The Struggle To Conform

September 24, 2013

The Struggle To Conform

            When non-Christians, or carnal Christians, contemplate the ramifications of conforming to the limitations that living an obedient Christian life would place on them, it seems insurmountable.  They feel out of place if they visit a church where Christian standards are consistently upheld.  They feel intimidated because they know they don’t measure up.  Perhaps this is one of the key reasons why carnal Christians often drop out of church and the unsaved seldom come.

For the carnal man, the acceptance of Christian standards is not as easy as taking off a dirty shirt and putting on a clean one.  It may demands the humble recognition that he has been flawed in his thinking.  He may think there is little or nothing wrong with his life style.  He may need to repent of so many things that he feels devastated.  It means that he must refrain from such things as smoking, alcoholic beverages, profanity, worldly entertainment, and immodest dress.  It also means he will be expected to attend church every Sunday.

All these things loom large on the horizon when we talk to these people about having the right relationship with God.  Many of the unsaved and carnal Christians may think and say to themselves, “Genuine Christians are harmless.  If they want to live that way there is no harm done.  They mean well, but when they ask me to be one of them I feel like saying, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’  I don’t have what it takes to conform to such high standards.”

My friend, I understand how you feel.  I’m willing to try to put myself in your shoes.  There was a time when I too faced the same dilemma.  I want to help you by putting some things in the proper perspective.

First of all, there needs to be a change of mind.  A tremendous change took place in my life when I accepted the Bible as the inspired Word of God.  I accepted it as divine truth.  I surrendered my liberty to accept what I wanted to accept, and reject what I didn’t want to accept and to which I didn’t want to conform.  I accepted the Bible as the final authority regarding acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  Little by little I made the necessary changes in my life.

In second place, you need to understand that being a Christian is not just a matter of conforming to a certain standard of conduct.  That’s why some fall into the category of being “carnal Christians.”  They may be saved, but they aren’t living like Christians should live.  Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” If your heart isn’t in it, conformance to Christian standards will be grievous.  That’s why Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

In third place, you must realize that it’s impossible for you to give up all these things from one day to the next.  Some things are easy to give up.  You may struggle with other things. Habits are hard to break.  One thing I struggled with was the use of profanity.  It came out without thinking.  When I realized I had said it, I asked for God’s forgiveness and for his help in getting victory over it.

The power to win the victory comes as your relationship with God deepens.  Your relationship with God begins when you realize that you are a sinner.  Then you need to go to him in prayer and confess that you are a sinner and ask him to forgive you and accept you as one of his children.  Romans 10:9-10 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.   For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” God can forgive and save us from condemnation because of the merits of Christ’s sacrifice when he died on the cross.  After you have prayed from your heart and ask God to save you, you can be assured that you are a child of God.  I John 5:10 says, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” Being a child of God gives you the right to pray and claim the promises God makes to his children.  You can claim promises like Matthew 7:7-8.  “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:   For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Our relationship with God deepens as we spent time with him.  One way to do that is to set aside a time every day to read the Bible and pray.  For most people, the best time to do that is the first thing in the morning. Our love for him grows as we realize more and more of what is included in being a child of God.  The Bible speaks of our being “in Christ.” II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Romans 6:14-16 says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.   What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.   Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

I trust you now understand that it’s not “a struggle to conform,” but a surrender to the will of God.  The truth of that is found in Romans 12:1-2.  “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.   And be not conformed to this world: 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.” God wants you to enjoy the deliverance spoken of in Romans 8:21.  “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  Don’t let these life style changes keep you from coming to Christ.  Giving up these things is for your good and God’s glory. In the end you will realize that what you have gained is much more than what you sacrificed.

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