A Holy Sacrifice
Romans 12:1 NASB
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
When you think of worship of God, what do you think of? Do you think of music, praise and adoration? Do you think of prayer and reading the Word of God? And, do you think of obedience, repentance and submission to the Lord, too?
Do you think, as well, of a life dedicated to the Lord and to his service? And, do you think of forsaking your self life and your idols to give your lives entirely to the Lord, to follow Him in all of his ways?
As I listen to various people speak, talk and write, I more often hear worship defined as singing praise and worship songs, and it may or may not include prayer and Bible study. But, I rarely hear worship defined by people as it is defined here in these first two verses of Romans 12, and yet, this is the true biblical picture of worship. This is what God considers as worship of Him.
For, we can sing praise and worship songs with arms raised, and with full passion in our voices, and we can read the Bible daily and offer words of prayer to God, and NEVER truly worship the Lord. For, if our hearts are not given over to the Lord Jesus and to his service, forsaking our idols and our lives of living for sin and self, to walk with him in holiness and righteousness, then we are not truly worshiping Him, but ourselves.
Romans 12:2 NASB
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
In order to give our lives fully over to the Lord and to his service, we must first of all forsake our lives of living for sin and self. We must let go of all of our idols, i.e. those things which keep us from full surrender to the Lord, and we must lay our lives down on his altar, fully committed to following him in truth, in purity, in holiness, and in his righteousness and in his power.
Therefore, we must no longer be conformed to the ways, philosophies, values, morals, attitudes and behaviors of this sinful world. We should not think like the world, speak like the world or act like the world.
Thus, we need to first of all remove from our lives all the ways in which we willfully take into our minds, eyes and hearts the ways of this world. Do you watch TV? Then you are being indoctrinated with the ways of this world every time you turn on that machine. Not only that, but TV has so many subtle, and hidden ways of influencing human minds, so not everything you watch on there is discernable, but you are still taking it in.
The same can be true of the internet, too, if we are not guarded in our minds and hearts, watchful and prayerful, so that we are not easily sucked in to all the ways the internet tries to allure us into sin, in particular sexual sin. Even on some “Christian” sites the ads on the side are sensual in nature and can easily trap an unsuspecting and unprotected mind. So, pray about this, and ask the Lord to show you what needs to be cut out of your life.
With Sound Judgment
Romans 12:3-5 NASB
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
If we are to be true worshipers of our Lord, it begins with humility. First, we must humble ourselves before the Lord, owning up to our own sin, turning from our sinful practices, and turning our lives over to the Lord to live to his righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25).
Then, we must practice humility with regard to our fellow humans, in particular with regard to those within the body of Christ. We are not to think of ourselves either more highly or more lowly than others, for putting ourselves down all the time is not humility, but inverted pride, for it is still centered in self. And, we need to become selfless.
Selfless, nonetheless, does not mean we have to conform to others or to their desires for us, for our Lord must always be first. Selfless does not mean we become people pleasers and then forsake our Lord. So, we must always keep first things first, and pray for wisdom so that we don’t end up doing what people want while neglecting what God wants.
Romans 12:9-13 NASB
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Love and hypocrisy are diametrically opposed to each other. For, love has to do with preferring what God prefers, which is what is righteous, holy, just, pure, and honest, etc. And, love does no harm to its neighbor, but it gives of oneself to meet the legitimate needs of others, though not necessarily their wants. Love, too, is self-sacrificial and is not based on feelings or on the other person and what they do or don’t do.
Hypocrisy, on the other hand, is purely self-centered. It gives the impression of one thing while it lives or exists as another. It usually has a very selfish motive, which is to deceive others into thinking something which is not true. And, it does this usually to appear righteous on the outside, to impress people, or to be liked, while it hides secretive sins inside. And, some people call this being “polite” and “kind,” but there is nothing kind about it.
And, we are to abhor all that is evil, which includes “white lies,” even if they are meant to spare feelings. It does not mean we have to be blunt or purposefully offensive or insensitive to people’s feelings, but we should never willfully deceive people for any reason. Even if we know we have given someone a false impression, that is still a lie if we do not correct it.
And, we should be devoted to doing all that is good, right, just, moral, pure, holy, kind, considerate, thoughtful, and generous, etc. We should continually be looking for ways we can do what is beneficial for others, though not necessarily what is going to make them “feel good.” For, sharing the truth of the gospel is what is most beneficial for others, which includes speaking the truth in love to them, but not everyone is going to like that or us, too.
Bless Your Enemies
Romans 12:14-21 NASB
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Lastly, we should even love our enemies. We should do good even to those who hate us, who persecute us, and who do all kinds of evil against us. But, “good” is defined as God defines good, not as the world defines it. So, “good” will always be what is moral, pure, honest, and beneficial, as God determines beneficial, not as humans do. Loving our enemies, thus, will always be submissive to the Lord first and foremost, and it will do to others as God has done for us and to us.
If we can live at peace with people while still following our Lord in obedience, and while still preaching the truth of the gospel, and while speaking the truth in love to our brothers and sisters in Christ, for their building up in the faith, then that is awesome! But, it is not always possible.
Even Jesus said that he did not come to bring peace to the world, but a sword, and to turn family members one against another. He was not saying that his will is that we should be fighting against one another, but that when we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, people will hate us, they will persecute us, they will do and say all manner of evil against us, and they will reject us, for they did the same to Jesus. Even people in our own families and in our own households will hate and treat us badly. But, we should still love them.
Did it speak?
So, if any of this has spoken to our hearts, and we realize that we are falling short in any of these areas, then I pray that we will humble ourselves before our Lord today, repent of our sins, turn from them, and turn to follow our Lord in obedience to his will and to his ways.
Broken and Contrite
An Original Work / May 13, 2012
I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.
Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.
Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.
Sunday, July 1, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, that your salvation from sin means changed lives, freedom from sin, and freedom to walk in your holiness. Help us, Lord, to walk with you sincerely in your love. Amen!