Romans 12:1 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.”
This appeal is not only to those who are truly in Christ, by genuine God-given faith in Jesus Christ, but to those who believe they are in Christ, who have professed faith in Jesus Christ, but who deny him by their lifestyles.
We who believe in Jesus Christ, or who are convinced that we have faith in Jesus Christ, are being strongly urged here to live what we say we believe. We are being passionately encouraged, based on what Jesus Christ did for us on that cross, to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ unequivocally, without reservation.
And, this surrender to Jesus Christ is to be holy, which means to be separate (unlike, different) from the godless world, because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ in our character, attitudes, and behavior.
And, this surrender of our lives to Jesus is also to be acceptable to God. And, we learn what is acceptable and not acceptable to God through the study of his word (in context). For, there we learn that faith in Jesus Christ – the kind that is acceptable to God – denies self, dies to sin, and lives to God and to his righteousness, in the power of God (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
And, this surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ, via dying with him to sin, and living to him and to his righteousness, as our daily practice, is our spiritual worship of God, too.
For, true worship of God is not just singing hymns or praise songs, or praising him with our lips, or saying our prayers, or even just reading the Bible. For, we can go through the motions of worship and never truly worship God because our lives are not surrendered wholly to Him.
Romans 12:2a ESV
“Do not be conformed to this world…”
So, this means we will no longer live like the world does, nor will we think and behave like they do in their unbelief. But we will now adopt into our hearts, minds, and behaviors the likeness of Jesus, by the grace of God.
Nonetheless, many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ are living just like the world. And, this is the scenario the Lord Jesus is giving me today:
Many professing Christians today are pleasure-seeking, living for self-gratification, exercising self-indulgence, and living lives which are out of control, because they are not living under the control of God, but they are still under the control of sin and of the flesh.
They are spiritually lazy, slothful, and apathetic. They do not take God and his word seriously. They do not honor or respect God, and they do not fear God. Instead, they belittle (demean, lower) God, and they try to bring him down to their level, as though he is altogether like them, but he is not!
So, they feel they can continue in sin and that God will do nothing about it. And, so the lusts of the flesh still have a stronghold over their lives. So, while they go through forms of worship of God, it is fruitless, for they have not surrendered to the Lord, and so the flesh keeps hanging on.
Thus, they end up making the lusts of the flesh their god instead of God, who is the true light. And, instead of giving their lives to God as living sacrifices, they give their lives over to the sinful cravings of their flesh, instead, because they are lazy, and because they don’t fear God.
So, the powerful influence in their lives is not the Holy Spirit of God but an evil spirit of the flesh, which is in direct opposition to God and to his truth and to his righteousness.
So, although they may go through the motions of worship of God, they aren’t worshiping God, but a false god of the flesh, which is their idol. And, so they end up trapped in a cycle of living to the flesh while trying in the flesh to worship God, and it is futile!
Romans 12:2b ESV
“…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.”
So, they need to be transformed by the renewal of their minds, which is an ongoing process for all of us. And, this transformation is like the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly. We were one thing. Now we become something else. We were traveling west, and now we go east, in the opposite direction.
So, how does this transformation take place? By the renewal of our minds. And, how are our minds renewed (changed)? By the Spirit of God, via our cooperation with the Spirit’s work in our lives, by faith, by us submitting to the Lordship of Christ over our lives, and by us surrendering our lives over to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him.
A Problem Exists
But there is a problem with this. And, that is that so many preachers of the Word of God today, and of his gospel, are cutting God’s authority in half, and they are reducing his gospel to something man-made which appeals to the flesh of man, rather than putting the flesh to death.
And, people are following this half-truth gospel by the droves because it tickles their itching ears, and because it gives them license to continue walking in the flesh. For, it makes no demands for repentance, for obedience to Christ, or for surrender of their lives to God. But it leaves the door wide open for all manner of evil, lewdness, immorality, and self-indulgence.
And, added to that is that they are putting the true gospel of grace to disgrace by claiming that it is teaching works-based salvation, and that those who are proclaiming the true gospel are legalists and judgmental. And, so they are leading people to reject the truth and to embrace the lies.
And, very few men of the pulpit are standing up and are preaching the unadulterated truth of God’s word, and are exposing the lies for what they are, so that people will be led away from the lies and to the truth. For, very few can be trusted to tell the truth and to expose the lies, for so many of them are deceived themselves and are living in adultery against God.
So, the Lord is trying his adulterous ones with fire, via divine discipline and correction, to bring about this change of heart and mind which is necessary for them to be in proper communion and relationship with God.
For, it is the only way in which he can get their attention and can help them to see what is in their hearts and minds, which needs to come out, so that their hearts and minds can be renewed (revived, changed) of the Spirit of God.
And, in this way, they will then be able to discern the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect, for they will no longer have cloudy vision or stubborn and unrepentant hearts, but now they will have moldable hearts eager to follow their Lord in surrender to his will for their lives.
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.
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