkness of ignorance and sin has blinded the eyes of many people.
Paul, speaking of God in Titus 1:13 wrote, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath trans­lated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." We are citizens of a kingdom that is not of this world. Romans 12:2 tells us, "And be not conformed to this word: 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." All acts and words originate in the mind so we must turn our minds toward submission to God's will.
Submission is not a word that pleases the carnal mind of the world. Paul warned in Romans 8:6-8, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Here the reason for transforming our mind is laid before us. We must change our mental atti­tude to be pleasing to God. 1st Corin­thians 6:17-18 says, "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye sepa­rate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
In Romans 15:4 Paul wrote, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learn­ing." By reading the history of the Israelite nation we can learn the cost of conforming to the ways of the world. This is especially true when false reli­gions are involved. God brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage with signs and wonders. He repeatedly demon­strated the power of His goodness before them. He also repeatedly warned them that if they served other gods, they would know the power of His wrath.
God promised them a land that flowed with milk and honey. Paul said in Acts 13:19-20, "And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He divided their land to them by lot. And after that, He gave them judges about the space of four hundred years; until Samuel the prophet."
A study of the books of Judges reveals the spiritual weakness of the Israelite people. Judges 1:27-36 tells how they did not wipe out the people God told them to destroy. God was angry and told them in Judges 2:3, "Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides and their gods shall be a snare unto you." When they conformed to the ways of the heathens and served Baal they were delivered into the hands of their enemies. Then in His mercy, God would raise up a judge to deliver them. While that judge was alive, they would serve God. Judges 2:19 says, "And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way." This was repeated over and over until Samuel came on the scene. 1st Samuel 3:20 says, "And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord." Samuel served faithfully all his life, but when he made his sons judges, they were dishonest. They conformed to the ways of the world, taking bribes and pervert­ing judgment.
The elders of Israel came to Samuel complaining about the conduct of his sons. 1st Samuel 8:5 quotes them say­ing, "Behold, thou art old and thy sons walk not in thy ways; now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." They wanted to conform to the cus­toms of the heathen nations by having a king. Samuel was displeased and prayed to God. 1st Samuel 8:7 reads, "And the Lord said to Samuel, harken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them," When we teach the word of God and people will not obey, it is not a per­sonal rejection. They are rejecting God. God directed Samuel to tell the people the cost of maintaining a king and his government. This is a cost all are very much aware of. He concluded in verse 18 with these words, "And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day." They would not escape the consequences of their actions. Neither
will we if we turn from the Lord's way and conform to the ways of the world.
The nation of Israel served three kings. Then because Solomon turned to idolatry, the nation was divided. Ten of the tribes were given to the rulership of Jeroboam. He told them in 1st Kings 12:28, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold thy gods, O Is­rael, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." He pointed them to the two calves of gold which he had made. God had instructed Israel to go to Jeru­salem and worship in the temple. Jero­boam turned them away from God to idols. God warned Israel concerning this before He brought them into Ca­naan. Moses told them if they turned to idol worship they would suffer for it. Deuteronomy 4:27 says, "And the Lord shall scatter you among the na­tions and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen." The nation of Israel suffered a terrible fate, but they brought it upon themselves. They forsook the Lord's religion and con­formed to the religion of the idol wor­shipers. Because of their rejection of God's way and His Son, Jerusalem was destroyed. A building of Muslim worship now stands where the temple once stood.
By disobeying God and conforming to this world, the Israelites lost their inheritance. This was written for our learning and is a warning that the same thing can happen to us. Hebrews 2:1-3 warns, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him." The Israelites received salvation from physical bondage. They were given a physical inheritance on earth. We receive salvation from spiritual bondage. We have hope of eternal inheritance in heaven. Just as they lost their inheritance by rejecting God, we can lose our inheritance by conforming to the world. Hebrews 10:26-29 warns, For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant where with he was sanctified an unholy thing and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" The word of God was given to us by the Spirit of grace. Rebellion against that word, in deed or teaching, is a costly error.
Jeremiah 28 tells of the prophet Hananiah who opposed Jeremiah. Verses 15-17 show God's reaction to his teaching. "Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto, Hananiah the prophet, hear now, Hananiah; the Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the Lord. Behold I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord." The prophet paid an awful price for what he taught, but the people who believed him paid an even greater price. God is not mocked. Ecclesiastes 7:17 warns, "Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?" We must be very
careful what we teach. James 3:1 (RSV) says "Let not many of you be­come teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness." The temptation is always with us to give in to the urge to teach what is popular so we won't offend anyone. By giving in, we offend God! We dare not conform to the world by neglecting the great salvation message.
As spring passes and summer ar­rives, we are shocked by the attire we observe. Both men and women seem to see how close to total nakedness they can come. There is no shame. As it was put in Jeremiah 8:12, "They were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush." Sadly this creeps into the church. Remember we live in the pres­ence of God. When we go to worship, we are going to meet with our Lord. It is true that Hebrews 4:13 says, "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." This in no way gives us license to expose our bodies to surrounding humanity. We might add that naked and opened includes our minds. What are your motives for dressing as you do? Are they pure and holy, showing a desire to look your best? Or are you dressing in a manner to show rebellion against old fashioned customs? Think about this: 1st Samuel 15:23 says, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idola­try." The world in general is rebellious against God's Word. To conform to their ways and customs will cost us our eternal inheritance.
We cannot write of the ways and customs of the world without consider­ing language. David wrote in Psalms 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer." Jesus warned in Matthew 12:36, "But I say unto you that every idle word that man shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words, thou shalt be con­demned." He had previously said in Matthew 12:34, "O generation of vi­pers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." James 1:24 warns, "If any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."
Tongue control is the control of the mind. Paul warned in Is' Corinthians 15:33, "Be not deceived: evil commu­nications corrupt good manners." The Living New Testament says, "Don't be fooled by those who say such things. If you listen to them, you will start acting like them." Constant exposure to evil language can cause you to become hardened. The more you hear it, the less evil it seems. We must walk away from evil language and not laugh at filthy jokes. Paul warned in 1st Timothy 5:22, "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." It is not easy for any of us to totally reject the urge to conform to society.
 -105 IV. Jefferson, Richland, MO 65556


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