"As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according tothe former lusts in your ignorance; but as He which hath calledyou is holy, so be ye holy in all mannerof conversation."— 1 Peter 1:14, 15.
THE APOSTLE is not addressing the world, but those who have become children of God—those who have passed out from their position of condemnation with the world, and have been justified by faith in the precious blood, who have been accepted of the great Advocate Jesus, and have been begotten of the Holy Spirit. But it is not sufficient that we become children of God; for these newly begotten children are only started in the Narrow Way, they are in an imperfect, undeveloped condition. They have this standing as children because they have put themselves into the hands of God and desire to do His will, loving righteousness and hating iniquity.
On the basis of this stand that we took—of enlisting under the banner of Jesus, to fight against sin and self and Satan—God purposes to prove how thoroughly in earnest we were when we espoused His cause. He wishes us to attain to that development of character which will fit us to be associates with Jesus in His great Kingdom, which is to bless the world.
If we are obedient children, everything will work well. We shall get the proper tests, the proper chiseling and polishing, everything that will make us "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." But if we do not prove obedient, this will hinder us from ever getting into the Elect company, although we may have a place in that company of children who have had to be chastised and finally brought to proper obedience.
By this we are not implying that any of God's children are exempt from discipline; for we are told that every son receiveth chastisement. (Heb. 12:6-11.) Those chastisements that came to our Lord Jesus were not deserved, but were experiences by which He proved His thorough loyalty and worthiness of exaltation. And so the chastisements that come to His followers are to fit them for future service and to demonstrate their worthiness of being counted in as members of His Body.
The chastisements which are in the nature of punishments for sin should bring about a thoroughly loyal condition of heart in reasonable time, or the one chastised will lose his place in the Body. If he prove ultimately disobedient, he will be counted unworthy of any of God's favors, and will die the Second Death. The exhortation of our text, therefore, is to the highest attainment and the utmost loyalty to the Father.
HOW TO FASHION OUR MINDS
There is a fashioning of our minds in progress. It is not the fashioning of our will. The will is given up to begin with. But the will has to do with regulating the mind as well as the body—the will has to do with this fashioning. We will that our minds shall be educated along the lines of obedience, that we may be properly exercised by all the trials which God has purposed for us.
We as New Creatures should learn to think as God would have us think, to develop habits of thought which upbuild the New Creature. We should eat and drink according to His will, and our clothing should be regulated according to His will. We are to seek His guidance in our life in all things—because of the weaknesses of the flesh, the promptings of the Adversary, and our environment. The Lord has made provision, and has given us definite instructions in the Scriptures, by which we may regulate our lives in harmony with His Word; and we should seek more and more to know the will of God and to profit by His providences in our lives, and to apply the knowledge gained, so that whether we eat, or drink, or sleep, or labor, we shall do all to the glory of God.
Our organism of flesh we receive by heredity. These bodies of ours have various weaknesses and inconsistencies—some in one direction, and some in another. But they are all, more or less, perversions of the true ideal which God originally gave. Centuries of sin have left their mark upon us, upon our minds and bodies; and this mark is seen in the theories which have come into our minds. These errors in the past had control of us.
Before we saw the Lord's way, we thought it was right to follow after earthly pleasures and pursuits and to put self first. We naturally said, This is the proper course for us to take. We see that the prominent and the great are following this course, seeking first the affairs of this present life—praise of men, how finely they can be clothed and housed, how fine a carriage or automobile they can have. They seek—and are in large measure able to secure—the gratification of the taste for earthly things, whether it be for the satisfaction of the mind, as various kinds of literature, or for the body, as for certain kinds of foods or drinks, etc.
But when we become children of God, we ask, What is God's will in respect to what we shall eat or drink or wear, as to the use of tobacco, as to the cut of our clothes, etc.? It is not for us to decide now whether we shall go to the theater or play cards or dance. All these matters should have been decided before we consecrated ourselves. Now, in harmony with the Covenant we have entered into with Christ, we are to know strictly the Father's will. As we learn to see things from God's standpoint, we change our ideas as to what we shall eat, and what we shall drink, etc. And this change going on in our minds is the "fashioning."
THE FASHIONING A GRADUAL PROCESS
Although we discover some things very quickly, we do not learn all things at once. Some things are less conspicuous before our minds than are others, and represent the finer shadings of what would be proper for a New Creature. We gradually come to note these things more and more; and we ask, Which things shall we continue to choose? The knowledge of God's will is a matter of education. We come to see that this is right and that iswrong. (The world sets such a style for evening dress, such a style for morning dress.) When we become Christians we have new standards, and it takes some time to get everything harmoniously adjusted therewith.
In line with this thought, the Apostle says, "Be ye transformed, by the renewing of your minds"—not by the renewing of the new will. We already possess the new will. But we see that the body is regulated by the mind. Therefore the new will says, I must begin with the mind I must get my mind to see things correctly, according to God's will. I will use the Bible and all the providential indications that will give me a knowledge of God's mind, and I will begin to conform my mind thereto. Thus our minds become gradually fashioned—transformed into the mind of the Lord. As we come to see more and more what is the will of God, our minds decide to do His will. Our reason plays an important part.
God wishes to appeal to our reason, because we are thus better developed than in any other way. We are all in the School of Christ—under the tutelage of our Lord. In this School we are learning to do His will. We have the teachings of our Lord Jesus and the writings of the Apostles; and our Lord declared that whatsoever the Apostles should bind on earth would be considered bound in Heaven; and whatsoever they should loose on earth would be so considered in Heaven. Our education progresses, until, at the end of this life, those who have thoroughly learned the lessons of this School will be those who have been obedient children. These will have been transformed by the renewing of their minds, that they might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."—Romans 12:2.
OUR STANDARD—JEHOVAH'S RIGHTEOUSNESS
The new will is, in substance, a will to be like our Father in Heaven. The Apostle Peter exhorts, "As He who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy." Holiness is the standard of perfection. Our will must be holy when we first make our Covenant with God. Nothing less than a holy will is acceptable to Him. If we had had an unholy will, a will not submissive to God, we would not have been accepted. So if our will be holy, we shall, as far as we are able, do His will.
As He who has called us is holy, so we, as far as our will is concerned, will be holy. And we will so direct our mind, as to be holy in life so far as is possible. We will apply the principles of God's holiness to every affair of life. We will observe the Golden Rule, that we should do to others as we would that others should do to us. Whoever neglects to apply these principles of holiness to his own life is not growing in the new life, not being transformed. We should seek to have our minds fully in accord with God's mind, and our conduct as far as possible also in alignment.
If our mind is not running in the proper groove, we must see to it that we turn it into the proper groove. We want to render obedience to our highest conception of what is the Lord's will, as far as we are able. Our will will be determined by God as loyal in proportion as it has been on the alert to watch the mind and the body, the tongue and everything pertaining to our conduct.
The Apostle enjoins upon us that we shall be "holy in all manner of conversation." (1 Pet. 1:15.) The word conversation here has its broad meaning. It relates to our intercourse with others—all of our conduct with respect to others—our manner of life. We are to be holy in everything that pertains to our lives—in our thoughts, words and deeds. This is a very high standard; and no wonder that the Lord has set a high standard! It is for us to learn what this standard is, and to help others to know what it is.
This is why we spend a few years this side of the veil after we have given our hearts to Jesus. We say that we have taken up our cross to follow Jesus, and the Lord wishes to demonstrate whether this is true. He is watching our course, and the foreordained number will be found for the Bride class. Others will be given another position not so good; and those who manifest that they have not the true spirit of obedience will die the Second Death.