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Background Scripture: Romans 12

 


Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. 
Romans 12:1

This is the first in a four part series.  Our topic is the Biblical command to not be like the world in which we live.  The essence of this command is to be a nonconformist.

Do you profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings?  If so consider this: How do you begin your work day or work week?  For too many of us who claim to know Christ personally, we, like our neighbors, awake, shower, dress for the day ahead, grab a bite to eat, get in our car (of which we are no doubt proud), and go to the work place.  At work we perform as well, perhaps even better, than the unbelievers around us.  We blend in, we laugh at the off-color jokes, we have the same interests as those we work with.  In all of this we show what is really important to us.  We profess and confess that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour, but we act like those in the world who deny He is God.  Worse, we tolerate those around us who regularly take His name in vain.  We are often difficult to distinguish from the unbeliever in our thoughts, lifestyles, interests, language, and actions.  In short, we can talk the talk but we do not walk the walk.  What does God’s Holy Word have to say about such conduct by those claiming to know Him?

In Romans 12:1, Paul urges all believers to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual act of worship.”  Here Paul is giving us some very practical advice.  It is practical and simple, yet profound.  His concern is obvious: that believers in Jesus Christ not be like the world.  He is telling us to “practice what we preach” or “get serious” about our relationship with God.  Paul is urging us to quit “playing church,” to quit “playing men’s (or women’s) retreat weekend,” and to stop being “religious.”  In Paul’s day, the Pharisees were the “religious” people.  Today, it is often those who claim to follow Christ.  This is damning indeed.

If you are still reading this, you no doubt profess to be a follower of the Messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  Here in Romans 12 Paul is writing only to Christians.  He is not telling anyone how to become a Christian.  He has already explained in great detail that we are justified by faith only.  It is all a matter of God’s grace.  There is nothing any of us can do to earn eternal life with Him.  It is a free gift of grace.  Paul says it so clearly in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The gist of Paul’s thought in verse one is the idea of acceptable worship.  He says that believers please God by giving their very selves to the One who has redeemed them.  They are to offer their “bodies as living sacrifices.”  “Bodies” here represents the character, the spiritual life, the true man, woman, or child.  Jesus said it best in Matthew 16:25 as follows: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”  In giving ourselves to God, we offer the praises of our mouths, the service of our hands, arms, legs, and feet.  Ever more importantly, we do everything for Him and as unto Him.  He is the center of our thought life.  He is our reason for awaking each day.  He is why we go to work in the first place.

Look at the believer’s motivation as given in Romans 12:1!  Paul says, “In view of God’s mercy.”  If you have drawn a single breath this day, it is only because of God’s mercy in your life.  Oh, how are His mercies each minute!  Of course, the ultimate mercy of all mercies is the mercy shown in redemption.  Yet, God in His matchless grace has provided exactly that for us in spite of us!  What more can any human being ask than to be put in right standing with the sovereign God of the universe?  It is in awesome wonder that the believer can say that through the blood of Christ we occupy a position of good favor with God Himself.  Christian, give thanks for His incomprehensible goodness towards you!  Because His mercies are undeserved, sovereign, and free, the gratitude of the Christian is a motive beyond understanding.  Gratitude to God for such a gift is truly motive enough to make us serious about virtue and holiness in our lives.

Give thanks to Him this day for all His mercies in your life.  Mercies beyond compare!  Mercies beyond full comprehension!  Most importantly, give thanks for the undeserved and wonderful privilege of knowing Him, the Creator and Sustainer of all things!

James McLaughlin

 

– This article comes from AI’s devotional for lawyers titled, “What Does the Lord Require of You?”

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