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Christian Lifestyle

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2022 12:01 am

Christian Lifestyle

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 14, 2022 12:01 am

Our purpose as human beings, and particularly as Christians, is to manifest the glory of God. But how do we do that? Today, R.C. Sproul puts forward several biblical principles that govern a Christian lifestyle.

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At the very beginning of creation, God creates man with the special capacity to mirror his nature, and we are to do that in our lives. And so the reason why we should be asking the question, what is a Christian lifestyle, is to answer the very basal question of creation, how do I manifest the glory of God? Welcome to Renewing Your Mind on this Tuesday.

I'm Lee Webb. And you know, after digging into the Ligonier archives, we have found a message from Dr. R.C. Sproul that has never aired on the program before. In fact, this entire week has been set aside to highlight this archive of programs that we set aside exclusively for our ministry partners. And today's message deals with the Christian lifestyle. What does that lifestyle look like? Do we have to conform in certain areas, and where can we differ?

Let's join Dr. Sproul now. First thing I want to do is call your attention to a very basic and fundamental distinction that we find between the manifestation of the people of God in the Old Testament and the manifestation of the people of God in the New Testament. In the Old Covenant you remember the principle of separation of Israel from all other nations into a body of a tremendous amount of uniformity of living and lifestyles. The people eat the same kind of foods. They follow a similar pattern of dress. Their whole visible lifestyle is distinctive and unique and easily discernible as far as a culture is concerned. Even their dietary laws, their medical laws, everything that they do is distinguished from the cultures around them.

And we know that there's a reason why they have a distinctive lifestyle. And that reason is made very clear in the Old Testament that these people are called out of the world by God to be what? A holy nation. That's their primary calling, to be a holy nation. And I know that when we think in terms of holiness, we tend to associate it with a particular kind of pietism or a particular kind of personal or social righteousness. But the root meaning, of course, of holiness means what? Set apart.

Different. A kind of non-conformist pattern. And God gives the mandate to Israel, calling them to be His people, saying, you shall be My people and I will be your God, and you shall be holy because I am holy. Now, why is God concerned to mold Israel into a different, a holy, set apart, consecrated people?

He calls Israel to be the restoration of humanity, because the first mandate or the first responsibility given to man in creation is to do what? To be the image of God. And I think there's been a lot of misunderstanding of what it means to be created in the image of God. For example, for example, there are many of those who think that the biblical statement of being made in the image of God means primarily that there's a certain sense in which we are like God.

The Mormons take it to a radical extreme in thinking that it means that God has a body, and we have bodies, and we look like God, that sort of thing. But traditionally in the history of the church, we've normally understood the image of God concept to mean that God has a will, and we have a will. God has a mind, and we have a mind. And God has a capacity for love, and we have a capacity for love, that sort of thing. And so that we have a tendency to see this mandate to be created in the image of God to mean that there's a certain sense in which there's a way in which we are like God.

Well, I think that that's true as far as it goes, but I don't think that's the basic point of the creation account of man. The whole concept of image in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament has to do with the principle of reflection, of manifesting, of making something clear, making something visible. Mirroring is the word I like to use in terms of this image concept so that man in creation is called to reflect and to mirror the nature of God, to glorify God. Now, this whole concept of glory and holiness are very, very closely related. What does glory mean? What is the glory of God? It's the word we use every day in the Christian community, glory. We glorify God, and we speak about living to the glory of God. But what is glory? Let me play with it for just a second linguistically and see if we can get some handles on the term because it is one of those words that we use every time.

But I suspect that if you were asked to give a specific, concrete definition of the term, you'd find it difficult articulating it. In the Old Testament, the word that is used that is translated by the English word glory is the word kabod. It comes from the root kabod, which means literally in the Hebrew weightiness or heaviness. In the New Testament, the word is dokse, from which we get doxology. But at the root of the word is this concept, very concrete concept in Hebrew thinking, of something that's heavy and weighty, so that the glory of God has to do with His heaviness.

