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Worship at Every Moment

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Worship at Every Moment
Romans 12:1-2
11/9/2008

INTRODUCTION

In any given day I probably have around 30 items clamoring for my attention.  I always have schoolwork to complete, phone calls to make, repairs that have to be done in the home, time I’d like to spend with my wife, and acrobatic tricks my daughter wants me to watch.  Between e-mails, faxes, and voicemails I often find myself overwhelmed.  For a long time I have struggled to become sufficiently organized to handle all the demands on my time.  I’m naturally disorganized and very poor at determining priority.

            Now maybe you’re the kind of person who can keep things in order without a problem.   You’re one of those people who has your entire task list for the day prioritized and scheduled in your mind and you’ll work through the list efficiently and speedily.

            Or else maybe you’re like me, waking up in the morning in a daze trying to figure out who’s on first and what’s on second.  I got so frustrated at one point I started trying to find a system I could use successfully to keep my life organized.  I found this system called “Getting Things Done.”  Have you heard of it?  It started as a book by David Allen.   This is an organizational system that is supposed to be natural and most efficient in an electronic age.  I read the book and then discovered an entire cult following of this guy.  There are people who follow David Allen as a sort of guru, a messiah, whose gospel is happiness through organization and check-boxes.  You can get GTD plugins for your e-mail, phone, handheld device, whatever.  There are entire websites and clubs devoted to this system of completing daily tasks. 

Now don’t get me wrong, the system is good.  But is it the answer to life’s questions?  I mean, have you ever felt so stressed about all the stuff you have to accomplish?  It would seem that if we could just get the list done at the end of the day, we would probably end the day happy rather than tired and grumpy.

            I think the issue of priorities and organization is only the tip of the iceberg.  I think really, we’re dealing with a much deeper issue than when to make phone calls and when to check e-mails.  The question of priority, for the believer, is answered in the question of worship.  I think God cares a great deal about what we choose to do.  He is intimately involved in our lives.  God is in the details.  And God cares about our motivations—why we choose to do what we do.  So what does God have to say about our daily decisions?

            Turn to the book of Romans.  Chapter  12.  Verses  1 and 2.  I’ll read it:

" 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." (Romans 12:1-2, ESV) [6]

            Now then.  At first glance these verses are not about our daily schedules.  And really, the focus of the verses are not on our daily decisions.  But as we work through these verses, I hope you see that by obeying these verses every single decision you make throughout the day will be affected.

Proposition

            Worship at every moment.

I.            Present yourself like a slave

I think the central command in this text is in that phrase, “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice…”  Paul says he “appeals to you …. To present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”  There are times when scripture gives a command.  There are other times when scripture seems to go beyond commanding to begging, entreaty, appealing.  It’s more urgent, more emotional, like a mother urging her soldier-son to be careful as she sees him off at his unit’s deployment to war.  It’s as if Paul is saying, “Please!  For your own sake and for the sake of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”

Now then, that word “present” is an interesting word.  It means “to bring, offer, make available, wait on, assist, or be on hand” in the way that a bride is presented to the groom or in the way a slave is available to his master.  One commentator wrote:

The verb “present” in this verse means “present once and for all.” It commands a definite commitment of the body to the Lord, just as a bride and groom in their wedding service commit themselves to each other. It is this once-for-all commitment that determines what they do with their bodies.[7]

Did you get that last part?  Let me read it again.  “It is this once-for-all commitment that determines what they do with their bodies.”

So at the center of these verses, Paul is begging us to present our bodies, that is, our entire beings, to God so that God determines what we do with ourselves.  He calls us living sacrifices.  He reminds the Roman church of the sacrifices that were offered in the Jewish temple and the sacrifices that were offered in the pagan temples.  If you read through chapters 1-11, you’ll find that Paul has been going back and forth in his letter.  At one time he will speak to Jews, at another time he will speak to gentiles.  He is trying to bring them to the understanding that they have peace with God through the same Gospel.  His letter so far has emphasized the commonality between all believers regardless of ancestry: Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the one thing that all believers have in common, no matter where you’re from or the color of your skin or the religion of your parents. 

The other thing that Jews and Gentiles had in common, at least in Rome, is an experience of religious sacrifices, either made to the Lord God of Israel or to Roman gods.  Both were familiar with sacrificial systems.  Paul uses the image of sacrifice to drive home his point that we are to not only let God direct our every decision, but have our entire being.   We are to be fully and completely His to use however He pleases.  (REPEAT) 

In the last verses of Hebrews 12, the writer of Hebrews says something similar to our text tonight.  He says,   John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  That happened in Acts when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and licks of fire descended on them.  In the sacrificial system of Israel, offerings were sacrificed and then burned on an altar with fire.  Paul is bringing all that into our text this evening.  God is a consuming fire.  The acceptable worship to a consuming God is an entire being to be consumed.  This means our every single decision, including our schedules and our task lists. 

The emphasis of the word “sacrifice” is that we hold nothing in reserve.  In other passages Paul describes believers as “slaves.”  Here Paul is making an emphasis beyond the position of slave.  You see, a slave always holds one thing in reserve: a desire to be free.  A desire to escape.  A dream of one day being able to make his own decisions and not at the beck and call of his master.  A sacrifice does not even have that one desire remaining.  A sacrifice is wholly, completely, and entirely given over to the fire that consumes it.  For us, that is our God.

a.      Acceptable to God

Such a living sacrifice is “Holy and Acceptable to God.” 

Paul tells us plainly that God doesn’t want us to make offerings.  Do you know what an offering is?  It’s not just the basket on Sunday morning.  If you walk into a Chinese restaurant that is actually owned by Chinese Buddhists, you’ll find somewhere an altar to an ancestor.  On that altar will probably be an orange or a can of fruit or a cup of tea, and some incense.  The altar is an offering to the ancestor’s spirit in the event that he or she comes to visit and needs some refreshment from the voyage.  It seems strange to us as believers.  My first thought is “why would a spirit-being eat an orange?” 

