2006 Feb : | Be Not Conformed | World Day of Prayer |
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Be Not Conformed To This World
Theme for 16th General Assembly of Far Eastern Council of Christian Churches (FECCC)
held concurrently with ICCC 17th World Congress in Korea, June 2005
Message by Rev Ebenezer T Nacita,
FECCC/ICCC Vice-President for the Philippines, and Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Manila
N.T. Passage : Romans 12 : 1 - 2 O.T. Passage : Lev. 8 : 12 - 24

HYMN : Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord

INTRODUCTION
"Be not conformed to this world". How many times in one year do we hear this command? Can we listen to one more today? What are in the world that believers are commanded not to be conformed to? "Schema" - To fashion, To confrm. "Do not fall in with the external and fleeting fashions of the wicked sector of this world under the influence of the Devil. Rather, undergo a deep inner "metamorphosis" by the qualitative renewing of your mind which only the Holy Spirit through the Word can work in you".

Was Paul referring to the works of the flesh in Gal 5:19-21?" Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasci-viousness or lewdness, idolatry, witchcraft or sorcery, hatred, variance or contentions or jealousies, wrath or outbursts of wrath, strife or selfish ambitions, seditions or dissensions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness,, revellings or revelries, and such like: of which I tell beforehand, just as I also told you in the time past, that those who practise such things [those who are still practising one or more of these without guilt or fear], will not inherit the kingdom of God, [may still be unsaved]. One does not have to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ to condemn these crimes. Judaism and Islam both consider some of these as heinous and punish those who commit these with death or imprisonment. After a sinner gets saved by Christ, he becomes a new creature, 2 Cor 5:17. Therefore these sins could not be the primary problem of believers. To have even just a few leaders or members in our churches that are still in bondage to the works of the flesh is an indictment against our church evangelistic and Christian Education ministries. Look how Paul was so hard on the Corinthian believers who tolerated the offenses of the man in 1 Cor 5:1-5, please read. Paul did not make an appeal to the beleivers to avoid the sin of fornication or the other works of the flesh. He simply commanded them to put away those who are still practising these sins and have no repentant spirit. It is already understood that believers would not do these things and enjoy doing it continuously. [1 John 3 1-10 read].

In harmony with John, Paul, in Roman 12:1-2 could be referring to the more deceiving and subtle things of the world ["the little foxes", "weights"] which easily beset believers - the worldly and satanic principles which are not easily noticed and thus are not commonly associated with gross crimes and sins of the flesh, yet because of them we displease God in our ministries. We may be deceived into thinking that our work is pleasing Him when in fact, we are pleasing the world because the philosophy we adopt in ministry may be of and from the world.

A closer look at the ceremony of the conse-cration of the priests in Lev 8 may be helpful for this particular message today. Let us read Lev 8:1-24.

The blood of the ram of consecration Lev 8:23 for the Levitical priestly office and work could also be a unique representation of the blood of Christ that sanctifies the believers for ministry during this church age. As the Blood of the Passover lamb represented Christ shedding His blood at Calvary for our salvation, [When I see the blood, I will Passover you" Ex12:13] the blood of the Lamb of consecration represents the special anointing of the Holy Spirit for Christian service, John 14:13, 16:7, please read.

Three very subtle problem areas we face in our Christian life and ministry:

Area One : Should we live by sight or by faith?

Do not conform to the philosophy of life of the world which is materialistic and covetous.

Do not listen to the voices of the world that influence you to live more by sight and less by faith [1 John 2:15-17].

We need "Blood - stained" right Ears [Lev 8:24] - Our ears represent all that we allow to influence our mind which controls our life and directs our activities. Our right ear anointed with blood represents our positive response to the clear and direct commands of God, the logical conclusions from the overwhelming number of Biblical passages and the implied principles God has revealed in both Old and New testaments relevant to the health and growth of our intellect, emotion and will. Even our personal preferences should be governed by God's still small voice.

Elijah in 1 Kings 18 used his ears to respond to God's call to challenge the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He triumphed. But in chapter 19 the same ears heard the threats of Jezebel. He believed it, got scared and ran. His decision to run was the result of living by his physical senses. His lack of faith affected his servant who also ran away with him although he was left lagging behind because he could not keep up with the speed of the fleeing "representative" of God.

We must be servants and priests of God and of Jesus Christ who can recognize the still small voice of God in the world that is noisy and with so many uncertain and confusing sounds. WE MUST LEARN HOW TO FILTER WHAT WE HEAR AND REJECT WHAT ARE PERILOUS TO OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE AND MINISTRY.

We need the advice of the psalmist in Psalm 1 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful".

Demas, Paul's companion, 2 Tim 4:10, forsook him having loved His present world and has departed unto Thessalonica. He must have heard the world's voice saying "what future will you have in Paul's missionary team?"

When Christ was tempted in the wilderness, His ears heard Satan's voice very clearly. The first temptation appealed to His material needs, "command these stones to be made bread". It was an attempt to focus on His material needs [living by physical senses]. Christ's answer was "man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" [living by faith in God's Word].

God's children can still fall into the sin of materialism, greed and lust after money. There seem to be a growing acceptance in the Christian Community of materialism and the obsession to become wealthy financially and the belief that no child of God must suffer hardship and poverty. Today, financial wealth, physical health and long life have been equated with God's will and blessings for every believer without exceptions.

Do not be deceived by this loud voice from the world: "The more faith believers have, the more they become materially blessed and the less problems, sufferings and trials and difficulties they have in ministry." If a servant of God has only enough food, clothing and shelter, it is an evidence of his lack of faith in God. He must not be doing the will of God and for this he is wretched, poor and needy."

