The Key to Being a Successful Father.

Survival shows intrigue us when we see how shockingly few things are necessary to survive in a wilderness. The world we live in is an extreme, fallen, undiscerning spiritual wilderness, but the Lord has provided us with the simple yet essential tools of spiritual survival for daily living.

We began studying the practical portion of Romans last week. We decided to start walking with God the day we were born again. Romans 12:2 outlines the daily essentials to maintain the lifestyle decided on in Romans 12:1.

A Discerning Lifestyle

Discernment is a daily exercise in the life of any Christian, man or woman.

"Discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically."


In any survivalist situation, knowing your environment and the danger it poses is critical. Paul warns the Roman Christians about their environment in his phrase, "do not be conformed to this world." The word for "world" is also translated "age." This is the time in which God has called us to live.

2 Corinthians 4:4 names the god and ruler of this world: Satan. He and his fallen angels desire to devour human prey (1 Peter 5:8). Ephesians 6:10-12 tells us that we wrestle daily with the unseen spiritual forces who control this world. Our enemy is relentless. Evil spiritual forces don't take any time-outs. We need to be aware.

We daily face attempts to distract us from our goal, which is to glorify God. Satan stands before God's throne accusing us (Revelation 12:10). He loves to guilt-trip God's people. He uses the weight of our conscience when undisciplined by grace to shackle our souls and inhibit our growth in Christ-likeness.


In the midst of this landscape, Christians are not to be conformed to the darkness around them. The word for "conform" is related to the base word for "scheme." We must note the landscape and resist its influence. Don't be scammed by what you can see in the world!

The Greek root for "conform" and its accompanying preposition both refer to external, visible things. The god of this world does not want your internal self to be changed. He wants to use the externals to press you into his mold.

"The antithesis of both verbs is contained only in the prepositions; these, indeed, increase it. The one preposition denotes the torpidity of the external form of the church by uniformity with the world, or worldliness; the other preposition denotes the organic change and transformation of the organic shape, according to the new inward form."

Several dangerous areas for the Christian are listed in the Bible. "Artistically and subtly, Satan weaves these dark vices mentioned in Paul's sin lists into the fabric of our existence in the world." Our music, our movies, social media platforms, activities inside and outside of work, our educational environments – these are all places that Paul's sin lists and vices are not only present but promoted. People changed by grace will not be conformed to those traits.


The Greek word for "transform" speaks to internal change. Another translation of the word is found in Matthew 17:2 as "transfigured." When Jesus' disciples were struggling with who He really was, Jesus displayed the glory of who He was to a few, letting them glimpse the glory of God through his humanity. What He has done in us is also glorious. Living a transformed life is allowing the glory of Christ who is in you to be displayed through you. This process is internal and daily. If He has changed you in salvation, allow Him to keep changing you to ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).


Survivalists have many creative ways to find and purify drinking water, start a fire for warmth, and maintain emotional health during a wilderness wandering struggle. Paul's way to survive in a worldly environment is simple: to renew your mind. One godly man said, "When we change the way we think, we change the way we live." In the wilderness, it can be deadly to have your mind altered by hunger or thirst. Paul teaches how to feed our spiritual selves so we can think and see clearly.

Renewal is a process that requires personal discipline. We must continually develop renewing habits. There are a myriad of ways we can saturate our lives with the content of Scripture today. Renewal is an internal process which is much more effective in changing how we live than externals. Many water analogies in the Bible illustrate that the Word of God is our refreshing agent without which we cannot live.

We are transformed "not by a mere outward disconformity to the ungodly world, many of whose distractions in themselves may be virtuous and praiseworthy; but by such an inward spiritual transformation as makes the whole life new – new in its motives and ends, even where the actions differ in nothing from those of the world – new, considered as a whole, and in such a sense as to be wholly unattainable save through the constraining power of the love of Christ." (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)


The best conclusion to a wilderness survival challenge is an abundance of provision at the end. People being rescued or who made it through a voluntary test are greeted with an abundance of food, water, clothing, and other comforts. God wants us to experience the relief that His Word can bring to our lives. Christians don't have to always be in survival mode; we can thrive with joyful dispositions! Sin is real hardship. The result of discernment is proving the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

Most survival situations require help, guidance, or training from another person who has learned survival skills. Without a guide, wandering the wilderness is horrific. God has given us the Spirit, other believers, and the Scripture so we don't have to wander the wilderness of the world alone. He provides these sources of consistent renewal so we may know the refreshing result of knowing and doing God's will in our lives.

Application Points

  • Read through Paul's sin lists referenced below. Consider how Satan and his fallen angels parade these in our culture and entertainment, seeking to influence people to imitate darkness. Men, are you conforming to the world? Fathers, do you set an example in your home by what you watch and listen to, where you go and what you support? The grace of God makes you capable. Know the Word.
  • Dads, your kids will remember and replicate how God changed you or how he didn't. Your children need to see you being transformed by the Spirit of God through the Word of God. A transformed man is a real man!
  • There are a myriad of ways we can saturate our lives with the content of Scripture today. Find a creative way to do so! Start in the morning by yourself, then communicate what you read to your family. Make it a goal to become as comfortable discussing Scripture and spiritual things with your wife and as a family as you are discussing daily things.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • The danger spots in our worldly wilderness are highlighted in sin lists – Colossians 3:5-9, Galatians 5:17-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.