But I want you to see that we do the same thing with God.  We offer Him things that He doesn’t want or need.  We offer Him a few hours working on our new church building.  We endure cell family because we have to.  We offer Him a few minutes of prayer and a quick scan of our Bibles so that we have gotten it out of the way.  We offer Him our prayers—the same one we’ve offered every day for the past year.  We’ve said it so many times we’re not even thinking about it while we pray.  He doesn’t want our offerings.  He doesn’t need them.  He can do without our time, our money, or our prayers.  What we hold back, like the slave holding back his desire for freedom, is ourselves.

But I want you to see slight difference here.  These words, “holy and acceptable to God,” are adjectives that modify the word, “sacrifice.”  They are adjectives, that means descriptive words.  They are not goals or intents or results of being a sacrifice.  In other words, you do not get God’s acceptance by being a sacrifice.  A living sacrifice already is holy and acceptable.  A living sacrifice is by definition holy and acceptable.  That’s why in the Greek, the word “as” is not in the text.  Paul does not say to pretend or act as if or try to be a living sacrifice.  He simply says to present yourself a living sacrifice.  You already are an acceptable and holy sacrifice to God if you have truly been born again.  Therefore live it out.  This may be fuzzy right now.  Let’s look at it from another angle.

b.      By the mercies of God

Look at the previous phrase, “by the mercies of God.”  Of all the words in these two verses, I think the word “mercies” is perhaps the most meaningful, the most loaded of the terms.  It is literally translated, “compassion, mercies.”  It means to identify with someone sympathetically.  It means personal understanding.  Jesus and Paul use the word to refer to the traits that people have in common with God, the ways in which we are like God. 

Here Paul specifically is referring back to what he said earlier in this letter, in particular I think chapter 6, where Paul talks about us dying to sin the way Jesus died and coming to spiritual life the way Jesus came back to life.  He is saying more than emotional mercy—“I’m so sorry you have to go through that.”  He’s saying that Jesus has done exactly what He is asking us to do.  Jesus has presented Himself to God as a living sacrifice, He has been consumed—that’s the ultimate meaning of the term, Jesus is the one who was sacrificed.  And since Jesus has been there in more ways than we will ever experience, then by his identification with us, we can do the same. 

So those who have been born again are acceptable to God, we are holy, because of what Jesus has done on our behalf.  Remember, the Israelites had to offer perfect, spotless lambs on the altar for sacrifice.  If we are to be sacrifices, we must therefore be spotless and perfect.  But as sinners we are blind, stained, and despicable.  But as believers, we have been cleansed of all unrighteousness, we are clean, spotless lambs.  Through the mercy of God—Jesus dying in our place and coming back to life for us to be perfect—we are made acceptable and set apart (That’s the meaning of Holy, “set apart”) to God for sacrifice.  We come to the altar, that is, the Christian life, already acceptable.  We come to God already holy and acceptable.

II.            Transformed, not Conformed

If I’m honest, though, I have to admit that my life is not one that I would characterize as fully and completely given over to God.  Therefore wouldn’t He think of me as a let-down?  I mean, if Jesus died and rose again for me, shouldn’t I be living a perfect life?  Verse 2 goes directly into that issue. 

Our tendency is to think about what we do.  And what we do matters a great deal.  But Paul’s concern is not so much what we do, but who we are.  Look at the beginning of verse 2.

a.      External conformation

“Do not be conformed to this world.”  Paul uses a term that means to be shaped or fit into a mold.  It is an exterior influence that creates an appearance, like putting on a costume or getting plastic surgery.  It’s trying to look like something.  Now, it is easy for us to say that we don’t do that.  Most of us seem to think that we’re original in our thinking and creative in our decisions.  “I’m my own man, nobody tells me what to do.”  But the truth is, as a people, we pretty much go with the cultural flow.  We’ll do what most people are doing.

Paul says not to be conformed to this world or this age.  This culture is what he has in mind.  Do not be conformed to the world at large.  Do not be forced into the cookie cutter of the culture where you live.

You know, take a minute and step away from our culture.  What is it that the culture would force us into?  Guys, have you noticed that the culture would try to make you lazy, drunk, sex-crazed, and addicted to some sort of distraction? 

Just look at the men on tv and think about the men whom you’ve known.  How many of them do you first picture on the couch with a remote and maybe a beer?  How often do you run across an image of a father who works all day, comes home tired, and devotes his time to conversation with his wife and homework with his kids?  Have you seen this guy around?  The men our culture portrays are either effeminate whimpy, useless complainers or chauvinistic jerks who take women for granted and ignore or abuse their own children.  The strong, gentle, caring, trail-blazing men who command respect and deliver kindness have evaporated and left us without a good example of Jesus Christ to follow.

Are you buying into it?  When the kids get rowdy at home do you tell your wife to keep them quiet and turn up the volume on the television?  When you’ve had a hard day and long day at work do you come home to your desk and surf the internet or play some games to wind down?  Did you forget your wife, your kids, or your Jesus waiting to meet you in Scripture?  Do you find yourself more interested in the newest cell phone or car than in your family goals?  I know I’m just preaching at the guys, but quite honestly look—this culture, in its conformity to the desires of Satan, would sooner have you check out or be a womanizer than be a good husband or father.  Either a jerk or a whimp.  But not a strong, loving leader.

Don’t let the world fit you into this mold.  Don’t let the world make you into what it wants you to be.

b.      Internal Transformation

Instead, be transformed.  Here Paul has changed terms.  The world would try to conform you, to shape you from the outside.  But Jesus intends to transform form you, that is to make a new person out of you, to change your very being and character.  To do a metamorphosis, taking away what you were and creating a new person in you instead.

Think about the world’s idea of a man again.  Think about that, and then think about the Biblical portrayal of Jesus Christ.  As you read about Him in the Gospels you see him helpless as a baby and frightfully intimidating as he throws out profiteers from the temple.  You see him compassionate for the prostitutes and irate at the Pharisees.  You’ll read about him dog-tired and still caring for the crowds.  You’ll see him teaching, singing, walking, healing, preaching, and simply hanging-out.

