Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world. We do. We don’t mean to, but we do. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. As believers, we must think about our faith in God, relationship to Jesus Christ, His Word and practical application of what we believe on a daily basis. Christianity is faithful and habitual. As we begin the transformation process of salvation, our participation is surrender. It is take bits and pieces of our existence and daily turn them over obediently to God. His Spirit reveals the areas of our life which are withheld and it is our job to turn them over in repentance. I may have lost some of you here, but that’s okay. You will want to be a living sacrifice by the end of this, I am convinced.
“But” be transformed is a pivotal statement in the key verse today. This world can empower your life or it can kill your purpose in a single statement. It happens all the time. I have seen it in Sunday school, church, board meetings, and Bible studies. In this social groups of believers who claim to have faith, a lack of faith is revealed in their conversation. “I am trusting the Lord, “but” the reality is…” “I know that healing is possible, “but” the doctor says…” “The Lord has laid it on my heart to do (blah) “but” the budget…” “I want to serve the Lord, “but”…”
“But” is a conjunction. The danger of this word comes with its explanation. The definition of “but” is on the contrary, yet, except that, unless, otherwise and other negating words. To use the word “but” after a statement of faith negates it. In other words, when you profess to believe in Jesus and add “but” to it, you have nullified the declaration entirely. The word after “but” holds all the power. Do not be offended by this but be aware of it instead. Offense is the enemy’s way of shutting us off and isolating us. It keeps us from using knowledge to our benefit and keeps us from understanding the Power that God has given us. I know, I know – “but” we live in a real world. Okay, I get that so do I. “but” – greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world.
Proverbs 18:20-21 (NIV)
From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Luke 6:45 (NIV)
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Our words hold power. We don’t have to try or even mean them for damage to be done. The tongue gives life or administers death each day. The word “but” is important. We must carefully listen to the order of our sentences to determine the condition of our heart and level of faith operated in. If God, Jesus or Lord come before the word “but” when used we have a problem.
Sitting in a Sunday school class, the attendees were sharing special prayer requests and the needs of others. As one might expect, there were many who asked for prayer for ailing family and friends. As we bowed our head to pray, the speaker said, “And God if it is Your Will to heal these folks…” I almost came out of my chair right there save my husband sitting right next to me. Of course, it is God’s Will to save, heal, deliver and restore us. Why would He have allowed His Son to be tortured and die for anything less? I opened my eyes and looked around the room and everyone was praying earnestly. Their intentions were good but they did not understand. We must know what we believe. We must examine the contents of our heart. We must allow Jesus to transform us day by day especially until our heart and mind agree. From the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks. Healing is most certainly the Will of God – He says so in His Word. God holds all power and authority in our life. Jesus is Lord of our life when He comes after all “buts”.
Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Looking back in the Old Testament, there are many references to “but God” in the accounts of men like Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph just to name a few. When life was less than favorable, the passage generally ends “but” God or “but” the Lord was with them, or “but” they found favor with God. These men faced many challenges. In the end, it was the “but God” was with them that changed everything.
Mark 9:22-24 (NIV)
“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
All things are possible to those who believe. I know many believers who I consider to be strong Christians who still have unbelief. I still have unbelief in me at times. Everything is possible for one who believes. The more we believe the less impossible life becomes. “If you can…” Jesus didn’t like that statement very much. “If you can…” he responded to the man with a quick correction. The man said, “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” Even the smallest amount of disbelief is a faith ender, miracle spoiler, blessing robber, and dream killer. We must check our declaration to determine the driving force of our life. This may help us understand why Heaven has not made it to earth yet, healings aren’t happening and deliverance is dead. The impossible is only possible when we believe.
Romans 8:8-10 (NIV)
Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
“But” if Christ is in you, then you have been made righteous. Many times but is our excuse for trying to help God our or establish some kind of work in our life. Righteousness is in Christ alone. Our connection to Him is established in desperation and never co-dependency. Nothing we can ever do for Christ will be worthy of what He has done for us and is now trying to do through us. The realm of flesh separates us from the realm of hope. God’s Spirit works inside us to cultivate more faith of the little that we have and produce spiritual fruit to satisfy our soul and promote generosity and sharing of that fruit with others. We do not produce increase in our life. We may plant or water but it is always God who gives us increase. (I Corinthians 3:6-7) God is trying to grow us today and move us from the barren unproductive state of God, we must change “but” to “but God” again.
