The sheep dog trials found in sheep breeding countries is a competition where sheep dogs round up a group of sheep and ensure they are penned.
Australia, New Zealand and Britain are strong on that. If any of you saw the film Babe then, it featured there. The sheep were being conformed to an activity.
One definition of conformity is this – “Conformity, the process whereby people change their beliefs, attitudes, actions, or perceptions to match more closely those held by groups to which they belong or want to belong, or by groups whose approval they desire.
Conformity has important social implications and continues to be actively researched.” (John M. Levine, Professor, Psychology, University of Pittsburg)
In my State in Australia, there is a massive conformity in operation. Where I live has never had a Covid case in the community, person to person, and the active cases that were around were 1,200 miles away.
Nevertheless, we had draconian implementations from the State Government, and these have been relaxed a little but still operate. All we hear is social distancing and so many regulations. We have to sign in with our details, sign out, have restricted numbers at church, operate in a two square meter space, and wash hands with sanitizer all the time. Police are going around spying on churches and clubs. Someone goes into a church unannounced, but the purpose is to spy on the people to see who they can get for “covid breaches.”
Galatians 2:4 “And that because of false brethren [and even governmental controllers] unawares brought/sneaked in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:” (KJV). It is all about control and more control. Sadly, once a Marxist government like ours gets its hands on control, it is not going to relax its rules any further.
Be warned in the United States. You are heading towards the same sort of administration.
Because of these covid regulations, then there is mass conformity, and it was a surprise in the recent election that this conformity met with people’s approval. The populace is being rounded up like sheep, but they don’t see what’s happening. In fact, it seems most are happy about it.
Compliance is becoming the norm in my country. People who once relied on their own decision-making are now just going with the flow wherever it takes them. That makes them subjects of easy manipulation. It is dangerous.
Could this have happened 50 years ago? In all that I can ascertain, the answer is “NO,” and the reason for that was that discernment was at a much higher level then. Why has it changed? The simple answer is that we had a Christian ethic to a greater or lesser extent 50 years ago and more Christians than right now. (Believers in Australia are not above 1%.) The Bible was read in schools, the Lord’s Prayer was said in some classrooms and on parade. There was a Bible reading every day on National Radio and a short Christian thought each day. Not only does this not happen now, but in more places, it is illegal to do so.
In the past, that meant there was more discernment, better elected representatives and a lot more common sense. When there is no light, people stumble in darkness.
Conformity needs triggers. The greatest of these has been the virus, and that is universal. There are two movements in the world, both of which have become a religion with their high priests and fanatical advocates.
They are climate change, which is global warming under a nebulous name, and world socialism. Conformity leads to a purpose, and that purpose is not for the advancement of the Lord or His people.
Climate change, I believe, is a hoax aimed at compliance of nations under a central governing body (Try Paris and Brussels.) World socialism is gaining in momentous strides. One by one the nations of the western world are succumbing to socialism that is very cunningly promoting gender equality, gender reassignment, grossly distorted deviant sexuality, false environmentalism and a whole host of moral-destroying policies like homosexual marriage, green energy, abortion, and children’s sexuality being confused. Lies are promoted as truth, organizations openly lie, and there is no accountability. Look at the current despicable behavior of YouTube (Google) and Facebook blocking any dissent or opposing views to theirs, which I will not expand on, bringing in a conformity to world socialism so blatantly.
Covid will be the factor that will unite the people of the world, but climate change and socialism are the two arms that embrace the world to reinforce that conformity. Conformity can be very slow and subtle. Have you noticed the erosion, even the abolition of Christian Christmas carols today in shopping centers, and radio and other places (especially secular schools)?
It is all about Santa Claus and reindeer and jingle bells, and snow and a partridge in a pear tree, whatever that has to do with anything. All of that is conformity to a pagan Christmas, part of a great delusion.
Having said all that, what is the Christian dilemma?
Conformity, in every case, is the enemy of the Christian. What is proposed by the world is humanism, and that is no friend of the Bible’s standard.
We can have tens of thousands at a football game or sporting feature but either small or limited numbers in a church service. That is what the Christian is being forced to do — to compromise his beliefs; to conform to the world’s standard. It is to obey Caesar or face the consequences.
One verse I will return to later is this one – Romans 12:2 “and do not be conformed to this world….”
This raises very important questions for Christians. How are we conformed to the world? How can we stop being conformed to the world? What, if any, is the difference between compromise and conformity? Firstly, we will look at what the world itself says about conformity.
I don’t like psychologists because I consider most of them to be humanists. However, I am going to quote from (adapted from The Social Animal; Meyers; Michener et al.; Vander Zanden). Most say there are three types of conformity:
[A]. Compliance. Publicly acting in accord with social pressure while privately disagreeing. This term best describes the behavior of a person who is motivated to gain reward or avoid punishment.
[B]. Identification. As with compliance, we do not behave in a particular way because such behavior is intrinsically satisfying. Rather, we adopt a particular behavior because it puts us in a satisfying relationship to the person or persons with whom we are identifying.
[C]. Internalization (or acceptance). Both acting and believing in accord with social pressure. This is the most permanent, deeply rooted response to social influence. Internalization is motivated by a desire to be right.
Those three types of conformity above would indicate how difficult it is for Christians these days, especially our young people, to withstand what they know is incorrect, morally wrong, or would compromise their faith.
Without doubt, those of us over 50 or 60 know it was much easier in our time. There is so much pressure on the younger generation to conform to the world’s standards. Unfortunately, this conformity has extended to the education system. Not far from me there is a university that will fail you if you don’t subscribe to climate change, and lecturers who are dismissed for daring to have an opposing view.
Receiving the mark of the beast in the Tribulation will be a test of steadfastness and conformity for the Tribulation saints. The temptations of the world today can be a snare for young people, and it is difficult to advise young Christians.