To make mockery of God biblically is to make light of Him. And so the heaviness of God points to the fact that there is something substantial, something weighty about God that is different from everything else in the universe that is transitory, that comes into being, that undergoes generation and decay, passes out. It's dependent. It's contingent.

It's all of that. Whereas God, in the power of His being, is eternal, self-existent, weight, substance. Notice in the New Testament that Jesus is called the one who speaks with a authority, that is, in a weighty kind of a way. Now, the Latin term that's equivalent to both of those I think gives us even more of a key. It's the word dignitas, from which we get the word dignity. Now, what is dignity? When you lose or feel a sense of the loss of your dignity, you experience humiliation or frustration and perhaps might enter into a protest movement we saw in the sixties, a massive movement in this country that's centered around the question of the dignity of a race of people. But what is dignity?

It's another one of those words that's very difficult to define, except again that people are saying, I am someone. I am something. There is value. There's worth to who I am. My being, my existence has weight.

It has value. So, at the very beginning of creation, God calls man and creates man with the special capacity to mirror and to reflect His dignity, His nature. And we are to do that in our lives. And so, the reason why we should be asking the question, what is the Christian lifestyle, is to answer the very basal question of creation, how do I manifest the glory of God? How do I manifest who God is to this world?

How does that mirror become defogged and clear so that people can look at me and somehow come to a deeper understanding of who I am? How do I manifest my understanding of who God is? Now, we know that we are not gods.

We know that we can never be more than images, but we can be images. So, Israel is called to a lifestyle that is separate from, different from, everybody else in the world so that God's holiness may be made manifest to the world, that Israel might be a light to the Gentiles. And it goes right down to food, not because whether you eat one food or another food is intrinsically special, but God dots the I's and cross the T's to make sure that the uniqueness of Israel is preserved at every even seemingly small, insignificant, pedantic point. But what happens in the development of Israel? Israel begins to major in minors. Israel begins, you see, to trust in the small little points and think that they are fulfilling the mandate of reflecting the holiness of God. So that by the time Jesus comes into the world, who is called in the New Testament the express image of His person, the brightness of His glory, Jesus comes as the light into the world as the one who truly fulfills the mandate that was first given to Adam to mirror and to reflect the glory of God and brings the glory of God into our midst in an unparalleled and unprecedented way. When He comes, He comes in judgment on those who appear to be by their lifestyle the cream of the crop of Israel, the Pharisees.

And what's His basic critique on the Pharisees? They strain out gnats. They swallow camels.

They tie their mint and their cumin. But they omit the weightier matters of the law. And so Jesus critiques those who have a superficial way of reflecting the glory of God. Now I'm not going through this just for the sake of historical reconnaissance because I'm going through this so that we can see that as we wrestle with the question of what is a Christian lifestyle, we understand some of the mistakes that have been made in the past.

And we see this not only in the Old Testament but since the advent of the New Testament. We have seen generations come and generations go who have sought a way by which they could manifest themselves as a unique Christian people. We see people living in this world today who don't wear buttons, and they wear hooks and eyes, and they don't drive cars or use anything of an electrical nature, do all their planting and plowing with horses and primitive implements.

And they have preserved themselves as an island within the midst of our culture as a unique people. We call them Amish. But the Amish or the Pennsylvania Dutchmen, if you ask them why they preserve their distinctives, most times the answer will be so that the world will know we're Amish, where originally the movement was designed to preserve a Christian lifestyle, a nonconformist pattern that people would be able to look at them and say, this is what it means to be a Christian. This is what it means to participate in the kingdom of God. But they got lost in thinking that a Christian lifestyle is found in wearing straw hats and blue denim clothes. We see circles of fundamentalism that distinguish themselves by saying they don't go to movies or wear lipstick or dance or play cards, because Christians don't do those things. That would be alien to a Christian lifestyle. And we see what happens in the worst forms of that kind of Christianity, that people feel that if they fulfill the obligation to refrain from playing cards or going to the movies or wearing lipstick, about which the kingdom of God has nothing to do, that they have somehow maintained a high level of Christian witness, majoring in minors. Or we see another person getting the vision that the best way to manifest the life of Jesus is by taking a poverty vow, give away all your money and go around in sackcloth and ashes. Now here's what I think all of these things have in common, and these are just a few examples.