As you read about Him, you’ll get to know Him.  And as you get to know Him, you’ll start to become like Him.  You’ll start to be transformed.

I love this word “transformed” because it explains what it means to be consumed as a sacrifice.  Don’t think of the consuming fire as a destroying fire, the kind of fire you use to get rid of leaves this time of year, the kind of fire you use to burn your trash.  And God isn’t a camp fire, either.  He’s the kind of fire that is used to refine gold, to burn off the impurities and make fine, perfect gold.  He’s the kind of fire that is used to make sand into gorgeous, handmade and perfectly blown glassware.  He’s the fire of a crucible, of a proving oven.  He’s the kind of heat that makes great things from scratch. 

Renewing of the mind

The Christian mind must understand consumption for God as transformation.  It is the destruction of who I was in order to let the Christlike character of the new person take over my life.  God is a consuming, transforming, proving fire who transforms the believer.

Let this fire into your mind.  That’s what Paul is saying in verse two when he says to be transformed “by the renewal of your mind.”  He has in mind the work of the Holy Spirit making you and me into people who resemble Jesus.  He is speaking in the broadest of terms, and therefore intends for us to apply this principle to the broadest of contexts.  No matter what you think about or consider, let your mind be renewed in how you think about things.  God wants to change how you see the entire world—your spouse, your kids, your work, your leisure, your church, your neighborhood, your politics, your physical fitness, your romance, your magazine subscriptions, your everything.  Let your old ways of thinking, the worldly ways of thinking, be burned away so that the Godly ways of living can take over. 

All of the stuff that you allow to pass through your brain is to be reconsidered from the perspective of a renewed mind.  God does the renewing, and as your understanding—nowadays we call it a world view—as your understanding of God and the world changes, then your character is changed. 

                                                              i.      Discernment

And changed so that you can now determine what is good, what is acceptable, what is perfect.  That is, you can determine what is the will of God.  When you’re character is transformed by a proving fire, you are able then to test the options of the day.  You are able to determine between the bad, good, and absolute best.  You have a standard of godliness by which you can compare all the things that you have to do in a day.

                                                            ii.      Will of God

In our case, what is the “will of God.”  Have you ever wanted to know what God’s will is for your life?  You will be able to determine what His will is as you are transformed by the renewal of your mind.  Look at these three words quickly:

1.      Good

The will of God is good.  It is very good.  It is the best that we can imagine.

2.      Acceptable

It is acceptable.  This is the same word that was above talking about us as living sacrifices, holy and perfect.  An acceptable sacrifice to God is able to determine what is acceptable to God.

3.      Perfect

Perfect.  That is, without defect. 

c.       Affect on Decisions

The Christian who walks through the consuming fire, being a living sacrifice, is one who is being transformed into a person who thinks and acts like God.    Paul acknowledges that the world tries to fit us into its mold from the outside.  But Jesus changes us from the inside.  And this change makes it possible for us to tell the difference between what is acceptable to God and what isn’t.  Since we are acceptable to God we are able to see good from bad.  But more than that, the term for “discern” in verse two means more than just see the difference between two things, like identifying red from green or hot from cold, but actually desiring and pursuing for yourself what you have determined is good.  Everybody pursues what they think is the best thing for themselves.  But the Christian is transformed so that the Christian’s desire is the same as God’s will.  What God wills, the Christian learns to will and pursue Himself.  The transformation is one that even changes the believer’s affections.  God changes our wants and desires and likes and pleasures.  It is a total transformation

I want you to notice that in these two verses, Paul has referred to the Christian’s body, the Christian’s mind, and the Christian’s will.  He has in two verses encompassed the entire person.  Again, complete and total commitment to God the consuming fire.

    III.            Spiritual worship

I hope this is starting to come together for you.  I hope you’re seeing that we can not only be sold out to God because Jesus makes it possible, but that God is willing to make all this happen within us.  I hope also you’ve noticed something else: I skipped a phrase.  Back at the end of verse 1, Paul says that all this “is your spiritual worship.”  The literal translation is “your reasonable worship.”  In other words, it is reasonable to give yourself to God.  It is reasonable to commit yourself to the fire to be consumed.  It is sensible to be a living sacrifice.  Why is that?  Because He gave himself for us, and therefore He is merciful.

It is worship.  And here is the entire point of the passage, and I think of the book of Romans: Worship.

If you’ve heard nothing else I want you to hear this: we are to worship at every moment.  Worship at every moment. 

·         We worship God because He is “merciful,” that is, He perfectly identifies with us.

·         We worship God with our bodies.  That means every action we make.

·         We worship God with our minds.  That means every thought we think.

·         We worship God with our will.  Every decision we choose.

The entirety of life—body, mind, will—is wrapped in worship.  And that is absolutely reasonable considering that Jesus gave Himself up for our sakes.  The point of our lives is worship at every moment.

CLOSING

Can you imagine yourself living this way?  What might have to change in your life?  If you worship at every moment, what will you do first when you wake you up?  Will you brush your teeth differently?  How will you prepare your kids for school?  What will you talk about at breakfast?  What will you listen to in the car on your way to work?  How might you think differently when you don’t get that raise?  What will you do when you get home?

Look at your schedule, open your Day-Timer, or your Palm, or your Outlook calendar.  Do you pray over your schedule and struggle to discern what is good and acceptable and perfect for your day?

What are you doing now that is for yourself rather than for God?  I understand that you need to rest, but do you realize that rest isn’t for yourself, either?  Rest does not mean leisure.  The slave has no leisure.  The sacrifice is on fire.  So then, what rights have you been demanding?  Instead, what should you be doing with your so-called “free time” to be worshipping at every moment?  What desires do you have left over from when you weren’t a believer?  Or what habits do you continue in without rethinking them?

