Conform -or Contend?
How do we react to the world – conform and compromise? Do we cave in to the culture? Or will we contend and defend the faith? There can be no shortcuts. In an age of compromise we must stand with conviction. Australia needs Biblical truth, at all costs.We must seize the truth and be militant for it. Resist the desensitisation – turn off the cruise control. Be valiant for the truth. Dare enough and care enough to be peculiar!
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
What are we to do IN RELATION TO THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE?
BE NOT CONFORMED to this world, but BE YE TRANSFORMED…
There’s a whole lot of PRESSURE these days…
- TO CONFORM –
- TO CAVE IN… to the MENTALITY and MINDSET of the world
- To BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD and its THINKING and VALUES and PHILOSOPHIES.
It would be EASY to take THIS PATH.
There’s a lot of PRESSURE to FOLLOW THE PIED PIPERS of this world. We all face this pressure. Just to be another CLONE OF THE CULTURE. It’s everywhere – and it’s in churches too… Some have LOST THEIR WAY, big time.
But, I urge you:
- Don’t fall into line with this…
- RESIST the PRESSURE
- BREAK THE MOLD
- Swim against the tide.
There is NO PLACE FOR the Christian, for CONFORMITY WITH THE WORLD.
At the heart of this question of CONFORMITY is – COMPROMISE.
To COMPROMISE means to REDUCE, and DEVALUE what is true and right and faithful.
It CHEAPENS it.
- SPOILS it.
- SOILS it.
When we COMPROMISE we effectively DISRESPECT and DISHONOUR God.
When we compromise OUR FAITH we lose OUR STRENGTH. We SUBTRACT something. We GIVE GROUND to the enemy of our soul.
CONFORMITY with THE WORLD WEAKENS our WITNESS and HINDERS our EFFECTIVENESS.
It’s interesting that the stand-out heroes of the faith have always been the NON-CONFORMISTS. That’s what they were called. They did not go with the flow of the popular church of their time.
Let’s face up to THIS…
Do we CONFORM and COMPROMISE?
OUR STAND should be, RATHER…
- No surrender
- No truce
- No prisoners
- No retreat
- No compromise.
JUDE tells us WHAT WE ARE TO DO…
RATHER than CONFORM, let us CONTEND…
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Jude tells us that we are to CONTEND for THE FAITH.
He calls us to CONTEND. It’s a call to:
- MAKE WAR.
The CONTENDING here has the sense of an INTENSE STRUGGLE, such as in an athletic event.
It speaks to us of how we are called to a DETERMINATION and a TENACITY in defending the truth of the Gospel. It is a hand-to-hand fight.
Here’s a picture I found when I googled the word DETERMINATION.
It may not be easy, but one day we will get there.
We must take this path… with…
- No shortcuts
- No compromise.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
Do we CONFORM – or CONTEND?
I put it to you that we must not CONFORM, but rather CONTEND.
If you contend earnestly you may get BRUISED along the way. You may get WEARIED.
To CONTEND WILL NOT be EASY…
- It calls for hard work
- It means diligent study
- It takes a willingness to stand against the world and those who would water down the gospel and sound doctrine.
We live in AN AGE OF COMPROMISE…
- A BRAVE NEW WORLD
- A POSTMODERN WORLD
- A world where people say just give in and go along with the crowd
- Everybody else is doing it…
What are we to do?
Let us be like PAUL at Athens.
- Paul didn’t ADAPT to the culture – or PANDER to the world or succumb to its CHARMS, he PROCLAIMED to it.
We are called to SPEAK UP.
Paul didn’t CAVE IN to the CULTURE, he CONFRONTED it.
Through the Word we see when God’s people repented and got right with Him they smashed down the altars of Baal and the pagan idols.
They didn’t adapt them and bring them into the holy worship of God.
How we NEED…
- PLAIN PREACHING
- To SMASH THE IDOLS that take God’s rightful place
- To RID THE HOLY PLACE of the marketeers and the merchandisers.
The early reformers SMASHED THE IDOLS AND ICONS and THE CRUCIFIXES of the false Roman church.
We need an ICON-O-CLASM again. A faith that is MILITANT and VALIANT for THE TRUTH.
