Biblical Worldview: Romans 12:1-2
Penmarvian. Sunday March 6, 2005. 11:00-11:45 am
2 Cor. 10:1-6
The great Christian thinker Francis Schaeffer once wrote that philosophy—often dismissed as irrelevant—is, in reality, a powerful engine that drives cultural change. Those in a position to influence put their ideas into vehicles to filter down into popular culture, including films. There, they influence millions who often have no notion of what they’re consuming along with the car chases, love scenes, and popcorn.
This brings us to recent the Academy Awards . If you watched them, you already know that the films Hollywood chose to honor had little to do with quality and everything to do with philosophy and worldview. As Christian film critic Barbara Nicolosi it, Hollywood’s choices affirm, once again, “just how very, very sick (these) storytellers have become.”
Five Oscars went to The Aviator, a film that celebrates billionaire Howard Hughes, the man who bedded dozens of starlets, made unwelcome advances to many others, and ultimately died of syphilis-induced insanity. Many of the movies awarded with Oscars are mediocre, and they celebrate degraded values, a secular worldview.
Everyone embraces one philosophy or another—a worldview that defines his or her conception of the world, of reality, and of human life. These beliefs are woven into movies—often in subtle ways that viewers miss. We need to find the worldview message in everything we watch, hear and read.
What is interesting, is that relatively few North Americans have a biblical worldview – even among devoutly religious people. That’s the conclusion by the latest study of the Barna Research Group (BRG), which suggested that a large share of the nation’s moral and spiritual challenges is directly attributable to the absence of a biblical worldview. Amazingly enough, when tested, few have a consistent Biblical worldview. For example, you cannot consistently believe in the exclusive claims of Christ and also believe that there is no absolute truth.
"What is a worldview? A worldview comprises one’s collection of presuppositions (assumptions), convictions, and values from which a person tries to understand and make sense out of the world and life.
“A worldview is a conceptual scheme by which we consciously or unconsciously place or fit everything we believe and by which we interpret and judge reality"
-- Ronald Nash, Faith and Reason.
"A worldview is, first of all, an explanation and interpretation of the world, and second, an application of this view to life."
-- W. Gary Phillips & William E. Brown, Making Sense of Your World from a Biblical Viewpoint.
-- from the Introduction in John MacArthur, Gen. Ed., Think Biblically!
“Quite simply, it is everything we believe, why we believe it, and how it affects how we live.” A biblical worldview, then, begins with "Seeing things the way God sees them."
Ø Illustration: Foundation & Glasses
It is not developed with worldly wisdom but wisdom that is from God. We must exercise discernment and study to show ourselves approved unto God to be able to separate true biblical wisdom from God from that worldly wisdom which is often costumed and disguised to appear as godly teaching.
Having concluded eleven chapters of profound and stirring teaching about what God has given believers, Paul now charges those believers with what they need to give God. What is interesting about the argument this far in Romans, is that Paul now shows us what true spiritual victory and fulfillment is. The key to spiritual victory and true happiness is not in trying to get all we can from God but in giving all that we are and have to Him.” In Romans 12:1–2, this forceful and compassionate exhortation, the apostle does not focus on what more we need to receive from God but on what we are to give Him. The key to a productive and satisfying Christian life is not in getting more but in giving all.
We are often told that victory in the Christian life is to have more of God and to have more from God—although “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, [already] has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3, emphasis added). And in Christ, we already have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” so that in Him we “have been made complete” (Col. 2:3, 10). Peter said that in the true and saving knowledge of Christ, we have “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). And we have the resident truth teacher, the Holy Spirit, whose anointing, John says, “teaches [us] about all things” (1 John 2:27).
In the deepest, eternal sense, therefore, we cannot have more of God or from God than we now possess. It is more than obvious, however, that most of us do not have the fullness of joy that this fullness of blessing should bring. The joy and satisfaction for which so many Christians are vainly striving can be had only by surrendering back to the Lord what He already has given to us, including our inmost being. The first and greatest commandment is what Jesus said it has always been: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37; cf. Deut. 6:5).
In the present text we discover four elements of presenting ourselves to God as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice—essentially the same four elements found in the first and greatest commandment. They are: offering God our souls, our bodies, our minds, and our wills.
1) The Soul Has Been Given to God
I appeal (urge) to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, (12:1a)
Appeal or Urge is from parakaleoµ, which has the basic meaning of calling alongside in order to help or give aid. It later came to connote exhorting, admonishing, or encouraging.
