Yesterday, we discussed how the plans we make can help us to further our spiritual growth. When we set out to accomplish certain goals and find others to keep us accountable, we often find God working through these plans to bring us to maturity.
Regardless of the plans we make, or even if we do not make plans at all, we will soon find that many obstacles will come into our paths in order to prevent us from becoming spiritually mature. Though there are many obstacles that may stand in our way, over the centuries Christian theologians have come to identify three major categories of obstacles in the Christian life. In order to progress in the Christian walk, we must fight daily against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Today, we will discuss the first of these obstacles: the world.
Anyone familiar with the basics of anthropology or sociology understands that each world culture and society is structured by particular customs, taboos, and restraints. A person who lives within a culture generally behaves according to these customs. Most of the time, he will do what his society approves of and will stay away from what his society forbids. These accepted customs and restraints heavily influence most people in any given society.
When we look at teenagers for example, we find this to be especially true. The behavior acceptable to a teenager’s peer group often comes to define the world and life view of the teenager. As we grow older, we often find this to be less true, at least consciously. Nevertheless, as we look at our lives, we find that even as adults, societal customs often determine our thoughts and behaviors.
This should not be. Since the Fall, humankind has been at constant enmity with God. The fallen cultures of this present evil age seek to exalt themselves and live independently of God.
As today’s passage reminds us, we must not be conformed to this world. Rather, our minds and hearts must be conformed to the will of God as revealed by Jesus Christ and recorded in Holy Scripture. Though we will always have to fight the influence of the world, as we prayerfully study Scripture and ask the Spirit to apply its teaching to us, our lives will become more and more conformed to the image of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Though we are hardly aware of it, the customs of the world affect us on every level. There is a constant temptation to conform to the world’s standards and not to the will of God. Take some time to look at your life and see where you might be conforming yourself to the world. In prayer, ask God to conform you to His will.