I’m not trying to make burnouts here.  I’m trying to make martyrs.  Jesus people are called to give up their every right and desire in exchange for God’s desires.   Paul isn’t asking us to become something we can’t be.  He’s asking us to live up to what we already are.  We are already acceptable and holy to God.  Therefore we can be the type of people who choose the things that are good and acceptable and perfect.  These verses aren’t the words of a vicious slave driver.  They’re the words of a caring Father.  You should hear God saying, “I just want you to be who I’m making you to be. “

I had an eye-opener experience on Friday.  I went to meet with our accountant to discuss our business tax returns.  Finances are not my strength.  And because they are not my strength, I have left them to Angela since we married.  Now we’ve operated three different business entities for some years now.  I thought the best thing to do was to let Angela handle the money side.  So I met with our accountant, and as we went over the details and numbers over the past years, it hit me that I had been negligent.  Angela just isn’t able to handle all the things that have been put on her.  We had made decisions that simply were not the best for our company, nothing illegal, but simply unwise.  How did this happen?  I am obsessive when it comes to bible study.  I am obsessive when it comes to technology, too.  I would rather spend hours in my computer bible software than in the checkbooks and learning about accounting and economics.  The Holy Spirit seemed to take me back in my mind to a list of opportunities to care for our finances when instead I found something else to do, oftentimes choosing bible study, ministry, or something else that I thought would be a good excuse.  At those moments, the good, acceptable, perfect thing to do was to be the chief financial officer.  Now in some ways, we’re literally paying for those decisions.

I’m not telling you to stop studying your bible.  I’m not telling you to become a stock market investor rather than go to cell family.  The Word is your only source of truth.  I don’t think I would have realized my negligence had I not been studying these two verses for this evening.  But remember this: the good, acceptable, perfect will of God is not always the churchy thing to do.  You can’t get busy at church and neglect other things that God wants you to do. 

God is in the details.  He intends to transform you so that you worship him with the words you say, the phone calls you make, the texts you send, the way you spend your time at home, the music you listen to in your car, the money you spend, every single detail of life is to be God’s.  He consumes your everything, transforming you to be like Him in everything.

Can you imagine The Bridge as a culture of Romans 12 Christians?  Can you picture us worshipping at every moment?  I can.  I can see us men becoming like Jesus as we let Him transform us.  Honestly, we’d put the game controller down, log off the internet, and put away the newspaper.  When we do watch tv, we’d do it with purpose—perhaps to teach our kids about culture or have an excuse to rub our wives’ feet.  Maybe we’d read the newspaper, but not for long.

I think the women in our church would be amazed at the men they’d receive from such a transformation.  They would be so excited to have a man leading the family that we’d experience a rash of supportive, energizing women who wouldn’t nag but would be the support that would make our men able to fulfill the dreams that God has given them.  The marriage would become united around a purpose, a plan.

Our kids would get to see great men and women in their own homes.  Our kids would get to learn from Mom and Dad rather than television or school teachers only.  They would have the intimacy and encouragement they need to go into the world.  More importantly, they’d go to college not only knowing about God from Bridge Kids and Sunday morning, but they’d know what God is like from Mom and Dad living it out in the home.

We’d be a different church.  And it only takes the application of two verses.  Let’s pray.


 

Worship at Every Moment
Romans 12:1-2
Preaching Outline

ME

·        Too many things going on

o   Schoolwork, phone calls, repairs in the home,

o   Time with my wife

o   Acrobatic tricks Bella wants me to watch

o   Overwhelmed

o   Naturally disorganized

WE

·        Maybe you can keep things in order without a problem

o   Totally organized

o   Totally prioritized

·        Or else like me, dazed first thing in the morning

·        GTD, David Allen

o   Cult following

o   Gospel of organization

§  Happiness through a managed task list

·        Priority and Organization are only the tip of the iceberg

·        Question of priority is answered in the question of worship

·        God is in the details

o   God cares about our motivations

GOD

·        Romans 12:1-2

o   " 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." (Romans 12:1-2, ESV) [8]

·        Verse is not directly about our busy schedules

·        But obeying these verses will affect every daily decision

·        Central Command: Present yourselves as a living sacrifice

o   An Entreaty

§  More emphatic than a command

·        Begging, entreaty, appealing

·        More urgent, more emotional

·        Like a mother urging her son to be safe at war

§  It’s as if Paul is saying, “Please!  For your own sake and for the sake of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”

o   Present

§  To bring, to offer, to make available, to wait on, to assist, or to be on hand.

§  Like a bride presented to her groom

·        The verb “present” in this verse means “present once and for all.” It commands a definite commitment of the body to the Lord, just as a bride and groom in their wedding service commit themselves to each other. It is this once-for-all commitment that determines what they do with their bodies.[9]

§  God determines what we do with ourselves

o   Living Sacrifices

§  Gentiles sacrificed

§  Jews sacrificed

§  Both are in the same church

·        Rom 1-11, Paul goes back and forth between the two groups

·        Both have one thing in common: Jesus Christ

§  Both groups are also familiar with religious sacrifices.

§  Image of sacrifice means entire self

§  We are to be fully and completely His to use however He pleases. 

§  CF: Consuming Fire

·        Hebrews 12:28-29

o   “…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”   

·        John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize with fire

o   Licks of fire in Acts

·        Sacrificial system of Israel---sacrifices were burned on the altar with fire

·        God is a consuming fire

·        The acceptable worship to a consuming God is an entire being to be consumed. 

·        This means our every single decision, including our schedules and our task lists. 

o   Sacrifice means holding nothing in reserve

§  Other passages talk about slavery

§  Beyond slavery

§  Slaves hold out hope of being free

§  Sacrifices do not even have that one desire remaining

§  A sacrifice is wholly, completely, and entirely given over to the fire that consumes it.  For us, that is our God.

·        Holy and Acceptable to God

o   God doesn’t want offerings

§  Chinese Buddhist restaurant altars

§  Why would a spirit-being want an orange?

o   We do the same thing with God.

