WHEN IN ROME DO NOT DO AS THE ROMANS DO
Romans 12:2, “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.”
The Scripture says not just “be NOT conformed” for it says “be ye transformed.” The secret is the mind and in the renewing of the mind by being transformed and not conformed to this world.
The book of Romans is divided up in to two sections, chapters 1-11 and chapters 12-16. The pivotal verses are found in Romans 12:1-2. In the first eleven chapters of Romans we have doctrine. In chapters 12-16 we have practical living or application of the doctrine to a real world.
Paul is saying the redeemed ought to live this way because of the wonderful doctrines in the first eleven chapters. An example would be the doctrine of “justification.” Paul is saying, “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God” or because you are justified by faith that you “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.”
Someone says, “I’m addicted to movies, pornography, or to internet pornography.” I don’t believe it for a minute! You can quit it right now and walk away from it. It’s not addictive like narcotics or liquor. You can quit that junk if you would produce enough character, decency, discipline and Christianity. The Bible says we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.
God is saying because you are justified be not CONFORMED to this world, and do not stop there, be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind. Why…
- Because of propitiation
- Because of justification
- Because of sanctification
- Because of predestination
- Because of election
Plus all of the other great doctrines found in Romans chapters 1-11. Then Paul goes on to tell us in the rest of the book of Romans what it means and what kind of a life we are supposed to live as God’s children.
God has given to the Christian a little world within a world with our local church, Christian schools, and Christian colleges. If you are in one of the Christian schools and are living a loose moral life you are a traitor to the cause of Christ, to the school, to the college, to the local church and to your pastor. Nobody ought to ever cause themselves to be expelled from a Christian school because of being immoral loose living, bad music, pornography, or sexual promiscuity. No member of a local church should ever be involved with immoral activity for you are in essence a traitor if you do.
Thus we have a little world within a world. This bigger world we live in is a godless world and we are forced to interact. Some have to interact with worldliness at home, or in a secular business, or a secular school, and unfortunately sometimes there are students in the Christian school who are worldly and you find yourself having to interact with them. However, I would be ashamed of myself if I were thick with the wrong crowd in a Christian school. I’d be ashamed of myself to be thick with the wrong crowd in a Christian college.
Now, we are required in some ways to interact with a godless Christ-less world. May I point your attention to whom this passage was given? The passage of, “be ye not conformed to his world but be transformed” is a passage written to the Christians in Rome. They were corrupt, pagan, skeptical, and a perverted people. The entire environment was not only un-Christian but also anti-Christian. The Bible says this book was written to the saints in Caesar’s household.
We have this admonition, “be ye not conformed to the world.” What does that mean? It simply means dress like a Christian and not like Paris, or Hollywood, or New York. It simply means males ought to have haircuts that look like a male and not the Beatles or Justin Bieber. God is saying to his people I would rather you have Dr. Lee Roberson as your hero than Arnold Swartznegger. I would rather you have Jack Hyles as your hero than Garth Brooks.
Then he says, “be ye transformed” or as different from this world as Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration. This my friend was written to Christians of Caesar’s household in godless anti-Christian Rome, corrupt, pagan, skeptical, and perverted Rome. Yet to the saints in this foul corrupt environment Paul writes these words, “be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed.”
No Christians in Rome had a Christian school to attend. They had not Christian grade school, junior high school, high school, or college to attend. Yet God said to these people in the middle of godless anti-Christian Rome it is possible for you not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Paul is saying it is possible to live in the midst of a Roman moral quagmire without lowering your flag of purity. Please listen! That means that it is possible today also to do the same. It is possible today to live in a society controlled by TV, Hollywood, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, and the Internet and still live for God via the renewing of the mind.
It is possible to live in this sex crazed, Hollywood infested world, HBO world, Cinemax world, Showtime world, and hip-hop music, and be not conformed to this world. If it is possible for the saints at Rome then it is possible for the saints of today!
Paul said it is possible in this horrible morally polluted atmosphere to breathe without poisoning the souls of the Christians in Rome. It was possible to walk in its septic streets without soiling the white garments of saint-hood. Paul tells them not to be creatures of circumstances or happenstance, but to take a stance for God.
Stand up at work for Jesus while others curse him. Stand up for Jesus at school while others mock him. Paul is saying to these saints in Rome do not do when in Rome as Romans do, but when in Rome do as Jesus would do. He is saying to them be not the slave, but the master of your environment. He preaches not the doctrines of conforming, but the doctrine of transformation.
Paul is saying to the saints in Rome man is not to become a creature of his circumstances or the toy of his surroundings, or a piece of clay molded by his peers, but he is saying do not be conformed be ye transformed. It bothers God when his daughters are quick to take up the hairstyles of modern day Romans.
It bothers God when any of his children are quick to pick up the modern appearances and so desperately want to be accepted by the modern day Romans. It probably occurs because God’s people spend more time reading “Glamour Magazine” than the Bible. Young Christian ladies spend more time in “Sixteen Magazine” than in their own Bibles. It bothers God when his sons are so quick to get a tattoo or pierce their ears simply because of the modern day Romans.
God is telling his children they are not to copy this pagan world. There is a difference between dressing appropriately and going gaga over the latest styles and so quick to embrace them simply because we want the Romans to love us. We are not to pattern ourselves after this modern world. If the world lies on a beach in their underwear then God’s people ought to do the opposite. If the women of this world wear their short and man’s apparel then the Christian ladies ought to do the opposite. We are in the world but not of the world!
