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HOMI 501:  Preparation of the Sermon – Expository Preaching

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

Sermon 1

Wade J. Wood



Title:  What’s the difference?

Scripture Text:  Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.[1]



The life of a gardener is not an easy one.  Besides regular duties of life they tend to crops.  Early in the spring they till the ground in preparation of the spring planting.  They then plant the seed and pray that it will grow.  In my preparation I went a little further this year.  I laid landscaping fabric in the rows to try to conquer the weeds.  It is then that the real work begins.  The pulling of the weeds, watering and fertilizing are only the beginning.  If all is done well and the gardener dedication is true to his being than at the time of harvest he will have fruit.

 Our dedication to the scriptures, God’s word should be so diligent.  We should be pulling the weeds of life and fertilizing our minds with the grace of God’s word.  In the end we should see the fruit of our hard work.  This is the meaning of Romans 12:1-2.

Today we will be looking closely at two verses that are well known to many people.  But the meaning is sometimes missed in the transmission.  In Romans 12:1-2 we are beckoned and encouraged by Paul to become a living sacrifice, a holy and acceptable sacrifice to the living God.  How do we accomplish such a task?  What is the cost of such a thing?  Who can do such a task?  We will see that the answers to the questions are simple.  Let us turn to Romans and see what Paul says.

Propositional statement:

    To be a living sacrifice you must cultivate His word in your life, so that you will be found to be in the perfect will of God.

I.                   First Compliment – Romans 12:1

Text Romans 12:1 

I  beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.[2]

Paul implores the Roman church.

Paul implores us.


A.   An Urgent Message.

a.     Who is Paul talking to?

                                                                         i.      Paul is talking to the citizens of the Roman church.  He is calling them; he is imploring them to be a living sacrifice.  He uses the word Παρακαλῶ (Parakalow).  In the Greek means to implore, beg or urge.  It is with great urgency that Paul is requesting this of the Roman church.

                                                                       ii.      Paul is talking to us.  He is imploring us to become a living sacrifice to God also.  He wants us to cultivate in our own lives the seeds that are found in the word of God.

Paul’s words are timeless.  He is beseeching each one of us to live a good and holy sacrifice to God.  He wants us to bear witness to each other so that we can be cultivated by the word of God.  Paul is showing urgency here.  He has just spoken of the trinity at the end of chapter 11 and is calling the attention of the people to this.  We need to be in close commune with God.  But it is only through the mercies of God that we can do this.  There is nothing that we can do.  Christ has come and paid the price for our debt on Calvary. This section of Romans tells us that we have a responsibility for this debt that has been paid.  That is the reasonable service that Paul Talks about.  

B.    What is Paul saying?

a.     Reasonable Service.

When in the military you are sent to basic training.  You learn the skills of a basic soldier.  These are the skills necessary of survival in today’s battlefield.  Without these skills the soldier’s chance of survival are very limited.  Commanders know that if the soldier is to make it these skills need to be engrained.  Likewise Paul calls us to reasonable service.  He calls us to be:

ü Holy

ü Acceptable

Likewise these two are the basic skills a Christian needs to make it in God’s eyes.  We strive to be holy and acceptable to God.  God has given us a guide to get us to this point.  It is called the Bible.  Everything we need to know as Christians is found in side this marvelous book.  God calls us to himself.  In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 we see the implications of a cheerful giver. 

          6  But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.[3]

Though this passage is talking about giving, I believe that it is also talking about our worship.  God wants nothing from us but all of us.  We should therefore worship Him with our entire being.  God will reward us each sparingly if we worship sparingly and He will reward us bountifully if we worship bountifully.


We all know the story of the ugly duckling.  He was the odd one the different one.  So we are that are followers of Christ, at least from the world’s perspective.  But like the ugly duckling that became a beautiful swan, so we to will become beautiful beings in Christ.

II.                Second Compliment – Romans 12:2


And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind[4]



A call to inconformity

A call to study

A.   Conform or be different.  Romans 12:2

Paul quickly tells us not to be conformed to this world.  This world and worldly things are not of God.  He has already called us to be holy and acceptable.  The world holds nothing of this.  He is pointing out that the worldly ways lead to sin.  This is not what God wants for us.  He wants us to be in the world not of the world.  Should a follower of God stand out from others around them?  Yes.  We should not look like everyone else.  Our lives should be an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. 

