Romans 12:1-2 (King James Version)
12 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.
Conform: to take on the pattern, through pressure (to be pressed into the mold)
· behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards. "the pressure to conform" synonyms: follow convention, be conventional, fit in, adapt, adjust, follow the crowd;
This morning, in the light of the fact that school is starting all over America for many young people, and no matter how many years removed I am from youth ministry my heart will always lean toward the youth of our churches; so, I felt compelled to share.
Just like the three Hebrew children in the book of Daniel, we live in a foreign land, a hostile environment, we are strangers and aliens to this place. God never intended that we would fit in or blend in. But that we would stand up and stand out. As Christians, not just those that profess the things of God with their mouth, but actual Christians seeking to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord; we are supposed to be exhibiting an entirely different nature than the world. The worlds nature is darkness, The Christians nature is light.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Darkness cannot over power the light; the only way darkness can prevail is for the light to refuse to shine. The devil’s strategy is to convince you to put out your light. How does he do this? Through peer pressure. He tries to make you feel like what you are standing for is foolish, and that you are all alone.
They separated Daniel and the 3 Hebrew children from their own land, houses and families, and then they changed their names. Why? Because their names tied them to their spiritual heritage, and defined their destiny in God:
Hananiah = God has favored (changed to- (Shadrach)
Mishaal = Who is what God is (changed to- (Meshach)
Azariah = Jehovah has helped (changed to- (Abednego)
Satan hates our spiritual heritage, he hates the Holy Ghost, and there is nothing that grieves the devil more than to see our young people, filled with the Holy Ghost shouting and dancing and speaking in other tongues.
Last Sunday our pastor baptized one of our teenagers who had decided to follow Jesus. I stood there and wept, why? Because all too often, as I spent 18 years in youth ministry, I’ve seen one young person after another destroyed by sin and I couldn’t stop thinking, “In your face devil, this is another one for Jesus; another child that you don’t get.”
For these four Hebrew young men there was pressure from their enemies., but Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the kings’ meat. This is the easiest battle to win, because it’s natural to fight against our enemies.
There was pressure from their friends. This is where our commitment is really tested, there were many of those who were carried into captivity who were of Daniels brethren, yet they were content and happy to surrender their names and their identities to fit in and be accepted.
There is the pressure from within - this is the most dangerous and destructive of all. All the other pressure was external, but there is internal pressure to conform. This is when like Nebuchadnezzar we set ourselves up an image, and we create in our minds the kind of god we choose.
Worshipers of the image can be identified by phrases like these:
· Everybody’s doing it.
· I don’t see anything wrong with it.
· It’s nobody’s business but mine.
· I don’t feel any conviction over it.
· It’s not hurting anybody
What is happening in the hearts and minds of these people, is that they are bowing down and worshiping a false image. They are bowing to a god of our own making.
But when the trumpet sounded, when the world’s music began to play, the young men who had committed not conform, refused to bow down and worship an image created by man. They chose to offer themselves as living sacrifices. The king’s wrath was kindled. Friends this is important to note: For anyone who dares to stand for God, there will be criticism.
The music today is playing, it’s seductive and destructive, it leads to self-will, rebellion, perversity, and violence. Be careful what you allow to entertain you, because once sin fascinates your mind, it will assassinate your soul.
When you turn down that cigarette, that beer, that joint; when you turn down that invitation to a party, and purpose in your heart that you will keep yourself pure, and maintain your virginity; when you refuse to listen to and laugh at dirty jokes, there will be criticism. But you never go through the furnace alone.
Young people you are not alone, Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
If you will stand up for Jesus, he will stand up for you. But it is also true that Jesus said:
“If you are ashamed of me and my words, in this wicked and adulterous generation then I will also be ashamed of you when I stand before my father and all the holy angels.”