He tells the redeemed in Rome you are to be more than a product of your environment, more than a result of geography, more than a piece of merchandise molded and made by surroundings, more than a manufacturers object of weather and meteorology. You are not to be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed that ye may prove what is that good an acceptable perfect will of God.
It thrills God to see his children around town reflecting Scriptures rather than society. When he sees the boys with decent haircuts and without their pants hanging down to their ankles with their underwear showing. God loves it when he sees his young ladies dressed in modest clothing without a vampire look. I thank God I belong to a church where members dress right and people around town know they belong to Longview Baptist Temple.
It may be difficult to not be conformed to this world but difficult is not spelled “I M P O S S I B L E.” He says do not drift but steer! He says do not float but swim! He says do not descend but ascend. He says do not blend but transcend. He says do not condescend but apprehend. He says do not be a slave to dust be its master. He says swim the tide.
God is saying to his children in Rome be like the lily in the mud which transforms sordidness into beauty and stagnates into fragrance. He is saying to them do not bow your knee to the god of fashion, the Bael of conformity, the deity of compromise, the altar of timidity to the prince and power of 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.
Christians who are conforming to this modern Roman world and not transforming it doesn’t bother you because you do not care what God wants you to do any way, but those who do care will keep on transforming and not conforming.
Conquer this world’s gravity! Be a lily in the mud, a daisy in the gutter, a flower in the wilderness, a stream in the desert, and a rose amidst needles and thorns. If you have to flee to the catacombs flee singing! If you are appetizer for the lions then die praising God. Throw your shoulders back and chest out, lift up your head, and hold your banner high to let everyone know you are a child of God!
Emerson said, “Whoso would be a man must be a non conformist!” If the Bible is true, if God be real, and you desire to be a man then do not conform to this world and see what happens? Show me a famous Christian who was a conformist? Show me one in history?
The Hall of fame list includes John Bunyan who spent twelve years in the Bedford Jail. Why, because he would not stop preaching the Gospel on the street corners! He had a blind daughter who would come to the Bedford Jail and say, “I’ve some good news daddy. They will let you out of jail if you promise to quit preaching the Gospel on the streets.” He was a non-conformist!
John Wesley was a non-conformist! Read his diary sometime and you will read, “Kicked out of church after church after church…” We garnish his tombstone and crucify the people who are like him today!
- John Bunyan a non-conformist
- John Wesley a non-conformist
- Peter a non-conformist
- Paul a non-conformist
- John the Baptist a non-conformist
- James a non-conformist
- Savonarola a non-conformist
- Martin Luther a non-conformist
- Cromwell a non-conformist
- John R. Rice a non-conformist
- Lester Roloff a non-conformist
- Tom Malone a non-conformist
- Lee Roberson a non-conformist
- Shadrach a non-conformist
- Meshach a non-conformist
- Abednego a non-conformist
- Daniel a non-conformist
- J. Frank Norris a non-conformist
- G. B. Vick a non-conformist
- Curtis Hutson a non-conformist
- Carl Hatch a non-conformist
- Charles Spurgeon a non-conformist
Why, because they refused to let the devil tell them how to behave and what to believe. In my 41 years of preaching, as of the writing of this article, I have stood for the King James Bible, Jesus’ blood as the only cleansing agent for sin, the local independent Baptist church, salvation by grace through faith in the blood of Christ, the new birth, sinless life of Christ, vicarious death of Christ, bodily resurrection of Christ, the pre-millennial pre-tribulation rapture of the saints, old fashioned separation from the world, old time religion, soul winning, holy living, and eternal security of the believer for which I am not about to quit now because of current society!
I 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.”
II Corinthians 6:17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing…”
For you sweet little Christians there is more to the Bible than just Psalm 23. God said, “Touch not the unclean thing” and “Keep oneself unspotted from the world” and “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” and “The saints shall someday rule the world” and “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world but thou shouldest keep them from the world” and “They are not of the world even as I am not of the world” and “Be of good cheer I have overcome the world” and “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” and “They who have turned the world upside down have come here also” and “Whosoever is born of God overcometh the world even our faith” and “Ye are a holy generation a royal priesthood” and “That he might deliver us from this present world” and “I have overcome the world” and “The friendship of the world is enmity with God” and “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world” and “Demas hath forsaken me having loved this present world.” WOW! I think you had better talk this over with God!
You can live in a godless home and still be transformed and not conformed. I can prove it for some of you reading this article are living in godly homes and you are being conformed and not transformed. Thus, it must not be the home as much as it is you!
Paul told the Christians in Rome that is was possible in their morally polluted atmosphere to breathe without poisoning their souls. Now, if it is possible for the Christians in Rome then it is possible for the Christians in you city to live for God.
You can work in a godless factory go to a godless school, live in a godless home, live in a godless neighborhood, and still be transformed. It is a shame that some of the bus riders from the ghettos of your area live better Christian lives than those who have moms and dads who sing in the church choir, served on the deacon board, teaches Sunday school, serve on the church staff, or are faithful church members. Be ye transformed and not conformed!
It matters not who you are and what you are you can live for God wherever and whenever. Factory workers can live for God. If they could do it in Rome and Paul expected them to do it in Rome then so can any of us! The Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible expected them to live for God in Rome, which means we can also live for God in our Rome.