“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 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. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
It takes work to be intentional in our thoughts and actions. Sometimes we have time to consider decisions we are about to make and other times we just react.
Oh, I wish I could change the thousands of times that I reacted to a situation or someone’s words and it did not sound good when I was responding or feel so good afterward. Thankfully, there have also been times for which I am so grateful that my brain took a pause before my mouth started moving.
We cannot expect the world not to act worldly. However, God expects believers to live a life that pleases Him. As followers of Christ, we are called to live lives that look different, because, in Christ Jesus, we are different. When the sorrow of our brokenness leads us to repentance and we have asked for forgiveness of our sins, Jesus promises that He will forgive us and cleanse us from our sin. Then we have to work at changing the way we think, act, and react. We should not be living like the world, but striving to live a holy life that pleases God.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (NLT) Paul writes, “God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor – not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.”
The Lord does not leave us on our own to try to guess what He means by these verses. The Thessalonians received very clear direction from Paul as to what this would look like for their lives, and those instructions are still relevant for the world we live in today. They were to abstain from the immorality around them; stay away from the temptation. The Psalms begin very plainly telling us to stay away from places we should not be. Psalm 1:1 tells us that walking by can lead to standing around which can lead to sitting down in the middle of the sin and getting comfortable. Paul is reminding the people of Thessalonica that they have to make conscious decisions to stay away from the sin that is all around them.
Growing in our Christian walk is a process, but it is a process that we should always be working on. Like the Thessalonians, we should be encouraged to give ourselves to the Lord because of all that He has done for us. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we continue to grow stronger and become better able to resist the pull of the world. This is truly the way to worship the Lord.
“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.
But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”
Romans 8:6 (NLT)