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Author Topic: Do not conform to this world  (Read 342 times) Average Rating: 0
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yeshuaisiam
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« on: August 16, 2012, 04:50:26 PM »

What do you think was meant by this and how do you put it into action in your life?  Romans 12:1-2
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2012, 05:04:10 PM »

     “The world is the general name for all the passions. When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world. But when we wish to distinguish them by their special names, we call them the passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure from which comes sexual passion, love of honour which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancour and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to be active, there the world is dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh. See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it”

+St. Isaac the Syrian
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2012, 05:25:46 PM »

I hate to quote Tito Colliander since I just bumped a thread about him (I don't want to be too much of a fanboy, but I think what he says is relevant here--but again, only if taken in moderation and not applied with zeal not according to knowledge)...

Quote
St. Basil the Great says: One cannot approach the knowledge of the truth with a disturbed heart. Therefore we must try to avoid everything that disturbs our heart, that causes forgetfulness, excitement or passion, or that awakens unrest. We must free ourselves as much as possible from all fuss and flutter and ado over vain things. Yes, when we serve the Lord we shall not be troubled about many things, but always keep in mind that one thing is needful (Luke 10:41). In order to bathe one must first undress. So it is with the heart: it must be set free from the world's outer covering in order to be accessible to the Cleanser. The healthful rays of the sun cannot reach the skin if we do not first uncover it and stand naked. So it is with the Spirit's healing and life-giving power.

Thus: undress. Deny yourself, but without it being too noticeable, everything that contributes to enjoyment and pleasure, comfort or entertainment, everything that is amusing or caresses the eyes, ears, palate or other senses. He that is not with me is against me (Matthew 12:30), and what does not build up, tears down. Peel off your every day needs and social habits: do so calmly, deliberately, without too sudden transition, yet thoroughly. Gradually clip off as many strings as possible that bind you to the external world: invitations, concerts, personal property, and especially all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, for it is not of the Father but is of the world, and it wages war against your soul (I John 2:16).

What is the world, then? You ought not to imagine it as something sinful and tangible. The world, explains St. Macarius of Egypt, is the veil of dark flames that surround the heart and shut it out from the tree of life. The world is everything that holds us and satisfies us sensuously: that within us which has not known God (John 17:25). To the world belong our desires and impulses. St. Isaac the Syrian enumerates them: Weakness for wealth and for collecting and owning things of different kinds; the urge for physical (sensuous) enjoyment; the longing for honour, which is the root of envy; the desire to conquer and be the deciding factor; pride in the glory of power; the urge to adorn oneself and to be liked; the craving for praise; concern and anxiety for physical well-being. All these are of the world; they combine deceitfully to hold us in heavy bonds.

If you wish to free yourself, scrutinize yourself with the help of that list and see clearly what you have to struggle against in order to approach God. For friendship with the world is enmity with God, and whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4). Broad vistas are attained only by leaving the narrow valley and the occupations and pleasures characteristic of the valley. No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24); to sojourn at the same time in the valley and on the heights is impossible.

To ease the upward climb and the more readily cast off the heavy burdens, you can as often as possible ask yourself such questions, for example, as these: Is it for my own or for someone else's pleasure that I am now going to this concert or to the cinema? Am I crucifying my flesh at a cocktail party? Am I going and selling all I possess by taking a pleasure trip or buying this book? Am I keeping under my body and bringing it into subjection (I Corinthians 9:27) by lying down to read? The questions can be altered and added to according to your own habits and their relation to the way of life the Gospel commands. Thereupon you should remember that he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much (Luke 16:10). And do not fear the pain; it helps you out of the narrow valley, where you lived in the passions of your flesh, following the desires of body and mind (Ephesians 2:3).

Without mercy you should ask yourself such questions continually and incessantly. But ask them of yourself only. Never in any case, not even in thought, of another. As soon as you direct such a question outward to your fellow man and not inward to yourself, you have set yourself on a judgment seat and thereby judged yourself. You have robbed yourself of what you had won by your own continence; you have taken one step forward but ten backward: and then you have reason to weep over your obstinacy, your failure to improve, and your pride.

