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Breaking Free of Cocoons

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 6, 2023 12:00 am

Breaking Free of Cocoons

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 6, 2023 12:00 am

If you want to make a difference in the world, you have to be different from the world. Join Stephen now to find out how to do that.

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If you and I were automatically inoculated against the wisdom of the world upon conversion, upon the patterns of thought of the world, the Apostle Paul would never have to warn us.

He would never have written this trans-cultural, trans-generational command. No matter where you live, no matter what country you live in, you're going to face the philosophies and the methodologies and the strategies and the patterns and the norms and the lifestyles of the world. Paul says, stop being conformed to your world. When God saved you, He didn't take away all of your desires for sin. You know that to be true. In fact, our hearts are still drawn to sin's temptations.

That will be true for our entire lives. But God commands us not to be conformed to the world. You're not supposed to try to fit into the world's mold. Instead, you're called to live boldly for Christ. If you want to make a difference in the world, you have to be different from the world. Would you like to learn more about how that's possible?

Here's Stephen with a lesson called Breaking Free of Cocoons. Paul writes, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The NIV translates it, do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The King James Version similarly translates it and be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in his message to read, don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.

Instead, fix your attention on God and you will be changed from the inside out. Finally, the New Living Translation, I think it's a good handle on Paul's choice of words and tenses as it reads, don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. I recommend that you circle, if you have a pencil or a pen, three key words in this phrase. The first key word is the word conformed, the second key word is transformed, and the third renewing. This verse contains a positive command, a negative command, and a plan of action. The negative command is first, do not be conformed to this world. The word conformed is in the passive voice. In other words, he's saying don't allow yourselves to be conformed by the world. I like J.B. Phillips' translation of this which reads, don't let the world squeeze you into its mold. Now you want to know that Paul actually uses the present imperative tense which literally means then stop letting the world squeeze you into its mold. As if to say there were believers in Rome or at least some of them who were being what? Squeezed into the mold of the world.

Remember as you study these texts that he's writing to Christians which means it's possible for the believer to be molded by the world instead of being molded by the word. Now the word translated world in this text is ioni. It isn't a reference to our planet or our globe or even a particular country or empire.

It can be translated generation or age. One author defines it as the world view that defines the age in which humans live at any time in history. In other words it's how your world thinks. It's the thinking patterns and processes of your generation.

How does the world think today? Well you remember in Paul's day if you're familiar with Acts chapter 17 he was confronting the pattern of thinking in his unbelieving world. The current belief in his generation was that mankind had been created from the soil of Mother Earth. Paul declared to them in verse 24 of that chapter that God made the world and all things in it.

They were proud of their acropolis and they pointed to it as the home of their gods, their great temple. Paul said in that same verse God who made the world and everything in it does not live in temples made with hands. Paul's generation felt superior to the uncivilized uneducated barbarians surrounding their empire but Paul said to them God made all nations of men from one man Adam. So you're all related.

Paul's generation prided themselves in the power and the vastness of their empire but Paul said it was God who determined the boundaries of your nation and made its borders. How does your generation and mine think? What are the politically correct notions of our day? What are the philosophies of our culture today?

We happen to live in a generation that supposedly tolerates everything, believes in nothing, and cares for no one as well as they care for themselves, right? Today in our culture the consumer is king and the customer is always what? Customer is always right even if the customer is flat out dead wrong.

You don't make money by telling people they're wrong so they're always right. One pastor recently wrote the Ten Commandments for our generation today. Commandment number one, have a good day.

Commandment number two, shop. Number three, eliminate pain. Four, be up to date. Five, relax. Number six, express yourself. Number seven, be entertaining. Commandment number eight, be entertained. Commandment number nine, spend all you can on entertainment.

Number ten, make sure while you're at it you're in touch with your feelings. Do you realize the mindset of the world is a dangerous thing and that you can fall into the trap? You can become ensnared into their hollow and deceptive philosophy? Truth is the easiest thing to do is exactly what Paul here in this verse tells us not to do. Do not be conformed to the world's pattern of thinking or living.

