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Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:Our new life in Christ has to be devoted to God
Text:Romans 12:1,2 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ
 
Added:2013-03-05
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


A living Sacrifice to God

Ps. 118: 1, 8

Ps. 1: 1 – 3

Ps. 40: 3

Ps. 116: 5, 7, 9, 10

Ps. 86: 4

 

Scripture reading:       Rom. 11: 33 – 12: 8

Text:                              Rom. 12: 1, 2

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

We were dead in sins, but God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive. 

 

The life which He gave us is a new life in Christ and through Christ.   It is a life that flows from our union with Christ.   In Christ we receive the fullness of God’s salvation, and through Christ we live a new life unto God.  

 

We are united with our Lord Jesus in His death and resurrection.

By His death we died to sin; by His resurrection we were made alive unto God.      

And thus our new life unto God flows from our union with Christ.

 

When we turn to chapter 12 we see how the apostle now applies the doctrine of our salvation to our daily walk of life in this world.   Having expounded to us the mercies of God, he now comes to the practical application of this salvation.  

 

When we now turn to these practical exhortations, how we should live in this world unto God’s glory, it is important that we see this as the practical application of our salvation in Christ.  

The apostle exhorts us by the mercies of God – the mercies of God that has been expounded in this epistle up to the end of chapter 11.

Reminding us of the mercies of God, he now exhorts us to live by these mercies, and to put into practice that which we received in Christ.  

 

Having been made alive with Christ our whole life should now be devoted to God as a holy and living sacrifice – a life in which we love God with all our heart and soul and mind and with all our strength.   A life lived with one purpose: to do God’s will; and so to glorify Him in all that we do.  

 

I proclaim this gospel to you with the theme…

Our new life in Christ has to be devoted to God

 

We will note three exhortations:

1.      Present yourself as a living sacrifice to God

2.      Do not be conformed to this world

3.      Seek to do God’s will only

 

We start with the first exhortation…

Present yourself as a living sacrifice to God

 

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, to God, which is your reasonable service.”

 

First of all we need to note the connection between this verse and the previous verse.   In the previous verse, chapter 11: 36, the apostle said:

 

“…of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever…”

 

Yes, everything, also our whole salvation, is of Him and through Him and to Him – to His glory.   And thus the whole purpose of our salvation is to glorify Him by a new life of obedience, a new life unto Him; that we may live to His glory.

 

You see then how this exhortation, that we have to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to God, flows from his conclusion that all things are of God, through God and unto God, to His glory.

 

All things exist with the purpose to glorify God.   Also our salvation in Christ has ultimately this one purpose: that we should be to His glory.

 

All things are of Him.   That means: He is the Creator of all things.   He decided to create all things; and whatever He decided He called into existence.

All things are through Him.   That means: He created and sustains all things by His own power.    Through Him and by Him all things are sustained and continue to exist.

And all things are to Him.   That means: all things exist for His sake.   All things were created and all things exist unto God.  

And thus the only and ultimate reason for our existence is to glorify God.

 

The apostle speaks to the Colossians about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and says:

 

“…by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.   All things were created through Him and for Him.” – Col. 1: 16

 

All things were created for Him.   That is: for His sake.

 

Also in Rev. 4: 11 we read:

 

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

 

Now, the apostle summarises this by saying:

 

            “…of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever…”

 

Therefore it is your reasonable service to God to present yourself to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him.

 

Our whole life has to be devoted to God; our whole life has to become a holy sacrifice to Him.   It is a life lived with one purpose: to do God’s will and so to glorify Him in all that we do.  

That is the purpose of our salvation in Christ: a new life in and through Christ to the glory of God alone.

 

To illustrate this, the apostle uses the image of a sacrifice.  

Now, when he says, “present your bodies a living sacrifice”, the meaning is the same as in chapter 6 where he says:

 

“…do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” – Rom. 6: 13

 

Having raised us with Christ, God now commands that we present a living body to Him – a body alive from the dead.   Our old man has been put to death, and we were raised a new man in Christ, alive unto God.   And thus we have to present a living body as a living sacrifice to God.   Our body is now a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6: 15, 19).  

 

Yes, he speaks of our body, but the meaning is simply, as in chapter 6: 13, that we present ourselves – body and soul – as a holy sacrifice to the Lord.

 

Now, in this context the image of a sacrifice is powerful and striking.    As the sacrificial animals were slaughtered and entirely offered to the Lord, so our whole life has to become a holy sacrifice to the Lord and to His service.   

 

Brothers and sisters, this instruction does not come to some elite or special Christians, but to every believer.   The apostle is describing the very character of the Christian life.  

Here, in the verses 1 and 2, the apostle describes in a nutshell how the Christian has to devote his entire life to the Lord and to His service, and how we are to separate ourselves from the world and its sinful practices.  

 

With these words he spells out the very basics of the Christian life.   A godly life starts with the understanding that we are consecrated to the Lord.   And thus it follows that we must cease to live for ourselves, in order that we may devote all our actions to His service only.

