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Character Development

Preached by Rev. James R. Reynolds, Sr. at the Deliverance Center in Portland, Maine on Sunday Morning, March 28, 2004.

TEXT: Romans 12:1,2

Romans 12:1,2—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. 2 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.

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God is more interested in who you are than what you do. God is interested in making something out of you that far goes beyond anything this life [world] has to offer. Most people are interested in a career; God is interested in character. God is interested in developing something in us more than just conforming us to certain rules and regulations.

There is nothing in this life as satisfying as the presence of the living God moving in your heart.

  • "be not conformed to this world"

DEFINITION: conform — to fashion one thing like another. to think, to act, to be like the world

Do not draw from the world. Do not talk like the world. Do not act like the world. Do not be like the world.

  • "but be ye transformed"

Undergo a complete change.

I. Character Development Requires Commitment

A. God is after Character and not Comfort

You may desire to be different, but it is going to take a commitment on your part for you to change. God is more interested in developing character in us than making us comfortable. Christ did not die on the cross so we could live comfortably in this world. Christ's ultimate purpose is to be make us like Himself.

God is fitting us for the world to come! If you were not fashioned for heaven, then you would be awfully uncomfortable when you got there.

B. Character is Developed Through Difficulty

It takes heat to mold metal.

The trying of your faith is more precious than of gold … though it be tried with fire…

1 Peter 4:12—Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

2 Corinthians 4:17—For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

A woman described an incident where she had gotten mud on her shoes as if it was the trial of her life. That is not even a "light affliction" but that experience certainly cannot be compared with the glory of God!

C. Life is Suppose to be Difficult

  • The difficulty of life is what makes you.
  • Most people expect to have heaven on earth. If you believe this you will become disillusioned or live in denial of reality

1 Peter 1:7 — That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Character is developed not so much by the heat, but how we respond to the heat. Sometimes the heat makes folks bitter and other times better.

II. Character Development has Responsibilities

Ephesians 4:22–24— That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

A. "Put off the Old Man"

Put off the old man which is corrupt. The old life is rotten and deceitful. The command to "put it off" implies there is a choice.

B. "Be Renewed in the Spirit of Your Minds"

1. Change Starts in the Mind

Proverbs 23:7— For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

We are to think like Christ. To change your life, you must also change the way you think.

2. Thoughts Produce Actions, Actions Produce Deeds, Deeds Produce Habits, Habits Produce Character.

C. "Put on the New Man"

Effort has nothing to do with our new birth. Effort has much to do with spiritual growth.

Make every effort:

It will take much effort to swim against the current.

Luke 13:24— Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

1 Corinthians 9:27 — 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.

Romans 14:19— Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. [pursue, press]

Next time before you yield to temptation, think about who you are yielding to. (Romans 6:19)

Ephesians 4:3— Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [to make effort]

IILUSTRATION: "You can take this class one of two ways: 1) You can take it seriously or 2) you can take it over!"

2 Timothy 2:15— Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [study,spoudazo: to make effort, labor]

Hebrews 4:11 and 12:14— Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

2 Peter 1:5— And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; [add to, employ every effort]

2 Peter 3:14— Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. [be diligent,spoudazo: to make effort, labor]

When you are born again, you have not arrived. You have only started on the course. There is a responsibility given to us to develop character.

III. Character Development is a Process

"renewing the mind"

A. We Grow in Grace

Most Christians grow old, but they need to grow up.

"I want more of Jesus." — Sister Peebles

B. Christ-likeness is not Produced by Imitation but by Inhabitation

Colossians 1:27 — To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

"transformed" – "metamorphoo" transfigured

God takes a caterpillar to a butterfuly. Do not be a worm, be a caterpillar. You can be what God wants you to be.

  • changed on the inside
  • we become like Himself
  • we are made free to soar to new heights

Character development is progressive

  • it is not instant nor automatic
  • it is progressive development

If you come upon a butterfuly struggling with its cacoon, do not bother it or you may prevent it from ever being able to fly. God is more interested in who you are than in what you do. Character is more important than career.

C. We Must Cooperate with the Process

  • A man is known by the company he keeps. (Psalm 119:63)

  • We choose to do right, God will help us.

  • We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

  • The Red Sea Opened — Moses Holding up the Rod

  • The Jordan River Parted — Israel Stepped into the waters

  • The Walls of Jericho came down — as Israel marched in obedience

Romans 8:37 — Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.