It was in late October a few years ago when as the sun was setting in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming I realized I was lost.
I was mule-deer hunting with two friends when the snow began to fall at the rate of one inch per hour. Nine hours later there was nine inches of snow on the ground and we were almost a mile from our truck. Under most circumstances it would not have been a problem since I had my compass and had always been able find my way. But on this particular afternoon my compass had quit working. I put the compass back into my pocket as I began to march through the deep snow convinced that I knew what I was doing.
An hour later I approached the crest of a mountain – certain that the truck was just over the top of the ridge. But as I stood on the top of that ridge my heart sank. There was no truck. There was no road. I was lost. It was still snowing. And it was now dark.
My only hope was to retrace my steps from the last hour and hike back to the last point of reference where I put my “broken” compass into my pocket.
As it turned out the compass was not broken. The compass had been working all the time but I had convinced myself that I was smarter than my compass.
I can only imagine that this is part of what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he told the church in Rome, Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world. (Romans 12.2).
From studying this verse I have come to understand that the verb in this verse is passive. That means if we do not intentionally resist the behavior and customs of this world – it will only be a matter of time until we begin to copy them and apply them to our own lives. There is no neutral ground here. We either actively turn away — or we passively accept them as true.
Copying the behavior and customs of the world means we take the world’s philosophies and accept them as true. But one thing we tend to forget. Just because the world accepts things as true doesn’t mean those things are true.
Here are three of the world’s most popular philosophies – and all three are lies, not truth.
Lie # 1. Public opinion defines truth. It is not true but the world wants us to believe it. Truth is truth and it has nothing to do with public opinion. It also has nothing to do with whether or not the majority of the people believe it. Truth is truth and lies are lies. And public opinion does not define truth.
Lie #2. Faith and everyday living are unrelated. It is not true but the world wants us to believe it. The Bible talks about faith and works. Some people want to separate one from the other but the truth is … faith and works are one thing and cannot be separated. What a person believes will always be displayed in how they live their life. And how a person lives their life will always reflect what they really believe. Faith and everyday living are related, not unrelated.
Lie #3. There is no such thing as absolute truth. It is not true but the world wants us to believe it. Humanism is being taught on the campus of almost every secular university in the world. Humanist educators teach that ethics are always situational. They teach that morals are not derived from absolutes given by God, but are determined by the individual from situation to situation. It is not true but it is being taught and promoted as truth.
God has given us a compass to lead and direct the steps of our life. It’s called the Bible. It is not broken. It is not out of date. It is the inerrant, infallible and inspired Word of God. And it is true. Some people will chose to believe it. Some will chose to ignore it. But that doesn’t change its truth.
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 know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.
Steve Anderson is the pastor of Oakwood Church in Waconia.