 

In this regard we have to note two things.   First, we belong to the Lord.   And second, because we belong to the Lord we need to be holy.   For whatever is consecrated to the Lord must be holy.

 

Now, when we are commanded to offer our body a sacrifice to God, the implication is that we are not our own, and that we need to renounce ourselves and to deny ourselves.  

 

This is not a once off “altar experience” as some imagine.   No, our whole walk of life needs to be an ongoing living sacrifice to the Lord.

 

If any man does not seek to serve God with his entire life, then his whole life is nothing but idolatry.

 

By the grace of God we all became priests of God in order to sacrifice ourselves to the Lord, yes, to dedicate ourselves and all that we have in His service to His glory.

 

He adds the word holy, to indicate the nature of such a life.   It is a holy life consecrated to the Lord.

And he adds the words, “acceptable to God”, to indicate that we are to seek what is well-pleasing to God.  

 

Now, such a life of self-sacrifice unto God is our reasonable service.  

 

The word reasonable may here also be translated: rational.   

It is your rational service; the service on which you have fixed your mind.

It indicates intentional and focused service, over against mindless mechanical service.  

 

Now, so far the apostle gave us a positive command: present yourself a living and holy and acceptable sacrifice to God.   In the next verse, verse 2, he contrasts such a holy sacrifice with a worldly life, saying:

 

            “And do not be conformed to this world…”

 

We note that in the second place: the exhortation…

Do not be conformed to this world

 

If we want to serve the Lord, then we can no longer live and think and speak and do as the world.   

 

We learn this in the very first psalm, Psalm 1.   Blessed is the man who separates himself from the ungodly, from sinners and scoffers.    In order to delight yourself in the law of the LORD, in order to meditate in His law day and night, you first have to separate yourself from the world, and shun its ways.

You cannot live a godly life while you keep compony with the ungodly.

 

Brothers and sisters, this is very basic to the Christian life; to godly living.   

 

And then, over against a worldly life, the apostle puts the renewing of our mind.   Our mind needs to be transformed to see things the way God sees them.   We need to think the way God thinks, and to regard things the way God regards them.  

Our perception of life, yes, our whole worldview, has to become that of God, and not that of this world.  

 

In this context God and the world are opposites.   God’s will is good and holy and perfect, while this world is corrupt and twisted and evil.  

 

The apostle places this world over against the kingdom of God.   It is this age over against the age to come; this world over against the world to come.

 

We either belong to this world, or to the world which is to come.

We cannot belong to both.

 

Here in our text the Greek word for “world” can also be translated “age”.

Do not be conformed to this age.

That is: do not be conformed to the morals and desires and principles of this world or this age.

If a man’s worldview and all his calculations and plans and ambitions are determined by what he sees and experiences here and now in this world and this age, then he has become a child of this world and of this age.  

Over against such worldliness we have to set our mind on the world and the age which is to come: the eternal kingdom of God.  

 

We are commanded to be renewed and sanctified in our minds, and to put off the corrupt mindset of this world.

 

Now then, what is the corrupt mindset of this world, and what are the principles that govern the minds of the children of this world?  

The corrupt mindset of the world is the exact opposite of what the apostle commands in verse 1. 

While the believer presents himself as a living and holy sacrifice to the Lord – seeking what is well-pleasing to the Lord, knowing that this is his reasonable service to God, yes, the sole purpose of his existence to glorify God – the world on the other hand turns away from God and seeks its own desires.  

 

God’s children ask: what does the Lord want?

The children of this world ask: what do I want?

 

God’s children live unto Him and seek only that which pleases Him.

The children of this world live for this world, and seek whatever pleases themselves, running after the pleasures of this world.

 

God’s children, being alive unto God, find all their joy in doing God’s will.

The children of this world, being dead in sin, seek only what their own sinful nature demands.

 

That is the contrast.  

 

And thus the apostle John also says:

 

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.   If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.   For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.   And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2: 15 – 17.

 

Yes, our mind is either set on the coming of God’s kingdom, or on this world and its desires.

 

And now we are commanded:

 

“…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

 

To “prove” God’s will means, in this context, to know and understand God’s will; to know and to discern His good and acceptable and perfect will for our lives.

That is: to discern His good will over against the corrupted mind-frame of this world.

 

But, dear congregation, how will we do that?   How will the Holy Spirit renew our minds?   The means by which the Spirit renews our minds is the Word of God.   By His Word only will our minds be sanctified.    And the more our minds are formed and regulated by His Word, the more our minds will become holy; the more our thinking will be well-pleasing to the Lord.

But if anyone feeds his mind with the media of this world, the TV, films and videos, and all the junk of this world, then these things will also regulate his mind.

