Why Worldview Matters

Romans 12:1-2

September 9, 2023 | Brian Bill

How many of you wear glasses or contacts?  Actually, we all use lenses to view the world around us.

[Put on different colored glasses]

  • Contrast red (Republican) and blue (Democrat).
  • Contrast green (Packers) and blue (Bears).
  • Contrast pink (female) and blue (male).
  • Contrast optimistic (rose colored) and pessimistic (dark).
  • Contrast different moods.

At its basic level, a worldview is the lens through which we see, define, and make judgments about the world around us.  It’s the framework from which we view reality and make sense of reality.

Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, defines worldview like this: “A pattern of ideas, beliefs, convictions, and habits that help us make sense of God, the world, and our relationship to God and the world.”

To illustrate, a two-year-old believes he is the center of his world, a secular humanist believes the material world is all that exists, and a Buddhist believes he can be liberated from suffering by self-purification.  Last week, when I was out for a run in Virginia, I came across a sign in someone’s yard which very clearly stated the homeowner’s view of the world: “We believe science is real, women’s rights are human rights, black lives matter, no person is illegal, love is love, diversity makes us stronger.”

Before we go much further, we’re kicking off a new series this weekend.  Seismic shifts have hit our society, leaving people unmoored from truth and unsettled in their faith.  The question asked by David in Psalm 11:3 resonates among many today: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  This verse can also be translated this way: “If the foundations are destroyed, then what have the righteous done?”  

In our present cultural environment, it’s imperative for followers of Christ to be convictional, courageous, and compassionate.  We must know what we believe, why we believe it, and how we can communicate it to others.  In short, we must be unshaken in our faith (Psalm 62:2), and unashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16).  Grounded in truth and lived out in God’s grace, our faith in Christ will change our own lives and ultimately help transform a broken world.  

Here’s the topics we’ll be addressing:

Why Worldview Matters

The Real Reality

Who Jesus Is

The Timelessness of Truth

Your Identity is Essential

Being Salt and Light in Society

Putting it Into Practice

Here’s our main point for today: What you believe about God’s Word will determine how you view the world around you.  If your worldview does not come from God’s Word, it will come from the world.

Sadly, according to George Barna, the percentage of those with a biblical worldview has been declining in each successive generation.

  • Boomers (10%)
  • Gen X (7%)
  • Millennials (6%)
  • Gen Z (4%)

Barna summarized these findings as “frightening.”  These results generated a headline for an article in the Christian Post which read like this: “Biblical Worldview Much Closer to Extinction.”

The news continues to get worse.  According to the American Worldview Inventory for 2023, there are some alarming trends taking place today.

  • The share of the population which claims to hold a biblical worldview fell from 6% to 4% in the last three years.  
  • The share of born-again believers who say they are deeply committed to practicing their faith fell from 85% to 50%.

What you believe about God’s Word will determine how you view the world around you.  If your worldview does not come from God’s Word, it will come from the world.

Perhaps this diagram will help explain the importance of worldview.  Simply put, our worldview affects our reality, our beliefs, our values, and our behavior.

  • Our worldview establishes what we believe to be real.
  • Our beliefs establish what we believe is true.
  • Our values determine what we believe is good.
  • Our behavior influences what we do.

All of this is so important because our view of the world helps us make sense of life’s biggest questions.  

  1. Origin: Where do I come from?
  2. Identity: Who am I?
  3. Meaning: What is my purpose?
  4. Morality: How should I live?
  5. Destiny: What happens when I die?

Here are some popular worldviews today.

  1. Pragmatism: I want whatever works for me.
  2. Individualism: My interests are the center of reality.
  3. Consumerism: My worth is tied to what I own.
  4. Naturalism: Since this world is all there is, I can live like I want.
  5. Moral relativism: My truth is more important than absolute truth.
  6. Hedonism: My goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. 
  7. Nihilism: My life has no meaning, so I do what I want.
  8. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: God is not involved in my life, but He wants my problems to be solved and He wants me to be good and nice to others.

Apologist Frank Turek describes our challenge today: “Most people are not on a truth quest.  They’re on a happiness quest – whatever is going to make them happy they’re going to believe.”

Our preaching passage will challenge us to view everything through the lens of God’s Word in order to be transformed.  If we’re not intentionally being transformed by the Word, we’ll end up becoming conformed to the world.

Please stand as we read Romans 12:1-2 together: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Here we see seven ways to develop a biblical worldview.

1. Respond to God’s urgent appeal. 

Based on the doxology found at the end of chapter 11, Paul says, “I appeal to you…”  Even though he could have used a command, instead Paul made an appeal, which means to “call near, to invite, to beseech” in order to persuade someone to do something.  The Amplified Bible renders it like this: “I beg of you.” We are being asked to make a decision of our wills.  