We must communicate BIBLICAL TRUTH – without diluting it. This is our mandate.
More than ever.
This is what Australia needs.
Paul tells Timothy –
2 Timothy 4:2-5
(2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
(3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
(4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
(5) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
We must faithfully preach the Word.
There is no new revised version.
It’s still the Word that we need.
We declare timeless truths to a changing society. It’s the same message, because people’s needs are still the same today as they were when Adam was a boy.
Let us awaken to…
- THE URGENCY OF THE HOUR.
Let us SEIZE ON THE TRUTH.
We are AGAINST some things.
But we are also CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH… WE are FOR some things.
Here are some TRUTHS OF THE FAITH that we can CONTEND FOR…
The reality of THE WRATH OF GOD.
John the Baptist had a good six word sermon…
…Flee from the wrath to come…
Let us seize on the truth.
GOD’S WRATH is as RED HOT and as REAL as it ever was, and we need to be mindful of it.
Christ took our wrath at the cross. But it says His wrath will fall on those outside of Christ. You’d better flee. FLEE TO THE REFUGE – MAKE CHRIST YOUR SHELTER from THE STORM. Let me issue a weather warning. The STORM is coming. Get ready. Find His PEACE and forgiveness now BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
We need to contend earnestly.
For the reality of the wrath of God.
Consider also, the truth of SEPARATION.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18
(17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
(18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Let us seize on the truth.
Let us CONTEND for this. God wants His people to BE SEPARATE and to TOUCH NOT the UNCLEAN THING.
God says to come out and be His separate people. We CARE about what God says and we WILL CONTEND, FOR it. We must.
Consider, the truth of: THE FEAR OF GOD.
2 Corinthians 7:1
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Don’t kid yourself. It is A FEARFUL THING TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE LIVING GOD (Hebrews 10:31).
THE source of truth says we should be PERFECTING HOLINESS, growing in holiness, maturing as God’s people, living in the light of THE FEAR OF GOD.
Do we act like we truly fear God?
Do we believe it?
Do we contend for it?
THE FEAR OF GOD is called THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN…
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
In other words, it’s important.
It’s something we should contend for.
Let us seize on the truth.
If only we would grasp a deep sense of THE HOLINESS OF GOD, we would be more attune, as to what is an affront to A HOLY GOD…
We are called to be A HOLY CHURCH. NOT a country club.
We are not a cruise ship, but a battle ship… There’s a neat video clip you can watch along this line that I uploaded to Facebook…
It’s called, Cruise ship – or battleship? If we are called to be contenders then we’d better be in a battleship.
This is not a social club for you to meet some nice people, have a chat and a cup of tea. Of course I’d like to think that you can get a blessing and enjoy meeting with people…
But it’s not our key purpose. God’s church is meant to be a gathering of people brought near to God by the precious blood of Christ and transformed by His redeeming grace and made into His own dear holy people. By God’s grace we will grow together as His people, in brotherly love and truth.
The church of Jesus Christ is meant to be THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH – our sure foundation (1 Tim 3:15). The church is no plaything, it’s not a manmade enterprise, to be manufactured and marketed to the masses.
The DOCTRINE of THE LOCAL CHURCH is important. Para church organisations LACK this NEEDFUL SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNTABILITY. And so they are VULNERABLE TO ERROR.
We will not TREAD THE PATH OF COMPROMISE. It is THIN ICE. DANGEROUS GROUND. We will not join in with A MIXED MULTITUDE, a MIXTURE OF TRUTH AND ERROR. It is LEAVEN IN THE LUMP. We must STEER CLEAR of COMPROMISE. We must stand stedfastly and not deviate from God’s clear direction.
It has been said, ‘Where there is COMPROMISE there is no HOLINESS’
Let us seize on the truth…
- We are meant to be PECULIAR
- Different from the crowd.
- We are called TO BE A SEPARATE PEOPLE.
(11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
(12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
(13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
(14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
There’s meant to be a DISTINCTIVENESS about us. We are MEANT to be DIFFERENT.
He’s PURIFYING unto HIMSELF a PECULIAR people, ZEALOUS of GOOD WORKS.