I Corinthians 3:10-11 (NIV)
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” (Hebrews 3:4) Humility can be crushing sometimes and I find that every time I enter a transformation phase in my life that the subject is addressed. Everything I am. Everything I can do. Every word I speak must be devoted to the supremacy of Christ in my life for faith to fill my life. When I take precedence or situations become priorities or my words are not petitions to God but complaints to man, I rob myself of the blessing of righteous obedience. Friend, the Lord can do it without you. You are not a martyr in your labor but simply took the burden from Christ. Our competence is completely from Christ alone. (2 Corinthians 3:5) Apart from Him, we can do nothing of worth or value for us or the Kingdom of God. (John 15:5) It is in Christ alone. It’s humbling to think that all my hard work is in vain when it is not attributed to Christ, wrapped in love, and surrendered to Him. I am nothing without Him.
I Corinthians 2:11-13 (NIV)
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.
The third relapse of cancer in our son was the worst of all. It had spread from his neck throughout his entire torso. His scan was an array of dots throughout his body. The doctors had declared us in the realm of hope now because to them the reality was that cancer was winning. After the third round of chemo, they were going to scan his body to see if the treatment was helping. It came with a warning. Do not be discouraged if the cancer is still there. The only thing we want to see is that it is no longer spreading. Something rose up in me, it had to be God. I was really struggling by now with the continued relapses in the natural but I asked anyway, “What if it’s gone?” Patting me on the shoulder and then putting her arm around me, the doctor tried to let me down gently and after some pressing, she said, “It’s impossible!” My heart began beating wildly in my chest, my spirit long dampened by bad reports and the Holy Ghost began stirring in me. Could it be? Was it true? Was something about to happen? When she called me three days, yes, three days later, it was to a doctor laughing hysterically. The scan was clear and the cancer gone.
The reality was that our son would relapse again and again. The Truth is that he is alive and well today in total remission to the Glory of God. God works in the impossible. When we dare challenge the lines of reality with God’s Word backed by just a little faith, impossible things happen. Revival will break out when continue to push the line of the impossibilities with conversations that are declarations of faith rather than empowering fear and doubt. We must work day by day to wrap our head around God’s Supremacy and Power allowing His Spirit to convince our heart until our mouth cannot give credit, power or authority to anyone or anything else without immediately realizing the mistake. God wants the impossible to be labeled possible and probable in our life. it begins with me. I must examine every single word that I speak, comparing it to the Word of God and making sure that God always comes after my “buts”. Titus 1:15-16 talks about those who claim to know God but remain impure and corrupted. I don’t want to be someone who has to tell others that I believe in God because my life does not display the Truth. I want them to know without asking. Your situation does not dictate one’s faith and circumstances hold no power over us. No matter if the bondage faced is real or perceived, the truth remains unchained and moving in our life. (2 Timothy 2:8-10) Isaiah realized that he was unclean. The angel touched his lips with a coal from the altar. He was cleansed and renewed immediately to do the work of God.
Titus 3:3-6 (NIV)
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior…”
Jesus said, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” I believe this includes powerless conversation when we allow something or someone else to have more power than God in our life. I trust God “but”… I believe in Jesus “but”. All those times when we profess faith “but” nullify it with fear and futility. We are all guilt of it. When we add all the reasons that make it impossible to trust the Lord, this should be lead to immediate conviction so that we can surrender our thoughts and mind back to Christ. Do our words relay foolishness, disobedience, deception, bondage, malice, envy, hatred or do we constantly express confidence, love, affirmation and allegiance to Christ which frees us of worldly expectation so we can love more, give more and serve more in the Kingdom of God.
If someone hurts me, then comes to issue an apology, it is all good until they use the word “but”. I’m sorry “but”…is a lie. For example, I’m sorry “but” I was having a bad day. I’m sorry “but” you made me whatever. Repentance does not come with an excuse. There is no need for “but” when it comes to our life of faith. The only time “but” is effective is when it is “but God.” We all need to be washed by His Blood on a daily basis. We all could use the coal on our lips each day. There is no shame in accepting His Mercy given to us. The greatest sin of all is to know His Great Love and refuse to receive it. We must strive in all things to be like Jesus. We are successful when we surrender everything to Jesus. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Listen to your words each day to see if faith is holding power or fear has taken over. Now do something about it. The words that are spoken after “but” nullify everything spoken before. The subject of our “but” is the one that holds power in our life. Who is that today?
Philippians 4:5-7 (NIV)
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.