ROMANS 12:1 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. 2 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.Romans.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
In 2009, I did a long study in the book of Romans in preparation of developing a class called, Romans and Revelation. It was quite a process. I did extensive reading, journaling, listened to sermons, had Reformed and Covenant seminary courses downloaded on my ipod and had our school invest in the most highly rated commentaries. All of this made me have to dig back into the greek as well, which was enjoyable- but a reminder that I only know enough to make me dangerous.
I loved putting that material together and teaching that course. It was 9 weeks in Romans and then 9 weeks in Revelation.
I have never encountered anything like this Book. The verses in this grand letter have impacted history and led to some amazing conversions including St Augustine and Martin Luther.
As I mentioned in the last post, Paul has just penned (under the direction of the Holy Spirit) an amazing, careful, detailed analysis of the good news of God's work which has overcome sin. It is a way to life- justification (a legal pardon) by faith in what Christ has done. Faith is now a means by which we can be adopted as sons and daughters of the King of Glory!
The end of chapter 11 is a famous 'doxology' (doxa is 'glory') For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever (which is Soli Deo Gloria) . Amen.I mentioned how after that, I have this line drawn in my Bible- but I have to say that it just takes my breath away when this 'doctrine' piece of Romans is wrapped up in such an amazing way!
Then 12:1 begins with this THEREFORE- In greek it is 'OUN' and I always say "Another great oun" because just about every 'therefore' in the Bible is followed by some of the greatest statements and commands in all of Scripture.
The Bible has indicatives and imperatives.
Indicatives are 'what you are'
Imperatives are commands to do.
So this is the line I was referring to is- because Romans 1-11 is true you should strive to live Romans 12-16.
And it is a 1 way channel. The stream flows only 1 way. God has made is possible for you to be forgiven and adopted. It is a gift. When you receive that gift, there should now be a flow of God directed obedience that begins to progress in your life.
Not as an artificial pretense. Not as a way to earn God's favor. But simply because who you are now changes what you do.
My dear friend David Filson has the greatest quote about this: 'Life is too short and the gospel is too good for us to walk around like posers.'
You cannot miss this. Let me do it again.
We are sinners. The ONLY thing I added to my salvation is my nasty,sinful heart and life.
God takes that old sinful heart and replaces it with His heart. I have a new nature, I have eternal life- but it will be a slow and often frustrating journey to 'work out my salvation in fear and trembling'. It is 1 step forward, 2 steps back, 3 steps forward, 1 step back- 2 weeks of great improvement, 1 month of selfish laziness, 6 months of consistent communion, 3 months of darkness and doubt. 1 Sunday of praise until I weep. 2 Sundays of fatigue and depression. In theological terms this is called 'sanctification'- we are being set apart for God's purpose which brings Him glory.
And my experience is that you 'just keep swimming (like Dory)' and you see true progress about every 10 years. It is a slog, it is a WAR- but the fight is so worth it!
SO back to Romans 12:1-2. This is your LIFELONG game plan.
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.It is an impossible request. And the 'testing' indicates time, trial, evaluation, and mistakes.
But is is so glorious to get up every morning and see if you can go for it one more time.
When we get up in the morning we say "Lord, you died for me, You rescued me, You proved your love for me, You bless me- I am forgiven and adopted- what can I do for You today?
And the impossible to do for today? Worship me by sacrificing your life to Me and trusting Me. Don't get fooled by the pattern and values of this world but be totally and radically changed because you think differently, you see differently- you are learning to do My will and not Yours.
And the smart person understands that this is the best choice because God's will is good and acceptable and perfect. The world's way is evil, inappropriate, and flawed.
THE EARLY TRAP/PITFALL:
Once that journey begins, the early stumble is spiritual pride.
That is why I think it is so cool that Paul goes right into the next section after the marching orders.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.As soon as I was given eyes to see the grace of God and humbled myself in repentance and received God's Word of grace as a gift, I began living for Him.
And 2 steps into the journey- I look around to compare and compete with others.
Paul says, NO- grace requires us to see all men as equal in the shadow of the cross. The only good you are doing is by God's grace, so why are you boasting or proud?
Now I am going to pull a little trick on you about godly humility. I am going to put 3 statements in these verses together and ask, what goes real, godly humility look like?
I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:
the one who leads, with zeal
How many times have you ever looked at a strong personality in the church- a little loud, excited, full of energy, inspiring people and thought 'he's full of himself'. Could you be wrong? Sure, He may one of those folks that we say "except by the grace of God goes God"- but it could be a man full of God's grace who is using his gift of leadership with zeal.
He doesn't think more highly of himself... but the Scripture doesn't say think more lowly of yourself either.
Finally, verses 4-8 speak of a Holy unity of purpose. Here is diversity with coordination and cooperation:
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.As a football coach, I understand that a good team practices the passage above and a poor team does not.
We all come together and work toward one goal with different gifts and ability.
Every single person necessary/needed
Am I willing to lay my life on the altar and say 'God, Your will and not mine'?
Are you willing to go against the conventional wisdom of this culture?
Is your mind being renewed in God's way of thinking? Read His Word
Are you realistically understanding of who you are in Christ?
What is your gift? Are you using it with effort, skill, cheer, and zeal?
Do you value others? Do you tend to be critical of others?
Are you a team player, collaborating as a co-laborer fro the Master?
If 'No'- Go back to Romans Chapters 1-11. Then begin again in Romans 12.
By His grace and In His power and For His glory.
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