They're easy, they're cheap, they're superficial. It's the same problem that the Pharisees came. It's really not hard to go without lipstick, but it may be hard to sacrifice your life, your daily life, in behalf of the people of God.

To put away a tube of lipstick is one thing, you see. To give your life, body and soul, to the ministry of Jesus Christ is quite another thing. But we set up a new kind of standard as to what it means to be a Christian. And I think this is one of the basic things that the New Testament does away with, by telling us that the kingdom of God is not in eating and drinking.

It's not in whether you'll wear blue denim clothes and blue suede shoes, but that's not what the kingdom is made of. I see in the New Testament a movement to a great principle of variety of lifestyle among Christian people. The mystery that had been hidden and now is revealed is Christ in the Gentiles, Christ in you, the Gentiles, the hope of glory. And to bring in people from all different nations and all different cultures, one of the first things that God does to build the kingdom in the New Testament is to lay aside some of the old principles of dietary regulations and ceremonies in order to preserve an external lifestyle. But the call to reflect the glory of God is not set aside. In fact, it's laid upon the Christian community with a much greater sense of urgency than Israel ever thought about. And the task of making visible the invisible kingdom of God is made the top priority of the Great Commission.

Let me comment on that for a moment before I wrap this up. First of all, notice that the New Testament does not command that all be evangelists, does not command that all be teachers, it does not command that all be preachers, it does not command that all be poor, it does not command that all be rich, does not command that all be slaves, or all be masters, does it? But what or I'll be masters, does it? But what is one obligation that is laid and one vocation that is laid upon every Christian in the new covenant? To bear witness to the ascension and to the atthronement, the coronation of Jesus Christ as King. So the basic question we have to ask in every generation and every culture is how does my style of life in what I say, what I do, how I live, bear witness to the fact that Jesus Christ is King?

Can I do that by the suit of clothes that I wear? Obviously, we have principles given to us about our dress, but not a dress code. Principles of modesty are laid out for us. Principles of stewardship are given to us, but not a mandate to a level of income that every Christian must have, but a principle of stewardship laid upon us.

An enormous amount of freedom with an enormous amount of responsibility. Now, I'd just like to simplify, if I can, and be a little bit reductionist, to some very basic principles that are laid upon us in the New Testament that must govern whatever style of living we manifest. First of all, that our life in whatever style it takes must be lived in the presence of God. What I mean by that, I mean how can we make that an imperative to live your life in the presence of God?

Coram Deo. How can we do that when we know that in a certain sense we do it anyway? Because God sees everything that we do.

He counts the hairs on our head or the lack of them. He notices all that we do, the things that we think in private and in secret, he's aware of that. But we're not talking about living in the presence of God in that sense. But in a conscious sense, to know that my whole life is an open book before God, and I have to have that in my head, thinking of that as I live, that what I do on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you know, is visible to God. And so I'm asking myself by being aware of that, am I living a kind of life that is pleasing to Him? In other words, I must strive to live my life first before God and second before the world.

But remembering that when my life is before the world, it's also before God. The second principle that must govern any Christian lifestyle is that my life must be lived under the authority of God. But authority biblically is found in the Word of God, His commandment.

And the only place I can really discover with clarity the commandments of God are in the Holy Scriptures. So what it means to me when I say that we are to live our lives under the authority of God, it means that we are to live under the authority of Scripture, not under the authority of the lifestyle of the group that turns me on. And finally, the Christian lifestyle has to be instructed by the mind of Christ. We are called to be nonconformists, but our nonconformity rests not so much in diet or in clothes or that kind of stuff, but in what? In transformation of our lives by the renewing of our minds, that our uniqueness is to be discerned, first of all, in how we think. We are intellectual nonconformists.

