Not a Performance
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.”
Does the Lord ever give you visuals of the Bible lessons you are learning, like in a picture message? He does me, and I wish I was an artist and that I could draw for you what I see in my mind, for I think physical pictures sometimes help us to see biblical themes and lessons more clearly.
Anyway, this word “present” can mean “to make a gift to” or it can also mean to “act the part of,” i.e. to perform. The intended meaning here is the first, but what the Lord is wanting me to focus on this morning is that many people are doing the latter, instead.
In other words, there are many people professing faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in sinful addiction, still taking their stand on what is unrighteous and on what is wicked, who are living in the sin cycle of “sin, confess, sin, confess,” but without true repentance or genuine change of heart and mind, but only with a show of righteousness on the outside.
Their purity of heart and mind is outward only and not inward. They can perform well for a period of time but then they fall right back into the same sins that they are addicted to. And this just goes round and round in a circle, with the same patterns of behavior performed over and over again.
So, their righteousness and purity do not come from what is in the heart, but rather out of the heart come all sorts of wickedness because the heart has not changed. Only some patterns of behavior might change temporarily. But since it is outward only and not inward, the person continues to return to the same sins over and over again deliberately and habitually.
So, our bodies are not really given over to the Lord if we remain in a cycle of addiction to sin while trying to perform as though we are righteous, and while we try through human effort to maintain some element of control over our own bodies. We can’t just add righteousness on like adding paint to a piece of furniture. If our hearts haven’t changed we will return to the same vomit over and over again, because our flesh can only perform for so long.
So, when this says here to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship, this is not talking about performance or anything done in our own flesh. This is talking about total surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ, to let him truly be Lord and Master of our lives, and to let him direct us in the way he would have us to go and for us to follow his lead in full submission to him as our Lord (Master).
This is our spiritual or our acceptable worship of God. For worship is not something we do outwardly. It is not a performance. It will result in things which can be seen in our attitudes and in our behaviors but it is first and foremost a genuine change of heart and mind away from living to sin and to self, to now following Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways.
That by Testing
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.”
Many professers of faith in Jesus Christ are still conformed to the ways of this sinful world, still thinking with their flesh, still craving what the flesh desires. And while some of them may put on a show of righteousness, at times, they will always revert to following the ways of the world and to yielding their lives over to the control of the flesh, for the flesh still reigns.
But the ways of the world do not demand that our hearts change to be conformed to the ways of God. The ways of the world allow for us to believe in a man named Jesus, and for us to go, on Sundays, to buildings called “church,” and to go through the rituals of religious performance, but they are totally against full surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ as Lord.
So, many have adapted the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ways of this sinful world in order to appease the flesh and to not make people feel guilty about their sin so that they are not offended by the gospel. So, the gospel that is largely permeating the church in America is this cheap grace gospel which does not put sin to death in the sinner but which makes room for sin.
Thus, we have many people today in America claiming faith in Jesus Christ who are still living under the control of Satan and the flesh and sin and whose righteousness, if there is even a hint of such, is external only, put on like paint in order to give the appearance of righteousness and holiness. But inwardly they are still addicted to sin and still walking in the flesh.
And the way we will know if our righteousness is genuine or fake, in case we are self-deceived, is by testing, for when we go through times of testing the real us usually will surface. If we are people who fake righteousness (I don’t), then the truth will come out when we are put in situations where that commitment to the Lord and to our salvation is put to the test.
Don’t Be Prideful
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.”
You have heard the saying that “pride comes before a fall.” This is proven to be a true statement. When those who profess faith in Jesus Christ get this haughty notion that they have now arrived, so they are patting themselves on the back for how good their performance has been of late, that usually precedes a great fall back into sin.
Now, I am not saying that a genuinely righteous person, by the grace of God, can’t ever fall into sin, but the Scriptures teach that those who are righteous in God’s sight are those who are living righteously, as a matter of practice, and they are not living in a habitual sin cycle, making sin their practice (1 Jn 3:4-10).
Some people have this idea if they have periods of time where they don’t give in to their addiction that they are now righteous in God’s sight, but that is not what the Scriptures teach. They teach that if sin is our habit, and if that sin is habitual and deliberate and repeated over and over again, we are not free from the control of sin, but we are still living under sin’s control.
True repentance involves a spiritual U-turn. We were living in sin, now we are living according to the ways of the Spirit. We were engaged in all manner of evil, now we are engaged in living for the Lord in obedience to his commands. We can’t serve two masters at the same time. We are slaves of the one we obey, and if it is sin, it will end in death, not life everlasting.
So, don’t get haughty. Don’t let pride consume you if you are able to go a certain amount of time without moral failure. For, if your heart does not change, and you are still performing, and you have not stepped outside that cycle of addiction, but you are still standing in it, then the Bible says you will die in your sins. You will not have eternal life with God. So, please take this to heart (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).
An Original Work / August 29, 2018
Your bond is broken
With your Lord and Savior
And, your testimony is
Separate from Him.
Your words not matching
Your actions today.
Repent of your sin and
Bow down and pray.
Live what you testify
In truth always.
Purity’s lacking in
Your life and witness,
For you profess one thing,
But other you do.
Not moral, spiritual.
Still of the flesh.
Not living in truth to
What you confess.
Lying about it
Puts you in a mess.
Living a lie is your practice,
‘tis true of you.
Masquerade righteousness –
None of it true.
Your heart is not given
To your Lord God.
Because of how you live,
You are a fraud.
Turn from your sin and
Give your life to God.