But the truth is by nature we are conformists, are we not? But it's true. I continue to be amazed at the ability of Daniel to stand alone. You know well the story. You remember of course that Daniel and his three friends refused to eat the meat. It would have more than likely been unclean meat according to their dietary covenant law. They would not drink the wine more than likely because it was offered as libations to the gods of Babylon which would again have been a violation to their covenant law. The amazing thing though is that Daniel and his friends are the only ones who refuse it and they demand to eat vegetables and drink water and the assistant of the king allows them for 10 days to eat that but he says after that I'm going to give you an examination to see how you're surviving.

He comes back as you know chapter 1 verse 15 of Daniel records that at the end of 10 days their appearance seemed better than all the youths who had been eating the king's choice food. The truth and the sad truth is that little phrase I just read the finest of the kingdom from Judah. All of the other youths had been eating it had immediately violated their covenant law the finest of Judah when they were deposited into the empire of Babylon. All of them within hours began to live like Babylonian. I wonder who among us will walk out the doors and be assimilated back into Babylonian lifestyle. There will be no difference no distinction.

Christian by name Babylonian by lifestyle. Where are you resisting even today. We don't ever want to underestimate especially with young people the power of peer pressure and we never do outgrow it do we. Our Madison Avenue mentality is geared to telling us fit in you know buy that wear that do that go there everybody's doing it. And if you do you have you experience you've got life by the tail. I can't count on a myriad of hands the testimonies I read and have read over the years of individuals joining our fellowship and the testimony often sounds very similar to one another. Often it is the story of someone who was raised in a Christian home who knew the gospel who accepted Christ at an earlier age and it all changed when when they left home to go to college when as it were they left Judah and they entered Babylon. So many times the story is how they indulged in Babylonian living until the Lord brought them to their senses. So be prepared at any given time if you and I were automatically inoculated against the wisdom of the world upon conversion upon the patterns of thought of the world the apostle Paul would never have to warn us he would never have written this trans cultural trans generational command no matter where you live no matter what country you live in you're going to face the philosophies and the methodologies and the strategies and the patterns and the norms and the lifestyles of the world.

Do you know what they are. Paul says do not literally stop being conformed to your world. Do you know how that would act and translate and apply in your own life.

What that means is we've got to be prepared to say no quite often Paul warned just don't be squeezed into the mold of your present age which means you better be prepared to say no to secular thinking and yes to spiritual thinking to say no to social guidelines and yes to the spirits guidance to say no to the world and yes to the word when they so clearly conflict. Can you say no. Shall we practice it today. Why don't we loosen up a little bit and practice on the count of three.

You say no. Ready one two three. When you walk out of here you can't say it in a halfhearted way. The world will see you flinch. They'll spot your hesitation and they'll drive in.

They'll watch you to see if you back off or back away. When you leave this auditorium you reenter Babylon you reenter your world and it has a mission to squeeze you and me into its mold. Paul says don't.

Don't be squeezed into that mold. But it isn't enough to say no. It isn't enough to respond to a negative command.

That's only part of the story. There's something you must say yes to. Look back at your text. Paul writes don't be conformed to this world but here's the positive command. Be transformed transformed.

What a rich word. It's the word metamorphic which of course means to change from one form to another. Again it's in the imperative tense you could write after the word transformed in fact after conformed an exclamation point which is what Paul is meaning in these commands. He is saying don't do that exclamation point. Do this exclamation point. Don't think this way exclamation point.

Think that way exclamation point. Literally don't go on being conformed to this world but go on daily being transformed in other words it is a continual process. Present tense it's daily. You get up and you decide I will say no to the world and I will say yes to the word. So it's daily and continuous.

It's a long long process which again goes against our flesh does it not. Our world is filled with inventions and resources which meet our needs quickly and easily. Instant foods instant communication instant information. A little over a year ago I went from dial-up Internet to Roadrunner. Wow it's amazing. But you know what after a year of being on Roadrunner you know what I do I sit there in front of the computer. Come on man come on. What's taking you so long. Two nanoseconds or whatever. It's forever right. We're so geared to things happening immediately.

If the former generation was called the me generation our generation would be the now generation. Whatever we're going to do let's do it now. Whatever we're going to enjoy let's enjoy it now. Whatever we're going to buy or eat or see or experience let's experience it now. That's why our generation is deeply mired in debt.

Why. Because we want now what our former generation was willing to wait for until they could afford it. We want what we want. That's the American way.

