Romans 12:2

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

June 23, 1999

Introduction

Tonight, weíre going to focus on "Understanding Godís Will"

Illustration

Predicting The Weather

A film crew was on location deep in the desert. One day an Old Indian went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow rain." The next day it rained. A week later, the Indian went up to the director and said, "Tomorrow storm." The next day there was a hailstorm. "This Indian is incredible," said the director. He told his secretary to hire the Indian to predict the weather. However, after several successful predictions, the old Indian didnít show up for two weeks. Finally the director sent for him. "I have to shoot a big scene tomorrow," said the director, "and Iím depending on you. What will the weather be like?" The Indian shrugged his shoulders. "Donít know," he said. "Radio is broken."

For some of us, the idea of understanding Godís will is a lot like trying to predict the weather. We go to "experts" who try to tell us what is going to happen. For some of us, we just feel like the radio is broken and we arenít hearing anything.

We began chapter 12 last week by looking at the beginning thoughts of understanding Godís will:

(Rom 12:1 KJV) 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.

Lesson

Godís will starts with giving Him your body.

Understanding what God wants for your life starts with being a person who is on the altar. I need to let Him have my body to do with as He wants.

Itís total commitment. Being a sacrifice involves total commitment.

Illustration

The Rev. Robert Ard, president of the Black Leadership Council, explains the difference between involvement and commitment: "When you look at a plate of ham and eggs, you know the chicken was involved. But the pig was committed."

-- Tom Blair in San Diego Union

:2 And be not conformed to this world:

conformed Ė suschematizo Ė to conform one's self (i.e. one's mind and character) to another's pattern, (fashion one's self according to); to shape one thing like another and describes what is transitory, changeable, and unstable. Itís kind of like taking clay and squishing it onto a mold, or pressing aluminum foil over a mold. The foil or clay take on the shape of the mold.

world Ė aion Ė This is the word that is often translated "forever", an unbroken age; the worlds, universe; but here it carries more the idea of period of time, this present age.

Another word we translate "world" (kosmos) carries the idea of the inhabitants of the world, mankind in general, as opposed to God. But here, aion carries more the idea of "the age", the world at a given time, a particular period in the worldís history. Itís keeping up with the current trends and fashions. Itís the pursuit of staying perpetually "cool". Itís learning to buy everything that Madison Avenue says you ought to buy.

More about this "world" Ė

1. Satan is called the "god of this world (aion)" (2Cor. 4:4). The demonic forces against which we wrestle are the "rulers of the darkness of this world (aion)" (Eph. 6:12).

2. Itís something that once was a part of our life before Jesus:

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

3. Itís not that we should be irrelevant to our "world" around us. I donít think we need to get rid of our cars and live on farms in the country.

We need to be "all things to all people" for the sake of relating to them and reaching them for Jesus.

(1 Cor 9:22 KJV) To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

But we need to be careful that we donít get shaped by the world and then caught in its trap.

4. The "world" will ruin your spiritual fruitfulness:

Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world (aion), and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

You become like your "god".

(Psa 115:1-8) Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake. {2} Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? {3} But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. {4} Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. {5} They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: {6} They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: {7} They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. {8} They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

If you value the things of the world too much, then they become your gods, and you start changing into their image.

You become more "insensate", you lose your sensitivity to those around you.

The real issue is: What drives your life?

Is your life driven by wanting to look good on the outside? Is your life driven by wanting all the things that other people have?

Or is your life driven by wanting Jesus to change you from the inside out?

:2 but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,

transformed Ė metamorphoo Ė to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure. While the word "conform" (suschematizo) speaks of a temporary, external kind of changing, this word (metamorphoo) speaks of a permanent kind of change.

The roots of the two verbs "conform" and "transform" are from two similar but different words. The word "conform" is built on the word schema which means the outward shape or figure of something. But the root of "transform" (morphe) carries the idea of what is inward, essential, or intrinsic.

The idea is that we are not to allow ourselves to be shaped on the outside by the things of the world, but we are to be changed from the inside with the renewing of our minds.

renewing Ė anakainosis Ė a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better; a continuous process through which man becomes more fully Christ-like, in which process he is a worker together with God.

Lesson

Things that renew.

If we do a word study on how this word "renew" is used in the New Testament, we can come up with some helpful ideas of what can renew us.

1. Keeping our eyes on the invisible, eternal things

(2 Cor 4:16-18 KJV) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; {18} While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

3. The Holy Spirit

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

mind Ė nous Ė the mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining.

Lesson

Change the way you think.

Itís the mind that needs to be renewed. Itís the way we think about things. The battle is all over your mind. What will it spend it's time processing?

Phil 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. {9} Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

When you are in your car, who decides what station to listen to? Who decides what tape to play? Who decides which CD to listen to? You do.

You have a choice of what tapes youíre going to put into your mind. God wants you transformed by having your mind made new, by playing His "tapes".

One way we can do this is through not only reading, but memorizing Scripture.

