AFReG Devotions 2021

30 November 2021

As we contemplate the God-centered values we espouse for Africa’s leadership as AFReG, we realize that change in all of us is imperative if these are to become a reality. In this series of devotions, we consider several topics under the general theme – “Changing Against the Tide” based on Romans 12:1-2. 

The Gospel is the only way to real change—the transformed mind that proves the good, pleasing and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

Scripture: Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve of God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We consider the following words that jump out of the text: Conformed, Renewed, Transformed, Prove/Proof, and Will. These words will enable us to understand God’s will which is pleasing and perfect. Let us briefly look at each of these words.

Conformed: What does it mean to be “conformed”? Any one of several dictionaries will tell us that it means to fashion oneself to another’s pattern and in this case, it would be to the world and all its “things.” We are reminded that these are the things we are not to be focused on, but instead to focus on those things which are heavenly.

God gave us a body, soul, and spirit. The soul and spirit belong to God, and He will lay claim to them when you and I die. The body will be disposed of, either naturally or unnaturally. The soul is that part which thinks and will accompany the spirit. There are only two places for the spirit and soul to go when one dies – Heaven or Hell.

 All three of these (body, soul, and spirit) can conform to someone or something. When we conform, we are yielding, adapting, adjusting or accommodating another person or group of persons. We are cautioned by God not to conform to this world (its people), for it is evil and wicked. In James 4:4, He tells us that whoever is a friend of the world is His enemy. So, rather than conforming to this world and its evil, let’s conform to God.

Renewed: The passage says that “we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” We just discussed how the mind was part of the soul. The Bible tells us that “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” It makes sense that we must obey God’s laws for that is good for our souls, but how about the mind? In Philippians 2:5, Paul writes that we should have the mind of Christ, and oh how I agree! But we are still left with the question, “How do I renew my mind?” It seems simple enough but you might ask, “How do I accomplish that renewal?”

It comes down to four things:
1. We must stay in His Word. 
2. Ignore that which is worldly. 
3. Expel (repent) the sin in our lives.
4. Renovate our lives (tear out the bad and replace it with that which is good).

One way to imagine this change is to consider that you and I have bodies that are God’s temples. He wants to live or dwell there if you will. Do you think that environment is ready for Him to cohabit? Are there some things that need to be thrown out? Does it need a good sweeping? You know the devil will reside anywhere. He’s not real picky about where he lives and resides, so beware. It’s for this reason that we need a renewed mind.

Transformed: What does it mean to be transformed? The Greek for this word is “Metamorpho” from which we derive our word metamorphosis. When you are dealing with this word, the best example is to think of a butterfly. From an ugly sort of worm, the “butterfly in the making” goes into the cocoon. It leaves its cocoon, and emerges an entirely different being; beautifully winged with the ability to “fly like an eagle.”

How might we know if we have been transformed? We need to look at the signs. One who is “un-transformed” will have one or more of the following traits (or characteristics) also known as the flesh: adulterer, fornicator, unclean, lewd, idolater, sorcerer, hater, contentious, jealous, wrathful, selfish, heretic, envy, murderer, drunkard, and revelry to mention a few (Galatians 5:19-21).

Therefore, it means that to be transformed is the opposite of Galatians 5:19-21. Love, joy, peace, and long-suffering will be evident. You will be filled with kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Your fleshly traits have been crucified with Christ and no longer exist. It sounds hard and it is. We can only do it with His Spirit dwelling within us. We must make Jesus Christ our personal Saviour and Lord.  These traits are the outcome (fruit) of the Holy Spirit working in us (Galatians 5:22-25).

Proof: Our scripture also talks about “proof.” Is there something we need to prove as Christians? The short answer is “yes.” The passage makes mention of something about “perfect will.” It sounds like we must live it. We need to be living proof that we have been transformed and are His. When we walk with Him on the highway of life, we need to leave only one set of footprints in the sand/soil. Everyone we know or meet should immediately see Christ in us. That is the proof (that we have made it).

His Will: Lastly, we are to do His will, but how or what? “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 tells us that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. From that, we can discern two things: They do God’s will in heaven, and we are to do it on earth as it is in heaven. But that doesn’t tell us what His will is, so how then can we do it?

In 1 Timothy 2:3-4, it seems that God’s will is for “all men to be saved” and “to come to the knowledge of the truth.” What is the truth? Pilate asked the same question not long before he crucified our Lord Jesus Christ. So, it seems that what God wants is for us to be saved by knowing His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Saviour, so that we might live with Him forever and ever. Wasn’t that His intent from the beginning? Adam and Eve really made a mess of things when they disobeyed. We see the same disobedience in the world that we live in now.

When God mentions that He wants us “to come to the knowledge of the truth,” He is referring to His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the “Truth.” No question there. He told us Himself that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

In conclusion, I would like to remind ourselves that this isn’t much for our Lord and God to ask of us. There is nothing more important to Him than our eternal lives. Where will you be spending eternity? That is the question and it must be taken seriously. 

Prayer: His will must be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.