Clearheaded Discernment

Romans 12:1-2 ESV

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.

If we have trusted Jesus Christ, God the Son, to be Lord and Savior of our lives, it means we have given our lives to God. We have surrendered our wills to the will of the Father in heaven. We have died with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness. The old self is now done away with, and the new self has now come into being, via new birth in Christ.

Therefore, we are to give our whole being to the Lord as a living sacrifice, set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. We are to no longer conform our lives to the ways of this sinful world, doing the kinds of things that this sinful world does. But, we are to be changed (transformed) in the renewing of our minds, with minds set on things above, not on things on this earth (of this world).

And, now we are to live holy lives, acceptable and pleasing to God, by the power of the Spirit of God living within us and at work within us. And, this is our spiritual worship of God. This is our true worship of God.

For, we can sing songs of praise to God, and we can even lift our hands in the air, or dance, or shout out our adoration of our Lord, but if we have not surrendered our lives to the Lord, as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to him, then we are not truly worshiping him. For true worship of God is surrender to him, yielded to his will, in walks of obedience to our Lord.

Romans 12:3 ESV

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

If our lives are truly surrendered to the Lord as living sacrifices, we are not going to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but we should have the correct perspective of ourselves. We should see ourselves as sinners saved by grace, who could do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation.

We should have an honest realization of where we were outside of faith in Jesus Christ, and that it is only by God’s grace, through God-given faith in him, that any of us can be made righteous in God’s sight.

But, this doesn’t mean we continue to walk in and to wallow in sin, thinking that makes us more humble. This also doesn’t mean we that we coddle others in their sin, or that we close a blind eye to sinful practices in others out of fear we will be tagged as judgmental and as “holy rollers.” It also doesn’t mean that we cease teaching on holiness for the same reasons.

It just means we have a realistic and biblical perspective of our own lives and of who we were outside of faith in Christ, but also of who we are by faith in Jesus Christ, too. And, this means that we give God all the glory for anything he accomplishes in and through us, and we don’t take credit for ourselves for what we can only do by faith in him. And, it is an honest realization, too, of our total dependency on our Lord in and for all things.

Romans 12:9-13 ESV

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Genuine Love

As followers of Jesus Christ, our lives are to be distinctly different from those who have no faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, our love for others should be honest and sincere, not fake. Yet, this doesn’t mean that we are to be mean to people in order to be honest, either, just because we don’t want to pretend what we don’t feel. For, this kind of love is not based in feelings.

This kind of love is of God, and therefore it prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, pure, upright, godly, moral, honest, trustworthy and kind.

Therefore, we will treat others with kindness in all honesty and sincerity, not in fakery, because God is love, and because he lives within us, and because his love is being lived out through our lives as we are obedient to him. And, we will do so because love is action, not feelings, for we can love others even when we don’t feel some mushy gushy feeling towards them. For, we are commanded to love even our enemies.

Yet, when we love with this kind of love, we will hate evil and we will cling to good. Thus, this kind of love will never placate sin or coddle it, thinking we are being “nice” to people. For, it is never kind to lie to people or to lead others into sin or to give approval or permission for them to continue in sin. For sin is what ruins people’s lives and it is what sends them to hell if they have not turned away from it to follow Jesus with their lives.

Fervent in Spirit

If we are truly followers of Jesus Christ, we will desire him above all else, and our hearts’ desire will be to serve him with our lives. When we hear teachings on spiritual gifts, our hearts should be stirred within us, and we should long to serve our Lord using the gifts he has given to us. No one should have to push or persuade us to want to serve the Lord. The Spirit living within us should move us to want to serve our Lord.

We also should not have to be talked into reading our Bibles or praying or walking in obedience to our Lord, either. We should hunger and thirst after the Word of the Lord, and we should be in conversation with our Lord throughout our days, no matter what we are doing. We should always have ears attentive to the Spirit’s voice and hearts ready to respond in obedience to his promptings and to his commands.

If you have ever been in love with someone, and you know what it is like to want to be with that person, to talk with him or her, to share your dreams and hopes, to talk about your day, and just to be in that person’s presence, then you know what your relationship with the Lord should look like, too, only completely pure. For, he compares his relationship with us, his bride, to a marriage between a man and his wife.

This is the kind of zeal we should have for the Lord, where we desire him, we long to spend time with him, we want to do what pleases him, we want to hear what he has to say to us, and we want to share our heart with him, too. We should want to go where he goes and do the kinds of things he likes to do. And, we should want to know his heart, too, so that we can be united with him in heart and mind. And, then our lifestyles should reflect that, too.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

*copyright status is public domain

Monday, July 1, 2019

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