Paul is speaking as a human helper or counselor to his Christian brethren in Rome. His admonition is a command that carries the full weight of his apostleship. It is not optional. Yet he also wanted to come alongside those brothers as a fellow believer, to lovingly encourage them to fulfill what already was the true inner desire and bent of their new hearts—to dedicate themselves without reservation to the Lord who had redeemed them. The gentle appeal[urge] that Paul proceeds to give can only be obeyed by brethren, by those who already belong to God’s family. No other offering is acceptable to God unless we have first offered Him our souls. The unregenerate person cannot give God his body, his mind, or his will, because He has not given God himself. Only the redeemed can present a living sacrifice to God, because only the redeemed have spiritual life. And only believers are priests who can come before God with an offering.
Earlier in the epistle Paul has made clear that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). No matter what his personal feelings might be, the unredeemed person cannot worship God, cannot make an acceptable offering to God, cannot please God in any way with any offering. That is analogous to what Paul meant when he said, “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3). If a person does not possess the love of God, all of his offerings, no matter how costly, are worthless to Him.
Therefore refers back to the glorious doxology just given in the previous four verses (11:33–36). It is because “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things,” that to Him belongs “the glory forever.” We can only glorify the Lord—we can only want to glorify the Lord—if we have been saved by the mercies of God. The mercies of God of which Paul speaks here include the many gracious blessings, or grace gifts (cf. 11:29), that he has discussed in the first eleven chapters of Romans.
Perhaps the two most precious mercies of God are His love and His grace. In Christ, we are the “beloved of God” (Rom. 1:7; cf. Rom. 5:5; Rom. 8:35, Rom. 8:39), and, like the apostle, we all “have received grace” through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 1:6–7; Rom. 3:24; Rom. 5:2, Rom. 5:20–21; Rom. 6:15).
How are The mercies of God shown? They are reflected in His power of salvation (Rom. 1:16) and in His great kindness toward those He saves (2:4; 11:22). His mercies in Christ bring us the forgiveness and propitiation of our sins (3:25; 4:7–8) and also freedom from them (6:18; 7:6). We have received reconciliation with Him (5:10), justification (2:13; 3:4; etc.) before Him, conformation to His Son (8:29), glorification (8:30) in His very likeness, eternal life (5:21; 6:22–23) in His very presence, and the resurrection of our bodies (8:11) to serve Him in His everlasting kingdom.
We have received the mercies of divine sonship (8:14–17) and of the Holy Spirit—who personally indwells us (Rom. 8:9, 11), who intercedes for us (8:26), and through whom “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts” (5:5). In Christ we also have received the mercies of faith (mentioned thirty times in Romans 1–11), peace (1:7; 2:10; 5:1; 8:6), hope (5:2; 202, 4). God’s mercies include His shared righteousness (3:21–22; 4:6, 11, 13; 5:17, 19, 21; etc.) and even His shared glory (Rom. 2:10; 5:2; 8:18; 9:23) and honor (2:10; cf. 9:21). And, of course, the mercies of God include His sovereign mercy (9:15–16, 18; 11:30–32).
1) The Soul Has Been Given to God I appeal (urge) to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, (12:1a)
2) The Body Must Be Given to God
ESV to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual (reasonable/logical service of) worship. (12:1b)
The second and consequent element of presenting ourselves to God is that of offering Him our bodies. After it is implied that believers have given their souls to God through faith in Jesus Christ, they are specifically called to present their bodies to Him as a living and holy sacrifice.
In the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), paristeµmi (to present) was often used as a technical term for a priest’s placing an offering on the altar. It therefore carried the general idea of surrendering or yielding up. As members of God’s present “holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5), Christians are here exhorted to perform what is essentially a priestly act of worship. Because the verb is in the imperative, the exhortation carries the weight of a command.
The first thing we are commanded to present to God is our bodies. Because our souls belong to God through salvation, He already has the inner man. But He also wants the outer man, in which the inner man dwells.
Our bodies, however, are more than physical shells that house our souls. They are also where our old, unredeemed humanness (flesh) resides. In fact, our humanness is a part of our bodies, whereas our souls are not. Our bodies incorporate our humanness, our humanness incorporates our flesh, and our flesh incorporates our sin, as Romans 6 and 7 so clearly explain. Our bodies therefore encompass not only our physical being but also the evil longings of our mind, emotions, and will.
