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.”
When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin that we might live to Christ, to God, and to his righteousness. Therefore, because of God’s mercies to us in delivering us from our enslavement to sin so that we might become slaves of God and of his righteousness, we are to present to God our lives as living sacrifices.
What this means for us is that we relinquish ownership of our own lives, and now Jesus Christ is our only Lord (owner-master). Now we are his possession, and our lives are to be given over to him to do his will, to go where he sends us, to do what he commands, to say what he gives us to say, and to do what he calls us to do for his praise and glory.
This means that the Lord Jesus is Lord (owner-master) of our physical bodies, our minds, our hearts, our emotions, and our decision making processes. Because Jesus shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us), we are now to honor God with our bodies, which includes with our thinking, speaking, behaviors, and our attitudes, too.
And this is totally contrary to today’s modern gospel message which is all about us and what God can do for us, and how we don’t have to do anything for him because he did it all for us. It is totally contrary to the teaching that says we don’t have to repent of our sins or walk in obedience to our Lord and that we don’t have to submit to his Lordship over our lives.
For, the modern day gospel message rebukes what they call “Lordship salvation.” They teach that all one has to do is “believe” (rarely defined) in Jesus, then their sins are forgiven, and now heaven is secured them no matter how they live while they are still on this earth. There is no fear of God in their lives because they are not being taught the fear of God.
They may or may not be taught biblical spiritual growth principles, and if they are, those principles may be altered and modified to appeal to the flesh. So, they may be encouraged to pray and to read their Bibles for a few minutes each day, and to spend some time with God, but they are rarely teaching that Jesus is to be our life and the one in charge of our lives.
Today’s modern market-driven church not only is teaching a diluted gospel message made to appeal to human flesh, but they are teaching and promoting a false idea of worship of God, too. For “worship” has been reduced to a time of singing “praise and worship” songs in a “worship” service, often times which also appeals to human flesh.
These worship songs, though not all of them, can be very emotionally driven, be very repetitive, shallow in their messages, very weak on biblical teaching and doctrine, and may be in nature just like the “feel-good” messages that preachers are preaching in order to tickle itching ears and to appease and to pacify the flesh.
The focus can be more on the sound of the music, the lighting, the speakers, the coolness of the band playing the music, and more on making it sound modern than it is on truly leading people to worship God. And those “leading worship” may or may not be true followers of Jesus Christ, but may be living very fleshly lives, and they may be living in sin.
But what is worship? Is it just singing songs? Can we worship God without singing songs? And can we sing praise and worship songs without worshiping God? The answer, I believe, is found in this passage of Scripture. Our acceptable and reasonable service of worship to the Lord is to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and to make him truly Lord over all.
So, we can sing to our hearts’ content and never worship God at all if our lives are not surrendered to Jesus Christ, and if we are not walking in obedience to his commands, and if he is not truly the boss of our lives, and if we are still the ones running and ruling over our own lives. So singing alone is not worship, only if it accompanies lives surrendered to Jesus.
Romans 12:2 ESV
“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.”
Our lives cannot be living sacrifices to God if they are still conformed to the ways of this sinful world, so non-conformity to the world goes hand-in-hand with offering our bodies to our Lord as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable (pleasing) to God. For, this follows the pattern of we must die with Christ to sin in order to live to Christ and to his righteousness (1 Pet 2:24; Rom 6).
And the word “holy” means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. We aren’t supposed to live any longer like we did before we believed in Jesus Christ. We are not supposed to engage ourselves (including just in our minds) in sexual immorality and in impurity of any kind (See: Eph 4:17-24).
So, we aren’t supposed to be like the ungodly, like those who do not follow Jesus Christ with their lives, which may also include those who make a profession of faith in Jesus but who never surrender their hearts and lives over to him, but who continue in habitual and deliberate and even premeditated sin against the Lord.
This doesn’t mean we run off and live in monasteries, for although Jesus called us out from the world, he also called us to go out into the world and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to love the people of this world in the same ways in which he did and he does. But we can be in the world and not be of the world. We can partake not in worldly practices.
So, who defines what these worldly practices are that we must separate ourselves from? God! And his Word. Obviously sin is not to be our practice, as God and his word define sin. We are not to be idolaters. We are not to make other things or people our gods. We are not to worship what is not of God, to give it or them our hearts full loyalty, devotion, and obedience.
And we are not to let the things of this world captivate us and end up taking the place of God in our lives or supersede God in our hearts and minds or consume our time and energies to where we have no thought of God and his plan and purposes for our lives. But our lives are to be given to our Lord as living sacrifices, making Jesus our only Lord (owner-master).
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Matt 5:13-16]
*The following is a secular song, but these words express God’s words to us, that we would let him be our freedom, that we would let him shelter us and be our light, and that we would find our hope, and our peace and safety in him and not in the things of this dark world. All he asks of us is that we love him, which means we submit to him as Lord, and we obey his commands.
All I Ask of You
by Andrew Lloyd Webber
No more talk of darkness,
Forget these wide-eyed fears;
I’m here, nothing can harm you,
My words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
Let daylight dry your tears;
I’m here, with you, beside you,
To guard you and to guide you.
Let me be your shelter,
Let me be your light…
Love me, that’s all I ask of you
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