Who Is Shaping Your Life?

Romans 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23;

Jim Davis

In an article entitle Shaped by the Bible the writer said, "Because we have been so willing to accommodate the message of the Bible to the limitations of contemporary culture, the modern world does not regard the church as a threat; I suspect that it regards us as merely boring. We are giving the modern world less and less in which to disbelieve because it senses no difference between what the church is saying and what is being said by a variety of secular voices. Thus, the modern world is not called up actively to decide for or against the church, because it sees so little against which to take a stand. The world which once imprisoned our Christian ancestors now responds to an utterly enculturated church with mere indifference." (Shaped by the Bible. Christian Today).

Douglas Taylor-Weiss, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Dayton, Ohio, has proposed a new set of Ten Commandments based on his observations of our culture:

  • Have a good day.
  • Shop
  • Eliminate pain
  • Be up-to-date
  • Relax
  • Express yourself
  • Have a happy family
  • Be entertaining
  • Be entertained
  • Buy entertainment.
  • He forgot 11. Get in touch with your feelings Martin Marty

    This gives us an idea of how our culture affects our lives more than God does. Only a fool would argue that the church should change its doctrine to keep up with the times. One does not arrive at moral judgments by counting noses. Nor does one derive ethical systems from surveys. (Andrew M. Greeley in America Christianity Today).

    We have a real problem in this country when it comes to values. We have become the kind of societies that civilized countries used to send missionaries to." William Bennett. Interviewed on the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. Christianity Today.

    Living Sanctified Lives

    When the world encourages us to get in touch with ourselves it seeks to deprive us of God’s power to make something out of us. The Bible’s instruction is given to put our physical bodies in touch with our soul.

    Titus 2:11-14
    For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. NIV

    Christians are called to live sanctified lives. This simply means that we must separate ourselves from this worldly view of life in order to allow God to take control of our lives. Salvation takes place at baptism, but sanctification requires setting our lives apart for God’s service. It is a life long work as we seek the help of God to live up to his holy calling.

    1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
    May God himself the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?

    Sanctification has to do with setting our lives or bodies aside or apart for God. It comes from the Old Testament as the priest sanctified or set the utensils of the temple apart for service to God. Paul is asking us to sanctify our lives.

    Accomplishing sanctification requires offering our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.

    Romans 12:1-2
    "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will."

    Sanctification is accomplished as we allow God to transform our way of thinking into his way of thinking. Paul calls this renewing your mind. The purpose of renewing the mind is so that we can get our physical lives in touch with God. This is the most difficult part of salvation because it requires each of us to present our physical lives as a living sacrifice to God.

    When the world looks at a Christian it should see dead men/women walking. During an Army war game a Commanding Officer’s jeep got stuck in the mud. The C.O. saw some men lounging nearby and asked them to help him get unstuck

    "Sorry, Sir," said one of the loafers, "but we’ve been classified dead and the umpire said we couldn’t contribute in any way."

    The C.O. turned to his driver and said, "Go drag a couple of those dead bodies over here and throw them under the wheels to give us some traction."

    The best way to live a sanctified life is to throw our dead bodies into the work of the Lord so that he can resurrect us to a new life in Christ.

    God wants our bodies as living sacrifices, not corpses. A sacrifice is an offering placed before the Lord so that he can make something of it. A woman named Stacy Allison was the first woman who climbed Everest’s summit. She said, "You’ve got to decide sometimes in your life when its okay not to listen to what other people are saying----if I had listened to other people, I wouldn’t have climbed Mt. Everest."

    Christians are lured to view the themselves as the world views itself—uncritically and without a basis for understanding. Many of us find ourselves "getting along by going along" And the Christian community slowly, imperceptibly "moves two inches a year toward total decline. (Don McCory in Eternity.)

    We have lost the idea of a living sacrifice because we are too busy demanding our rights. Kurt Bruner said, "We have seen a gradual change over the past several decades in our society from emphasizing individual responsibility to emphasizing, almost glorifying, individual rights." (Kurt Bruner in Responsible living in an Age of Excuses).

    Paul Tournier said, " Christianity is not one ideology over against other ideologies. It is a life inspired by the Holy Spirit. Its victories are nothing but victories over itself, not over others. It propagates itself through humility and self-examination, not through triumphs." Paul Tournier, The Whole Person in A Broken World. Christianity Today.

    There is no greater victory than victory over self. This is the kind of sacrifice God uses to change an evil world. Mohandas Gandhi said, "The willing sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer yet conceived by God or man to insolent tyranny."

    Colossians 3:5-10
    Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. NIV

    How much energy of our physical body is used to serve our animal instincts or psyche or should we just simply say the flesh? Most are encouraged too seek salvation, but the real battle is sanctification. Sanctification has to do with channeling the desires of the physical person through the reasoning of the immortal soul as it receives God’s instruction. Receiving salvation is easy, but the battle begins when we seek to live sanctified lives.

    Son: Dad, did you go to Sunday school when you were a boy?

    Dad: Never missed a Sunday.

    Son: Bet it won’t do me any good either.

    This happens when we fail to live sanctified lives. Sanctification has to do with channeling the animal psyche of the person to accept God’s holy purpose for living.

    Sanctified Through and Through

    Paul prayed, "May God himself the God of peace, sanctify you through and through."

    The key to living a successful Christian life is bringing harmony to body, mind and soul. My psyche desires to reduce my life to the level of physical animal instincts. The soul desires to renew my life in the image of Christ. This is the source of life’s greatest battle. I feel like Paul as he was tested and tried and found wanting. Notice what Paul says of his own struggles.

    Romans 7: 14-20
    " We know that the law is spiritual; sold as a slave to sin. I do no understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

    I am forced to identify with Paul’s assessment of his own life for the struggle is as impossible for me as it was for him. I thought when I became a Christian I had nothing to do but just to lay my oars in the bottom of the boat and float along. But I soon found that I would have to go against the current—not just against the current of the world around me, but against the current of my own personal desires from within.

    Paul was crying out like David in Psalms 51:10 after David’s adultery with Bathsheba. David cried: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

    The animal part of us says, "If it feels good, do it!" "If it makes me feel good buy it!" "If it enhances my self-image invest in it!" When we give in to these desires our soul cries out, "O wretched man that I am." This is especially true when the credit card bills start rolling in.

    David prayed for God to give him a willing spirit to sustain him, but before God give us a willing spirit he must have a willing sacrifice. It is little wonder that Paul admonishes us to present our bodies a living sacrifice.

    James 4:7-10
    Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. NIV

    We must allow God to renew our inward being or else our physical lives will end in frustration and failure.

    2 Corinthians 4:16-18
    Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

    There comes a crisis, a moment when every human soul which enters the kingdom of God has to make its choice of that kingdom in preference to everything else that it holds and owns.

    How does the world see us? We were made to glorify God. Are we conforming to our world, or are we transforming our world into the image of Christ? Does the world see the difference we make by the way we dress, speak, and act, or does the world see me as one of them?


    May we conclude with Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians.

    1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
    May God himself the God of peace, sanctify [each of us] through and through. May [our] whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?