Rom. 7:5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
Long after he was saved, however, the apostle confessed:
ESV Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
In other words, the redeemed soul must reside in a body of flesh that is still the beachhead of sin, a place that can readily be given to unholy thoughts and longings.
It is that powerful force within our “mortal bodies” that tempts and lures us to do evil. When they succumb to the impulses of the fleshly mind, our “mortal bodies” again become instruments of sin and unrighteousness.
What did God intend for our Bodies? Paul clearly taught that the body can be controlled by the redeemed soul. He told the sinful Corinthians that the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body” (1 Cor. 6:11–13).
Scripture makes clear that God created the body as good (Genesis), and that, despite their continuing corruption by sin, the bodies of redeemed souls will also one day be redeemed and sanctified. Even now, our unredeemed bodies can and should be made slaves to the power of our redeemed souls. As with our souls, the Lord created our bodies for Himself, and, in this life, He cannot work through us without in some way working through our bodies. If we speak for Him, it must be through our mouths. If we read His Word, it must be with our eyes (or hands for those who are blind). If we hear His Word it must be through our ears. If we go to do His work, we must use our feet, and if we help others in His name, it must be with our hands. And if we think for Him, it must be with our minds, which now reside in our bodies. There can be no sanctification, no holy living, apart from our bodies. That is why Paul prayed,
1 Thes. 5:23 ¶ Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul rhetorically asked the believers at Corinth,
1 Cor 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
In other words, our unredeemed bodies are temporarily the home of God!
We cannot prevent the remnants of sin from persisting in our mortal bodies. But we are able, with the Lord’s power, to keep that sin from ruling our bodies. Since we are given a new, Spirit-indwelt nature through Christ, sin cannot reign in our souls. And it should not reign in our bodies (Rom. 8:11). Sin will not reign “if by the Spirit [we] are putting to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13; cf. 6:16).
Paul admonishes us, by God’s mercies, to offer our imperfect but useful bodies to the Lord as a living and holy sacrifice. As noted above, Paul uses the language of the Old Testament ritual offerings in the Tabernacle and Temple.
“When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11–12).
The living sacrifice we are to offer to the Lord who died for us is the willingness to surrender to Him all our hopes, plans, and everything that is precious to us, all that is humanly important to us, all that we find fulfilling. Like Paul, we should in that sense “die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31), because for us “to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). For the sake of his Lord and for the sake of those to whom he ministered, the apostle later testified, “Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all” (Phil. 2:17).
In the mid-seventeenth century, a somewhat well-known Englishman was captured by Algerian pirates and made a slave. While a slave, he founded a church. When his brother arranged his release, he refused freedom, having vowed to remain a slave until he died in order to continue serving the church he had founded. Today a plaque in an Algerian church bears his name.
David Livingstone, the renowned and noble missionary to Africa, wrote in his journal,
People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward of healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?
… Away with such a word, such a view, and such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us. (Livingstone’s Private Journal: 1851–53, ed.. I. Schapera [London: Chatto & Windus, 1960], pp. 108, 132)
Ø One person has said that it is entirely logical to give up what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose.
Like Livingstone, Christians who offer a living sacrifice of themselves usually do not consider it to be a sacrifice. And it is not a sacrifice in the common sense of losing something valuable. The only things we entirely give up for God—to be removed and destroyed—are sin and sinful things, which only bring us injury and death. But when we offer God the living sacrifice of ourselves, He does not destroy what we give Him but refines it and purifies it, not only for His glory but for our present and eternal good.
Our living sacrifice also is to be holy. Hagios (holy) has the literal sense of being set apart for a special purpose. Like that worshiper who was to come to God with “clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4), the offering of a Christian’s body not only should be a living but also a holy sacrifice.
Ø It is not the perfection of ourselves that makes the sacrifice holy, but one from righteous actions and pure intent.
It is the Lord’s purpose for His church to:
“sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25–27).
Only a living and holy sacrifice, the giving of ourselves and the giving of our best, is acceptable to God. Only in that way can we give Him our spiritual service of worship.
Logikos (spiritual) is the term from which we get logic and logical. Our offerings to God are certainly to be spiritual, but that is not what Paul is speaking about at this point. Logikos also can be translated reasonable, as in the King James Version.
