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Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
To consistently surrender your life to the leading of the Holy Spirit means you are moment-by-moment choosing to say “no” to the constant cravings of your sinful flesh. It also means you are continuously choosing to say “yes” to the Spirit’s rule in your heart and mind. It’s a choice.
Welcome to The Point of Purity Podcast. Each episode is filled to the brim with all the tools you will ever need to build a lasting life of purity, integrity, and godliness. I’m your host, Steve Etner, Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry. Welcome to episode #43 as we continue our mini-series on How to live FOR Christ. Grab your Bible and come on in as we talk about undergoing a “Miraculous Metamorphosis!”
Listen as I read to you Luke 18:9-14 ...
“Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: ‘Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
The story I just read to you is a picture of two men not unlike many Christians today. One hid behind a mask, one did not. One, in his pride, pretended to be something he was not—a savior of the sinner. The other, in his humility, exposed himself for what he was—a sinner in need of the Savior.
We wear masks around other Christians—even around the unsaved. At church we look (and sound) like good, Bible-believing, God-fearing, faith-walking Christians. Yet when around non-Christians, we secure our masks in place, pretending to be something we’re not so that we can fit right in with our current surroundings.
God commands each of us to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” (Romans 12:2) Great verse! Great choice. But what does it mean? How do we live it out every day?
We are not to conform to the pattern of this world. That word - “conform” - expresses the idea of putting on a mask—pretending to be something you are not. When Christians conform to the pattern of this world, we are choosing to adjust our behavior to imitate the traits or features that are characteristic of the world around us.
Why would any Christian ever want to do that? Why would you choose to hide your true identity? Why would you want to appear to those around you as something you’re not?
Now carefully consider your answer to the above questions. The core of the issue is simply this: You do what you do because in your heart you want what you want.
Whether you’re at work, enjoying some much-needed free time, spending time with friends, or just at home with family, the world can be harsh and cruel. A powerful lie of the enemy is that you should try to act like the world around you so that you can fit in with them. After all, you don’t want them to tune you out simply because they see you as some kind of religious nut job, right? How can you possibly witness to them then?
Admit it: it can be very easy to put on a mask when you’re around the unsaved, acting like they do, talking like they do, laughing at the things they laugh at. However, when you do, that’s a sure-fire sign that King Me is sitting supreme on the throne of your heart – not God.
Never. Ever. Don’t do the things the world does. Don’t put on the mask just so you can fit in. Any time (in fact, every time) you choose to act like the world around you, you are doing so for the self-centered purpose of gaining man’s approval.
In Galatians 1:10 Paul writes, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Let me pose to you the same question Paul did. I want you to give serious thought to this question: Are you an approval junkie? Are you trying to win the approval of men, or of God? I’m asking flat-out—what’s the motivation of your heart? Why are you doing what you’re doing, going where you’re going, and saying what you’re saying? Are you trying to please those around you, or are you trying to please God?
Our aim – our goal – our primary purpose in life as a Christian - must be to please God, not others – not even myself. (For more on that let me encourage you to take our online class on “ How to Overcome ANY Temptation” at www.ChristianGrowthAcademy.com)
The Bible is clear: We are to know God “and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) God knows what your real, deep-in-the-heart motivations are. Here are 3 Biblical facts to support that point.
Never forget that man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at your heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) It is always about your heart.
Consider this: God will never be impressed by what you do if He’s not impressed with why you’re doing it.
It’s vital that this next point sinks in. It is critical to your spiritual growth that you not miss this. God can and does see your heart. It is actually for your good that He sees your heart, that He tests it. His desire for you is always and only for your good. He sees not just who you really are but who you can really become. Because His purpose in your life is to guide you into becoming more like Christ - He convicts you and prompts you to choose only those things that bring Him glory.
Don’t conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). Don’t choose to put on a mask and pretend to be what you’re not, just so that you can “enjoy life.” I submit that once you’ve tasted the goodness of God, once you truly recognize, acknowledge and believe God not only loves you but cares deeply for you - everything that the world has to offer will pale in comparison.
We are also commanded in Ephesians 5:1 to “be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.” How are you doing with that? Satan wants you to believe that it’s an impossible task. After all, he argues, you’re still a sinner. God is perfect and you are not, so why bother trying?
Here’s the thing: To imitate God, you must evict King Me and allow the Holy Spirit to live His holiness through you.