§  Working on new church building

§  Enduring cell

§  A few minutes of prayer and quick scan of the bible

§  The same old tired prayers

§  He can do without all this stuff

§  We hold back ourselves

o   “Holy and Acceptable” modify sacrifice

§  Adjectives, descriptive words

·        Not goals or intents or results

§  You do not get God’s acceptance by being a sacrifice

§  A living sacrifice is already holy and acceptable

·        That’s why in Greek the word “as” is not in the text.

§  Not pretending or acting

§  You already are holy and acceptable if you are born again.

·        Therefore live it out

·        This may be fuzzy, new angle.

·        By the Mercies of God

o   The most meaningful, the most loaded term, “Mercy”

§  Compassion, identification. 

§  To identify with one sympathetically. 

§  Personal understanding

§  To have been there

§  Jesus and Paul use the word to refer to communicable traits of God

o   Refers back to Romans 6

§  We died to sin and rose to new life in Christ

§  Not just emotional mercy

§  Jesus has done exactly what He is asking us to do.

§  Jesus is a living sacrifice

·        He’s been consumed

·        He’s been there in more ways that we can imagine, so by His identification with us, we can do the same

o   Born again people are Holy and Acceptable to God already

§  Israelites had to offer perfect, spotless sacrifices

§  We must therefore be perfect, spotless sacrifices

§  But we’re covered in sin

§  But as believers, we are spotless, righteous lambs cleansed of all unrighteousness

§  All through the mercy of God

§  We come to the altar, that is, the Christian life, already acceptable.  We come to God already holy and acceptable.

·        Transformed, not Conformed (verse 2)

o   I’m not fully and completely given over to God

o   Wouldn’t God therefore consider me a let down?

o   Shouldn’t I be living a perfect life?

o   We tend to think about what we do

o   Paul’s concern is who we are

o   Do not be conformed to this world

§  Conformed: to be shaped, to fit into the mold of

§  An exterior influence that creates an appearance

·        Like a costume or plastic surgery

§  We usually think we don’t do this

§  “I’m my own man, nobody tells me what to do.” 

§  Truth is, we usually go with the cultural flow

§  Not to be conformed to this age, or this world—this culture

§  Guys:

·        lazy, drunk, sex-crazed, and addicted to some sort of distraction

·        men portrayed on television

·        men you’ve known

·        Most men portrayed sitting on couch, with clicker and beer

·        Where is the man who comes home after a long tiring day to talk with wife and do homework with kids?

·        Culture portrays 2 kinds of men:

o   Effeminate and whimpy

o   Chauvinistic and arrogant

§  Are you buying into it? 

·        When the kids get rowdy at home do you tell your wife to keep them quiet and turn up the volume on the television? 

·        When you’ve had a hard day and long day at work do you come home to your desk and surf the internet or play some games to wind down? 

·        Did you forget your wife, your kids, or your Jesus waiting to meet you in Scripture? 

·        Do you find yourself more interested in the newest cell phone or car than in your family goals? 

§  I know I’m just preaching at the guys, but quite honestly look—this culture, in its conformity to the desires of Satan, would sooner have you check out or be a womanizer than be a good husband or father.  Either a jerk or a whimp.  But not a strong, loving leader.

§  Don’t let the world fit you into this mold.  Don’t let the world make you into what it wants you to be.

§  Instead be transformed

o   But be transformed

§  Internal transformation

·        Very being and character

·        Metamorphosis: take away what you were and replace you with a new person instead

§  Think about the world’s portrayal of a man again

§  Now think about Jesus

·        Helpless baby  à Frightful turning out religious profiteers

·        Compassionate for the prostitutes à irate at the Pharisees. 

·        Dog-tired à still caring for the crowds. 

·        Teaching, singing, walking, healing, preaching, and simply hanging-out.

·        Read about Him, get to know Him, become like Him.

§  “transformed” explains what it means to be consumed by a fire

·        Not like a leaf fire, trash fire, camp fire

·        A refiners fire

o   Cleanses gold of impurity

o   Turn sand into handmade glassware

o   Crucible, proving oven

o   The kind of heat that makes things from scratch

·        The Christian mind must understand consumption for God as transformation.  It is the destruction of who I was in order to let the Christlike character of the new person take over my life.  God is a consuming, transforming, proving fire who transforms the believer.

·        By the Renewal of your mind

o   Let this fire into your mind

o   Holy Spirit making us into people who resemble Jesus

o   Broadest of terms, so broadest of contexts

o   No matter what you consider, let your mind be renewed in how you think about things

o   Entire world-view changed

§  Spouse

§  Kids

§  Work

§  Leisure

§  Church

§  Neighborhood

§  Politics

§  Physical fitness

§  Romance

§  Magazine subscriptions

§  Everything

o   Burn off old ways of thinking so that Godly ways can take over

o   Everything that passes through brain reconsidered

o   As God changes understanding and worldview, character changes

·        That by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect

o   Changed so that you can determine what is good and acceptable and perfect

§  That is, The will of God

§  Transformed character can test the options of the day

§  Able to determine between bad, good, and absolute best

§  A standard of Godliness by which to compare

o   Good: Simply Good, therefore, the best

o   Acceptable: same as above. An acceptable sacrifice can determine what is acceptable to God

o   Perfect: without defect

o   Therefore, thinking and acting like God

§  World tries to mold us

§  Jesus transforms us

o   Thus able to determine what is acceptable to God and what isn’t

o   “discern” not just telling the difference between two things, like colors

§  Actually desiring and pursuing for yourself what God desires for you

§  Christian’s desire is same as God’s will.

