Today I’m excited to have Holly of Tea Time and Jesus here to share about the challenge God presents us in Romans 12:2. Holly is sharing what her experience as an expat taught her about ways to not conform to this world.
As an expat, I often think about how living in another country shapes me. I’ve noticed my speech and mannerisms change depending on the country I live in. But, no matter how much I integrate into the culture, it still isn’t home. Something is missing.
I then think about how we, as Christians, are foreigners in a strange land, waiting to go home to our dear Father. How am I integrating into this world’s culture? How am I allowing it to shape my thoughts, actions, and desires?
One of my favorite passages of scripture is Romans 12:2. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)
I really like the way The Message translates it. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” ( Romans 12:1-2)
Sermons and Bible studies often tell us not to conform to the world, but how do we do this? Here are a few ideas.
5 practical ways to not conform to this world.
1. Recognize we are a new creation in Christ.
When we accepted Christ, we became new creations. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor 5:17 ESV)
Our flesh no longer rules us when we step into the wonderful kingdom of God. We became an heir with Christ.
Nothing we have done or will do can separate us from Christ. Nor can anything change the transformative work done within us. We are able to walk freely, separate from this world.
As a new creation, we are different from the world. Our very presence is offensive, and sometimes, the attention we receive will be costly. But take heart, as a new creation we are carried on the wings of our great Father who strengthens and redeems us. We don’t need to fit in. We are called to stand out!
2. Renew Our Minds
Staying separate from this world is difficult when we gratify our flesh with the fruit of the world. We must not only deprive ourselves of this fruit but continually feed on the life-giving Word of God.
Reading scripture daily is a great way to do this because it feeds our spirit and increases our cache of weapons to use against Satan. Paul tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim 3:16 ESV) Each word we read quietly or aloud is full of God-given power.
Every day we are in a battle. With temptations of the world all around, we need to renew our mind with the word of God.
3. Watch What We are Feeding Ourselves
I recently became more disciplined in my eating to see how certain foods affected my body. The results were amazing. I cut out drinking sugar and felt cleaner on the inside. I stopped eating fried foods and felt lighter. However, when I reintroduced fried foods, my body wasn’t having it. I felt so disgusting.
The same thing happens when we feed ourselves worldly fruit. It causes us to feel sluggish and not able to fulfill our purpose.
The bible says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil 4:8 ESV)
When we watch, listen, and read things that line up with this verse, we strengthen our spirit. We feel more spiritually healthy and are able to resist the things of the world easier. But, when we do the opposite, we become fat in our flesh and seek more worldly fruit to gratify us.
4. Crucify Our Flesh Daily
Crucifying the flesh is something I grew up hearing in church but didn’t really understand until I became more spiritually mature. It surrounds one word…..NO.
We crucify our flesh by saying no to its desires and yes to God’s desires. Paul tells us that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. “(Gal 5:24 ESV) We must exercise discipline and actively deny our flesh the things it craves. Eventually, our cravings will turn more to the things of God and less to our flesh.
We will always face temptation, but when we make crucifying our flesh a daily practice, we will be strong enough to resist the things that entice us.
5. Form Godly Habits Around Spiritual Disciplines
Spiritual disciplines are tools we can use to keep us separate from the world. Paul tells us. “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim 4:7)
We must make prayer, fasting, studying the Word, and other spiritual disciplines found in scripture, godly habits in our lives. Being disciplined is more than a one-time thing. It’s a way of living our Christian life.
Not conforming to this world seems impossible at times. But by being intentional in these things—living as a new creation, renewing our minds, feeding ourselves good fruit, crucifying our flesh, and forming godly habits around spiritual disciplines—we are able to guard ourselves against the world. We can also influence the culture around us and build each other up for the kingdom of God.
Take some time and look at your life. What are the areas that you are conforming to the world? How can you use the practical advice that you read today in your daily life? Who in your life can hold you accountable?
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Holly is the creator of Tea Time and Jesus a blog dedicated to encouraging and equipping the found, and inspiring the lost. She is passionate about helping others to see God’s truth and faithfulness in every moment of their lives. Holly is often caught singing and baking chocolate chip cookies with her husband in her home in South Korea- with a cup of tea in hand of course. You can connect with Holly on Facebook and Pinterest.