     During our Sunday message Pastor Russ told us about a biblical character that did not conform to the world.  Nehemiah was a man of God not of the world.  He did two things in his planning that we need to keep in mind.  First he did all that he did according to the will of God.  Secondly he did it according to the word of God.  As Christians we need to live by this and Romans 12:1-2 is imploring that we do these two things.  Nothing that we do should be done without the perfect will of God and the word of God. 

B.   Renew your mind.  2 Thessalonians 2:15

          15Therefore, brethren,  stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. [5]

a.     Stand fast

Paul is again calling us to be different here.  He wants us to stand firm in our faith and to be different from the world.  Paul knows that the Christian walk is not going to be easy; he knows that we will face trials and affliction.  But so did Christ!  It is through Christ’s cleansing blood that we have been made righteous.  It is his strength that we draw on to make it through this world.  When Christ died on that tree he died with my sin and your sin.  He faced the total wrath of God.  Again there is a responsibility on our part for this great deed.  We need to be solid in our faith and we must know our faith.

b.     Renew your mind

Paul is telling us here in 2 Thessalonians that we need to stand fast and hold the traditions that the people of Thessalonica were taught by him.  The important note here is that Paul speaks both of the written and verbal communication.  He mentions his Epistles.  They are what we have today in the Bible.  Paul is calling them to study and to improve their knowledge thru the reading of the epistles.  We unfortunately no longer have Paul to hear for ourselves.  But we do have his words that have been forever saved in his epistles.  That which he has written is the inspired word of God.      


We have seen thus far that we need to do a lot of work to be a Christian.  We are called to be different.  We are called to study.  We are implored of beseeched.  We are told to present our bodies a living sacrifice.  Why should we do this?

III.              Romans 12:2 – end


That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.[6]

What is good and Acceptable?

The Will of God

A.    What is good and acceptable?

God does not want much of us, just all of us.  Once we get that point in our mind it is really simple.  Our every thought is to be that of God.  I think of a quote from Charles Spurgeon:

            “Preach Christ or nothing:  Don’t dispute or discuss without your eyes on the cross.”

In this quote we see the true meaning of Paul’s words.  Nothing we do should be done without the filter of the cross. 

a.     How do we know what is good and acceptable?

The only way to know what is good and acceptable in God’s eyes is to read God’s word and Study it.  Nobody would do brain surgery without going to school to learn how to do brain surgery.  Why should we do this with the word of God?  God has given us the Bible so that we can learn about Him and His ways.  The Bible is filled with exhortations and instructions on how our lives should be led.  Christ wants to draw us closer to Him.  He wants us to become one of His own. 

b.      The perfect will of God.

Putting all that we have seen today will lead us to the perfect will of God.  Does this mean that if you study scripture, you will be in God’s will?  No.  You have to apply it.  Paul is telling us that if we want to be in the perfect will of God than we need to present our bodies as a living sacrifice.  That it must be holy and acceptable to God.  We do this by the renewing of our minds.  This brings us closer to God and His will. 


The gardener’s season is coming to a close.  His hard work is finally showing.  The fruit is ripe on the vine.  How’s your fruit?



We have taken a journey into the scriptures.  We have seen that Paul is imploring, begging, and pleading with us to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God.  Why?  This is the basic service that we should show to God.  How?  By renewing our minds and studying scripture and applying it.  It is one of the most simple, yet hardest things we can do.  How better to get to know your savior than to spend time with him daily and presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice.


How can we apply this to our lives?  We need to devote ourselves to daily study the scripture.  Learning what the writers have left for us to learn from.  We need to worship God with our entire being and soul.  The way to do this is to be immersed in His word and ways.  Those traditions and epistles are there for our study.  We have no excuse not to learn them.  We have no excuse not to live them. 


In Acts 9:6 Paul asked of the Lord, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”  We need to ask the same question.  Lord, what do You want me to do?  In Romans 12:1-2 we are told to present ourselves a living sacrifice and then are told how to do it.  Will you do it?  Will your fruit come to full harvest or will it shrivel on the vine.  Christ did not back down when he went to the cross.  He took the full brunt of the wrath of God.  He died a horrible and painful death.  Why?  He did it to save a wretch like you and me.  Will you take the advice of Paul?  Will you present yourselves a living sacrifice to the Lord?  Will you take the challenge to open your bible more than at a service?  I pray you do.


The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982,

MacArthur, John:  The MacArthur Bible Commentary

Magee, J. Vernon:  Through the Bible Commentary Series.

Logos Bible Software Program


[1] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Ro 12:1-2

[2] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Ro 12:1-2

[3] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 2 Co 9:6-7

[4] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Ro 12:2

[5] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 2 Th 2:15

[6] The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Ro 12:2

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