2. Allow your behaviors to flow from your beliefs. 

Let’s look at the next phrase: …therefore, brothers…” Whenever you see the word “therefore” in the Bible you should always ask what it’s there for.  Here Paul is making a shift from the first 11 chapters by moving from creed to conduct, from principles to practice, from exposition to exhortation, from belief to behavior, and from doctrine to duty.  Don’t forget that the first two letters of “doctrine” form the word “do.”

Theology is never meant to be cold and lifeless

Theology is never meant to be cold and lifeless.  It must always have a practical application.  It’s as if he’s saying, “Based on your position in Christ, this is what you now need to put into practice.”  Or, to say it another way: What you believe about the Bible ultimately determines your beliefs and your behavior.

Notice he refers to his readers as “brothers,” which literally means, “from the same womb.”  This indicates his tender affection for the members of God’s family.  He’s begging believers, not unbelievers, to do something they have not yet done.

3. Be motivated by God’s mercies. 

This plea is based on the “mercies of God,” which is in the plural, and refers to God’s multitude of mercies.  In 2 Corinthians 1:3, God is called the “Father of mercies.” He is not merciful just once, but again and again.  He is consistently and constantly full of mercy.  In fact, the word “mercy” is used five times in Romans 9 and four times in Romans 11:30-32: “…but now have received mercy…by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy…that He may have mercy on all.”

John Calvin said, “We will never worship with a sincere heart or serve God with unbridled zeal until we properly understand how much we are indebted to God’s mercy.”  God has demonstrated so much mercy to us we can’t help but respond by fully surrendering our lives to Him.  Isaac Watts captured it well: “Love so amazing, so divine; demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Many of us think we have to do penance or perform to get God’s mercy.  We have it backwards.  God gives a multitude of mercies apart from anything we do – this should cause us to surrender everything we are and sacrifice everything we have.  One pastor puts it like this: “Indeed, the extent to which we do not offer ourselves to God reflects the extent to which we do not understand the depth and significance of God’s mercy.”  Most of us know we’ve been forgiven, but many of us overestimate our goodness while underestimating the amount of mercy we have received.  Jesus said it like this in Luke 7:47: “But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.”

It’s interesting that Paul doesn’t say, “In light of God’s grace” but instead focuses on mercy.  Why is that?  God’s grace is demonstrated when we get what we don’t deserve, whereas mercy keeps us from getting what we do deserve.  If I received what I deserve, I’d end up in Hell, and so would you.  I like the words to the song we often sing: “My sins they are many, His mercies are more.”  In the midst of loss, Lamentations 3:22 offers hope: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end.” 

In view of God’s multiple, multiplied, and multifaceted mercies, we must voluntarily and enthusiastically respond by submissively offering our lives to Him. 

What you believe about God’s Word will determine how you view the world around you.  If your worldview does not come from God’s Word, it will come from the world. 

4. Offer your body on God’s altar.

Paul urges believers “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”   To “present” is a technical term which was used to describe the offering of an animal for sacrifice on an altar.  It means, “to offer once and for all” and has the idea of relinquishing one’s grip.  In the Old Testament, a live animal was brought to the priest and the owner would lay hands on the beast to symbolically say, “This animal is taking my place.”  The animal was then slaughtered, the blood was sprinkled upon the altar, and the sacrifice was burned completely.

A significant feature of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament was that according to Leviticus 6:12, the fire upon the altar was kept constantly burning and was never allowed to die out.  Every morning the officiating priest laid fresh wood upon the fire before he presented the burnt-offering to God.  Hold on to this thought because we’ll come back to it at the end.

This idea of a “living sacrifice” must have been a novel idea to the Jews of that day.  This was something they had not heard of before, except perhaps in the case of Abraham offering Isaac upon the altar.  They were used to offering an animal to be killed.  Once a sacrifice was offered to God, you couldn’t take it back.  When we are called to present our “bodies” to the Lord, we are exhorted to offer our total being to Him, not just bits and pieces.  1 Corinthians 6:20: “For you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.”

The word “body” refers to the totality of our entire being, our entire life, and all our activities.  David Guzik writes: “The thinking of our age says that our body must tell the will what to do; but the Bible says that our will must bring the body as a living sacrifice to God.  The body is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”

A pig and a chicken were walking down the road together when they came upon a sign advertising a breakfast fundraiser.  The chicken said to the pig: “We should donate to that worthy cause.  How about if I give an egg and you provide the ham?”  To which the pig replied, “Not so fast.  For you that’s a contribution, but for me it’s a total commitment.”  Too many of us have made a few contributions, but we resist total commitment.

