Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Christ-followers are engaged in a fierce battle for holiness in this fallen world. Jesus understands that the fight is real…it is spiritual warfare. In Luke 13:24, He tells us to strive to enter through the narrow door. The word for “strive” in Greek literally means to agonize. Although we cannot save ourselves through works, battling love of the world and love of self is a continual contest
The ways of this world seek to invade our minds in order to assimilate us. However, the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to present our bodies as sacrifices in serving the Lord. Furthermore, he warns Christ followers not to conform to the world’s system.
With respect to the cultural conditioning that we see in our time, I often reflect and ask myself, “How many times were the moral and ethical goal posts moved in Sodom and Gomorrah?” Cultural influence is strong and deceptive. Five years from now, society will embrace what it calls perversion today. The world’s structure is designed to lead us through the wide gate and to destruction. Society’s avenue is self-gratifying and comfortable. It aims to please every fleshly craving.
Ultimately, we are conditioned by our consumption. The entertainment that we digest and the media that we engage slowly infiltrate our thought processes. The battle within the mind will determine defeat or victory as it will ultimately drive our hearts.
Technology and Entertainment
Technological advancements have triggered severe addiction in our time. Our descent started many decades ago with the introduction of television. In 2021, people spend countless hours with technology. Recent studies indicate that most people will waste 44 years of their lives in front of screens. Each day, the typical American spends 4 hours and 33 minutes on a smartphone, over 3 hours on a gaming device, and nearly 5 hours on a desktop.
Contemporary tools have allowed access to non-stop entertainment and amusement. As a result, people are bombarded with the world’s philosophies and doctrines. The war for the mind occurs 24 hours per day, and it does not discriminate. For instance, 57% of pastors and 64% of youth pastors have struggled with pornography according to a 2016 Barna survey. The rate is higher for men in the general population. In total, society has accepted porn, and many believe that viewing porn is a “normal” or “good” activity.
Beyond pornography, multitudes are transfixed by streaming video services. Binge-watching movies and shows that reinforce secular mindsets is commonplace. As an example, Netflix content blasphemes Christ and even promotes the sexualization of children. Indoctrination occurs in the name of entertainment.
Furthermore, the arrival of virtual reality will only increase the culture’s engagement of satanic lies. High tech companies are already advertising the promise of total immersion in an alternate reality. It seems that people are willing to give up their lives for augmented versions of themselves. The world’s trends are moving in an all-time ominous direction.
In order to reject the world’s patterns, the Christ-follower must walk away from many of its pastimes. Resisting worldly desires is achievable as we have been enabled to choose the way of Christ. The Holy Spirit makes it possible.
Each day, we should assess our lives. Should I give up that streaming service? Should I reduce usage of that smartphone? Is my time spent in a way that honors God? These are questions that each Christ-follower needs to consider seriously. As society dives deeper into the abyss, our decisions to reject the world’s patterns become more urgent.
Christ’s Call to be Radical
Christ calls for followers to turn from the world. We should be known by how we live in this temporal environment. We are the salt, and we are the light (Matthew 5:13-16). The indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to live in truth (John 14:16-17). God does not leave us to ourselves in our quest for holiness, He has enabled us to realize self-control. Ultimately, we are empowered to resist the world‘s ways.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.“
“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.“
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
2 Corinthians. 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
1 Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written,“ YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY .”