Romans 12:2 by Robert Dean
Mission impossible? According to the Apostle Paul, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to submit to the radical surgery of the Word of God to have your thinking completely overhauled from the inside out. Come face to face with the two basic worldviews and explore the "Worldview Mix-Master" to see the four elements that go into it. Engage in the fierce spiritual battle for your mind with its major challenge between evolution and creation. Learn how the garbage in your soul can be ejected and the fantasy castles in your mind torn down. Listen to the life-changing questions that come out of various worldviews and how only the Word of God and the Holy Spirit can completely renovate your thinking.

The Worldview Shift – Part 1
Romans 12:1-2

Unless you just never watch the news or you’re living in a cave somewhere, I don’t know that anyone could have escaped all of the hubbub the last couple of days about the interview that appeared in the GQ magazine with Phil Robertson who is the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan and the Duck brand free enterprise industry. Now I’ve read some interesting comments from people on Facebook from believers, some of whom have been associated with this church. And the issue here isn’t his understanding of the gospel which I don’t really know if it’s straight on. He’s is apparently an elder at a Church of Christ. If it’s the denomination of the Church of Christ they believe in baptismal regeneration. In other words you’re not saved unless you’re baptized. That’s a problem with their gospel but it’s not an issue here.

The issue isn’t the accuracy of their doctrine. It’s not that he’s being a spokesperson for Christianity because he’s not setting himself up as that. What happens when Christians become celebrities is the pagan press sets them up to be spokespeople and then targets them and seeks to assassinate them. It’s a simple dynamic whereby we see the world which is in the process of “Operation Suppression” are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. The way the dynamic works is they’re rationalizing their actions. We do that some, too. We rationalize the dynamics of our life but not to the degree that the secular, atheist perverted pagans do, but we do it in our own way and we have to watch out for that. We have our little pet areas and we have to watch that we don't want the Lord to deal with or mess with but what happens is that when you’re suppressing the truth in unrighteousness something has to fill that vacuum when you take the truth out of your soul. So something gets sucked into that vacuum in your soul and it’s a fantasy.

Most are living in a fantasy world. In today’s environment what gets sucked in is a utopian version because the basic difference between the liberal left and the conservative right as Thomas Sowell so accurately pointed out in his book, The Conflict of Vision, is that liberals believe human beings are basically good and conservatives don’t. They believe that people are basically bad, or they have a propensity to be bad, that as dirt runs downhill, that’s the direction we go when we get into a default position, our sin nature takes over. But if you’re a liberal. If you start with man as basically good, then man is perfectible and society is perfectible. So you build your view of social programs and economics and politics around a fantasy that man is perfectible and society is perfectible.

Now conservatives, whether you’re a conservative Christian, or whether you’re just a traditional conservative, you believe that human beings are basically flawed and that if we’re given too much power absolute power corrupts absolutely. Given the opportunity, human beings under a certain amount of pressure and stress will default to sin nature info and they will go in the wrong direction. So there needs to be standards and there needs to be absolutes that guard and protect society. We’re never going to have a utopic society. It doesn’t mean we don’t strive for order and discipline and civilization but the greatest levels of civilization that have been developed in the western world, in Western Europe and the Americas, has been developed by countries, nations, even the United States specifically that have had the greatest impact of Christianity.

They’re not Christian nations in the sense that they have become primarily dominated by Christianity or a theocracy which is always a lie the left wants to use. I’ve even read this with some so-called, I would call turncoat, conservatives. There’s a book on American theocracy by Kevin Phillips. Now in certain areas I can’t tell if he’s telling the truth or not because those aren’t in my areas of expertise, such as economics and some areas of politics. But he has a whole section on church and state and on the religious right and he is just distorted and perverted and dead wrong.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing many of the leaders in the so-called Christian right. I’ve had the privilege of knowing people like Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye and a number of others that are castigated by him and he has an absolute total ignorance about things. This is what happens when you buy into an “Operation Suppression” and you’re suppressing truth and you’re building a fantasy world in which you’re living, As soon as someone comes along and they prick your little utopian bubble then you just throw an absolute tantrum because you can’t live in any other kind of reality.

We have a lot of segments of American culture today that are living in these fantasy castles. You have one group in the militant gay/lesbian/transgender community building their fantasy castles. You have others in certain racial communities on the liberal left, in Hispanic communities and in black communities and other minority communities who are involved in the liberal/socialist community and the antigun crowd. It’s interesting how most of these people sort of flock together, the old adage “birds of a feather flock together” is what really sets off Thomas Sowell in his opening introduction in “Conflict of Visions”.

He recognizes that on many apparent disconnected, disparate issues from birth control to gun control, the same people seem to always line up on the same sides of the issue. The liberal left has the preponderance of lies and it’s just unconscionable. The media is complicit in all of this and they want to do everything they can to support the fantasy world, the utopian fantasy castles that are out there. One example with this in gun control is the fact that you never hear anybody on ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN talk about the fact that the recent shooter in Denver was a radical socialist and he was all in favor of gun control.

The vast majority of the shooters in these mass shootings have espoused socialist/leftist political positions and nearly every one of them have been on some kind of psychiatric medication or either they’re just coming off of it, as is the case with several of the most recent shootings. Also, a number of them have been involved in satanic and occultic worship. But we never hear that side of the story. That’s important because it helps us understand two important areas in terms of their outlook on life.

Tonight as we get into our passage in Romans 12:2 we’re going to talk about worldview. A number of these individuals have a view of man, a view of ultimate reality that is completely distorted and skewed. Several of them are even Satan or devil worshipers involved in the occult but you never hear the media talk about this kind of things because by definition if someone owns a gun they have to be a radical, rightwing fascist. That just goes without saying to them but that’s not at all true.

The lies just continue to go out there but today we’ve seen all the hubbub about Duck Dynasty and the fact is that Phil Robertson doesn’t say anything that’s particularly pointed at any individual who is homosexual. It’s not a personal attack. He is simply stating his own opinion in relation to his own preference and he backs it with the Bible. The extreme reaction that we’ve seen out of the homosexual community just indicates how extremely bigoted they are.

In fact, one article I read today written by a homosexual journalist made that exact point. He said the embarrassing thing about this whole thing is that it shows the knee-jerk reaction in the homosexual community is to shut down completely anyone they disagree with and remove them from visibility. They don’t believe in the 1st or 2nd amendment rights. They don’t believe in the Constitution unless it happens to be something they can utilize to promote their utopian fantasy world so this is part of the whole culture war we are engaged in today. Trust me, we’re on the losing side. It’s not getting better. I’m not the bearer of good news other than the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think that as we’ve seen it go in the last twenty years we’re going to see a decline at a more rapid pace over the next ten to twenty years. What we have to do is be prepared spiritually for it. I think that some of us will see the inside of a jail because of our stand for Christianity and we have to be prepared for it.

Now open your Bibles to Romans, chapter 12. Romans 12:2 as I pointed out last time really gives us in one verse a summary of your mission and my mission in terms of our own spiritual life. The verse begins, “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.” The context comes out of verse 1. Properly punctuated, there would be a semi-colon at the end of verse 1, not a complete stop.

Paul comes out with an urge to challenge, to put before his audience, a high standard that they should achieve. He urges them or challenges them on the basis of the mercies of God that you present the totality of your person as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. The way you do that is verse 2. Verse 2 explains how we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. It’s by not getting conformed to the world but being transformed by the renovation of our mind.

Now as I pointed out last time that there are two important words here for understanding this passage. The first word is conformed, suschematizo, is a present imperative. It’s passive because it’s emphasizing an external action upon us. We see a great illustration of this in this whole Phil Robertson’s Duck Dynasty thing today, because you see how the gay/lesbian community is trying to intimidate the Judeo-Christian community and anyone who believes that homosexuality is wrong.

By the way, in the orthodox Jewish community, they recognize that homosexuality is a choice and it never gets any press coverage but there are quite a few treatment centers for homosexuality. One is Stephen Bennett’s ministry in Connecticut. He’s a former practicing homosexual that has had tremendous impact on those who want to leave the homosexual lifestyle. So by the results of their ministries in both the orthodox Jewish communities and the Christian environment they have shown that homosexuality is a choice. It’s not genetic. There may be, like we all have, certain genetic predispositions toward certain sins, but that’s never a justification for committing those sins. We can’t say, “Well, it’s not my fault. I just inherited that trend.” No, we don’t have to act upon that trend toward those weaknesses. But that’s what the gay community is doing.

I had a professor in seminary who called them the “sads” because they’re not really happy, they’re miserable. I went through a lengthy study on homosexuality in the Genesis series and you can go back and review that. Homosexuality, as Phil Robertson pointed out maybe not in the best way, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-12, is a sin. The passage says that homosexuality is a sin just like adultery or any other form of sexual immorality. He wasn’t comparing it to bestiality. He was listing different categories of sins and including within those verses drunkenness. He is a recovering alcoholic so he would include himself as a former practitioner in that list of sins.

But all that’s overlooked by the arrogance and hostility of the truth suppressors in the homosexual community. It’s not just them. It’s the anti-gun crowd, all these other things. I just wish people would legitimize my sins. You know? Gluttony for ice cream? Things like that. Let’s just make those things just fine and okay. But no one will do that. So we can’t have “Fat people for ice cream.” It’s not going to go anywhere. There’s this pressure, though, from the truth suppressors to legitimize their truth suppression.

That’s what this word “conform” means, to legitimize a fantasy world. The word for world here is the word aion, not the word kosmos. Kosmos focuses sort of on the world itself, the earth itself and the inhabitants of the earth whereas aion has temporal and spatial nuances and emphasizes the spirit of thinking of the age or the culture of the age so we’re not pressured into the mold of the world around us, the zeitgeist.

We’re going to have to have an overhaul. As I pointed out last time, unfortunately a lot of Christians are like someone who lives in a rundown house that needs a new paint job, work on the floors, new carpeting, maybe needs “Oops Steam Cleaning”. I don’t know if you ever listen to that commercial on the radio. They need work on the house. What the Holy Spirit does is show up and gets the bulldozer and wants to take out everything including the foundation, which is human viewpoint, and start over. Most Christians say, “No, no, no. I’m really not that serious. I really don’t want everything torn down, especially the foundation. I just want a veneer of Christianity. I just want to get enough of Christianity to get stability in my life to where I can manage to make things work and still take care of all of my little pet sins and not totally give up all my fantasies related to my own truth suppression.”

So this verse says we’re not to be thinking like the world but we’re to be transformed, metmorphaoo. We are to be transformed internally. It’s not just to be pressured into the mold of the world. One of the articles I read today pointed out that the vast number of Americans agree with the statements that Phil Robertson was making. That’s a traditional view that Americans and those in western civilization have had for hundreds and hundreds of years. But now no one wants to really speak up like that because we’re going to be labeled as somebody who is spouting hate and we’re going to be called bigoted and all these other things. Rather than put up with all of that opposition we just keep our mouths shut. That’s what happens. We just go along and we don’t say anything. So we’re letting the world pressure us into its mold.

But the mandate for the believer to be transformed by the renewing of the mind, anakainosis, which means a complete transformative overhaul from the inside out. If we just change the outside we’re like the Pharisees. Jesus called them whitewashed sepulchers. That was a gravestone and as they built a sepulcher, which was a concrete stone box over the grave. They painted it white. It looked good on the inside but on the inside were dead men’s bones. It was just a camouflage, just a veneer.

As Christians we want to be completely transformed from the inside out and that means an overhaul of the mind, not the emotions. A lot of Christians just don’t want to think. In fact over the last 50 years since the end of World War II we’ve created church after church after church that major in emotional appeals. Part of this is seen in the popularity or the commercialization and entertainment aspect of the mega church which is built on using all of the advertising methodologies which have come out of the advertising world. This is how they bill themselves. This is how they get so many people there. Then they water down the message so if you don’t say anything that offends anyone then more people will come.

In fact, we have one of the largest, if not the largest mega churches, in the country. It’s right here in Houston, Texas. I know any number of unbelievers, some of my closest Jewish friends who just love listening to the pastor because he doesn’t say anything that could possibly offend them. Remember the Scripture says the cross is offensive. It’s a stumbling block to the Jew. Well, he never says anything that causes them any kind of a problem. Now if I were a Christian pastor and I read my Bible with my blinders off, I’d be downright embarrassed that if unbelievers could listen to me and not be offended by the cross then I was obviously not doing what God wanted me to do.

So there has to be this overhaul of the mind, not just to appeal to emotions, not just to make people feel good, not just motivate them but to overhaul the mind. But people don’t want to think. They don’t want to learn how to think. That’s why churches that focus on teaching aren’t exactly overcrowded. What’s happening is that we’re seeing a trend for the last 30 years that the more you teach, the less people come. Jesus saw the same thing. In John 6 the more he made it clear what was required of a disciple the faster the disciples left him. He would have 5,000, 6,000, or even 7,000 people and by the end of his message there would be the twelve. That’s it. No one really wanted to deal with what He was saying.

But we have to renew our mind, completely change how we think. It’s the battle of the mind. That’s what spiritual warfare is all about. I don’t know if you’ve realized this. I’m putting another plug in for the book Tommy Ice and I wrote which the Lord has used in tremendous ways about Spiritual Warfare. It has been reprinted. It is available and because this is a noncommercial publication now there’s no charge put on it. Before it was always published through your standard publishing houses so they put a charge on it. But these are now available under our normal grace policy, just like all the other materials that Dean Bible Ministries puts out. So that is now once again in print and available. You can also get it in Logos format and because of the nature of that it’s going to have a small cost on it. We’re also preparing it to make it available in Kindle, which will have a cost. Hopefully in another six months you’ll be able to purchase it in a Kindle format for those of you who want to view it on your Kindle reader.

Okay, so we’ve got to renovate our mind. It’s a battle for the mind. That’s what spiritual warfare is. It’s not going out and engaging in pugilistic contests with demons and throwing demons down on the stage and all the other theatrics and dramatics that come across from false teachers. If you actually study what the Bible teaches about demons and demonic activities as we’ve outlined in the book, you’ll realize that these people are just filled with a lot of heresy and emotionalism that has nothing to do with what Jesus taught or the Bible.

We do have a battle, a spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare takes place between your ears. It takes place in your minds as the Apostle Paul says in II Corinthians we are engaged in tearing down fortresses. These fortresses or fortifications of those fantasy worlds, those fantasy castles that we developed within our minds as a result of our suppression techniques. We see a glimpse of this in James 3:13-15 which says, “Who among you is wise and understanding?” So that’s one category. Those who are wise and understanding relates to believers who are skillfully applying the Word of God. It continues, “Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” Next James is saying that external behavior can reveal the internal mindset of an individual.

So in contrast, verse 14, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart …” These are just two mental attitude sins but you can think of anger, bitterness, revenge motivation, hostility and all of these which are part of a pagan mindset, “Do not be arrogant and {so} lie against the truth.” Lying against the truth is another form of truth suppression. This is James’ writing. Paul talked about suppressing the truth. James is talking about lying against the truth and it’s the same thing. So in verse 14 James continues, “This wisdom [human viewpoint wisdom] is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, and demonic.” This wisdom doesn’t have its source in God.

What we see is the Scripture describes two basic contrasted worldviews. The one is Satanic or demonic. If you’re operating on self-centeredness, mental attitude sins as your motivation, that’s demonic. That’s demon-influence. That’s the same kind of thinking that characterized Satan and his rebellion against God. So Satanic or demonic thinking is human viewpoint. Human beings are simply reflections of Satan. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden. Satan took on the form of a serpent and he came to Eve and said, “Has God really said this? That’s not so true that you can’t take that fruit. You won’t really die. God just doesn’t want you to be like Him.” So he presents his arrogant hostility to God as an enticement to Eve and she fell for it. So her thinking followed Satan’s thinking so when we’re thinking on the basis of our sin nature we’re just thinking like our father, Satan. That’s exactly what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for when he said they were of their father the Devil. He said they were following his kind of thinking.

In contrast to that we have divine thinking, usually referred to as divine viewpoint thinking or biblical viewpoint thinking. The Word of God, all 66 books from Genesis to Revelation expresses one consistent unified view of reality. There’s no contradiction between the more than 40 different authors of Scripture who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. You have those who were commercial fishermen like Peter and Andrew and James and John. You had those who were trained in the highest institutions of education in their respective cultures who were meant to serve in high places in the administration and democracy of those countries, like Daniel, men like Moses, men like Nehemiah, from all different cultures. Moses was from Egypt, Daniel was in Babylon and Persia, and Nehemiah later in Persia. They thought differently in terms of their human culture where they grew up but because of their devotion to the Word of God they had a unified view. 

Paul was trained and reared in the rabbinical system of Pharisees. Others were farmers. David was raised in a family where he was a shepherd. You have Amos who was a fig picker. You had others who had various different roles and jobs. Joshua was basically an assistant to Moses and he is usually referred to as a military commander because he commanded the armies of Israel against the Canaanites. So you had a wide variety of men coming from different backgrounds. Matthew was a sell-out tax collector, a sell-out to the Romans. A lot of different background but they all had a unified view of what they wrote. That’s because the second author, the one who’s working in and through them, was God the Holy Spirit.

So our job when we’re saved is to take all the garbage in our soul, which is everything that’s there just about. Even if it’s right thinking in a wrong framework. So we have to let God the Holy Spirit overhaul that and that only comes about through the study of God’s Word. So we have to understand a little bit about how we got the garbage in our soul and how that is set up because we’re all influenced. We’ve all been pressured to conform to the zeitgeist of our generation. You can see the examples of this and it’s so interesting to see generational change. You can look out there and see all these kids that were born around 1995 to early 2000s and you can see they all seem to think alike. You can draw up these charts outlining how they think and they don’t think like their parents. The baby boom generation doesn’t think like their parent’s generation. With the influence of the media, television, things like that what we see if that the generational conformity is even greater today than it’s ever been before in history.

Many parents try to protect their children and I think that’s good if you can do a good job. It’s more important than ever before to try to remove them from the influences. You can limit the television, if not just take the television out completely and not even have that come into the house. Recently I read an interesting sort of parable about that. There was always a stranger who came into the house of this family and that stranger could come into any time the family wanted that stranger. He could promote all kinds of values and beliefs that no one in the family agreed with. Of course, it was a parable about television today. People just allow this stranger into their family and all kinds of programs and music comes on that influences everyone in the family against the values of the family.

We have to think about how we, each one of us, have been pressured by the world system to think that way. We all have been. Since all of us were saved at different ages, some at five and six, others as teens and in our twenties or older. But many of us, even if we were saved at the age of 5 or 6 we didn’t really start getting serious with the word until we were older. Now our parents drilled some things into us which were helpful but it really didn’t do everything it could have done to circumvent the influence of the world system. Then we have this little traitor inside of us called our sin nature which has this affinity for everything the world system was promoting. And the devil’s thinking is so adaptive to our sin nature that it’s constantly providing us with rationales for living on the basis of our sin natures.

We don’t even know it because this sin nature inside us is constantly throwing out ideas of rebellion and we think, “Oh, that’s a great idea. I’ll just gobble that up.” By the time we’re 4 or 5 or 6 we’ve developed a well-ensconced pagan worldview. Think of this worldview as a blender, a Worldview Mixmaster. We need to understand a little bit about what goes into this. This is what makes up this zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, the thinking of the age.

There are basically four areas of assumption. The first area of assumption is ultimate reality. What is a person’s view of ultimate reality? What do they think is out there? The second thing is what do they think about the human race? Of course, this brings in the whole issue of origins. Are we just a product of chance, where there was an electrical charge that accidentally sparked and brought some form of life into a protoplasmic glob and that eventually developed into a Harvard professor? So we have the human race as a pure accident. And then we have the issue of knowledge. How do we know anything? Is there a soul as an immaterial part of man? Within evolutionary theory everything is determined by the chemical components of the mind and the body so everything is material. Knowledge is material so you have all these different views of how we come to know anything and beyond just knowing something, how do we know it’s true? 

Then this gets to the issue of ethics. What is right and what is wrong? This is usually where we start the conversation and we get into this huge battle, such as over this Duck Dynasty thing. I can’t believe God orchestrated this just to illustrate this message. Everybody is arguing about an ethical issue related to sexuality, specifically homosexuality. That’s what they spend their time talking about but that’s only the tip of the iceberg that’s above the surface. Underneath the waters the next thing down that nobody’s talking about is how do you know whether homosexuality is true and valid as an alternative lifestyle or not? How do you know it’s genetic versus volitional? How do you know if it’s environmental or if it’s personal responsibility and personal choice? How do you come to know that the things that you’re espousing about homosexuality are true?

Well, some people say, “That’s just the way I am.” Then you’re basing that on your experience. Other people are basing it on their view of determination. If everything’s physical, everything’s material, then this is just mechanistically determined. That’s just the way that the genetic dice fell and that’s the way you are.

So that takes us back to a prior issue. That is the human race. What do you think about human beings? Are they individually responsible and accountable or are they just the product of time plus chance and mechanistically determined by their DNA and various chemical factors and not responsible for their choices? What makes human beings distinct or are they distinct or are we just the latest accident in the chain of being?

Then that takes us back to the ultimate reality. Are we just the product of time plus chance or is there an ultimate reality? Were we created with a purpose as Christianity and Judaism teach? That the human race was created in the image and likeness of God and as such are unique and distinct image-bearers of God? Distinct from every other category of living beings? So these are the issues that go into that Mixmaster and we take our conclusions in each of those areas and if you know anything about philosophy those are the basic four categories of philosophy: ultimate reality which is metaphysics, human race which is anthropology, knowledge is epistemology, and then we have ethics.

So all of this goes into this worldview Mixmaster and then what comes out of that is our views on origins. The major challenge today is between evolution and creation. If you have questions about that we had a creationist conference at the Chafer Conference back about five years ago and we had some great speakers. John Whitcomb who is in his 80s. I think he’s still doing well, has all of his wits about him and was a great teacher. Our evening speaker was Dr. Steve Austin who was a geologist at the time and since then he’s gone out on his own. He’s now living in three places. He lives in Pittsburgh, in southern California, and he’s an adjunct professor of geology at Cedarville University in Ohio.

I talked with him yesterday and we have finally settled on a date of May, 2015, we are going to go on his last trip to the Grand Canyon. Start saving your shekels now. It’s a seven-day trip, creationist geology trip, through the Grand Canyon. It’ll run about $3,000 or so each. We’ll fly to Las Vegas and then we’ll get helicoptered out to the Grand Canyon, put in a couple of boats which are registered as restaurants in the state of Arizona. So that’s the quality of food. Then we’ll spend seven days on the river. There’ll be a lot of geology hikes, equivalent to one semester of geology in an undergraduate course.

No, this is not Israel. This is the Grand Canyon trip in May of 2015, not to be confused with the Israel trip in November, 2014. When we get to the end of the destination, we get to take a helicopter back to Las Vegas. It’ll be an interesting, challenging trip. I’ve known people 70 to almost 80 years of age who have gone on these trips. So don’t let that bother you too much. Just start walking to get ready for it.

Now back to origins. Origins come out of your worldview. Then religion comes out of your worldview mix. The world has produced all kinds of religions: polytheistic religions, secular religions, atheistic religions, everything is religious. Everything that comes out of a view of ultimate reality can be religious. The Supreme Court of the United States in a decision in 1974 recognized that secular humanism was a religion. Despite all of their disclaimers, your friendly neighborhood atheist or agnostic is religious. That’s his religion. And he just needs to understand that if you make a statement that there is a God and he considers that religious then the negation of that is also religious. Or the statement that there might or might not be a God (which is agnosticism) also has to be religious. Anything related to that proposition that there is a God is religious. Use that sometime in your witnessing to somebody who is an atheist or agnostic, and get him all twisted up on his own petard. He won’t like that. Everything’s religious and out of that comes your view of man. Man is either a little god or he’s totally independent of the gods or he’s just a toy of the gods in some sort of deterministic framework. Your view of origins, your view of religion affects your view of man and of nature and of creation as well as science and mathematics and society and all the issues in society such as marriage, family and, oh yes, politics; the only things that are really worth talking about.

We got one of those much-hated Xeroxed Christmas letters from an old family friend of my wife, this last week. It was the first time we’d been on their list. I immediately fell in love with the old guy who wrote it because he complained about all of the intrusion of the federal government over the last several years. At the very end he said that this Christmas letter has focused on religion and politics. “We haven’t bored you with our personal life, our health, or our children, which is how it should be. We just talked about the things that matter.” So I appreciated that.

Then out of all of that comes our view of suffering and solutions to suffering. Why is there suffering in the world? This is why the Bible has included the book of Job. God revealed that as the very first book that was ever inspired and written by God. Job was written before Moses wrote the Pentateuch and it is all about suffering because suffering is such a fundamental issue for every single human being. We go through all kinds of suffering and adversity.

We have to learn to deal with that and for the unbeliever, the agnostic or the atheist, they have a real problem because in a closed environment where there’s no god and no devil and no sin, suffering is a real problem for them. They have to admit, then, that suffering has to be normal for them in their system. For Christians, suffering is abnormal. It’s the consequence of sin. It’s not how God originally designed things but for the secular atheist, suffering has to be normal.

Listen to what the evolutionist says, “Evolution is based on the principle of the survival of the fittest.” Therefore, it’s based on the non-survival of the unfit. That means it’s based on death. The mechanism to advance in evolution is the death of those who are unfit. The suffering and destruction of those who are unfit. So for them the only way to advance, the only way to improve, is on the backs of those who suffer and die and are unfit. So suffering and death are good. That’s the mechanism of advance in evolutionary thought. They don’t want to think about it that way. They don’t want to really say that something is good or bad or horrible that you’re going through that.

They always say the universe is doing that to them to advance the evolutionary cause. Well are they ascribing consciousness to the universe? And purpose to the universe? Well, that sounds awfully close to a purpose-driven universe, a whole new theology. Okay? Teleology, that there is an intelligent design. Then we have law. How do we view law? Is law just something we agree on? Or does law have an ultimate reference point? Are there absolutes or is law just something we can make up and change as often as we wish? And who determines that? What’s the authority there?

If we don’t have an external authority such as the Bible or revelation from a deity, that means societies just make it up as they go along with no external reference point, so it’s pure relativism. So you can change it whenever you want to. It depends on who has the power. Do you want to understand what’s happening in politics? It’s power politics because if God is removed the only thing that matters is power because power is what gives you the right to determine what is right and what is wrong.

The reason Republicans don’t do a good job with this is because many of them are still operating on a biblical worldview and they haven’t awakened to the whole issue of the problems in a secular worldview where the ultimate ideal is power where you can change everything in order to validate your own trends of your sin nature. This also impacts art, music, theater, literature, and all of those areas within the liberal arts. So this is the worldview Mixmaster.

Now if you spend twenty years growing up in the pagan worldview, then you have a whole worldview system that relates to origins, ethics, values, right and wrong, science and math, marriage, everything that comes out of a foundation that has rejected God that’s built on a utopic framework that man is basically good. You have all kinds of small, tiny assumptions in your thinking that came out of that and you held to those views for most of your life. And now, all of a sudden you become a Christian and those things don’t automatically go away. You have to be educated in terms of biblical truth and you have to eject all of the negative and wrong ideas and replace them with biblical ideas.

You have to understand that’s your mission. It shouldn’t take you long. The Bible really isn’t that difficult to understand. What makes the Bible that difficult is that people don’t want to understand it. They don’t want it to be true because it’s inconvenient to their sin nature. That’s the real inconvenient truth: that the Bible is true. It also affects economics and business.

So every worldview answers basic fundamental questions. The most basic is what is ultimate reality. Then you have the question, what is the nature of external reality? This was something that Descartes, Rene Descartes who was a Jesuit priest, a mathematician and geometry expert, struggled with. Is external reality real or is it just a cosmic deception from God or the universe? Do you really exist? Am I really in this building or is this sort of a delusion that God has wrapped around me? How do I know that anything actually exists? And this is what drove Descartes to the conclusion: “I think, therefore I exist.” It’s like the story of Descartes went into a bar and he was just sitting there looking at his drink. The bartender came up and said, “What are you thinking about?” Descartes answered, “Nothing.” So poof! He was gone.

