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.
Because of all that Jesus Christ did for us, in dying on a cross so that we could be delivered out of our slavery to sin, we are to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. We are to give our lives to the Lord for his service, to do his will. And, we are to live our lives in the power of God in holiness, set apart (unlike, different) from the world and set apart to God to follow our Lord in obedience.
This is what is acceptable to God, and this is our spiritual worship of him that we should deny self and take up our cross daily and follow (obey) Jesus Christ, God the Son. For, if all we do is worship God with our lips, then that is not true worship. True worship of God is to surrender our lives to him fully, under his control, and to leave our lives of sin behind us to follow him wherever he leads us.
We are to no longer live like we did before we trusted him as Lord and Savior of our lives. We are no longer to live in the ways of this sinful world, hating one another, cheating, lying, thieving, gossiping, lusting, and carousing and the like. But, we are to be transformed (changed) in heart and mind of the Spirit of God in repentance away from our sinful practices to now walking according to the Spirit of God.
And, we need to discern what the will of God is for our lives. Some of this we will learn through experience, through trials and tribulations, as we are maturing in our walks of faith, and as our Lord is disciplining and pruning us in order that we may share in his holiness. Yet, the Word of God instructs us in the ways of the Lord, and it teaches us the good, acceptable and perfect will of God for our lives. So, we would do well to study the Word so that we know what it says, so that we then do what it says.
Romans 12:3-5 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. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die with him to sin and self and we live to him and to his righteousness, for this is why he died. In order to do this, we must humble ourselves before God, own up to our sin, choose to turn away from it, and choose to follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will. But, we don’t do this in our own flesh, for then it would not be genuine faith, but we are able to do this as empowered by God.
But, while we live on this earth, we still live in flesh bodies. We still have a propensity to sin against God. We will continually battle the flesh, for the Spirit is at war with the flesh, and the flesh is at war with the Spirit. So, daily we must humble ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands. Moment by moment we must choose to not yield to the flesh but to the Spirit. But, we have the Spirit of God living within us who will empower us to do so, so all glory and praise to God!
So, not one of us is to raise ourselves up above the other. This does not mean, though, that we can’t teach the truths of scripture which convict hearts of sin, or that we can’t teach on holiness and purity of devotion to Jesus Christ. For, when we teach the truth of the gospel, if our hearts are in the right place, we are not doing so to raise ourselves up, but to raise our Lord up to his proper place within our hearts and lives.
But, by faith in Jesus Christ, all those who have genuine faith in Jesus Christ form one body, and as one body we are members one with the other. And, within the body of Christ we are not to raise one member above the other based on human thinking and reasoning, or on outward appearance, or based on willful pride or prejudice. For, God didn’t make us all the same, nor did he give us all the same gifts and ministries. So, we are to treat one another with the same love, the same purpose, and with sober judgment.
Romans 12:9-13, 21 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… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Let love be genuine, sincere, real, and truthful and not fake, phony or pretentious. In other words, don’t lie to one another. Don’t flatter each other for the praise of man. Don’t just say you love people. Show it! But, show it as God shows it. For, his love prefers what is holy, pure, righteous, honorable, honest, trustworthy, kind, and beneficial to others. And, it is self-sacrificial, willing to die, if need be, in order to tell people the truth which will set them free, and which will lead them to salvation and eternal life with God. True love always seeks God’s best for other people.
In loving God and in loving others in ways which are for the honor and praise of our Lord, and which are thinking about what is best for others, we will abhor what is evil, and we will cling to what is good. Thus, we will not lead others into sin, and we will not pacify them in their sin, nor will we refuse to tell them the truth out of fear that they may reject us. We will, instead, speak the truth in love to others so that they can also walk in Christ’s love and holiness and be set free from their slavery to sin.
One of the ways in which we can love one another with genuine love is to pray for one another. But, again, our prayers also need to be in line with God and his Word, they need to be unselfish, and we need to be looking out for what is truly for the good of others and not for what their flesh desires. For many prayers are voiced which are of the flesh and not of the Spirit of God, and which don’t even consider the will of God or his Word, but only what others or ourselves want (desire, crave). So, we need to pray according to God’s will, and not according to the flesh of man.
Thus, in showing God’s love, one to the other, we must guard our hearts against evil, and we must be careful that we are not led astray from our pure devotion to Jesus Christ. For, when we reach out to others in love, if those people are not walking in truth, they may influence us to also forsake truth to follow after lies and to follow after the flesh rather than after the Spirit of God. So, daily we must put on our armor of God and walk according to the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the passions of the flesh. And, we must be constant in prayer in the Spirit of God so that we are not led astray.
The Old Rugged Cross
Words and music by George Bennard, 1913
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
Monday, August 26, 2019