How to Abandon the World System that has us Imprisoned in its Evil
The world is slowly invading our lives through a massive propaganda campaign aimed at destroying our defenses and changing our way of thinking and our lives as a result. It is the Babylon the Great prophesied in the Book of Revelation that will have progressively shaped us into its image. Like the proverbial frog in increasingly hot water we are being boiled alive but aren’t even aware of our approaching demise. Paul gave us a warning about this:
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 (Rom. 12:1, 2).
Paul was writing the Christians in Rome, the capital of the great empire at the time, saying not to be conformed to the world of their age. In a sense, Paul was warning them that the water will increase in temperature and destroy them if they did not avail themselves of God’s provision. That warning comes down to us today with the same, if not greater, impact as Babylon the Great increases its hold on God’s people.
In the second verse Paul warned, “do not be conformed to this world.” The word in Greek translated “world” here is aion, from which we get the word eon or age. The Great Babylon system, planned and empowered by Satan, adjusts its strategies according to each age. The weapons are fashioned according to the culture of the period of time he is attacking. What worked with Rome in 60 A.D. would not work in today’s technology-oriented societies. His current scheming tactics must be recognized by those who wish to escape the pressures of the age.
The Greek word Paul used for “conformed” means to fashion something after a pattern — to reproduce something using a prearranged design. This is Satan’s overall strategy. He has a plan and uses tactics that lure people into his plan by bombarding them with enticements like food, clothing, houses, technology, sex and much more. None of things are evil in and of themselves but the enemy uses them to cause us to conform to his prearranged design so he can pull us into his program.
The opposite of this malicious strategy of Satan is God’s loving, gracious way of transforming us by His life. He forces nothing on us but offers Himself freely to us so that His life can change ours from the inside out. Satan’s strategy attacks us from the outside through his world system and forces us to change. God works from inside our hearts and offers us abundant life through the renewing of our minds so that we can know His perfect will and walk in its freedom.
The word translated “transformed” is the Greek word metamorphosis which is the process whereby a butterfly larva enters its cocoon and experiences the inner change that produces the adult, transformed butterfly. God’s way is to take us into His cocoon of life and renew us so that we express His image. Paul says that we are “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Being a disciple of Christ is not a matter of following a list of rules but a matter of entering into relationship with God and allowing His life to transform ours. As we fellowship with Him and His people, a transformation takes place in our soul as we grow in Christ. Instead of becoming a butterfly we are to grow up “into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15). In other words, we begin to the express the image of God in our life and behavior. Maturity means becoming more like Christ. This is what Paul means by the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23. Love, joy peace and the other fruits of the Spirit are the qualities of God developing in our lives.
Babylon the Great in Revelation chapters 17, 18 represents this developing world system designed and empowered by Satan. The beast that arises out of the world system (the sea) is the final world ruler of this age known as the Antichrist. The Great harlot, Babylon is carried by the beast indicating that he and Satan have been her inspiration from the beginning. The amazing ending of this present age will result in the collapse of this world system and followers of Christ are warned “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).
So how do we leave this trap of the enemy when we begin to realize that we are captured by this world system with all of its temptations? Do we get a cabin in the mountains and stock up with provisions so we can avoid its sins and the plagues that are coming? No! That is not the way. God has provided a place of protection, security and wisdom where we can live the life God has called us to while remaining free from the world’s entanglements. That place is called the body of Christ.
I avoid using the word “church” because the word has become so polluted by the prevailing religious notions and people’s general understanding of what it is. By the body of Christ, I am referring to fellow followers of Christ who have done what the first verse of Romans 12 says. They have presented their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. In other words, they have decided to give their lives to Christ to let Him guide and empower them through the ungodly maze created by the world.
Read the rest of Romans chapter 12 and you will see that this is what Paul had in mind. It’s notable that the rest of this chapter is about living in a sharing, loving, giving relationship with others who desire to come out of the world system to follow Christ. For example, he says “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom. 12:4, 5). That is the body of Christ.
He tells us to “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love [and to] give preference to one another in honor” (v. 10). He goes on to say “Be of the same mind toward one another” (v. 16) and many other things that involve becoming part of a community of genuine Christians who seek heartfelt answers to the difficulties we face in this world system collapsing all around us. This is God’s cocoon of life that shelters us from the world while providing the life-sustaining ingredients that transform us toward maturity in Christ.
The answer is simple: return to the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). We must find a way to genuinely connect with Christ and His people in a new and living way. What does that look like? Stay tuned.