Troublesome Topic: Let God Teach You a New Normal

Lesson 8 of 10

In the Former Covenant God established the regulations about what they could eat in order to teach his people several important principles, the third of which was that He establishes what is normal for His kingdom. In both covenants God has always set the standard for the conduct, attitudes and reactions of His people. As subjects of our King, bound under a covenant relationship with Him, we are not free to do whatever we want, we must live according to what He has established as normal for His kingdom.

God’s idea of normal affects many aspects of our lives, but in this section I am applying this principle to our use of modern media.

Regarding TV, the leisurely use of the internet, and movies I have occasionally heard the argument “it’s just part of the American lifestyle.” By saying this people are wishing to strip it of any spiritual influence and justify it simply because it is “so American.” It also implies that there is something worthwhile and proper about doing things the American way, as if God blesses all things that are “American.” Well, God does not care about things being done the American way, He cares about things being done His way. The American way needs to submit to God; God does not need to submit to the American way. If people justify doing something (like watching a favorite TV show) because it is the American thing to do, what they are saying is that they choose what is normal for America, even if it is not normal for God’s kingdom. We need to decide which kingdom we are committed to and then prove it by our actions.

Part of being involved in the type of covenant that we are under is doing what the sovereign Lord of the covenant desires, not what we want to do. In our modern Christianity we have somehow received the idea that, as long as the New Testament does not clearly teach against it, then it is “Okay” to do. The truth is the polar opposite. God could and did establish what He considers normal for those under His covenant. Violence, foul language, sexual innuendos, homosexual activity, and such things are definitely not what God considers normal for His people, so why are we filling our minds with those things?  

The sovereign king could direct every aspect of the vassal state. God definitely sets parameters and establishes the purpose for every aspect of life for His people. He wants to guide everything we do by His Spirit.

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Even our leisure time should be under His control so that it has a positive, restful effect on our lives, not a spiritually destructive effect.

You may say, “But God isn’t like that, He wants to make us free.” If you understand “freedom” as being able to ingest whatever your senses desire, even if it is destructive to you, then you misunderstand God and how He works. He has set us free from being slaves of sin in order for us to be slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:22). We will either be servants of Satan for evil, or slaves of God for good.

Romans 6:22


Now however, having been set free from sin, and having become slaves to THEOS, you hold your fruit unto holiness, and the end

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is eternal life.


However, now that you have been set free from sin, and at the same time have become slaves to THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS, you already have in your hands the fruit of your new status which leads you to a holy life, and the final result of a holy life is eternal life.

“But doesn’t God allow us time to relax and catch our breath?” Yes, He is kind enough to do that occasionally. But we need to keep three things in mind: 1) We are in a battle. Don’t expect much relaxing time in battle. The enemy will never relax, so relaxing and taking it easy can be deadly. 2) God is our Commander-in-Chief so when we want to relax we should ask Him if there is something more important He wants us to do first, 3) When He does allow us to relax, He wants us to relax in ways that do not compromise us as instruments for His service. My relaxing should make me stronger not weaker. If we allow Him to control us as we should, even our relaxing time will be used by His Spirit to prepare us for whatever will come in the future.

Listen carefully to what Romans 8:5-10 has to say about this:

Romans 8:5


For those that live according to the flesh, mind

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the things of the flesh; but those according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.


For those that live their lives guided by natural desires without God, pay attention to and obey the things that

natural desires without God tell them to do; but those that live their lives guided by the Spirit of God, pay attention to and obey the things that the Spirit of God tells them to do.

Romans 8:6


For the mind

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of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit, life and peace,


For to follow the thoughts of the natural desires without God brings about death; to follow the thoughts of the Spirit of God brings life and peace,

Romans 8:7


because the mind of the flesh is hostile toward THEOS, for it is not subject to the Law of THEOS nor can it be.


because the thoughts and purposes of our natural tendencies without God act like enemies of THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS; they are not willing to submit to the instructions of the CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS, and they can’t submit even if they wanted to.

Romans 8:8


And those who live in the flesh are not able to please THEOS.


Those who live their lives following the principles and guidance of natural desires without God cannot possibly please THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS.

Romans 8:9


But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you; if however, anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.


But you are not living under the control of natural tendencies without God, but under the control of the Spirit of God who lives in you; however, if anyone does not have the Spirit that Christ left behind living in him, he does not belong to Christ.

Romans 8:10


However, if Christ is in you, indeed the body is dead for the sake of sin

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but the spirit is alive for  the sake of righteousness.


However, if Christ is living in you, your body will not respond to the call of sin to do evil, but your spirit or inner being will respond to the call of righteousness to live correctly.

