Transformed And Transfigured, Or Conformed And Disfigured
“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.”—Romans 12:2
Now, here’s an exact mathematical proposition, where you can get the answer and prove it. “Be not conformed to this world.” He tells you how—“by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect, will of God.”
The artist that is drawing a good picture refers very often to the model. Here is a man painting a mountain scene, so he puts his easel up, and every once in a while he looks at the mountain.
I saw a fellow last summer in New York sitting up in a corner drawing the Woolworth Building. People watched him, but he didn’t pay any attention to them at all. He just kept watching the building. He was painting a picture for a magazine—the front page.
The Lord says: “Be not conformed to this world.” So it is not your business to look at the world, but be ye transformed by looking at God and His plan, that ye may prove what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God.
Then, when you have gotten a vision of God’s plan, it is so easy to work it out. I find so many people that are not living a victorious life because they have not found a vision of what God wants, but more who are afraid not to conform to the world.
Now, it’s true in this old world of ours that “style” is a teaser, and it’s a tyrant. You can’t do what you want to do. If I dressed the way I want to dress today, I’d be “pinched.” That’s right. You know what I felt like this morning? I felt like putting on my spiked shoes and a pair of gymnasium togs, and going out for a little run and then coming back and boxing a couple of rounds with some fellow. That’s the way I feel this morning, but I can’t do that, for they’d “pinch” me if I came downtown looking like that. If we dressed just to suit ourselves, somebody wouldn’t dress at all and somebody else would make a complaint, so that they would get into all kinds of trouble. Yes, style is a tyrant—as far as clothes are concerned. It would compel me to conform.
Style A Tyrant
Now, I can’t eat to please myself. I notice that. There are some times that I’d like to eat onions, but I don’t dare eat them, because others have some rights. They say “One apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but one onion a day keeps everybody away. You can’t dictate your own taste, for people wouldn’t talk with you with onion breath around their noses. I find that some personal workers don’t know this. There are a great many people that are sensitive, and they don’t know it. And for this reason some personal workers don’t use a toothbrush when they ought to, or keep their fingernails clean.
If you sit down to anybody’s table, and they have soup, you have to eat soup whether you want to eat soup or not. And they don’t even allow you to make music when you eat your soup. You have to keep still about it. You know I like to get out in the barn and hear the horses munch the hay, and hear them crush the corn, but I don’t know whether I want to sit around a table where they are smacking their lips or not; but you can’t have the taste that you want, even about eating.
I have gotten so that I can eat a salad. They are not so bad after all, although they look like the leavings of yesterday’s lunch.
People like to set up blueprints and tell us we should conform to them. When it comes to art, they want us to conform to that, and by means of statuary people these days try to represent Christ. I don’t like images or statuary, and, so far as I am concerned, I don’t think people can form in images the things of God. The Lord wouldn’t allow Israel to make a graven image. You can’t worship the Lord with idols. My friends, you can’t come within a million miles of expressing God in an image. Men would like to reduce living to manmade blueprints and make all our worship conform to manmade methods.
That’s the trouble with the world, they are always trying to make God into pews, or pillars, or stained glass windows, or some kind of an outward show.
I find that the world system wants to get me down to the place where I will run by rule, and I absolutely refuse that thing.
Now, then, when you have gotten a vision of God you will find that you cannot conform to this world. I cannot let man make the confines for my soul aflame with God’s vision and fire. Men and their standards and ways must take a far down second place to God’s ways. I never yet found a church that suited me except the Tabernacle, some kind of an affair that you can knock down and carry around, or change some way in decorations or color so people will not get “groovy.” Just as soon as you get into a new church, and get the Board all fixed up, the choir all picked, the pipe organ fixed up, and the preacher’s boots blacked and his fingernails trimmed, the days all named and the form in which you must move all moulded, you at once become mouldy. I tell you, my friends, it is a spiritual affair, and you might as well say that the house and the garden make “love.” They can only make a nice place for lovers. God says that He is a spirit and a truth, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. He is seeking such to worship Him, and I tell you in our day He is seeking men that know enough to put aside the things round about, and there to accept Jesus in spirit and walk with Him day by day and hour by hour.