The only spiritual service of worship that honors and pleases God is the sincere, loving, thoughtful, and heartfelt devotion and praise of His children.
1) The Soul Has Been Given to God I appeal (urge) to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, (12:1a)2) The Body Must Be Given to God ESV to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual (service of) worship. (12:1b)
3) The Mind Must Be Given to God
ESV And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, (12:2a)
The third element of our priestly self-sacrifice is that of offering Him our minds.
It is in the mind that our new nature and our old humanness are intermixed. It is in the mind that we make choices as to whether we will express our new nature in holiness or allow our fleshly humanness to act in unholiness.
Be conformed is from suscheµmatizoµ, which refers to an outward expression that does not reflect what is within. It is used of masquerading, or putting on an act, specifically by following a prescribed pattern or scheme (scheµma). It also carries the idea of being transitory, impermanent, and unstable. The negative meµ (not) makes the verb prohibitive. The verb itself is passive and imperative, the passive indicating that conformation is something we allow to be done to us, the imperative indicating a command, not a suggestion.
Paul’s gentle but firm command is that we are not to allow ourselves to be conformed to this world. We are not to masquerade as a worldly person, for whatever the reason. J. B. Phillips translates this phrase as “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.” We must not pattern ourselves or allow ourselves to be patterned after the spirit of the age. We must not become victims of the world. We are to stop allowing ourselves to be fashioned after the present evil age in which we live.
World translates aioµn, which is better rendered “age,” referring to the present sinful age, the world system now dominated by Satan, “the god of this world (aioµn)” (2 Cor. 4:4). World here represents “that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations.
It is not uncommon for unbelievers to mask themselves as Christians. Unfortunately, it also is not uncommon for Christians to wear the world’s masks. They want to enjoy the world’s entertainment, the world’s fashions, the world’s vocabulary, the world’s music, and many of the world’s attitudes—even when those things clearly do not conform to the standards of God’s Word. That sort of living is wholly unacceptable to God.
Instead, Paul goes on to say, you should rather be transformed. The Greek verb (metamorphooµ) connotes change in outward appearance and is the term from which we get the English metamorphosis. Like the preceding verb (be conformed), be transformed is a passive imperative. Positively, we are commanded to allow ourselves to be changed outwardly into conformity to our redeemed inner natures.
2 Cor 3: 18 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.
Ø This does not mean that we “Let go and Let God” This is an active transformation.
Although we are to aspire to this outward change, it can be accomplished only by the Holy Spirit working in us, by our being “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
The Holy Spirit achieves this transformation by the renewing of the mind, an essential and repeated New Testament theme. The outward transformation is effected by an inner change in the mind, and the Spirit’s means of transforming our minds is the Word. David testified, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11). God’s own Word is the instrument His own Holy Spirit uses to renew our minds, which, in turn, He uses to transform our living.
Col 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
The transformed and renewed mind is the mind saturated with and controlled by the Word of God. It is the mind that is set “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).
1) The Soul Has Been Given to God I appeal (urge) to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, (12:1a)2) The Body Must Be Given to God ESV to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual (service of) worship. (12:1b) 3) The Mind Must Be Given to God
ESV And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, (12:2a)
4) The Will Must Be Given to God
Esv 12:2b) by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
An implied fourth element of presenting ourselves to God as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice is that of offering Him our wills, of allowing His Spirit through His Word to conform our wills to the will of God.
The Greek construction makes that you may prove a purpose/ result phrase. That is to say, when a believer’s mind is transformed, his thinking ability, moral reasoning, and spiritual understanding are able to properly assess everything, and to accept only what conforms to the will of God. Our lives can prove what the will of God is only by doing those things that are good and acceptable and perfect to Him.
In using euarestos (acceptable), Paul again borrows from Old Testament sacrificial language to describe the kind of holy living that God approves, a “living sacrifice” that is morally and spiritually spotless and without blemish.
Perfect carries the idea of being complete, of something’s being everything it should be. A transformed mind produces a transformed will, by which we become eager and able, with the Spirit’s help, to lay aside our own plans and to trustingly accept God’s, no matter what the cost. This continued yielding involves the strong desire to know God better and to comprehend and follow His purpose for our lives. The divine transformation of our minds and wills must be constant. Because we are still continuously tempted through our remaining humanness, our minds and wills must be continuously transformed through God’s Word and by God’s Spirit.
What is the end of the Matter: (Romans 5:20-6:23)