Area two : Are we in the ministry to please man or God?"

Do not conform to the standard of the world of measuring success and fruitfulness in Christian ministry.

Do not let your hands offer strange fires on God's alter. [Read Lev 10:1-7].

We need Blood - stained right Thumbs. Doing the tasks assigned by God. According to gifts given for ministry in the church. [Read 1 Cor 3: 9-15].

Our thumbs lock our grip on anything we hold. Without out thumbs the function of our hand would severely be handicapped. Our hands represent our ministry - the specific calling we have received from God [Rom 12]. Works stamped with our thumbs marked with blood of Jesus Christ - for reward [gold silver and precious stones 1 Cor 3:12,13].

We had been saved to do good works [Eph 2:10]. But not all of our works in the name of Christ may be credited with eternal values. Only those which will pass scrutiny of the all-knowing God ["the fire shall try everyone's work of what sort it is"] are given eternal value for reward. If we do good works to please men, God is not glorified. It is wood, hay or stubble, and thus, will be burned.

Good works are the believer's thoughts, words and deeds endowed with spiritual and eternal quality and value by the indwelling Holy Spirit related to fulfillment of the Great Commission [Matt 28:18-20], done according to the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the local church where the believer is a member, with motives, means, method, character and lifestyle considered, 1 Cor 10:31; James 5:17.

King Saul lost his kingdom even before he offered any sacrifice. He kept the best among the cattle and among the sheep and goats for future sacrifice to the Lord. What he thought was best based on his worldly and disobedient disposition and attitude made him a "castaway". Whereas another Saul had a different response. "But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection: lest after I have preached to others, I should be a castaway" [1 Cor 9:24-27].

Let us brighten the corner where God puts us. Let us be salt with savor where God desires us to have our resident ministries. Let us stop comparing and competing with one another's ministries in size and number, in human and material resources etc. Let us "bloom where we are planted".

Gideon's 300 was not a very qualified or impressive company of soldiers. They could not even do push ups or bend low enough to drink like the younger and more athletic ones who were sent home. They were either too old with aching backs and knees or they were so out of shape to do anything, much less to represent Israel against the Midianites. But who need able and strong men when all they had to do was to blow the trumpets, break the clay pitchers and shout "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon". The impossibility of victory was God's to be glorified. Why? They were nothing. Only what they had in their hands with thumbs stained with "blood of faith", they offered to God. With their obedience they pleased God. Imagine how the rest of the soldiers who in appearance, seemed more in number and more able and stronger must have felt when the 300 handicapped senior citizens, maybe nearing retirement and physically unfit were instead selected to fight against a million Midiantes.

Big Congregations, large bank accounts, magnificent buildings occupying prime lots in the cities do not necessary mean that God is glorified unless the other components that are surely and distinctively associated with God's power and providence are also present such as : Faithful preaching of the true and pure Gospel of Christ, consistent teaching of the whole counsel of God, responding positively to God's reproofs and corrections, receiving training and instruction from Scriptures, 2 Tim 3:16-17. We praise God for a few Bible-believing and practising churches around the world that God has blessed with huge memberships, adequate facilities, financial blessings, gifted church leaderships, balanced and varied ministries, yet vibrant and effective witnesses in their area of ministry. The rest of us may only have a few dozens of believers meeting in rented properties, suffering difficulties and many deprivations of comfort and ease because God has given us ministries uniquely designed by God for us. I am glad that God's "well done" is in the statement "Thou good and faithful servant", Matt 25:21; Rev 3:8.

Area three : Are we standing in defense of the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ by our human and natural abilities or by the power and with the armor of God?

Do not conform to the strategy of the World to defend and protect God's ministry. Do not stand and anchor your toes on the platform of ecumenism and compromise just because they seem to be powerful and influential.

We need Blood - stained right big toes - Standing firm in a defensive and offensive posture in the battle for Biblical Christianity. We are to stand equipped with the armor of God, Eph 6:10-18.

Loins grit with truth - identifies and exposes errors and false doctrine and their proponents.

Breastplate of righteousness - Blameless life and conduct, above reproach in and outside of the church

Feet shod with preparation of the Gospel of peace - Missionary and evangelistic programs that adequately train believers to teach clearly the pure Gospel of Christ without mixture or sugar coatings characteristic of the Ecumenical, Neo-evangelical and Charismatic movements.

Shield of faith - Personal security, confidence and trust because one is indeed related to the eternal sovereign God who created this universe and all that are in it, maintains and sustains it now, and who will determine the destiny of all creation at the end of His redemptive work and in the eternity beyond. Rom 8:35-39.

Helmet of Salvation - Clear understanding of "Soteriology" to a degree that he not only feels but is indeed eternally secured, in the Father, Son and in the Holy Spirit. He has no more condemnation because of Jesus Christ. Living for the Faith give as much fulfillment as Dying for it, 2 Tim, 4:5-7.

Sword of the Spirit - Aptitude and faithfulness in handling the Word of God. Personally able to use and apply Scriptures for personal and corporate edification.
Prayer - Recognition that the ultimate source of power to stand on solid ground is God and the guarantee for victory totally depends upon God.

A SOLDIER WHOSE BIG TOES ARE STAINED AND MARKED BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB [anointed with power of the Holy Ghost] IS A FORMIDABLE offensive and defensive agent against the world, the flesh and the Devil.

As we come closer to the end of this age, we can expect more "Christian" churches and organizations to become lukewarm, to embrace compromise and eventually become ecumenical and apostate.

May none from among us neglect this warning : "Be not conformed to this world, but be yet transformed by the renewing of you mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God".

God bless us. Amen.
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