We don’t have to dress and act like the world or play the music styles of the world. We don’t have to follow the customs of the Babylonians to win them. We don’t have to march to the tune of the trendy churches to reach this generation. No sir.
We don’t need the rock to keep the youth. We need THE ROCK, Christ Jesus, preached with power and conviction and we need the soul saving work of the Holy Spirit of God to do His Heaven-sent work in human souls. THAT’S what we need.
And we WILL be PECULIAR, and NOT ASHAMED of it. And NOT ASHAMED of THE GOSPEL.
We WILL NOT ally ourselves with UNFAITHFULNESS. With those who are HOSTILE TO THE GOSPEL… Or those who will CANDY COAT it and DILUTE it and WATER IT DOWN, such that it is NO LONGER THE GOSPEL.
We will not join party with those who peddle false doctrine and outright lies. If it is false doctrine then it is not of God, and we will have NOTHING to do with it.
God makes us PECULIAR. We walk a different pathway…
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
It’s a different pathway. Choose your companions carefully along life’s road.
It MATTERS, who you ASSOCIATE with.
We walk a different pathway…
There’s A DIFFERENCE in your life when you get saved.
There’s a transforming work goes on, by the Spirit of God.
A renewing of the mind.
We get our brain, our soul, and our whole heart RE-WIRED, so that we actually start to CARE about WHAT THE WILL OF GOD IS, and SEEK it for ourselves, and DO it.
THE GOOD AND PERFECT WILL OF GOD.
We must hold true, and BE A PECULIAR PEOPLE. PLEASING GOD will be WHAT COUNTS TO US now, AS A TRANSFORMED PEOPLE.
Even if it means standing virtually alone, and being mocked for it… We must stand for the right… No matter the cost.
“Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” William Penn.
My responsibility as a preacher is not to win friends and influence people. It is to issue a clarion call. To sound an alarm. To cry aloud, and spare not.
I must be faithful, even if it kills me. I was watching the Book of Acts retold in the form of a movie and one thing that stood out to me was when Paul was stoned at Lystra… It was graphic…
And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
Paul was pelted with rocks to kill him. That was what his sermon led to. And it looked so bad that he looked to be dead. Then what happened next was that he got right back up and went back into the city, and he preached on some more.
It’s alike to what the men did in Acts 5…
(40) …when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
(41) And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
(42) And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
This is what we need to be.
Men of grit, who will not be swayed. Men who will not quit.
We must declare the faithful word, not with fear or favour…
Preaching should be PROVOCATIVE.
It should stir us.
I urge you, as God’s own dear people…
We dare not compromise.
WHAT is COMPROMISE?
COMPROMISE – it has been defined as to reduce in quality, value or degree.
It means to weaken – instead of being pure in quality – you mix a little bit of this with a little bit of that.
COMPROMISE is a CURSE…
- It’s a CREEPING thing, like a spreading CANKER
- It’s like SPEEDING…
- It can creep up on you.
It’s satan’s strategy – a subtle DESENSITISATION for the church to weaken and wimp out to the world…
- Conformity to the world
- Sometimes we can get way too comfortable
- Sometimes it’s as if we set life on CRUISE CONTROL…
Christians can set their lives onto the cruise control and just coast along.
Let’s not SLACKEN.
Let’s not make that mistake.
I pray we WILL NOT.
I want our church to have preachers who aren’t afraid TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH.
Oft times through the Gospels our Lord Jesus says: I tell you the truth.
He says, VERILY, VERILY…
We see there is A CRISIS OF COURAGE in our culture. We must not fear to speak the truth.
We must not be afraid to speak up.
We need men who will stand and deliver.
- Men who will care about truth
- MEN WITH BACKBONE
- Men who will honour God’s word, and who will honour their own word. Men of integrity.
At this church WE LOVE THE TRUTH TOO MUCH TO TELL YOU A LIE.
What about you?
Will you conform – or contend?
Will you blend in, or stand out?
There is a preacher here who is just now facing prosecution and a possible prison term, for simply preaching, IN HIS OWN CHURCH. Here is the front page of the Belfast Telegraph from last Friday.
