We have talked about the need for patience in our journey to discovering the plan of God. The Bible is not a place to find quick answers. It will take time for us to develop in the things of God. Our heart is the soil in which the seed of the Word is planted. Once the seed is planted it must be given time to grow. We should never approach our time in the Word lightly. Ministers often fall into the habit of only spending time with God’s Word to prepare their messages. This is a dangerous trap to fall into. Our primary goal for time meditating in the Word is fellowship. Paul talked about the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in the last verse of Second Corinthians (2 Corinthians 13:14). The Holy Spirit anointed the men who penned the Bible. As we spend time meditating in its truths, we become familiar with His voice. The Word of God will wash our spirit and soul (Ephesians 5:26) like water washes our physical bodies. The Holy Spirit will touch our lives if we will approach the Bible as the inspired Word of God. This is the time we submit ourselves to the Spirit’s teaching ministry. He will use the Word to open the eyes of our spiritual understanding.
It seems that far too many Christians have lost touch with the concept of meditating in the Word of God. The world is focused on instant gratification and the idea of having patience to allow the seed to germinate and grow is foreign. It is so much easier to have an anointed man or woman of God lay hands on us. We run from meeting to meeting seeking the one with an ‘anointed touch’ that will result in our lives being completely turned around in an instant of time. At this point in our journey together it should be clear that revelation comes a piece at a time. Revelation is a result of countless hours spent totally immersed in the Word of God. There is no instant gratification to be had when it comes to the deep things of God. We will have to give ourselves to careful and considerate time with God’s Word if we want to succeed in our journey of discovering the plan of God. It is important to spend time in prayer, but prayer separate from the Word will lead us into error. Jude encouraged his readers to build themselves up on their faith by praying in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20). Faith cannot be built apart from the Word of God. We will not build ourselves up in prayer if we are first spending time in the Word.
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. Romans 12:1-2
The letter of Romans was written by Paul to the entire church in Rome. It was not addressed only to ministers. Paul was speaking to all believers when he told his readers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and neither is His Word. If the believers in Rome were to present their bodies, then every believer in the Church should do the same. We have discussed this in the previous chapter and said that it is the first step we will take in our journey to discover the plan of God for our lives. It is time for us to take the next step which Paul refers to as the “renewing of your mind”. It is not enough for us to just present our bodies as living sacrifices. We must continue on and submit ourselves to the Word of God. If our flesh is presented on the altar without us continuing on into the Word, it will never be overcome. Paul us that we overcome our flesh desires by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). The Holy Spirit always moves in line with the Word of God. If we have not built a foundation of the Word, then He will have no foundation to move in our lives. The Word is the Holy Spirit’s primary tool to judge our beliefs and experiences in life. Our society is moving at such a fast pace that it is difficult to slow down and spend time studying the Bible and meditating on what we are reading. This is a major key to the success of our journey. It is also totally opposite of the worlds focus on instant gratification! We only are able to overcome the flesh by the Spirit who operates in line with the Word of God. Satan is able to take advantage of Christians who are not grounded with a strong foundation built on the Word of God. We must find a balance between presenting our bodies as living sacrifices and spending the needed time required to build our foundation in the Word. Jesus did not leave us to fend for ourselves in this journey (John 14:18). He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within our Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide us step by step into revelation knowledge if we will take the time to turn to Him.
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. Romans 12:2
Paul encourages us to resist the world’s attempts to “conform” us. The word conform could also be translated “to pour into a mold” or “be or become similar in form, nature, or character”. Society place a tremendous amount of pressure on us to be like everyone else. Our flesh and Satan will both fight against our efforts to change course and begin moving towards the plan of God. We compared this to a rafter turning their canoe against the current and beginning to row upstream in the first chapter. It is easy to find examples of how society is working to mold us. Pop-up ads on our Internet browsers, television advertising, and the billboards we pass while driving are all examples. It is difficult to find a program on television that is not filled with ungodliness and death. We are called to be separate from the world but Christians partake of the world’s entertainments without a second thought about the consequences on their spiritual journey.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 2 Corinthians 6:17
Being transformed by the Word of God will require us to separate from the things that feed our flesh and pull us away from God. Solomon tells us that it the little foxes which cause spoilage in the vineyard (Song of Solomon 2:15). All of the excuses in the world cannot hide the fact that even a little bit of violence or language in a television program can become the “little fox” in our spiritual vineyards. Christians seem to have become dulled to the dangers surrounding us. Paul warned the Roman church about the dangers of allowing themselves to become similar in form, nature, or character (i.e., conformed) to the unsaved world around them. I have heard people talk about working around Christians without even knowing they attended a church. If an unbelieving coworker cannot tell the difference between their lifestyle and ours, we have been conformed to the world. God is merciful. He will lead us step by step out of the darkness into His plan if we turn to Him with a repentant heart. The Greek word translated “transformed” in Romans 12:2 is the Greek word “metaporphousthe”. This could also be translated “metamorphosis”. Picture a caterpillar’s transformation in the cocoon into a beautiful butterfly. We are often like the caterpillar who begins life on such a low-level that they crawl through the dirt like a worm. They will never become a butterfly if they do not enter the cocoon. Christians often crawl from one leaf to another like that work with no thought of the cocoon (i.e. Word of God) provided by God. If we will make time to enter into the cocoon, we will be transformed. The Holy Spirit is with us regardless. He filled our hearts with His presence when we became a Christian and will be with us even if we never enter into the cocoon of God’s Word.
Jesus told His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5) before they launched out into ministry. Paul was separated for approximately three to three and a half years before he was ready to step into the plan of God (Galatians 1:17-18). A caterpillar will spend an average of twenty-one days in the cocoon before emerging as a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly will have a lifespan that may be just a few days or up to seven months. Think about the time it spends being transformed compared to its life expectancy after it emerges from the cocoon. Many butterflies will spend as much time in the cocoon as they will live once their transformation is complete! Paul told the Roman believers to allow their minds to be transformed by the Word of God. The time needed for our metamorphosis will vary. It may take one week, one month, or even one year. Some will emerge from their cocoon sooner than others. Unlike the caterpillar, it is possible for us to leave the cocoon early. This is why so many Christians are living at such a low level in their spiritual lives. It is also why so many of us have struggled with discovering the plan of God in the past.
Society is focused on instant gratification. The process of being transformed by the Word of God does not fit into this mindset. Transformation is not instant. We will not find any spiritual fast food restaurants along the road of our spiritual journey where we will be able to order a quick transformation. The Holy Spirit will lead us into the cocoon and then provide the strength to stay through the transformation process. We will know when it is time to emerge. There will be a cost associated with the transformation process. It is rare for anyone to receive more than just a glimpse of what this cost will be before entering into the cocoon of the Word of God. A lot of people have entered and found themselves unwilling to continue once they saw what the cost was. The old timers used to call this process “dying to self”. The transformation associated with mind renewal will require us to “die” in regard to our plans and purposes for life. We will not emerge from the cocoon with the anointing of the Spirit clinging to our selfish desires. There are no shortcuts, but a lot of Christians will look for one. The only way for us to discover and enter into the plan of God is through total immersion in the Word of God.
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