We want it now. In his humorous book entitled America on six rubles a day comedian the alcohol of Smirnoff wrote and I quote coming from the former Soviet Union I was not prepared for the incredible variety of products available immediately in American grocery stores. Well on my first shopping trip I saw powdered milk and I was amazed you just add water and you get milk. I saw powdered fruit juice. You just add water and you get juice. I saw powdered eggs you just add water and you get eggs. And then I saw baby powder.

And I thought what a country. We all know of course and needed to I'm sure that you don't add water to powder and get a baby right. Likewise the transformation of a believer takes a lifetime. You don't add a service and you're there. You don't have an experience and you're there. You don't memorize one verse of scripture and you're there.

You don't make a decision for Christ and you're there. Paul writes in effect go on being continually transformed word he uses gives us our biological expression metamorphosis. And that tweaked my thinking as I translated this verse. And so I got on Roadrunner and did a little research about the transformation process this metamorphosis of a caterpillar into an adult moth. I learned quite a bit about the tiny silk worm that doesn't live for very long. It eats mulberry leaves almost constantly after it hatches from a small black egg. It eats for about six weeks and then it finds a little twig on that mulberry tree and it begins a three day process of spinning its white silk cocoon. If you can imagine it once unwound one cocoon yields anywhere from five hundred to twelve hundred yards of silk. It's one single continuous thread if you can imagine 10 football fields long at a given time the white cocoons are harvested and are dropped into boiling water in the silk thread is unwound. I learned that harvesting silk began in northern China and the beautiful silk garments that came out of China was a Chinese secret for about four thousand years. According to Chinese legend the first silk thread was made when a Chinese Empress was sitting under a mulberry tree and a cocoon fell into her hot tea. She watched as the strong silky threads of the cocoon began to uncoil in her cup. The Chinese would trade this precious silk fabric to the rest of the world along the so-named Silk Road and they kept their secret until the third century AD when they brought it to Japan. What I found especially interesting is that the great danger to the silk business is if the moth inside matures and breaks free.

It would leave a trail of broken thread which would be unusable to the industry. In order to keep this from happening the silk farmers keep the moth from fully maturing along this process of metamorphosis and they do it by steaming the cocoons. They have discovered that for whatever reason the comfort and warmth provided by the steam actually stunts the growth process and the silkworm never fully matures into an adult moth. I couldn't help but think of the metamorphosis of the believer and I wonder how many Christians have accomplished so much and have given so much effort in their journey only to never break free of the cocoon as a mature adult in Christ and fly freely. How do you break free from the cocoon? Paul tells us he gives us a negative command and he gives us a positive command and then he gives us this path of action. Look back at the text. Do not be conformed to this age but be transformed.

How? Here it is by the renewing of your mind. Paul writes that the believer is transformed by the development of a new way of thinking. The renewing of our minds.

The Greek word for mind is nous. It is the center of logical reasoning. It is the center of ethical judgment and in the scriptures it is considered the center of moral awareness. To renew our minds as one author said is like deleting old files from a computer completely erasing their presence and in their place loading new files from scripture from which and through which the Holy Spirit refashions our minds. Paul challenged the Kalashin believers with this process when he wrote and we read it earlier in the service. Allow the word of Christ to richly dwell in you with all wisdom. Literally allow the word of Christ to take up residency inside of you opening your mind to its wisdom.

The active role we play is to become students of the word and God is active in using the word to transform our minds. And again this goes against our verbal audio driven culture. We don't read today in this generation because of all of the amusement and entertainment and distraction of former generations. One of my staff members sent me these statistics a couple of months ago 42 percent of university graduates never read an entire book after graduation. 80 percent of American families do not buy or read a book in any one given year. In fact these statistics said American families did not buy or read a book last year. 57 percent of new books purchased in the United States according to their experiments are not read to completion. In fact they found that most readers do not get past page 18 in the books they've chosen to buy read a few pages and skim a little and we think we're readers but we're not.

It concluded with this summary. The majority of people living in our generation today prefer to listen to someone they perceive to be trustworthy to give them information than they are to read for themselves. That's true isn't it. We get what we get because someone has told us we gain our perspective from those we listen to or watch on television. You apply that to the church and the ramifications are a little frightening. It means then that the average Christian would be satisfied to drive to get under the sound of the word then walk across their living room floor and get into the study of the word for themselves.