He preached a fiery sermon. Now I know we need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But when the government starts to intrude on what a preacher preaches to the people of God this is a dangerous development.
This is happening in Northern Ireland right now. It’s just an example of THE MOUNTING WAR AGAINST CHRISTIANITY.
Where are THE PROTESTANTS today – those who will lift up a voice of protest? Who will DARE – and CARE enough?
To BE BOLD.
To BE VALIANT FOR THE TRUTH.
Where are WE?
Nothing must stop us.
- We must not be afraid.
- We must speak up.
We will not modify the message.
We will not ACCOMMODATE THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD.
We are meant to be…
- Set apart.
More than ever before WE NEED MEN and WOMEN of CONVICTION IN AN AGE OF COMPROMISE.
We will not embrace THE WORLDVIEW and VALUES of THIS CARNAL WORLD.
We are not meant TO LOVE THE WORLD, but to HATE what is FALSE, in all its SHAPES and SIZES, in all its TRAPPINGS and DISGUISES.
Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
Hate is a strong word.
But it is Biblical.
I don’t know anyone who keeps redback spiders as pets.
There are some things we are to HATE.
WE MUST NOT COMPROMISE.
It can be rightful to hate.
To hate with a holy hatred.
To hate every false way.
We should hate false apostate movements, false doctrine, false teaching, false worship, false Bibles, so called, false prophets, false revivals, falsehood wherever it is found.
We must HATE THE FALSE, and LOVE THE TRUTH.
We have A GOD-BREATHED BOOK.
- GOD’S WORD is ABSOLUTE
- His words allow no compromise
- The record of scripture show us the many compromises of men down through history…
- May God help us to learn from their example…
For example, God’s judgment was severe in Joshua 7 against the compromise of ACHAN for SIN IN THE CAMP – in disobeying God and hiding away his stash of silver and gold and a Babylonian garment.
CAIN also compromised, in his offering unto the Lord.
ABRAHAM was a compromiser. He should have waited for God’s promise – Isaac – but Abraham compromised and ended up with Ishmael and the whole world has suffered ever since.
LOT compromised. It was little by little, and then he ended up living in sinful Sodom and his family suffered for it.
DAVID drifted into compromise and fell into sin. David went along with the new fad idea for A NEW CART to carry God’s holy ark of the covenant in a glorious parade before the people, disobeying how God instructed him to do it. In 1 Chronicles 13:4 it says, ‘all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.’ The vote was unanimous. There was a whole lot of wild worship going on…
Only problem was that they had adopted the culture and worship of the fleshly Philistines. Just like the churches with their mosh pits and rock bands do today…
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
But God killed UZZAH the driver, for this compromise, because what he did was out of order (that’s 1 Chronicles 15:13).
ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA compromised with money and suffered God’s dread judgment.
God also took the kingdom from SAUL for his rebellious compromise. God called it witchcraft; that’s in 1 Samuel 15:22-23.
AARON fashioned a golden calf, and then called the people together for what he called a feast unto the Lord. It was a dreadful compromise.
Churches seem increasingly willing to compromise and conform to the world…
Men follow doctrines of demons today, in…
- Compromised worship, in
- Compromised associations, and with
- Compromised Bibles.
We CANNOT join party with ANY SUCH COMPROMISE.
Interfaith dialogue and ecumenical associations are a dangerous compromise. I urge you, before God, to steer clear of it.
Rather … be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
In a world with a crying need for God’s holy truth, we must deliver it, without compromise.
We dare not compromise the Word of God. We must hold fast the unadulterated Word of God, the God blessed Holy Bible, the King James Bible.
We will settle FOR NOTHING LESS.
We will not COMPROMISE or CORRUPT it.
We dare not trifle with holy things.
We need the faithful word.
We must hold it fast.
(18) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
(19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
God is calling out a people for His name…
- Calling us to PURITY
- Calling us to INTEGRITY
- Calling us to RIGHTEOUSNESS
We must never be afraid to stand for what is right, even if we be the minority. Even though we be a mocked remnant. Even though we be considered a peculiar people.
Sadly, there are many who profess to know Him, but in works they deny Him (Titus 1:16).
