All Things to All Men
It’s frightening to see what some supposed Bible-believers will do and claim in an effort to reach the lost for Christ. Conformity to the world seems to be the “in thing” today. After all, didn’t Paul say “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:22).
Taking this statement out of context and isolating it from the rest of Scripture can make it look like Paul was willing to do or be anything to reach the lost. Looking at the context, and comparing this statement with other passages will soon show the error of this philosophy.
To begin with, in I Corinthians 9:21 Paul says, “To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.” He takes great care to clarify what he means by being without the law. Those who are without the law are the Gentiles. He does not impose the Jewish ceremonial law upon them. He points out that he is not without law to God, and that he is under the law to Christ. He never abandons the principles of the Scriptures concerning what is right and what is wrong. He is never at liberty to do that which is contrary to Scripture.
Paul is the one that God used to pen Romans 12:1-2, which says “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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.”
He would never have adopted a worldly lifestyle (be conformed to this world) to reach the world. If he had been willing to conform to the world to be acceptable to those of the world, he would not have suffered all the persecution that we read about in Scripture.
In the immediate context Paul wrote, And “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27).
This tells us that Paul was always careful to live according to the principles taught in the Scriptures. It would have been hypocritical for him to preach one thing to others, and live another.
Paul told the churches of Galatia to be careful how they used their liberty. They were not to use it “for an occasion to the flesh” (Galatians 5:13).
He told church of the Thessalonians to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22). It is interesting how the modern translations want to change this to “all forms of evil.” There is a great difference between the two. The first says, if it even looks bad, stay away from it. The second says only stay away, if it is bad. The Greek word translated “appearance” is always translated as what is seen with the eyes (appearance, fashion, shape, sight).
This is the strictest form of separation, and Paul would not have done anything contrary to this in his own life and ministry.
In Romans 12:1-2, cited earlier, we are told that our bodies are to be presented as a living sacrifice to God and that we are to be transformed. The word “transformed” means to be moved to another form. The word “conformed” means to have the same form. We are to be moved to the form of godliness and not have the same form as the world.
This principle is taught throughout the Scriptures. Jeremiah warned the people of his day not to be like the world. “Learn not the way of the heathen” (Jeremiah 10:2).
Do you really think that Paul is teaching that we should be like the world to reach the world? Do you really think that Paul, who was a great proponent of godliness, is telling us that we can ignore God’s precepts, if our purpose is to reach the lost?
Peter also has something to say on this subject. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16).
We are not to fashion ourselves according to our former lusts. We are not to be like we were before our salvation. We are to be a holy people like our Heavenly Father.
You cannot reach a drunk by becoming a drunk, and you can’t reach the world by becoming worldly. The world must see something different and better in us.
unedited version at http://www.awaketorighteousness.com/2012/04/10/are-we-to-be-all-things-to-all-men/Spiritually-Minded, What Others Are Saying
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