One researcher named Asch found that three different kinds of reactions contribute to conformity.
- Distortion of perception. A number of subjects said they were not aware their estimates had been distorted by the majority. They came to see the rigged majority estimates as correct.
- Distortion of judgment. Most of the subjects who yielded to the majority concluded their own perceptions were inaccurate. Lacking confidence in their own observations, they reported not what they saw but what they felt must be correct.
- Distortion of action. A number of subjects admitted that they had not reported what they had, in fact, seen. They said they had yielded so as not to appear different or stupid in the eyes of other group members.
Asch showed that compliance can take precedence over one’s own moral senses. Evil situations have enormous corrupting power. Fragmenting evil makes it even more effective.
Our world sees the advancement of evil that is fragmenting society, politicians, and sadly, Christians.
Christians are a “peculiar people,” to use the wording of the KJV. Today more than ever, we stick out like a sore thumb. To be faithful will mean holding fast to God’s word, and to take the points above, let us not yield our faith to distorted values so that we “fit in”; let us be certain of our values and judgment based on the Bible so that we know what is correct; and let us not be controlled by what people think of us.
All that is conformity. Do not fashion yourselves to this current age.
The wisdom of the world will call you foolish. God calls them foolish, so do not fear man.
I want to move to some of the New Testament verses. In the NASB there are no Old Testament verses that mention the word conformity, but the word is used in the New Testament in 5 verses.
It is not the same word each time, though, in the Greek. These verses are either on the side of conforming with God or conforming with the world.
. Romans 8:29 “for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” The word means to be jointly formed with Christ, to be changed into His image. It comes from two Greek words: συμ, meaning together, and “μόρφους,” meaning morphed. We are joined to Christ to become like Him. Conformed to Christ.
. Romans 12:1-2 “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship, and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The word comes from συμ, “again,” and “schema,” meaning to fashion alike; to conform to the same pattern. This is what the world wants to do to Christians, conform them to the same pattern as the world system. It wants to make us all to fit in its own mold. Conformed to the world.
. Philippians 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” The word means “to render like, that is, to assimilate, to bring to the same form with” according to Strong’s. I suggest the idea here is that we are aligned with Christ’s death, that we embrace it and all that it means. In a sense we merge into the death of Christ, for it was us who should have died. It was our place He took. Conformed to Christ.
. Philippians 3:20-21 “Our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
The Greek word “meta” is used, meaning “with,” but more than that. It is joined with “schema” which is to disguise or transfigure; to apply it “with Christ.” It means we become like the body of Christ. The KJV expression used here is “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” It will be a magnificent day when these decaying corruptible bodies shall put on Christ and we shall be like Him. That will be perfect conformity, and in the correct sense. Conformed to Christ.
1Timothy 6:3 “If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness….” The Greek word for conformed is not used in this verse specifically, but the sense is definitely there. It means we as Christians have a relationship with godliness – having a relationship to godliness such as being annealed to it; joined to it; having a relationship with it; conformed to it.
The question we must ask ourselves is how close or how removed from the godliness of God are we? I did check this translation with 28 versions, and the NASB, surprisingly, is the only one to use the term “conform.” The ESV is typical of nearly all the translations – “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,” Weymouth says, “harmonizes with true godliness.” Conformed to Christ.
1Peter 1:14 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance.” This word is the same as used in Romans 12:2, συμ, “again,” and “schema,” meaning to fashion alike; to conform to the same pattern. We are not meant to be conformed to the pattern the sinful nature desires of us. We have been delivered from the old life and former lusts, so why do some Christians return to that terrible way to be aligned with the evil way of life. It is conformity to Christ that must characterize us, not the mindless following of the world’s ways. Conformed to the world.
Conformity or Compromise?
One example of conformity of thought or action is brought to our minds in Galatians 2:11-21. The Apostle Paul mentions an occasion when it was necessary for him to rebuke the Apostle Peter, who was probably considered by many Jewish Christians as the chief apostle.
When Peter first came to Antioch, he freely ate with Gentile Christian converts. At that time a group of Jewish Christians came from Jerusalem to visit.
Apparently, they still held to various observances under the Mosaic law, and when they arrived, Peter ceased to fellowship with the Gentile brethren for fear that news of his conduct would get back to Jerusalem.
Because of that, Barnabas and others followed Peter’s example and withdrew. Peter was instrumental in the conversion of Cornelius and knew that God was not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34); therefore, he erred by refusing to eat with uncircumcised believers, implying that the Mosaic law afforded a higher level of sanctification than the righteousness of faith.
What Peter was doing was conforming to a certain behavior so that he would not be judged for compromising.
How many of us have failed at the same hurdle? We are afraid of opinions or what others think. It might be peer pressure. Failure is not standing up for Christ. It may apply outside the church or inside the church. Once I was laughed at and dismissed in a meeting of Christians because I dared mention the headship of Christ and how that flowed to male/female relationships.
There used to be an old hymn by Phillip Bliss not sung anymore, but the words are sound. Here is the first stanza and chorus –
Standing by a purpose true;
Heeding God’s command,
Honour them the faithful few
All hail to Daniel’s band.
Dare to be a Daniel.
Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm,
And dare to make it known.
Conformity! The blessing or the curse. Those who are conformed to the image of Christ enter into His blessings. Those who conform to the world’s standard for whatever reasons will not know the blessings of God. Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. It is a choice you make. How will you choose?
These are difficult days when our faith and belief may cause us to oppose government rules and laws. Make no mistake; the arms of socialism and totalitarianism are wrapping themselves around us very quickly. Stand up and be counted if it comes to a decision to obey the Lord or to defect to the conformity of the system of the world.