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Conformed or transformed?

We were talking last week about the pressure the world puts on us today to be conformed to its standards and how God has provided the Holy Spirit to work in our transformation to change us completely from what we were to what He desires us to be. Reviewing the passage we read, “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,” (Rom.12:1,2 NKJV). The passage speaks about God’s will being good, acceptable, and perfect, but we only begin to experience that when we follow God’s will. Today I would like to talk about some very clear imperatives that we have in Scripture as to what the will of God is for our lives. Remember that when we discuss the will of God, we’re talking about what God has revealed for us in His Word, and then when God speaks to our hearts and lives, what he directs us individually to do with our lives. But before God will direct us individually, we must be walking in obedience to the known will of God revealed in God’s Word.

Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians is filled with information pertaining to the revealed will of God for our lives. First Paul would reveal to us that we are to avoid sexual immorality. We read, “for this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality,” (1 Thess.4:3 NKJV). This is very clear and really needs very little explanation. Sexual immorality refers to any area of sexual impurity outside of the marriage bonds. He refers to sanctification which is literally a state of being set apart from sin to holiness. In this first century abstaining from sexual immorality was a major challenge for believers coming out of a totally secular worldview, just as it is a major challenge for believers living in the 21st century. The second thing that we see as the will of God from this passage is that we should not be taking advantage of other people. We continue reading, “that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified,” (1Thess. 4:6 NKJV). In the immediate context, this is related to the area of sexual immorality. But it is also seen throughout Scripture that we are not to use our position to take advantage of other people and other people’s needs.

A third part of following God’s will is seen in the importance of developing an attitude of prayerfulness and thankfulness in our relationship with God. We read in the next chapter of Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thess.5:16-18 NKJV). When Jesus Christ is at the center of our lives we can rejoice even in difficulties as He sustains us. The idea of praying without ceasing does not mean to pray repetitiously or continuously without a break, but rather it is about developing an attitude of prayerfulness and coming to God regularly with our daily needs and requests. Being thankful is also a very important aspect that should be an attractive trait in the life of a believer, that when unbelievers see our thankful attitude, they will be drawn to our Savior who provides a heart of thankfulness and gratitude. In this same passage, we also see the importance of avoiding all appearances of evil. We read, “Abstain from every form of evil,” (1 Thess.5:22 NKJV). When we are involved in things that are evil or could lead to evil that very much compromises God’s call to holiness in our lives. Before I knew the Lord Jesus, I was involved in all the things of this world, things that are now considered legal, like smoking marijuana or gambling through a bookie. I guess you could say I was ahead of the times. But after I became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, He set me free from those things which enabled me to have an effective witness before those that I use to be involved with in those activities.

The final scriptural teaching about the will of God that I want to discuss (as there are certainly way more than I’m covering here) is the importance of us sharing our faith with those around us. In the book of Acts Jesus calls us to represent Him when He shared before His departure, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit shall come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8 NKJV). I do not believe that Jesus’ instruction to his disciples in this verse was just for them. Nor do I believe that this is a verse just for pastors or church leaders. I believe God has called all of us to be witnesses of what He has done in our lives and in our salvation. Scripture says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”. If God has called you into a relationship with Himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, then He’s also called you to bear witness to the fact of what He has done in your life. Won’t you join me in looking for opportunities to perform God’s will in your life in the coming week?

All for Christ,

Pastor Rich Sivo

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