Tag Archives: set apart

Fighting Cultural Lies

The world has always tried to get the Church to adopt its culture. It wants us to give up or back down from what we believe so we can fit in better. It wants us to accept what it says over what God says. It wants us to question, “Did God really mean it that way?” Satan tried it in the Garden of Eden. He asked Eve, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” He then challenged what God said and got her to believe the lie. Since the beginning, we have been tempted to wonder if what God said is really what he meant.

I’m always saddened to see how many believers fall for this temptation. It doesn’t matter what the sin is, the world would have us question what God calls sin in exchange for acceptance in its culture. It appeals to our deep seated human need to feel accepted, but it challenges our spiritual need to be set apart. In Romans 12:2, Paul challenges us as believers by saying, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. (MSG)” God has never asked His people to fit in.

Daniel faced the same thing in the Old Testament. Israel had been overtaken by the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the head of his palace staff to find the best and brightest prospects for leadership. In Daniel 1:4 he said, “Indoctrinate them in the Babylonian language and the lore of magic and fortune telling.” He wanted to take Israel’s future leaders and indoctrinate them so he could change the culture that God had given them. Of all the young men he did this to, we only know of four who refused to accept the Babylonian culture.

Verse 8 says, “But Daniel determined that he would not defile himself.” He refused to fit into the culture that was being forced on him because he understood God’s Word superseded culture. He knew God’s Word does not change with the times or the culture. He and his three friends stood firm in their beliefs. Because of that, he was thrown into a den of lions and the other three were thrown into a fiery furnace. God rewarded their faith by keeping them alive in those situations in an effort to proclaim that He rewards those who do not bow to social pressures.

Every day you and I are forced with the same choice as they were. We can choose to bow to the will of the world or we can choose to stand for God’s Word. We can believe the lie that God didn’t really mean what He said all those years ago or we can trust that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We have been called to be set apart, not to fit in. We have been given the responsibility to be light in a dark world. We cannot change what God said in order to fit in. When we do, our light goes out and we fit into the darkness without thinking. We must shine our lights and lead the world to the cross where salvation lies. We cannot give in.

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Living set apart

As a Christian, I have always wanted to please God with my life. I think that is the goal of most Christians. Just like any goal, it is difficult to accomplish. We cannot seclude ourselves from the world to accomplish this goal because Scripture tells us to be in the world not of it. By being in the world, we get exposed to things that are against what we believe. We get exposed to temptations. We are pressed on every side to change who we are into conforming to the things of this world.

We have to resist that. We are called to be salt and light. We are called to be set apart, but how do we do that? How can we effectively live a life for Christ while being pressured to live otherwise? That is the daily challenge that we face as believers. We have the Spirit of God living in us to empower us to live a life worthy of the call. Do we access that power daily though? For me, it’s a struggle some days.

In Romans 12, Paul gives us some insight into what we can do to live in the world, yet set apart at the same time.

1. Be a living sacrifice

This is one of the hardest things to do. I once heard that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps climbing off the altar. God has given us that free choice daily to lay down our lives, wants and desires for His. A living sacrifice means just that. Each day, I give up my agenda for His. I give up my wants for His. I give up what I desire most for what He wants.

Paul said that this living sacrifice should be devoted, consecrated and well pleasing to God. It is a form of spiritual worship that is deeper than singing songs on a Sunday in church. It is true worship when I live a life that is devoted and consecrated to what He wants me to be and do.

2. Don’t conform to this world

Daily we are pushed to conform to what others want. We are asked to go along with the flow, to be tolerant and open minded. We are told that what we believe is archaic and not in step with where the world is now. Christianity is considered outdated and should be changed to reflect our culture. That is not what God intended for us though.

If no one around you can tell that you are a Christian and that your life is different, you may have conformed to this world without even knowing. Scripture is very clear on how we are to live. We are to take up our cross daily for Christ, crucify our fleshly desires and follow after God.

3. Be transformed

We are to be changed by the entire renewal of our mind. It should have a new set of ideals and a new attitude according to Paul. He understood that to make a permanent outward change, it starts with the mind. We cannot live how God intends for us to live without having our minds changed.

We have our minds renewed daily by spending time alone with God and by reading His word. We must take that time daily to renew our mind and our spirit. We get covered with dirt and junk from being in the world day in and day out. We need that daily cleansing to keep our minds fresh for God.

Paul says if we do these three things, we will prove what is the good, perfect and acceptable will of God. We can live for Him in a world that does not know Him if we know how to. Which of these three steps can you start to work on today in order to live the life you were called to?

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