Fact is, MANY churchgoers are themselves unsaved; deceived into thinking they are saved. They have never truly trusted the Lord.
I urge you to trust Christ fully today.
Time is too short to be ALMOST SAVED. To be ALMOST saved is NOT ENOUGH.
STEP OVER THE LINE.
This is NOT A TIME TO COMPROMISE.
It is TIME TO CONTEND.
The more you COMPROMISE the more you’ll TOLERATE.
We need to CONQUER COMPROMISE.
Many will want you to WEAKEN…
- To LOWER your STANDARDS
- To COMPROMISE your CONVICTIONS
- To follow the WORLD and WORLDLINESS.
Like SAMSON who compromised with DELILAH, and she gradually broke down his defences and left him weakened and powerless.
Some will ARGUE THE CASE TO COMPROMISE – as if the-end-justifies-the-means.
They will say let’s LOWER THE STANDARD…
But the word of God is clear, there can be no room to accommodate the world.
It is clear: It says:
BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD…
1 John 2:15
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
DESPITE what the scriptures clearly say, some will still try and justify WORLDLINESS…
Whatever the reason be: They may argue we need to be worldly so as to KEEP THE YOUTH, or to bring in THE NUMBERS, to GET THE RESULTS, or to increase a church’s POPULARITY…
Everything gets SACRIFICED to this end… Some churches will willingly sacrifice everything on the altar of whatever is popular… and pleases the crowd…
- Scriptural Principle
- Standards, and, in fact,
I urge you, as God’s beloved children, instead of caving in to the world’s pressure, let us aim for HIGHER STANDARDS…
We dare not disobey.
Let us not compromise on THE CLEAR INSTRUCTION of God’s word in our practical lives.
In a society prone to drift WE NEED AN ANCHOR.
Prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
WHAT IS THE WILL OF GOD?
- It is the Word of God, applied
- Amidst the storms of doubt and the dashing waves of this Christ rejecting world
- This is OUR SURE ANCHOR.
If the Bible requires husbands to love their wives without bitterness (Col 3:19), then WE MUST NOT COMPROMISE THIS.
If the Bible requires wives to reverence their husbands (Eph 5:33), then WE MUST NOT COMPROMISE THIS.
When God says His own people are to be ZEALOUS OF GOOD WORKS then WE MUST MAKE NO COMPROMISE HERE. But rather may we be that Biblical people who we are called to be. It’s what we have been made for…
The will of God is the Word of God applied.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
Our Lord calls us…
- To DEVOTION
- To obey and
- To know Him, absolutely.
God calls us to FERVENCY.
There must be no compromise here.
God calls us to INTEGRITY.
There must be no compromise here.
INTEGRITY means PURITY; in a genuine, unadulterated, unimpaired state. Integrity is about being real.
To wrap this up, let me say that we are called, NOT to COMPROMISE, but to CONTEND.
We need a renewing of the mind.
To regain a sense of…
- THE WRATH OF GOD
- THE FEAR OF GOD
We need to be, in a sense, PROTESTANTS, who will raise our voices in protest against the apostate church of our time.
We need to be a PECULIAR PEOPLE.
This is the time…
- To lift up a standard
- To stand firm under pressure
- To REFUSE to compromise.
We will not slide down that slippery slope of compromise, of CONFORMING with THE WORLD.
Let us, rather, be NON CONFORMISTS…
And RAISE UP THE STANDARD…
- Run the race
- Be uncompromising
- Stay in the will of God.
We are meant to be – NOT a cruise ship – but a BATTLESHIP…
This is the message we must faithfully declare. This message is…
- To give life
- To care for souls.
We must HATE every false way.
We MUST CONTEND…
- Carnality and
How we need God’s…
- Convicting power
- His outpouring.
This has been a serious and sobering message.
Yet I earnestly pray we will take heed.
It’s TIME TO STOP PLAYING CHURCH.
It’s been said, “Before the world is ever going to take Jesus seriously, the church has to take Jesus seriously“
Let us be the shining lights in this world that we need to be…
(13) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
(14) Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
(15) That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
(16) Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
(1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
(2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.