2002-06-11 - Conformity to the World
2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.
How would you like to have a legacy like that of Demas? Here in Scripture for all to see, for all generations of Christians forever, Demas is shamed. Why? Because he loved the world. I would like to briefly look at conformity to the world in two manners. The first is to determine what it means to be conformed to the world and then secondly, to reflect on the consequences of conforming to the world.
The first thing about being conformed to the world is that we lose our distinction from the world. There is the old saying that if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Well, if we live our lives in such a manner that we have no distinction from the world, then we can conclude that we have conformed to the world. If the question of what everyone else is doing is more on our thoughts than the question of what the will of God is, then it may be that we have conformed to the world. If the things we desire, the amusements we find joy in, and our conduct in general is not distinct from the general mass of people, then how can we not wonder if we have already conformed to the world?
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18,19.
The consequences of conformity to the world are quite serious. If we identify ourselves with the world, how can we not expect to perish with it? "But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men," 2 Peter 3:7. If we are not separated from the world now, we should not expect to be separated from the world on that day.
There is to be a distinction between those in the Church, and those who are outside of it. If we lose that distinction between us and the world, we can't expect the world to think that we have anything of worth to offer them. Lastly, conformity to the world is destructive to us personally in our spiritual lives. Remember the words of Christ to the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:16 "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."
I would like to end by touching on one area where we want to treat this topic with care. We don't want to become pharisaical. Conformity to the world means different things to different people. Style of dress for one would seem inappropriate to another. It is a blessing that God has provided us each with a conscience with which to lead us in our understanding and convict us of those things that are sin to us. Romans 14:22 is an important verse in this area, "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves."
Your convictions are not necessarily mine, nor mine yours. There is some freedom in Christ to make our faith our own as we apply the Word of God to our hearts and as the Spirit works with our spirit to conform us more and more to the image of Christ. To conform to the practices of the Pharisees is to equally fall into conformity to the world as much as any other area of our application to the work of Redemption in our lives.