Descartes built a whole philosophy of rationalism. The trouble with rationalism is that when you start inside of your mind, you have to get out of it to the existence of external things. Making that jump is what’s difficult. So pure rationalism, whether it’s the idealism of Platonism or the rationalism of Descartes, falls apart on the problem of solipsism. Solipsism means you never really get outside of your soul. You don’t get to external realities.

So the empiricists come along and say, “Okay you’re born with a blank slate, a tabula rasa and you’re out there in the world and you’re just being bombarded by all this sense data and that’s how you learn truth, how you come to knowledge. So you see how we’re moving from ultimate reality to knowledge. We have the question, what is mankind? Is mankind just sort of an accident or is there purpose? Is he under a determinative purpose or does he have personal responsibility?

What happens when a person dies? What happens when they physically die? Do they go to another existence or is that the end? It’s been so great with the Good News Club. About two or three weeks ago a little boy came up to one of the teachers and said: “Wait a minute. Do you mean that there’s another life after this one? No one ever told me that before. That’s incredible.” We’ve had four or five kids trust the Lord at those Good News Clubs in the last three weeks. We’re going to have more. I’ve got about fifteen fifth graders in my group and I think four of them are saved and I don’t know about the others. I know there are some that need to be saved. But it’s just a great opportunity. Some of them just need to be sanctified and others need a little divine discipline but that’s another issue.

What happens when a person dies? And, is there an afterlife? Is it good or bad? How do we get there? How do we know what’s true? How can we know anything with certainty? And what is our basis then for evaluation? How do we know right from wrong? You look at these attacks on poor old Phil Robertson and you have people who are saying he’s just dead wrong. How do they know that? Where do they get the idea that he’s wrong? They’re moral relativists. They rejected God or any kind of absolutes so what gives them the right to make an absolute moral statement that he’s wrong? How do they know they’re not wrong? These are the kind of questions we need to ask.

Then if you take the whole cumulative aspect of humanity, you have to deal with the history of humanity. What is the meaning of history? Or is there meaning to history? Or is it just some big cosmic accident? If it’s a cosmic accident then it’s pretty depressing because there’s no afterlife, no purpose, just an accident so the only way to go is existentialism or nihilism. If everything’s an accident then it really doesn’t matter whether I kill you or kiss you. You can’t distinguish the merits of one from the other because there’s no basis for saying something’s good or something’s bad other than personal preference. So these are the basic questions we answer in every worldview.

Now the really tricky thing is how human viewpoint coming out of our sin nature neutralizes any principle from the Word of God. Once you talk to someone about the gospel, you put out a little nugget of truth there and if they’re operating in truth suppression just like an amoeba they want to reinterpret and absorb the doctrine within their own categories. Immediately they isolate it and neutralize it. I had a great example of this some years ago when I was at Preston City Bible Church. I had some family members (unnamed) visit the church. These extended family members were not believers. One of them had been very much involved in New Age/metaphysical type of quasi-cult and had been a teacher. It just so happened that I was teaching John 3 the day they visited the church. I was teaching about Nicodemus and regeneration. You have 45 minutes to really get the gospel across. Afterwards at lunch I heard the statement, “You know I really haven’t been involved in my religion in a while, but after listening to you this morning, I just wanted to go back to it.”

Great example. The unbeliever in negative volition takes the truth that you tell them and they immediately, unconsciously almost redefine it, reinterpret it, reshape it, and conform it to fit their worldview so their little fantasy world isn’t challenged by what you said. You just beat your head against the wall thinking “what happened?” That’s what happens in the sin nature. The sin nature is set in rebellion against God.

I’m going to stop here. The next time we’re going to come back and understand this whole issue of how we thought as pagans because it’s still there lurking from our sin nature. When we’re out of fellowship this is the garbage that surfaces in our soul. We have to recognize that there’s internal and external pressure to conform to the spirit of the age. The only solution is that we renovate our thinking through the Word of God. This has to be a conscientious determined approach on our part. It doesn’t just happen because the default position of your sin nature is to slide into the slime of sin and depravity and just to relish it. The only way to oppose that is to make a conscientious effort to walk by the Spirit on the basis of the light of God’s Word.