That's the first mark of the Christian lifestyle, if it's going to be authentic. We are intellectual nonconformists. We do not buy the values of this world. We do not buy the axioms of this world.

We do not buy the evaluations or the judgments of this world because we look at the world, we look at man, we look at the state, we look at the church, we look at the whole creation from the perspective of God Himself, if we have the mind of Christ. Our nonconformity is to be built upon the transformation of our being by means of the renewal of our minds through patterning our thinking after the mind of Christ. That's Dr. R.C.

Sproul. He's referring there to Romans chapter 12 in the verse that gave us the name of this program, Renewing Your Mind. We're grateful that you've joined us for this special edition of Renewing Your Mind.

On Tuesday, I'm Lee Webb. This week we have chosen some rarely, if ever, heard messages from Dr. Sproul. Our purpose is to highlight the benefits of becoming a ministry partner. I recently had the privilege of talking with two of our ministry partners, Scott and Renee from Texas. They have been friends of Ligonier for many, many years, and I asked them why they have chosen to give month after month, year after year, and here's what they had to say. There's a great need for discipleship, and that's true both domestically and internationally, and to me it was just wanting to be a part of getting that word out and having the same help that Ligonier's been to our understanding of Scripture. We wanted to be a part of expanding that reach both nationally and globally, and it's a joy to be a part of that, and I can tell you so many different ways that it's helped us and provided resources for our understanding and growth, and we wanted to spread that. And I see in the world and especially in America such a downturn in biblical knowledge and even biblical preaching, and so I think there's such a need for this because we've become very soft in our knowledge of Scripture and of God, so I think it's so needed, and that's another reason we wanted to support it.

Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. We're grateful for Scott and Renee sharing that with us. I'm joined here in the studio by my colleague, Nathan W. Bingham.

Nathan, that really is what Ligonier's all about, right? I loved what Scott and Renee said there, that there's a great need for discipleship, and as a ministry partner myself, as I think about one of the great benefits of being a ministry partner is knowing the impact that your financial and prayerful support is having. I was speaking recently to our Ask Ligonier team, and they were telling me about our prison outreach.

I hope our listeners know that we regularly send Reformation Study Bibles out to those who have been converted in prisons, and they were telling me that it's very common for a prisoner to read the Reformation Study Bible from Genesis all the way through to Revelation, read all of the notes and comments that are in there, and then send a long letter into the Ask Ligonier team with all of their questions about all of the Bible, and the Ask Ligonier team is equipped standing by to provide answers to those questions, and that's some of the discipleship that our ministry partners enable. Or I was talking to a dear lady recently, and she shared how providentially she listened to Dr. Sproul's series, Chosen by God, and for the first time understood the sovereignty of God, and it was less than a year later that her young child died, and she said that if it wasn't for that teaching from Dr. Sproul helping her understand the goodness of God, the sovereignty of God, she would not have been able to walk through that dark period and difficult trial in her life. And so to our ministry partners out there, I want to say thank you for your support because you are allowing the teaching of God's Word to go out and for God's people to be discipled so that they can be fruitful and walk through even those difficult times.

Let me echo my gratitude as well, Nathan, and if you're listening and you're not a ministry partner, but the message you heard from Dr. Sproul today resonated with you or these testimonies resonated with you, let me encourage you to become part of this very special group of people who pray for us and provide a monthly gift. You can sign up by calling us at 800-435-4343, or if you prefer, you can do that online at renewingyourmind.org. Let me give you that phone number again, though.

It's 800-435-4343. Thank you for being with us today. Renewing Your Mind is the listener-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. We hope you'll make plans to join us again tomorrow. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-05 13:55:19 / 2023-04-05 14:04:38 / 9

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