May 22 – Sermon

Faith Lutheran Church – Markesan, WI
Pastor Mike Schierenbeck – 920-398-2778

May 22, 2015 Trinity/Confirmation Sunday

Text: Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Conformation vs. Confirmation

Dear fellow redeemed in Christ and especially today we address Morgan, Dylan, and Morgan:

Confirmation is day of making promises. You are voicing today what you were unable to voice at the time of your baptism, namely that you wish to remain faithful to God for the rest of your lives. This also marks a time in which you are taking more responsibility in your faith life. Up to this point your parents have told where and when to go to church. You are now transitioning to a point where you will be making those decisions yourself, and in a way making your faith your own.

Becoming independent is a joyful experience and one that young people look forward to, but it is not without responsibility. As you grow older, you will be making more choices, but there will be temptations to discard what you have learned from your parents, teachers, and pastor, and make the wrong choice. Today we focus on the difference between confirmation and conformation. We either remain with God and stand out or we are molded into the world and its ways. May God’s Spirit open our hearts to receive His message today.

1. The unbelieving world wishes to mold you in its ways

There are many people here today to support and encourage you and help guide you in the ways of your Lord. There are also those who are united against you with the goal to separate you from God. The devil wants you to be like him and rebel against God becoming more like the unbelieving world. Your sinful nature is drawn to what seems to be attractive in the world, but is in fact soul destroying. Unbelievers themselves exert pressure for you to conform to their standards. “Become like one of us. Don’t stand out!” But being of the world and of God are mutually exclusive. You can’t do both at once. We’re told in 1 John 2:15, If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

We are warned, Do not be conformed to this world. Being conformed is like being a lump of clay, molded to the shape of what is going on around us. There is appeal to this. When we conform to the world’s standards of sin and wickedness we are living without rules and restraint. There is what seems to be freedom in being free from what we view as the restrictions of God.

Yet all that conformity is nothing but being a slave of sin, and giving yourself a death sentence. There is a price for loving the world and its ways. Too often we don’t consider the consequences of our thoughts and actions until it is too late. There is really deception here because we are led to believe that what we do really doesn’t matter. We think that we can ignore God and still maintain our faith. This is a dangerous and destructive way of thinking. There is no neutral position for the soul. You are either for God or against Him. You belong to Him or you belong to Satan. There is nothing in between.

Being a Christian is a constant striving. If we coast, if we do nothing to remain connected to God, then we will end up being conformed to the world. That is our default setting. If you don’t dig into God’s Word on a regular basis, if you don’t take the time for worship of God, time to be with your fellow believers, and if you despise the Lord’s Supper, it is a fact that you will be dragged down, probably not even being aware of it.

It’s very easy to say, “I know what I learned as a kid, but now I’m older and smarter. I’ve outgrown those simple ways.” It took the power of God to change you and your direction, and He still is working in you. But as a Christian you are making choices every day. You have the new man created in you to battle against your sinful nature. You can either feed your new man with the Gospel, or let him starve.

2. Remember that you are a new creation in Christ

I don’t want to make it sound like you have no hope. The Good News is that you are not part of the world right now. You have been transformed, changed. From this Greek word we have the English word “metamorphis.” It’s the same word used of Jesus when He was transfigured and revealed His glory.

Your Triune God has seen to it that this miraculous transformation has taken place in you. You have a Heavenly Father who not only created your body, but when He saw that not only your body, but more importantly your soul was in danger of destruction He sent His Son into the world to be your substitute. The Son obeyed His Father’s will and became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus not only took away your sin, but He was your substitute in His life, crediting all the right things that He did to your account. The third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, made the forgiveness of the world, your very own by creating faith in you Through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament this faith is not only created, but maintained. With this connection He made, that forgiveness flows to you. You have been transformed from a sinner into a saint; from an enemy of God to His very own child.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. As a child of God you have a new and different way of thinking that the world cannot conceive of. Unbelievers try to ignore their conscience or believe that if they do enough things right that they can balance the scales for what they have done wrong. In this renewing your mind you know that all of your righteousness are like filthy rags and useless to try to make payment for sin. It would be liking taking a bucket of dirt into a car dealership and saying, “This is my payment for a car.” Thankfully you know that Jesus has done everything for your salvation. And that this has been given as a gift to you. The works that we do are a result of our salvation not a cause of it.

This way of thinking then leads us to constantly test what we encounter. We need to confirm whether something is of God or not. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. This word “prove” has the idea of proving by testing to see what is genuine. You may have seen in Westerns how a prospector would bit down on a piece of gold to determine how soft it was and to see whether it was fake or real.

So it is with us. In every stage of life we are in a constant process of proving by testing if something is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. He wishes above all that you would be in heaven with Him. To this end He gives you information not only as to how you are saved, but how to remain connected to Him. This is not being conformed, but confirming. Continuing in your faith day by day with new thinking, not like that of the world which leads to destruction. This means not being spiritually lazy, but being active with your faith. This is not thinking that we can pick and choose what we sounds good to us in the Bible, but accepting all of it as truth.

One final question, but not for our confirmands, but for parents, grandparents, and the members of Faith congregation. What will you do to help these young people remain in the faith? What will we do to help each other remain in the faith? We have a responsibility to each other in Christian love to build each other up, to encourage and to warn. It’s a jungle out there and we need the blessing of God and the help of one another not to be conformed, but to remain transformed. Your future is bright and full of joy and peace now and forever being connected to your Triune God. Amen.