Illustration

Speaking of memory Ö

The Indian Chief

An Australian travel writer touring Canada was checking out of the Spokane Hilton, and as he paid his bill to the manager, he asked, "By the way, what's with the Indian chief sitting in the lobby? He's been there ever since I arrived." "Oh that's 'Big Chief Forget-me Not'," said the manager. "The hotel is built on an Indian reservation, and part of the agreement is to allow the chief free use of the premises for the rest of his life. He is known as 'Big Chief Forget-me Not' because of his phenomenal memory. He is 92 and can remember the slightest detail of his life." The travel writer took this in, and as he was waiting for his cab decided to put the chief's memory to the test. "'ello, mate!" said the Aussie, receiving only a slight nod in return. "What did you have for breakfast on your 21st birthday?" "Eggs," was the chief's instant reply, without even looking up, and indeed the Aussie was impressed. He went off on his travel writing itinerary, right across to the east coast and back, telling others of Big Chief Forget-me Not's great memory. One local noted to him that "How!" was a more appropriate greeting for an Indian chief than ''ello mate" On his return to the Spokane Hilton, six months later, he was surprised to see 'Big Chief Forget-me Not' still sitting in the lobby, fully occupied with whittling away on a stick. But, remembering his friends advice he greeted Chief Forget-me Not in the more appropriate fashion. "How?" said the Aussie. "Scrambled," said the Chief.

Illustration

Charles Swindoll writes,

"Why is the expenditure of time and energy so worth the effort entailed in memorizing Scripture? Because our life is lived in our mind. More than 10,000 thoughts a day pass through that gray matter neatly tucked between our ears. Theologian A.W. Tozer once said, "Our thoughts not only reveal what we are, they predict what we will become. We will soon be the sum total of our thoughts." The Holy Spirit feeds on the spiritual nourishment of the Word to rewire our mental computer, thereby effectively changing our attitudes and actions." Ė Charles R. Swindoll, The Christian Life, (Vision House, 1994), p. 79.

:2 that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

If you translate this strictly by word order, you get something like what the NAS has:

(Rom 12:2 NASB) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Itís when youíve presented your body to God and have allowed Him to renew your mind, that you are now in a position to "prove" or "test" what Godís will is.

prove Ė dokimazo Ė to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

Lesson

God is concerned with making the person, not just giving todayís instructions.

Sometimes we get consumed with certain issues regarding Godís will. We want some kind of guidance as to the specific decisions we face in life. We want to know who to marry, what job to take, where to live, etc.

But itís become my impression that God isnít as much concerned about specific decisions as He is about what weíre becoming. Donít get me wrong, I believe God is very concerned about which specific decisions we make. But I believe He is even more concerned about what kind of person weíre becoming.

When you get to the point where youíve presented your body to God, and youíve been letting Him renew your mind, then youíre in a position to find out what Godís will is.

Chuck Smith:

"Too often we assume that God only reveals His will in exotic ways such as tinglings down the spine or fiery letters in the sky. When I entered Bible college, I learned that some students had seen visions or messages emblazoned in the sky calling them into the ministry. I didn't have any such experiences. Actually, I had the least spectacular call to the ministry of anyone in school. All I had was a desire to serve God by learning more of His Word. After all these years I'm one of the few from my class still in the ministry. Many former classmates are selling cars or working in some such occupation. I sometimes wonder what happened to those fiery letters in the sky. When we expect the will or call of God to come in dramatic ways, we don't anticipate the natural ways by which He so often leads us. Many times during the day God's hand is leading me, but I'm not even aware of it. Some people expect a divine signal system to give them directions. "Turn left! Beep! Beep! Go forward..." They're looking for the spectacular, so they bemoan the fact that they've never been led by God. In looking over my life's situations, I realize that God has worked out things with perfect timing. My hindsight shows me that my promptings to do a particular thing had come from God. God leads us in natural ways. He said that He would write His Law on the tablets of our hearts."

will Ė thelema Ė what one wishes or has determined shall be done; of what God wishes to be done by us; will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure

This isnít necessarily Godís almighty decree that He declares and nothing can stop it. But this is a little more the idea of what God desires, what God wishes for us.

good Ė agathos Ė of good constitution or nature; useful; excellent, distinguished

There is nothing bad or evil about Godís will.

(1 John 1:5 KJV) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

We all know people who try to trick us and manipulate us to do their "will", and itís something that is not a good thing.

But Godís will for us is pure and good.

acceptable Ė euarestos Ė well pleasing, acceptable

Godís will is wonderful. This is the same word used to describe the living sacrifices we are to make to the Lord (Rom. 12:1). We are a sweet aroma to the Lord as a living sacrifice, and His will for us is a sweet aroma for us.

perfect Ė teleios Ė brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect.

Godís will is all we need. We donít need to be seeking things outside of Godís will to be complete people.

Lesson

Donít be afraid of His will.

I think that sometimes we get the idea that God is out to ruin our lives. Heís always doing "good" things for us, but theyíre always the yucky, brussel-sprouts kind of "good". Weíre afraid that if we give ourselves totally to the Lord, then Heíll send us to Africa. Weíre afraid that if we really stop worrying about who weíre going to marry, and put it in Godís hands, that God is going to pick out some really ugly, weird person with very bad breath.

(Psa 37:4 KJV) Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

We often look at that verse and focus on the "promise" at the end and say, "Gosh, I can get whatever I want from God!"

But Godís focus on that verse is to for us to become people who find their delight in Him. The issue isnít the "getting of stuff". The issue is whether or not Iím becoming a person who is falling more and more in love with God. And in fact, when I find myself delighting in Him, I find that all the "stuff" fades away and isnít all that important any more. I find that when Iím delighting in Him, all thatís left in my heart, all the "desires" that are left are only the kinds of things that He desires for me. Iím not so sure this verse is a promise about getting "things", itís a promise about getting "desires".

It doesnít say He will give us the "dreads" of our heart, but the "desires". Godís will is good. Itís well-pleasing. Itís perfect.