-- Tito Colliander, Way of the Ascetics (Source)

A lot of the book is along these lines about how we should conduct ourselves in relation to our own thoughts/wants and also the world.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2012, 11:56:45 PM »

I realise that posting a chunk of text from a book isn't really much of a discussion, so I wanted to come back and post some of my own thoughts. I think part of what it means to not conform to the world is that we should do good works and be virtuous. The world itself is good, IMO, just like the body is good in itself. But just as the Scripture sometimes speaks of the body in a negative way (especially "the flesh"), so to does it speak of the world in a negative way at times. In these cases it is not the world itself which is bad--for the world is beautiful and a manifestation of the glory of God (Rom. 1:20)--but the fallen elements, that which directs us away from God. But to "not conform to the pattern of this world" means, I think, to be "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only," (James 1:22) to be participants in "pure religion" (James 1:27), and to do Christ's commandments, for those who love him follow them (Jn. 14:15, 21; 15:10).

Being Christians, and knowing the Gospel, and knowing all about lofty spiritual things (do we really?), we are held to a different standard. More is expected of us. Jesus said: "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." (Jn. 9:41)  And James also: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17) We must therefore do as we know we ought to do. Even those who never heard the Gospel will have to give an accounting (Rom. 2:12-16). To not conform to the world then means to instead conform to the will of God, insofar as we know it or can discern it, as the passage you ask about itself says: "And 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." (Rom. 12:2)
 
As for being transformed by the renewing of the mind, this, I think, would be done through the Holy Spirit (cf Tit. 3:5), and involves the cultivation of virtues and having a virtuous spirit, as mentioned in James: "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." (James 3:14-18) The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God (1 Cor. 3:18-20), and the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:18-25). But we have access to the wisdom of God, by guidance of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13) and having the "mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16; Phil. 2:5). To constantly seek out this wisdom of God, and to cooperate with God as a “worker together with him“ (2 Cor. 6:1; 1 Cor. 3:9), leads to the transformation and renewal that the verse speaks of.

Then it is our job to "shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15; Matt. 5:14-16), and to be the salt for the good of others (Matt. 5:13). Christ's "kingdom is not of this world" (Jn. 18:36), yet we are here, and so "we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Tit. 2:12), helping others in the way that Paul indicated: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (1 Tim. 4:16)  In this way we can follow the advice of Paul to: "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1).
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 11:58:43 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

Problem: John finds a spider under his bed. John eats the spider. John gets sick to his stomach.

Question: Why did John get sick?
yeshuaisiam
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2012, 08:59:00 PM »

Great answer.

What do you think about the trends of the world? 
Buying a Lexus for example or conforming to style, dress, and wearing expensive garments.
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podkarpatska
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 10:33:33 PM »

Great answer.

What do you think about the trends of the world?  
Buying a Lexus for example or conforming to style, dress, and wearing expensive garments.


I think that 'judge not, lest you be judged' is good advice. As the non-religious saying goes, you can't always judge a book by its cover. Assuming the worst of a person based on external observations or generalizations is a dangerous path to follow.

The owner of the Lexus with an expensive suit may be the generous of men, kind, compassionate and Christian in all of his earthly endeavors to the best of his ability. The man in the next lane driving a 1984 Chevy may be the most mean spirited, bigoted fool.

Obviously if you are consumed by materialism and greed likely you have a problem and being a 'slave' to fashion is like being a 'slave' to any passion.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 10:33:49 PM by podkarpatska » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2012, 10:41:37 PM »

     “The world is the general name for all the passions. When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world. But when we wish to distinguish them by their special names, we call them the passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure from which comes sexual passion, love of honour which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancour and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to be active, there the world is dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh. See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it”

+St. Isaac the Syrian

I just have to say that this quote is always great to read.
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