When you get Jesus, any place where He is will become delightful to you; “prisons will palaces prove, if Jesus will dwell with me there.” It is like that woman that my father and I met away out on the western prairie living in a sod house. Did you ever live in a sod house? Well, until you do, and see all the little things that crawl around and visit you, you won’t know how hard it is. We had lived in a sod house and knew what it had meant. She had never seen us before, but how well she greeted us. She seemed to have been talking with society people all her life. She said, “We are having a delightful time out here. My husband is gaining his health, and we are having a splendid time out here all alone.” After a while he came in from the sod barn where he had been taking care of their animals—pallid, weak and coughing. He was anything but attractive to us. Father said, “You are happy here?” and she put her hand on her husband’s shoulder and said, “Yes, I am out here for him. He is getting better, so we are perfectly happy.” She was out there for him—for him—the man she loved. That pretty scene burned itself into my memory. She left everything to go out there for him; that’s real love.
Say, folks, Jesus left all that there was in glory, the angels and the archangels, and came down and washed the disciples’ feet and took the spit and the scoff, because He loved us with all of his heart. He left all! He wants us to express our love to Him in the same terms. “Be not conformed to this world.”
Men of literature advise us to conform to their kind of expression and choose the best English. That would be delightful at times, but there are other times when you have to get right down to baby talk. I wouldn’t give much for a father that doesn’t know how to talk baby talk. I know some bachelors that know how to talk dog, but they don’t know baby talk. The best picture I have of my mother is one showing her sitting by a stove and talking baby talk to a baby. The men of philosophy also want us to conform to their kind of philosophied [sic] language. This might be fine if all the folks we meet were highbrows, but how lonely the man who has the expressions of one class of men only. He is confined as well as conformed. I don’t care to conform myself to the literature of our day. You don’t find anything in it that’s meat to a Christian. It is all what man can do or thinks he can do. It is a hard thing for a man who knows the Lord to find real good reading. Outside of real spiritual writing from real spiritual Bible students, there is very little to read with a real food value. If you know where to get it, I will pay for it, if you will send it my way. It is well for the folks that want to grow up in Jesus to see that their real food is in the Bible. I love the Bible with all my heart, therefore I am considered an “old fogy” and a “dead one” by the world readers. Thank you very much, I will be much obliged to you if you will put it on my tombstone. I tell you, the Old Book is marvelous. Folks, it is fresh, and if you will keep the Word of God in your heart it will keep you fresh all the time. Daniel said, “When He had spoken unto me I was strengthened.” It makes your inner man stand up within you fed and fit.
They want us to conform ourselves also to travel. I don’t care to go around with the travelers in the best cities. I don’t care for that kind of travel. Did you ever notice that nearly all the people who go to Europe come back with a cane and conformed ideas held by that traveling crowd? I don’t know why it is, but they all seem to come back with a walking stick and the same line of ideas. I said to a friend of mine who had just returned from Europe, “Why is it they all come back with a cane and the same canned conversation? What’s the matter? Do they cripple them over there?” One of my good friends went over, and he came back with a whole bunch of canes and new ideas on marriage and drinking. The next time he went, he came back with some new theology, and now he doesn’t preach any more (just writes his ideas).
People think that all the sense there is in the world is in some other place, but they limit it to an earthly place. You can travel to heaven and get broad-minded every time you pray. It is a wonderful thing to have seen other cities, but there is one city for which I am saving up all of my cash, putting in all of my plans, and for which I am putting in my best licks, and that is the New Jerusalem. I am cutting all of my sails and my cloth and I am getting everything fixed up, so I will not miss it by any kind of a way. So I am an old fogy! They say we will never see that City, but I have heard the music of it already and have sniffed its breezes, and I caught an outline of it in an hour of prayer. I have looked on faces that were just entering it, and they were beautiful. I spoke to a boy yesterday, asking him if he loved Jesus, and as I began to talk to him about Jesus his face lighted up like a spring morning. I looked around at the family and they were all crying. I said to Jesus in my heart, “He is pretty poorly, his is all worn out, and it is so hard for him to breathe, Lord, take him home today.” An hour from that time I saw a girl standing out in the hall, and she said, “He has gone to Glory.” He had shaken the dust of this old world off his feet and gone to Glory. Ah, take your world cities and be conformed to them if you choose, but give me that glorious city with Jesus.