Just tell me tell me and that will be sufficient. We are to become students of the word to literally invited in to take residency in our lives and our hearts and our minds will be renewed. You cannot be transformed if you are not informed. It's impossible to be transformed into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ without ever knowing what he said and what he did.

We must be in the word. Now again you need to understand that this verb transformed is in the passive voice. It's critical to understand Paul is not commanding the believer to transform himself.

OK. Everybody who wants to transform themselves raise your hands and let's go out this week and let's transform ourselves. Now that's not what he say. It's passive. It means just as with the verb conformed that when you leave here the world is going to try to conform you. Don't let it. So also he encourages us to be transformed. It's by someone or something else. Let it.

What would that be. It would be the word of God through the power of the Spirit of God. Listen to what Paul told Timothy. He said I want you to be constantly nourished on the words of the faith and the sound doctrine which you have been following. And then he says in verse 7 train yourself for the purpose of godliness. Train yourself for the purpose of godliness. One author provoked my thinking when he pointed out that the reason so many Christians give up on transformation is because we spend ourselves trying to be transformed when the Bible tells us to train to be transformed. There's an enormous difference between trying to be godly and training to be godly. The Greek word for train in First Timothy 4 7 is from the word good not so which gives us our transliterated word gymnasium go into the gymnasium of the word and work up a sweat. Ken Hughes wrote go in and work out in the word. You want to be strong in the Lord. You don't get it by deciding I'm going to be strong in the Lord. You get it by working out by being trained in the word. You can try to be in shape. You can decide to be in shape but you get into shape by training. If you want to be in shape spiritually Paul implies go into the gymnasium of the word of God and work out and the result will be increasing godliness.

Let me illustrate it this way. We have a missions team that's headed for Mexico. Wouldn't it be great to be able to go into that culture and share the gospel in their language. I'd like to go as an interpreter. Maybe God would use me to interpret the messages of those who don't know Spanish and I could interpret for them and I might say you know I believe that that's the vision of what God is going to do with that team and I want to be the one and and so I'm going to try I want to sign up I'm going to raise the money I'm going to buy the plane ticket I'm going to go to the meetings and then I'm going to go over there and I'm going to try to be an interpreter try as I may I won't be able to speak Spanish until I have what been trained in Spanish I'll have to learn a new alphabet I'll have to practice the letters over and over again I'll have to get adjusted with my eyes to new words and new sentence structure and new accenting I'm going to have to memorize pages and pages and pages of vocabulary I'm going to have to learn to twist my tongue into saying words I'm not accustomed to saying and phrases that I'm not used to saying after training I'll be able to speak in Spanish it doesn't matter for me to say well I'm committed to that vision I believe I ought to do that and I think God maybe even he may even be calling me to do that doesn't matter I have to be trained if I'm not trained I'll never get much past como esta usted muy bien gracias you had the same two years I had that's all we remember right that's about it two years down the tube you know why I can't go any further than that because I'm not in it I'm not being trained in it I'm not rehearsing the vocabulary I'm not reminding myself of the sentence structure and the grammar of this language so likewise it isn't enough to say oh I buy into that vision Steve and God wants me to be godly okay where do I sign you are to train yourself for the purpose of godliness get into the word God uses his word to develop us and a renewed mind is like learning a new vocabulary it is learning to say words that we haven't said before and think thoughts we've never learned to think before conversion is simply the beginning of the process a spiritual transformation is a long-term endeavor it involves a willing child and a gracious God you've heard in this lesson that living for Christ requires a plan of action for renewing your mind I hope you'll make that plan and commit to that plan today you've tuned in to wisdom for the heart with Stephen Davey Stephen is the president of shepherds theological seminary in Cary North Carolina if you know someone who's interested in graduate level theological training encourage them to learn more about shepherd's seminary you can learn more about our ministry wisdom international at wisdom if we can assist you today our number is eight six six forty eight Bible that's eight six six four eight two four two five three I hope we hear from you thanks for joining us today tune in next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-06 01:10:56 / 2023-02-06 01:20:27 / 10

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