 

Our mind needs to be transformed by God’s Word, but if we feed our mind with the filth of this world, holy living becomes impossible.   And therefore Prov. 4: 23 says:

 

            “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

 

Guard your heart more than anything else, for your heart and mind is the fountain from which your whole life flows.   (In Scripture “heart” and “mind” are often used as synonyms.)    Keep your heart and mind pure by filling your heart and mind with God’s Word, and not with the filth of this world.

 

Yes, we are commanded to live according to God’s revealed will only, and not according to the self-invented religion of this world.

 

We note that in the last place: the exhortation…

Seek to do God’s will only

 

“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  

 

He says: be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Our heart and mind have become darkened by sin.

The mind of the natural man – yes, the mind in which man loves to boast – has become blind and foolish.

The mind of the unregenerate man cannot produce anything but foolishness.   For no matter how intelligent, no matter how gifted a man may be, without God all man’s thoughts are twisted and darkened.  

 

We need a new mind; a mind formed and regulated by God’s Word and Spirit; a mind set on the glory of God.

 

And thus we are not to seek what is pleasing to the world.

We are commanded to get rid of all worldly wisdom, which is nothing but foolishness, and to seek and to discern the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

In this context God’s will refers to His prescribed will.   That is His law – His holy will as spelled out in His commandments.

 

Yes, the will of God is the law of God, and the law is holy and just and good – Rom. 7: 12

 

His law is not relatively good, relatively acceptable or relatively perfect.  

It is not an accommodated norm to our present condition, but the one eternal norm for what is good and acceptable and perfect.  

 

God’s prescribed will, His law, is the transcript of God’s perfection, and is the perfect reflection of His holiness and justice and goodness.  

 

That one absolutely good and perfect will of God must now also regulate our mind and our lives.

Our mind needs to be transformed and renewed to that perfect and good image of God as stipulated in His law.

 

Brothers and sisters, there is no other norm or principle for our lives.

Only God’s prescribed will, only His law, is good and acceptable and perfect – nothing else.

 

Yes, the world invents its own good works and its own religion and its own norms: that which is good and acceptable in man’s eyes.   Think for example of the whole concept of human rights which has replaced God’s law in many countries today.

 

But the apostle exhorts us to seek one will only: that good and acceptable and perfect will of God as revealed and prescribed in His holy law.

That alone has to be the regulative principle in all our service to God.

 

Let us not seek what pleases us.   Let us not seek what pleases the world, but let us seek only that which is well-pleasing and acceptable in God’s eyes.

 

Dear congregation, how then does such a holy life of self-sacrifice look like; such a life which is entirely devoted to God and His glory?

It is a life according to God’s commandments; a life in which all our thoughts and actions are directed to intentional obedience to God.

 

Unto such a life we were raised with Christ.

 

Dear congregation, these instructions apply to the whole spectrum of our daily life.   In all things we are to devote ourselves entirely to God and His service.   With our whole heart and soul and mind and with all our strength we are to seek His good and holy will, which ultimately brings us to one purpose: to glorify Him through a new life of obedience.

 

When we look at the world around us, we see futility and emptiness.

What is the purpose of life to modern man?

Is it not to “eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”; to enjoy yourself as much as possible while you still have time, and to gratify all your desires?

And are we really free from such a mindset?

 

Where the apostle Paul says that in the last days men will become lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Tim. 3: 4) he is speaking of church members – church members who still have the outward resemblance of godliness, but in reality are without the sanctifying power of God.  

 

Lovers of pleasure!    Everything has to be fun.

And if it is not fun, they are not interested.

If you want them in church, you need to have a fun-service.

If you want them to read the Bible, you have to present a fun-course in Bible reading.

 

But how empty does it all become?   How empty and futile, how useless is such a life!

 

Brother, sister, what is the purpose of your life?

What is your aim and ambitions in life?  

Let us not count the same things as important, which the world counts important.

Let us not spend our time the same way the world does, but redeem the time.

Let us discern the culture of this world, which is nothing but idolatry, and let our culture and traditions and pattern of life be sanctified by God’s Word.  

 

Boys, do you speak and act like some film-star on TV?  Do you maybe comb your hair like one of them?   Who do you want to impress?

I am not so much concerned about your hair, but about the one whom you try to impress: God, or the world?

 

Girls, do you seek that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, when you dress yourselves?   Do you seek to be chaste and modest?   Yes, does God’s Word regulate your mind when you buy your clothes?   Or do you maybe follow the fashions of this world where all the focus is on your body and on exposing your body?  

 

Yes, how easily do we become conformed to this world in our everyday walk of life!   Because: everyone around us is doing the same!   But we need a new mind sanctified by God’s Word and Spirit to discern the thinking and practices of this world as enmity against God.  

Brothers and sisters, we still live in the midst of this corrupted world, and we ourselves still have a sinful nature to crucify, therefore we are in desperate need of this instruction of the apostle.

 

Also in our day the Lord calls us with these words: “Come out of Babylon, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” – where the Lord calls this whole world “Babylon”.

 

Beloved in the Lord, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice to God.   And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may know and discern the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

Unto such a life we were raised with Christ.

 

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

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