• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Worship As Transformation


Be not conformed to this world…

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

The ultimate purpose of our salvation is to give us eternal life with the Father in Heaven. Transformation is the means by which we are made able to fulfill that purpose.

When we are born our DNA from our parents and grandparents determines what we will look like, our facial features, our height, our skin color, our ethnicity and our blood type. As we grow we begin to look like our parents and grandparents. Their features are mirrored in us. People will say things like, “He has his father’s nose” or “she has her mother’s eyes,” and so on.

Now God has said to us who are born again by His Spirit, that we should be Holy because He is Holy.

…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

But, we are all by nature, imperfect, flawed souls. If we could be holy as God is Holy by will of mind or heart alone or merely by commandment there would have been no need for any other agent to affect that change in us. By any measure of our human nature holiness is impossible apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us. But, God summons us to be holy because we are now new creations in Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

This has been His intended purpose for us from the beginning, that His people would be holy and set apart for His glory. That they would be so identified with Him that they would be like Him in all things.

Coming out of Egypt the Israelites needed to have a new image of whom they were and who they could be.

They had become very familiar with the ways of the Egyptians. Idol worship was common and they witnessed the Egyptian practices for nearly 400 years. They did not worship the gods of Egypt but, they also did not have a specific worship tradition for themselves accept what they knew of Abraham’s acknowledgment that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the only true God.

So when God brought them out of Egypt they needed to have their understanding enlightened. They needed to have their minds renewed to know God personally, to know Him, His character, His ways, His purposes apart from the influence of the paganism they had seen in Egypt.

Fundamentally, they need to know God apart from the Egyptian’s way of life. Their minds, their wills and their traditions needed to be changed and God’s ways and will be impressed on their minds and hearts.

“For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Leviticus 11:44

“For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45

“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2

Holiness is at the core of what it means for us to be Christians. Just as God intended for Israel to be a nation of priests and kings, so, too, now the church is called to be the body of Christ, a new nation of priests and kings unto God, that the world will see, will hear and ultimately know that God is and that Jesus is Lord and through Him and Him alone is salvation.

They need to know that salvation is freely available to everyone that will believe that Jesus is Lord, confessing Him as Savior and believing in their hearts that God has raised Him from the dead. From that point of confession and belief a miracle of life begins that is eternal.

That miracle was beginning of our perfection into holiness. Like the child who is born with the traits of his mother, father, grandparents and ancestors of past generations, the child of God born of His Spirit is stamped with a type of heavenly DNA that determines what he or she will become as they grow and mature.

But, unlike the human child who has no willful determination of how tall he will be or the color of her eyes, the shape of his nose or the hue of her skin or the color of his hair, the child born again of God’s spirit has a promised determination of his or her nature to be holy, but that determination only happens in the context of worship and obedience to live and believe the Word of God. God has determined the outcome by the saving work of Jesus Christ. There is no more for us to do to gain that righteousness and eternal life. But holiness is the character of our lives that is set aglow in and through us for the world to see and know that we are the children of God. Just a child is often recognized by his likeness to his parents, so the child of God is recognized by his likeness to God’s holiness.

So our holiness is not so much a command as it is a summons and a promise that we can have confidence in realizing as we enter more deeply into worship of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. As we imitate God as dear little children we grow ever more in His likeness.

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” Ephesians 5:1

As we worship in the spirit and with the understanding we learn more about the nature and character of God. As we recount and extol His goodness and mighty acts of power and love we get a glimpse of His character and we begin to see ourselves acting, speaking and thinking like Him. Our desires change, our hopes and dreams are changed, our expectations are change, our values are reordered and our moral compass is recalibrated to conform to the values and morals of heaven. Our hearts and minds are transformed to conform to the image of God.

In these by the power of the Holy Spirit in us we are changed from glory to glory.

We all stumble, we all fall, we all miss the mark from time to time, but that does not stop the transformation and renewing of our minds as long as we continue to abide in Jesus, to seek Him daily, to pray, to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness and to love and give as He has commanded us.

The most important gift we can give to Him is our selves as living sacrifices daily. To be alive for Christ’s holy purpose and to find our true fulfillment in that calling alone is the primary avenue of realization of the transformation that we are promised in Him to be holy, to be like Him to be conformed to the image of Christ.

There is an old song that we learned in Sunday school as children. We also sang it often at home with my mom and dad and my brother and sister. It helped to mold us into the persons we become as young adults and continue in today.

Yield Not To Temptation

Horatio R. Palmer, 1868

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;

Each vict’ry will help you some other to win;

Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue;

Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.

Refrain:

Ask the Savior to help you,

Comfort, strengthen, and keep you;

He is willing to aid you,

He will carry you through.

Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,

God’s name hold in rev’rence, nor take it in vain;

Be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true;

Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.

To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown,

Through faith we will conquer, though often cast down;

He who is our Savior, our strength will renew;

Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.

Each time we choose to act, or speak in a manner against our old human nature but with the nature of God we grow stronger in our faith and our transformation to the likeness of Christ is manifested in us at a deeper dimension. When we worship together with other believers our transformation is hastened by the mutual desire shared by every believer not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

#Devotionals #Exhortation #Worship #Righteousness #LivingFaith

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