§  Believer’s affections are changed—wants, desires, pleasures are changed.

o   Body, mind, will all addressed in the two verses

o   Total commitment to God the consuming fire

·        This is your spiritual worship

o   I hope you’re seeing that we can only be sold out to God because Jesus made us acceptable to Him.

o   God is willing to make this happen in our lives

o   Skipped a phrase

o   “Reasonable worship”

o   It is reasonable to give yourself to God

o   It is reasonable to commit yourself to the fire to be consumed

o   Because He gave Himself for us, and therefore He is merciful

o   It is worship.  This is the entire point of the passage and of Romans.

o   If you’ve heard nothing else I want you to hear this: We are to worship at every moment.  Worship at every moment.

§  We worship God because He is “merciful,” that is, He perfectly identifies with us.

§  We worship God with our bodies.  That means every action we make.

§  We worship God with our minds.  That means every thought we think.

§  We worship God with our will.  Every decision we choose.

o   The entirety of life—body, mind, will—is wrapped in worship.  And that is absolutely reasonable considering that Jesus gave Himself up for our sakes.  The point of our lives is worship at every moment.

YOU

·        Can you imagine yourself living this way? 

·        What might have to change in your life? 

·        If you worship at every moment, what will you do first when you wake you up? 

·        Will you brush your teeth differently? 

·        How will you prepare your kids for school? 

·        What will you talk about at breakfast? 

·        What will you listen to in the car on your way to work? 

·        How might you think differently when you don’t get that raise? 

·        What will you do when you get home?

·        Look at your schedule, open your Day-Timer, or your Palm, or your Outlook calendar. 

·        Do you pray over your schedule and struggle to discern what is good and acceptable and perfect for your day?

·        What are you doing now that is for yourself rather than for God? 

·        I understand that you need to rest, but do you realize that rest isn’t for yourself, either? 

·        Rest does not mean leisure.  The slave has no leisure.  The sacrifice is on fire. 

·        So then, what rights have you been demanding? 

·        Instead, what should you be doing with your so-called “free time” to be worshipping at every moment? 

·        What desires do you have left over from when you weren’t a believer? 

·        Or what habits do you continue in without rethinking them?

·        Not burnouts but Martyrs

o   Give up every right and desire in exchange for God’s desires

o   Live up to what we already are: Acceptable and Holy to God

§  Therefore able to choose what is good, acceptable, and perfect

o   You should hear God saying, “I just want you to be who I’m making you to be. “

·        Meeting with Zerjav

o   Going over numbers

o   Had let Angela handle all the numbers

o   Had given her more stuff that she can handle

o   Unwise decisions

o   I was negligent

o   Obsessed with bible study and technology

o   Would rather spend time in bible software than accounting

o   I chose ministry or study or something else when the good, acceptable, and perfect thing to do was to be CFO.

o   Now in some ways literally paying for those decisions

·        Don’t stop reading bible

·        Not instructing to become stock market investor and skip cell

·        Need the Word

·        The will of God is not always the churchy thing to do

·        God is in the details.  He intends to transform you so that you worship him with the words you say, the phone calls you make, the texts you send, the way you spend your time at home, the music you listen to in your car, the money you spend, every single detail of life is to be God’s.  He consumes your everything, transforming you to be like Him in everything.

 

WE

·        Can you imagine The Bridge as a church of Romans 12 Christians?

·        Can you picture us worshipping at every moment?

·        Men becoming like Jesus

o   Putting down game controllers, logging off internet, put away newspaper

o   Watch tv with purpose not abandonment

§  To teach a lesson

§  Or rub wife’s feet

·        Women would be amazed

o   Excited to have men leading

o   Would become strong supports and stop nagging

o   Helping men fulfill God-given dreams

o   United marriages with plans

·        Kids would see great men and women in their homes

o   Get to learn from parents, not school or tv

o   Intimacy and encouragement they need

o   Go to College knowing what God is like from Mom and Dad

·        We’d be a different church.  And it only takes two verses. 

·        Let’s pray.


Sources

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, 27th Edition

Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament

The IVP Bible Background Commentary

The Bible Exposition Commentary

A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments

Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament

Word Pictures in the New Testament

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The Bible Knowledge Commentary


----

[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Ro 12:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

NT New Testament

e.g. exempli gratia, for example

Heb. Hebrew

[2]Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995, c1985). Theological dictionary of the New Testament. Translation of: Theologisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament. (77). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans.

[3]Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G3563). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

i.e. id est, that is

cf. confer, compare

NIV New International Version

[4]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:487). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5]Richards, L. (1991). The Bible reader's companion. Includes index. (736). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Ro 12:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[8]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Ro 12:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Contextual Analysis

Immediate Context

1) Word Studies

a) οἰκτιρμῶν: “Compassion, Mercies” used in the LXX to refer to God as merciful, patient, and long-tempered (Exod 34:6, Neh 9:17). James uses it to refer to the compassion God expressed to Job (James 5:11). Jesus and Paul uses the term as a communicable trait of God (Luke 6:36, Col 3:12). The term denotes personal sympathetic identification. Paul therefore refers back to the theme of chapter 6, that Jesus has identified and sympathized personally with believers in death and resurrection.

b) παραστῆσαι: “To present, bring, offer, make available, wait on, assist, be on hand.” To be in the service of God. Paul presents the church as a bride in 2 Co 11:2, Christ presents the church to himself in Eph 5:27, Paul is presented before the Governor in Acts 23:33. There is an analogy to court and legal proceedings in these uses. In context, Paul seems to be referencing the presenting of offerings at the temple.