When you choose to conform to the pattern of this world, when you choose to hide your real identity behind a mask, you are sinning—plain and simple. Sin is direct disobedience to God’s command. 1 John 3:4 tells us that “everyone who sins is breaking God’s law (In other words: disobedience to God’s command -why? because) all sin is contrary to the law of God.”
God commands us to remove the mask. His orders are clear: “Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
When you allow yourself to conform to the world’s way of thinking and behaving, you are committing spiritual adultery. James 4:4 tells us that “Friendship with the world is hatred toward God. Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” What choices are you making?
1 Peter 1:15 gives each of us this command: Just as he who called you is holy; you also be holy in all your conduct.” If we’re being honest—and (by the way) we should always be honest—our gut reaction to that command - to be holy even as God is holy - is probably, “No, not possible; I still struggle with sin. I certainly need to strive for holiness, try my best to achieve it, but it can’t be done until I arrive in Heaven.” Before you solidly commit to that answer, think hard.
Let me quote that verse to you again, listen closely. 1 Peter 1:15. Just as He who called you is holy; you also be holy in all your conduct. Realizing God will never command you to do something that is impossible for you to do, we must therefore assume that being holy in all my conduct is within the realm of possibility. But how?
Our answer is found in Romans 12:2. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Instead of conforming, instead of putting on a mask, instead of pretending to be what we’re not, instead of trying to please man (thus pleasing ourselves), instead of giving in to sin, we are to be transformed.
So, let’s take a moment to zero in on that word “Transformed” to understand what it means and how it applies to all of this.
“Transformed” is an awesome word. In the Greek (the language of the New Testament) it is the word metamorpho-o, from which we get our English word “metamorphosis.” According to the dictionary, a metamorphosis is a supernatural process whereby something changes from one thing into something totally different from what it used to be. What makes a metamorphosis so unique is that the change takes place from the inside out!
Now that’s a significant point you can’t afford to miss. It is a change that takes place from the inside out.
The most well-known example of a metamorphosis God has given us is that of a caterpillar to a butterfly. The reason a caterpillar changes into a butterfly is simply because the nature of the butterfly is already inside the caterpillar. It’s that nature inside that is lived out on the outside.
Imagine that you go to your backyard and dig up a big, juicy, wriggling earthworm. Bringing it inside, you set it on the dining room table (after putting down some newspaper, of course). Next, you cut out a small pair of wings from colored construction paper. Laying the wings on top of the earthworm, you proceed to pin the wings on to the worm. Voila! What do you have? A squirming worm, of course, (and a tiny pinhole in your nice dining room table)! But you do NOT have a butterfly. Why not?
The reason you do not have a butterfly is because it’s just not within the nature of the worm to become a butterfly. You tried to make an external change. To become a butterfly, there must first be an internal transformation.
Too often, we try to make external changes to our life. We try to “start doing this” and “stop doing that,” thinking those things are what it takes to be holy. We take a crack at our interpretation of “holiness” and “godliness,” only to end up discouraged when we fail.
Remember, man looks on the outward appearance. If you’re trying to impress man, then go ahead and attempt your external changes. Go ahead and pin “Christian” paper wings on your back. But you’ll never be able to fly. You won’t be able to soar in your spiritual walk.
Paul says that we are to be transformed. We are to go through a spiritual metamorphosis. As a Christian, your life should be different now from what you were before you were saved. In fact, each day you should be different, improved, growing spiritually, better than you were the day before. That kind of change can only take place from the inside out.
As a born-again believer, you have a brand new, holy - sinless nature created by God Himself inside of you. How do we know it’s holy – how can we be sure it’s sinless? Paul tells us that your “new nature (is) created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.” (Ephesians 4:24)
Don’t miss this. Don’t skim over this truth. This is powerful. God created a new nature, a holy - sinless nature, a nature incapable of sinning (a nature just like His ... truly righteous and truly holy: without sin)—and He placed that nature inside of you. Then He – the most holy, sinless God permanently moved in! He lives inside of you!
Remember Romans 12:2? You are to be “transformed.” That which is inside of you is to be lived out on the outside every moment of every day. Your everyday lifestyle should be reflecting the new, holy nature that God has created and placed within you.
