This is the first week of a 6 week sereis through Romans 12 and 13.
Examines the comand, that we are looking at this week, to be a living sacrifice and to live our lives in light of what God has done for us through Christ.
Each message will help us to
“flashback” to the life of Jesus so that we can
see how we are to live in the now
transformed into the likeness of Jesus
This is all rooted in the idea, one that we don’t take all that seriously, that the life of Jesus, and in particular his work on the cross and in the empty tomb means something
Talk to the folks that call themselves christians for a moment
We can live all to often like nothing really changed
We can live lives that are not transformed, that show no evidence of the work of Christ.
This is a problem
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans is a letter to a church in trouble
There has been a split
Jewish and Gentile beleivers
Jews expelled from Rome
Caused the two groups to develop rifts between them
Jews back in Rome and these divisions are being amplified.
Paul has spent the previous 11 chapters of the letter trying to lay out what is imporant
This is why Romans is such a theologically rich and profound letter
It was probably Luther’s study of Romans that led to his split with the Roman Church
It was Wesley hearing from Luther’s intro to Romans that “strangely warmed” his heart
It was a study of Romans that sent Karl Barth off on his theological journey away from liberalism and back to orthodoxy
Paul does this by focusing on the work of Jesus and it’s implications
The passage for this morning
The passage for this morning
In 12 Paul takes a turn and enters a new section of the letter
This is much more focused on what it means to us to be a follower of Jesus
Paul lays out the facts and theology of Jesus’s life and ministry and then seeks to point out what the implications are for the bliever
Because Paul does know that there are implications to the believer
This is not a cheap grace, but a costly one.
“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ. Costly grace is the hidden treasure in the field, for the sake of which people go and sell with joy everything they have. It is the costly pearl, for whose price the merchant sells all that he has; it is Christ’s sovereignty, for the sake of which you tear out an eye if it causes you to stumble. It is the call of Jesus Christ which causes a disciple to leave his nets and follow him.” Bonhoeffer, D. (2015). Discipleship. (V. J. Barnett, Ed., B. Green & R. Krauss, Trans.) (Reader’s Edition, p. 5). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
This costly grace isn’t, however, a new law, or a list of rules, a new and improved list of “thou shalls and thou shall nots”
This isn’t about an attempt to earn something from God, that, of course, is not possible.
Rather we are to live our present lives remembering what it was that was done for us when we were underserving of it.
2 cor 5:14-15
For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.
As children of God we are to live in the love of the Father and to “flash back” to the truth of the Good News of what Jesus has done.
Then we are to live out our lives in the reality of that work.
Flash backs in movies, books, TV shows, etc, help us understand how past events are impacting the current narrative.
And so the question we must ask ourselves every, single day is this: “Is our current reality, the way that we are currently living our lives truly being impacted by the reality that we confess when we say that Jesus is Lord and that He went to the cross, died, and rose again for us? Is this a living reality for us? And if it is is it affecting our lives at all?
Living New, Transformed Lives
Living New, Transformed Lives
In light of the God’s mercy and Jesus’s work, we are to no longer live our lives in the same manner and patterns of the present “age” or of the “world.”
Conform is to shape one’s behavior
And by age “ the system of practices and standards associated with secular society (that is, without reference to any demands or requirements of God)” Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 507). New York: United Bible Societies.
Rather than letting the current world system shape our lives, Paul is telling us to becomg living sacrifices through personal transformation.
This si not something that we can do on our own.
Remember passive voice?
That is when something is being done to you
That is what is happening here “be transformed”
Pauls isn’t telling us to transform ourselves, rather that we are to be transformed by the realtionship we have with God through Christ.
This isn’t about behavior modification, but rather transformation from the inside out!
2 co 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
As followers of Jesus, we are to no longer live our lives in conformity to the world. Rather, through the renewing of our mind with the truth of God, we become transformed into the likeness of Jesus.
How does this happen? How are we get a renewed mind, one capable of discerning “what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
Because we know that we can not do this on our own, in our broken, fallen humanness
This transformation, this renewing, is not the result of human will and effort, no matter how hard we try.
It is the result of “flashing back” to the truth of God.
When our minds become immersed in the truth of the gospel and the amazing love of God on the Cross, our lives will be transformed.
How often have we thought that in a moment, in a flash, all the work was done and that God was done with us. We were saved and that was enough
I fear that we the church have taught that to people, that some sort of mental ascent to propositions was good enough.
We have failed to immerse our minds in the truth fo God. We are not Word formed, scripture filled believers.
Over the next several weeks we are going to study specific ways Paul encourages us to live as God’s children. But if we are simply seeking behavior modification and not true renewal and transformation in the truth of God, we will not become the living sacrifices that we are called to be.
Here are some ways we can renew our minds by creating the space to let the Truth of God move in and fill us up. These apply to both believers and non.
Spend time alone with God (prayer)
I hope that if you are already a believer that you are already doing this
If you are seeking God and seeking the truth, what better way to find Him than to spend time with Him
Spent time in the Word
This is God’s Word to us.
Set a timer and take a break from phone, social media, TV, etc.
When you memorize it becomes a part of you.
I’ll admit that I’m not too good and memorization, but it is still worth it.
Intentionally take your thoughts captive to the truth of God rather than letting your mind dwell on lies.
2 cor 10:5
and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.
All too often the things that we think about, the things that we give time too, become the things that rule us.