My dad had something happen to him which afforded him the best example ever of being spiritually dead to something. While he was a missionary in Honduras, a friend of his died and his wife asked Dad to shave and dress the man for burial. As was the case with many poor families in that country, this man’s family could not afford to pay for embalming, they simply buried the body that same day if possible. While Dad was shaving this man, he nicked his face. He told us years later that his friend’s lack of response grabbed his attention. The man didn’t jump, didn’t flinch, didn’t turn his face away, and didn’t say “ouch.” Of course he didn’t, he was dead! But everything Dad had known up to that point taught him that things which cause pain bring a response to pain. This nonresponse struck him because it was different. Then he thought to himself, “That’s what it must be like for us to be ‘dead to sin.’ Temptations will come, but we will not respond at all because we are dead.”

The bottom line is control. What controls you? Your sinful nature? Or God’s Spirit? We cannot live a life full of God’s normal if we are controlled by sin’s desires. God tells us He wants us to live by His standards; His word instructs us as to what those standards are; we cannot live up to those standards if we are controlled by anything other than His Spirit.

We claim we belong to Christ; we wear His name on us when we call ourselves Christians, but does our lifestyle show that we belong to Him? When one is under a covenant, he is obliged to follow his Lord in everything, or risk experiencing the curses of the covenant.

If a person is fully controlled by the Holy Spirit there is an “otherness” about him. We are likewise called to be different from the world, some would even call it weird. (We do not act weird just to be weird, but the difference between a true God-follower and one who is not should be so drastic as to cause us to be called names like “weird.”) He has called us to stand out as unique and odd, not to blend in with the culture around us. Jesus said that “whoever is not with me is against me” (Mt. 12:30). There is no middle ground; we are either in God’s camp or in the enemies camp. We either belong to this world, or we belong to another kingdom (Phil. 3:20), having a new identity and a new purpose. If we are true believers we don’t belong here, we are foreigners and aliens as far as the world is concerned, just passing through to our true homeland (see I Peter 1:1; 2:11.)

So if we are not of this world (John 17:16), just living for a short time in it, why do we act so much like the world? Why do we allow ourselves to be influenced so strongly by this culture so as to want all those trappings of American culture, including those that bring negative and perverse images into our homes and minds? Do people observe our lives and see something different? Or do they see us as just another employee or neighbor who happens to go to a church service on Sunday mornings? Did Jesus say “by your church membership the world will know that you are my disciples”? No, He said, “By your love they will know that you are my disciples” (Jn. 13:35). If we are constantly absorbing a diet of bad language, violence, and sexually stimulating images, we cannot be as close to God as we need to be, and therefore we cannot live as He desires. If we are not drawing closer to God, neither are we being a good representation of who He is and what He is like, yet we blissfully wear Christ’s name–Christian.

The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is: We are God’s Residence



To say that God controls every aspect our lives would be misleading. Instead God sets the standards, determines the purpose, and established the parameters of what we do. However, within what He has established, He usually allows us to decide how to make it happen. Remember that we are focusing on the issue of relaxing in front of the TV, a movie, or surfing the internet for fun. These will almost always be dangerous activities if we are not careful to stay within God’s parameters. However, if we are being careful to follow what God has instructed, He will seldom pick the video for us but rather will let us choose which video we would like to watch. (There are times when He knows we need something specific or He wants to send us a message through a certain Christian video, but those situations are the exceptions not the norm.) The direction of the Spirit in these matters is usually not which precise video to watch, but which principles to follow.


The word I have rendered as “end” can point toward a purpose that is kept in sight until the end is reached, or the result that has come from reaching the end. Context must tell which meaning was intended. In this case it can go either way, but I think the context favors the idea of “result” over “purpose.”


The verb “mind” is a good verb; it is a shame that we are slowly losing it in English, except the occasional time a parent will still use the verb “mind” when a child is not obeying properly. It points to the twin actions of paying attention and obeying.


This is a play on words using “mind.” Here it is the noun, but it ties in powerfully with the verb used in the previous verse. Unfortunately, in English we have to go with something like “thoughts of, purpose of, or inclination of” in order to make the meaning clear. Although this is saying “the thoughts of the flesh…” the play on words provides a hint of “to think the thoughts of the flesh and to obey the thoughts of the flesh.” Or as I have presented it in the paraphrase, “to follow the thoughts of the flesh …”


The preposition that I have rendered here as “for the sake of” usually means, through, by means of or according to.” However, one of its meanings is “for the sake of” and that seems to fit this context the best.