The verb “present” in this verse means “present once and for all.” It commands a definite commitment of the body to the Lord, just as a bride and groom in their wedding service commit themselves to each other. It is this once-for-all commitment that determines what they do with their bodies.[1]

c) σῶμα: “Body” Zodhiates takes this to refer metonymically to the entire self (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament). If Paul were to refer only to the fleshly part of humans, he would more likely have used “sarx.”

d) εὐάρεστον: “Well pleasing, acceptable.” A compound of “well” and “pleasing.” In reference to God, Zodhiates indicates it is “that which God wills and recognizes.” Foerster writes: Meaning “well-pleasing,” “acceptable,” euárestos in the NT always (except in Tit. 2:9) refers to God, and is never an evaluation (except in Phil. 4:18, describing the Philippians’ gifts) but always the goal of the Christian life (e.g., Rom. 12:1-2; 14:18; Col. 3:20), so that we are constantly to test what is euáreston (Eph. 5:10). Of the three senses of euarestéō, a. “to be well-pleasing,” b. “to take pleasure in,” and c. “to walk as is well-pleasing,” b. occurs in Heb.13:16 and c. in Heb. 11:5-6 [2]

e) συσχηματίζεσθε: Notice it is PASSIVE. To be externally controlled and conformed. To allow oneself to be changed to be like. To be made like.

f) μεταμορφοῦσθε: Notice it is also PASSIVE. “Be transformed or transfigured.” Used in Matt 17:2, and Mark 9:2 of Jesus’ transfiguration. Morphe is used of Christ in the New Testament to refer to His being the perfect image of God. He was in the “form” of God in Phil 2:6. The idea of the morphe of God is entirely biblical and has no mythic usage parallel. The reference is to an interior change of character, soul, entire person.

g) νοὸς: As the seat of emotions and affections, mode of thinking and feeling, disposition, moral inclination, equivalent to the heart[3]

h) δοκιμάζειν: Testing, approving, put to proof, make trial of, examine, distinguish

2) Syntax

a) Paul exhorts the believers on the basis of the latter half of chapter 11 in particular, and the entirety of the letter so far in general

b) “To present yourselves as living sacrifices” is further elaborated by the terms “holy” and “well-pleasing.” It is “to God” that these evaluations are attributed.

c) The term “well-pleasing” occurs at the end of verse 2, but in the case the determination is made by the believer who has been “transformed in the mind.” In other words, the metamorphosis wrought in the believer gives the believer the ability to think as God does, determining what is good and bad. In particular, what is good and bad to personally pursue.

d) “Your reasonable service” refers to giving oneself to God wholly. This is why the ESV translates, “your spiritual worship.” It is a definition of worship.

e) By contrasting conformity to the world with metamorphosis of the mind, Paul emphasizes the inner-work of the Gospel and keeps the believer from thinking that exterior influences are excusable.

3) Paul added, Then you will be able to test and approve (dokimazein, “prove by testing” [1 Peter 1:7, “proved genuine”], i.e., ascertain) what God’s will isHis good, pleasing (cf. Rom. 12:1), and perfect will. These three qualities are not attributes of God’s will as the NIV and some other translations imply. Rather, Paul said that God’s will itself is what is good, well-pleasing (to Him), and perfect. “Good,” for example, is not an adjective (God’s “good” will) but a noun (God’s will is what is good—good, i.e., for each believer). As a Christian is transformed in his mind and is made more like Christ, he comes to approve and desire God’s will, not his own will for his life. Then he discovers that God’s will is what is good for him, and that it pleases God, and is complete in every way. It is all he needs. But only by being renewed spiritually can a believer ascertain, do, and enjoy the will of God.[4]

4) Broader Context

a) Having laid out the historical and doctrinal basis for salvation, Paul turns to the practical expression of living for God. In Ch. 6, Paul explains the identification of the believer with Jesus’ death and resurrection. This figures prominently into the idea of being a sacrifice for God. Chapter 4 discusses justification by faith, not by works. Therefore when Paul comes into Romans 12 and into the following chapters which discuss works to some degree, Paul must make the distinction of inner character transformation, not exterior works for salvation. The discussion of works vs. faith is critical to understanding this passage because Paul is engineering the migration of thought from doing good things to get God’s approval to approving what God approves and therefore being such a person who does those things naturally. Romans 4:4-5 prefigure the first verses of Romans 12.

b) Within the theme of racial reconciliation, Paul introduces a commonality to all believers. Having discussed the historical basis for salvation by faith, to the Jew and the Gentile, Paul calls both parties to be living sacrifices. They are therefore no longer Jew nor Gentile, but self-sacrificed imitators of God.

5) Chronology of the Passage

Having spent considerable effort detailing and chronicling the development of the Gospel since creation and laying a theological basis for salvation, Paul is now turning the page to the practical outworking of sound doctrine. The basis for what follows for the rest of the epistle is a change of character flowing from a self-giving to Jesus. Paul has instructed both Jew and Gentile that they are more alike than different. The focus of Paul’s understanding of the Gospel is God-centered, and not man centered climaxing in his doxology of 11:33-36. The doxology throws open the door for Paul to appeal to the Romans to live their lives solely for God and to allow God to make transform their character. Paul will continue from these verses to discuss the character of a believer, life within government, and how to treat one another. He will exhort the believers to be servants. Only upon the basis of the Gospel and the self-sacrifice of believers are the following exhortations even reasonable.

Context: The Book of Romans

1) Cultural and Historical Setting

a) Date: 56-57 AD

i) Claudius had expelled Christian Jews in the 40’s

ii) By the time of the Letter to the Romans, Claudius has died and his edict has been repealed

b) The church is now composed of Jewish and Gentile believers

i) The majority of the Jewish believers are poor, living in the slums

ii) A great deal of the Gentile believers are very wealthy, perhaps even aristocratic

2) Authorship and Audience

a) Paul is the author.

b) The book is written to the collected believers in Rome. Paul will sometimes directly address Jewish or Gentile believers in the church.

c) Theme

i) Paul seems to be concerned with racial reconciliation between the Jewish and Gentile believers.

ii) He also instructs in the history of the Gospel from the Old Testament and the theological underpinnings of the Gospel.

iii) The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament considers Romans “deliberative rhetoric.” Paul does not directly address specific situations in the Roman church, but does generically address the cultural tension with theological instruction.

d) Genre and Literary Style

i) Romans is an epistle

ii) Romans is also a theological treatise and historical account of theological development (ch. 1-8)

iii) Chapter 9-15 are largely instructive in terms of application of previous theological instruction, specifically in relation to racial reconciliation.