God does not just want to be a “part” of our lives; He wants us to be completely committed to Him.  God isn’t interested in beasts today; He’s looking for bodies of believers who will be sold out to Him.  As someone has said, “the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar!”  

Paul continues by saying, the offering of our life is to be “holy and acceptable to God.”  Sacrifices were to be without blemish or defect.  In like manner, we are to offer to God our best, not our leftovers.  When we do, it will be pleasing, or agreeable to Him as we see in Leviticus 1:9: “And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.”  The idea of a sweet aroma to the LORD is almost always linked to the idea of an offering made by fire.  

This offering is our “spiritual worship.”  The word “spiritual” can be translated as “reasonable.”  The word “worship” is sometimes rendered as “service.”  Worship is not just what we do during our weekend services.  True worship is the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices to Him, as we serve Him every day of the week

BTW, we should never say, “I didn’t get anything out of worship today,” because true worship is not about getting, it’s about giving myself to God as a living sacrifice

5. Resist conformity to the world. 

Verse 1 calls for a decisive commitment to fully surrender. Verse 2 tells us how we can maintain that commitment by renewing our mind and not following the fashion and pattern of the world: “Do not be conformed to this world…”  The tense of this verse indicates that we must stop conforming, implying this is something we do by default.  

The word “conformed” is where we get the word “scheme” from.  It’s sometimes translated as “fashioned.”  Paul is urging us to stop being pushed into the fashion of the world.  The word “world” refers to the “world system,” or the popular culture which is in rebellion to God.  We are bombarded with unbiblical worldviews through entertainment, celebrity influencers, music, social media, the internet, news, politics, and education, all designed to seductively draw us in.

Sometimes we are so conformed to the world that there is little noticeable difference between Christians and non-Christians.  A conformist is afraid to be different and feels a need to be like everyone else.  A Christian is not supposed to be a chameleon!  Exodus 23:2 says, “You shall not fall in with the many to do evil.”  Titus 2:12 challenges us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.”   1 Peter 1:4 exhorts: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.”  James 4:4 states it bluntly: “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.”

Some of you are facing some incredible temptations right now.  You feel yourself being pulled to conform, to go along with the way your friends are leading you.  Don’t give in!  Unfortunately, some of us have internalized the world’s values and fashions so much that we don’t even recognize it anymore.  

We’ve all heard the modern-day parable of the frog in the kettle. If we drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out, alert to the danger. However, if we drop that same frog into a pot of warm water and slowly turn up the heat, it will comfortably soak in the pot until it eventually boils to death.

When conditions change gradually, the frog is deceived by the slow, incremental rise in temperature. Like the frog, we are all susceptible to the dulling of our senses and to gradual deception.  

While it’s easy to blame the decadence in our culture as the reason why we are being deceived, one author suggests the water in which the frog is cooking is our own spiritual apathy, missional indifference, and prayerless irrelevance.  In essence, the frog stands in danger of boiling in its own water.  Just as Jesus warned some of the churches in Revelation about their precarious spiritual condition, we too must recognize our own need to take responsibility for the situation.”

Friends, what you believe about God’s Word will determine how you view the world around you.  If your worldview does not come from God’s Word, it will come from the world. 

6. Receive transformation from the Word. 

The negative command calls us not to be conformed to the world.  The positive command is to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” which refers to an inner change.  I like how J.B. Phillips translates Romans 12:2: Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold but let God re-mold your minds from within.”  The verb tense indicates we’re to “keep on being transformed.”  We get the word “metamorphosis” from this Greek word.  

A metamorphosis is not something we can do on our own.  It refers to a deep inner change, a total change from the inside out.  At its core, it involves a change in form, like when Jesus was transfigured in Matthew 17:2: “And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light.”  

Let me say it as clearly as I can: If you are not intentionally being transformed by God’s Word, you will be conformed to the world. 

2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us the key to transformation is to regularly gaze on God as great and glorious: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

7. Adjust your will to God’s will. 

Notice the last part of verse 2: “That by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  When we wonder what God’s will is for our life, the first place to start is by living out Romans 12:1-

Let me say it as clearly as I can: Until you offer Him your body, your mind, and your will, you won’t understand His good, pleasing, and perfect will, and you won’t have a godly worldview.  

A biblical worldview is a view of the world which seeks to answer life’s biggest questions from the Bible.  Brett McCracken has put together a list of some ways a Christian worldview is countercultural.