The things you say, the things you do, the choices you make are all to be in perfect step with the new nature inside of you. So, when God commands you to be holy, even as He is holy, it IS possible because He already put His holiness inside of you! That which is on the inside—your new, holy nature—is lived out when you are being transformed. (To learn even more - again let me strongly encourage you to take our online class on “How to Overcome ANY Temptation” at www.ChristianGrowthAcademy.com)
Paul goes on to tell us, in Romans 12:2, that this transformation takes place only as we renew our minds. In other words: The only way I can live out God’s holiness in my everyday behavior is to change the way I think.
How does renewing my mind bring about a spiritual metamorphosis? How does changing the way I think change the way I live? To answer that question, let’s think for a moment about the word “renew” (Romans 12:2) God says we are transformed when we renew our mind. Paul uses a very special word here. When translated and applied, it literally means “to renovate.”
Think about it this way. When you renovate a home, you first must do demolition. You are removing all the old, nasty, rotting, out-of-date items. You’re gutting out the old. Then, once that is done you rebuild, remodel - replacing it all with brand new finishes, appliances, furniture—the works! That’s the verb “renew” in Romans 12:2. To live a transformed life, to live out God’s holiness in your everyday words and actions, you must first renovate your mind. You need to totally demolish the old thought process and replace it with a brand-new way of thinking.
Let me ask you this: What is the old way of thinking that gets us into trouble? How can I gratify the sinful desires of self? How can I make King Me happy, happy, happy?
What’s wrong with that kind of thinking? When my mind is focused on King Me, every thought, every word, every choice, every decision, every action—all of me—is geared toward one thing: making the King happy, happy, happy. That kind of rotten thinking leads to self-centered, self-worshiping, rotten behavior. That mindset needs to be totally gutted and replaced with a new way of thinking.
Conversely: What is the new way of thinking we need to put into our minds? How can I glorify God? How can I live a life that consistently makes God happy?
When your mind is totally focused on how to glorify God, you will make it your aim to please God ... whether you eat or drink or whatever you do – you are doing it all for the sole purpose of glorifying God!
If you’ve ever tried your hand at renovation, you know that it’s best to have a good set of tools at your disposal. They make the job go easier and faster. God has given you an effective and powerful tool that enables you to renovate your mind. It’s called the Bible.
In John 17:17 Jesus is praying for his disciples, which includes you and me. In that prayer, He asks God to “sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.” To paraphrase, Jesus is saying, “Father, make your children holy,” (remember, we’re commanded to be holy), “and set them apart from sin. Your absolute truth, which is found only in your Word, is the tool that will help them obey your command.”
Here’s the point I’m wanting to make: As you open God’s Word and daily read His truth, the Holy Spirit is working. He is using the tools of Scripture to renovate your mind, changing the way you think.
If you allow yourself even a momentary thought of how you might be able to fulfill the sinful desires of your flesh, your life will begin to alter course. You will begin to focus more and more upon the goal of meeting that desire.
Remember, when you live by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) Praise God we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us! Jesus gave us this wonderful promise: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14)
Every time you open your Bible, every time you study God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is right there inside you, helping you understand what God is saying. He guides you in applying God’s truth to your life. Then, as you follow His leading, as you apply the Word of God to your life, you will be living by the Spirit. The end result? You will not gratify the desires of the flesh!
I challenge you to take off your mask and live a transformed life! Change, real lasting change, is not only possible, but it is God’s promise to you as you choose daily to yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
As the Spirit teaches you and guides you deeper into God’s Word, and as you let the Word of God wash over you—saturating your mind with His truth—you will begin to renovate your thinking. This in turn will result in a drastic change in your behavior. Why? Because you’ve dethroned and deposed King Me and have allowed God to take His rightful place.
If you would like to learn more about today’s study, or if you’re interested in learning more about our ministry, be sure to visit our website to see the multitude of resources we’ve made available to you. These resources include a Bible reading plan, Scripture memory, our free APP for your smart device, helpful videos and devotionals, free e-books, other recommended reading to help you grow in your daily walk with Christ, and so much more. You can find our website at ThePurityCoach.com.
Thank you so much for listening to today’s podcast. If this has ministered to you, if this has blessed you, challenged you, or encouraged you I ask you to do two things. First of all – would you please let your friends know about The Point of Purity Podcast. Would you help us help men and women across the globe win their war for sexual purity and live in freedom.
So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that in order to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.