The next thing they want us to do is to conform to their worldly pleasures. They tell us all about their moving pictures, their theaters, their society and all of their foolishness, and wonder why we cannot find any joy in them. I wonder myself why I can’t, and because we do not enter into all of this sort of thing they say we are “dead ones.” Thank God we are dead to their dirty doings, and save our strength and time to get others to Glory. Sometimes I work harder, maybe, than I ought to, and may seem dead, but I wish I had more strength to preach as much as I would like to do. Last week I went down to a neighboring town and got into a four-lap preaching affair there, then came back on Sunday and went around five laps here. You know, I like to keep myself in shape, so that I can do more of it. My heart bubbles over with the thing. I simply have to preach; I can’t help it. Talk about amusements, the joy of the Lord is my strength. I know it, and the only time I need to fear is when the joy stops bubbling, but so long as the Lord pumps in His joy it is safe to go the limit for God. Get the joy in your heart. Jesus is at hand! Things are alive. There is real joy in Jesus and it is real pleasure to serve Him. If you spend your time with the Lord in the warmth of His presence, thank God, the joy will flow into your heart. This is THE LIFE—this life of joy. It is not simply emotion, it is living, it is a well of water that springs up within you.
No, we cannot be conformed to the world pleasures. Since we have found His joy, earthly pleasures are cheap and fleeting. If I cannot conform to the world, shall I spend my time forcing the world to conform to me? Will this be God’s will? Well, let us see. Can the world be reformed by human effort? Let us start with this statement. Suppose I go to reform politics. Just as soon as I start in to reform politics and get that started, I come to the reforming committee and say to them, “Now we have to reform business, or I cannot reform politics.” Then when I get well into the business situation I say to them, “Now we have to reform our educational system, or I cannot affect business.” After a while I say to them, “We have to reform our homes first.” Next we have to fight a whole nation of self-defense, and leave off reforming for a while. The end of the whole business is that you have to reform human nature, and until you reform human nature you labor on a rotten foundation.
The Great Adversary
Then on top of this is a great dynamic force that the world will not admit even exists, and that force is the devil. If you cannot change human nature, then how, pray tell, are you to change the devil? He has always been a religious being, seeking to be worshipped by the human race, and he must be reckoned with. Nothing will be right until this human nature and the devil are right. I am asked then, by all human influences, to conform with them to a world system that can never change human nature and cannot defeat the devil. These two are humanity’s greatest enemies. I cannot conform to their world system with ANY hope for victory over human nature, the devil or death. I must be transformed by the renewing of my mind—that is, by looking away from all human help and human plan, to the supernatural help and plan of God for souls in Jesus Christ, His Son. By looking to Him and His plan I am transformed, and I prove what is God’s perfect will and program.
By seeing that this world is lost and can never lift itself, I refuse to conform to it. I turn to conform to Jesus, I see that Jesus is separating to Himself those who get this vision, and is giving them His own life, through the new birth and washing away their past through His own blood. Those thus separated are members of a new family, a new race, a new creation. He calls them His own body, and in the future is to operate through them. He is soon to catch them away from Earth to Himself in the heavenlies. For a short while the earth will suffer the awful tribulation and then at the battle of Armageddon, He will return with this new race, His body, to conquer nations and men. Then Himself with this new race will rule nature and human nature. How can I then enter with gusto into man’s foolish schemes for Earth’s salvation when I know God’s program through His Son and those who are called to reign with Him. When I search His Word and find this plan of Earth rulership and conquest, bristling from every page, I am transformed. This plan, looked at, renews my mind and causes me to hold firmly to my Saviour and King. We have a reason for not being conformed to this world. Oh, beloved, refer to it often, think of it, plan for it, hope for it. It transforms us. “He that hath this hope, purifieth himself even as He is pure.” Lord we would be transformed and some day transfigured. Therefore, we will not be conformed and disfigured.