  • In a “believe in yourself” world, Christianity calls you to deny yourself (Matt. 16:24) and take up your cross (Luke 14:27). 
  • In a “you do you” world which emphasizes expressive individualism, authenticity, and nonconformity, Christianity is about conforming to the likeness of Jesus (Rom. 8:29) and being imitators of God (Eph. 5:1).
  • In a consumerist and greedy culture, Christianity calls you to costly generosity and a willingness to give up material possessions (Luke 14:33). 
  • In a self-oriented world of self-promotion, self-help, and selfies, Christianity calls you to be an others-focused servant (Phil. 2:3–4).
  • In a world which says you should be free to do with your body whatever you wish, the Bible says to glorify God with your body (1 Cor. 6:20). 
  • In a sexually progressive culture which sanctions pretty much anything, Christianity says sex is intended for the union of one man and one woman within the covenant of marriage (Gen. 2:24). 
  • In a world which has normalized the discarding of unborn lives and the dehumanizing of people, Christianity insists all humans bear the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and are worthy of dignity and protection.
  • In a pluralistic world with a diversity of beliefs—in which “all roads lead to heaven” is a comforting thought—Christianity calls you to believe there is only one path to Heaven: trusting in Jesus Christ alone (John 14:6).

This list could be much longer.  

Listen to how one 20-something puts it: “The older I get, the greater desire I have to do things God’s way.  The things in this world seem to get more depraved and disheartening every day; why would I want that?  The importance of what I fill my mind with has been weighing on me recently.  What you consume will consume you, for better or for worse.”

The Bible gives us all the answers we need.

  1. Where do we come from? We are created by God. 
  2. Who are we? God made us in His image as male or female. 
  3. What is our purpose? God created us to know and follow Him as we fill the earth and reign over it as responsible stewards for His glory. 
  4. What is our core problem? We are sinners who fall short of God’s glory because we pridefully resist His authority. 
  5. How is this problem solved? Jesus died as the final sacrifice for sin and rose from the dead on the third day.  When we turn from our self-centered ways and trust and give our allegiance to Jesus the Messiah as our Savior, Lord, and King, we will be saved. 
  6. How should we live? We should live according to the way of Jesus the Messiah, which can be summarized as loving God and loving people.
  7. What happens when we die? We will either go to be with the Lord forever in Heaven or we will live apart from Hjim in Hell for eternity.  

General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was once asked to reveal the secret of his success.  After some hesitation, tears came to his eyes and he said, “I will tell you the secret.  God has had all there was of me.  There have been men with greater brains than I have, men with greater opportunities, but from the day that I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus could do with them, I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth.” 

Jesus is Lord and everything you have belongs to Him

Friend, settle this right now.  Jesus is Lord and everything you have belongs to Him.  Have you ever given your all completely to Him?  I love what Andrew Murray said in this regard: “God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.”  God is ready…are you?

We need to crawl up on the altar and offer our bodies as living sacrifices because Jesus died as final sacrifice for us.


A young boy came to church one cold winter day to get out of the blowing snow.  He had been trying to sell newspapers (remember those?) but not a single customer had passed by because of the weather.  He slipped into the back of the church, just hoping to get warm and catch up on his sleep.  Though the Sunday crowd was slim, the boy paid attention to the sermon and was greatly moved by it.  When the pastor was done, he called for the offering.  The ushers went from row to row, and when the offering plate came to the boy, he stared at it for a while and then put it on the floor.

Then he did something very strange and very beautiful.  He stood up and stepped right into the offering plate.  By then, all the people had turned around and were staring at the boy.  When he looked up, he had big tears running down his face as he said, “Pastor, I don’t have any money because I haven’t sold any newspapers today.  But, if Jesus gave His life for me, then I will gladly give my life to Him.”  The person who has nothing to give but himself is able to give the greatest gift of all.

We want to close today by giving an altar call.  That’s really what Romans 12:1-2 is all about.  It’s a personal time for us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God.  Romans 12:1 literally reads like this, “You, all of you, present yourselves to God.”  This is what God wants from each of us.  We won’t develop a biblical worldview until we offer our bodies as an act of worship.

God doesn’t want us to lie on the altar as a dead sacrifice but rather to live out our lives selflessly for Him as living sacrifices.  He’s urging you right now to be saved, to fully surrender and then to worship Him through serving.

As we sing “I Surrender All,” we’ll remain seated at the beginning of the song.  If you’re ready to be saved or you sense the Spirit prompting you to fully surrender to Him to Christ, I want you to stand as you are led.  

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh the joy of full salvation,
Glory, glory to his name.If you decided to be saved or to surrender today, I want to invite you to the front where you can pick up a piece of wood with Romans 12:1-2 written on it as a reminder that you have offered yourself on the fire of God’s altar.  Put this block of wood somewhere to remind you of the decision you made today.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?