iv) Chapter 16 is personal greeting, reminding us today of the personal nature of the entire letter and Paul’s love for fellow Christians.

e) Purpose: To present the Gospel in a multi-faceted understanding (Romans 1:16)

i) The Gospel provides salvation is for the Jew and the Gentile

ii) The Gospel provides salvation by faith alone

iii) The continuity of Gospel history since Adam

3) Basic Outline (Theological) [5]

a) Righteousness Required 1-3

b) Righteousness Provided 3-5

c) Righteousness Imparted 6-8

d) Righteousness Proved 9-11

e) Righteousness Practiced 12-16

4) Context within the Bible

a) Theology of Romans 12, in light of the whole bible

i) Romans provides the Christian with the systematic theology of the Gospel. It is soteriology from Paul in the most concise and complete form found in scripture. Therefore much of scripture must be interpreted in light of Romans. Paul’s historic analysis of God’s interaction with Adam, Abraham, the patriarachs, and now the believer relies strongly on a proper understanding of the Old Testament and the underlying purpose of God throughout human history.

ii) “living sacrifice….to God” refers to the Passover and the temple sacrifices for sin and cleansing. Paul intends that connection to the Jew, and perhaps the connection to the Gentile who may more readily think of pagan rituals.

iii) “by the mercies of God” echoes Romans 6, the Gospels, and Hebrews in particular. Within the phrase is the concept of Jesus identifying and sympathizing with believers. Hebrews therefore calls him our “great high priest” who can sympathize and therefore adequately represent and intercede for the believer.

b) Parallels in Pauline Literature

i) Galatians. Some have called Galatians the “first draft” of Romans.

(1) Gal 4:9—Why turn back to the elementary principles of the world?

(2) Gal 5:16-26—Walk instead by the Spirit. Such a walk is evidenced through the Fruit of the Spirit. Such a fruit demonstrates an inner change of character.

ii) Ephesians

(1) Eph 4:17-32—Paul instructs on the Put Off/Put On dynamics of change in the Christian life. The instruction is a practical system of applying the call in Romans 12:1-2 to be a living sacrifice and to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Renewing the mind is a common theme for Paul. He mentions it here in Romans 4 and also in Colossians 1.

(2) Eph 5:1-2—Here Paul makes a similar statement to Romans 12:1-2. He does not specifically reference sacrifice, but makes the identification with Jesus a practical expression of the believer’s faith. Where in Romans 12:1-2 the identity between Jesus and the believer is referenced through the “mercies of God,” here the identification is spelled out in the act of Jesus for the believers and the call to imitate Him.

iii) 2 Corinthians 10:1—Paul’s style of entreaty is found here as well.

iv) Titus 3:5—Paul’s use of the term “renewal.” He also reviews the gospel and reminds Titus that our salvation has nothing to do with our works.

c) Parallels by other New Testament Authors

i) Hebrews 4:14-16—Jesus our great high priest, who perfectly identifies with us and with God. He is the mediator of the “mercies of God” and the exemplar of a “living sacrifice.”

ii) 1 John 2:1—Jesus is our advocate. Another reference to Him as mediator, and therefore perfect identifier

iii) Matthew 17:2—as noted in the word study above, the first NT use of “transfigure” or “metamorph.”

iv) 1 Peter 2:2—Peter uses the term “logiken,” reasonable. Also, “Spiritual.” Peter is referring to spiritual nourishment

v) 1 Peter 2:5—a kingdom of priests. This is a further development of Paul’s teaching that being a living sacrifice is “spiritual worship.”

vi) Revelation 1:6—Priesthood of the believer again.

d) Parallels in the Old Testament

i) Perhaps the most important parallels in the Old Testament

ii) Isaiah 56:7—“Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar…” initially fulfilled in the return from exile, mediately fulfilled in the Christian life, ultimately fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth.

iii) Jeremiah 6:20—God rejects offerings because of unclean hearts

iv) Lev 18:29-30, Deut 18:9-14—Instructions to Israel not to fall into the surrounding idolatry. This parallels Paul’s instruction to not be conformed to the world.

v) Psalm 34:8—“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” parallels test, prove from Rom 12:2.

5) Grammatical Outline (ESV)

a) Flow of the Text

Ø I appeal to you therefore, brothers,

§ to present your bodies

· as a living sacrifice,

¨ (by the mercies of God,)

¨ holy and acceptable to God,

§ which is your spiritual worship.

¨ 2 Do not be conformed to this world, (an elaboration of “present your bodies”)

¨ 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.

b) Passage Outline

§ Paul’s entreaty to the Romans

¨ To be living sacrifices

¨ And to live a life of Worship

§ Instruction to avoid worldly influence

§ Instruction to receive Godly transformation

¨ Through soul-renewal

¨ In order to be able to agree with God about what is good.

c) Theological Outline

¨ Because of the work of Jesus Christ, the believer is to live his life for Jesus.

§ This sacrifice is a full sacrifice, the completion of Old Testament sacrificial analogy

§ Sacrificial worship is accepted by God

¨ The believer is therefore

§ Not to be impressed by ungodly culture

§ To be internally remade in character

¨ Such a transformation causes the believer to have the perspective of God

d) Sermon Outline (very tentative at this point, needs to be more connected to our culture)

¨ Acceptable

§ What is acceptable?

¨ (What’s a man supposed to be like?)

§ Paul uses the word acceptable twice in this passage

§ Acceptable to God

§ Acceptable according to God

¨ Being like God

§ The sacrifice of Jesus Christ

§ The living sacrifice of the Believer

¨ Present your bodies

¨ Acceptable

¨ A transformation

§ Not a conformation

¨ Media, games

¨ A lack of understanding of what a man is really like

§ An inner metamorphosis—becoming what you already are (illustrate with Metamorphosis from Kafka?)

§ Discerning the will of God

¨ Knowing Jesus better

¨ Knowing the character of God

¨ Representing Him in the home, work, community, church


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