- Sermon Notes
In Romans 9-11, Paul has been giving us God’s heart for Israel. Paul is concerned for them because they stumbled over the stumbling stone; they missed the entire point of the Old Testament. The entire Old Testament points to Jesus Christ, but they would not receive Him. They were hard of heart.
They had rejected Christ and so they were cut off from the tree. And we, the wild olive branches, were grafted in.
But though Israel rejected Him and missed out on the blessings which God has in store for us, he wrote that God is faithful and true, God’s word never fails. He is not through with Israel; they will be grafted back into the tree.
At the end of the age, Christ Himself will return to Israel. He will set foot on the Mount of Olives and enter into Jerusalem through the Eastern gate and they will look on Him whom they have pierced. And though they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son, He will pour out the Spirit of grace on them and they will receive the forgiveness of their sin based on the blood that Jesus shed on Calvary.
How marvelous, how wonderful, Paul says, are the plans of God! From Him and through Him and to Him are all things!
In Romans chapter 12, Paul is saying that we need to be living as unto the Lord as those branches which have been grafted in. Live as those who are receiving their life, their sap, from God. These verses are very practical, they tell us how to live in Christ as those who have surpassing victory.
I. Be a Living and Holy Sacrifice
- Chapter 12 is a major change of direction for Paul, but comes right out of what he’s been saying in the previous chapters. “I urge you, therefore,” Paul said.
- There’s an old saying that when it comes to studying the Bible and you see the word “therefore,” you should know what it’s there for.
- “You have surpassing victory in Christ, you’re no longer a wild olive branch, you’ve been grafted into Christ… therefore…it should radically change you.”
- He also says “I beseech you, by the mercies of God.” These are strong words. Paul is imploring us, by the mercies of God to be transformed…
A. Offering your body as a living sacrifice
- In the Old Testament a sacrifice was something that was offered to God which was to represent your heart, “Here, God, my heart is yours.”
- God is saying here that we need to use our bodies for His glory. The drives of our bodies are very strong and if they are allowed to be control, we will be in trouble. And the flesh is like a spoiled brat; it wants what it wants and it wants it now.
Illus - Someone once said, “The problem with living sacrifices is that they want to crawl off the altar… They’re much better when they’re dead…
Romans 6:13-14, “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you,”
1 Corinthians 6:12-13, All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with them both. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.
- Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, as an offering to God. A living sacrifice must be offered freely, by choice.
Illus - I remember Pastor Chuck Smith saying, “We never ‘take up’ an offering, we receive an offering because it must be given freely out of love for God.
Illus – I was reading Farm and Ranch magazine about a farmer who got his first tractor… Training Arabian horses by depriving them of water…
B. This is your service of worship
- Paul says that when we offer our bodies to God it’s an act of worship unto the Lord.
- We often think of worship as that which is musical or perhaps in prayer, but worship has a much broader meaning.
- Whatever you do as unto the Lord, is a spiritual act of worship. If you’ve done it unto the Lord, it is then worship.
Illus – We call our services worship services meaning that everything we do is for the purpose of worship. But Paul is referring to much more than just what we do in church.
Matthew 25:34-40 – What you’ve done to the least…
Illus – When Sasha was telling us about his trip to
C. This is very pleasing to God
- Paul says this is acceptable to God, but God is not saying, “That’ll do.” A better translation would be that God is very pleased.
- There are many examples of sacrifices that were offered in the Old Testament and God was not pleased.
- They offered sacrifices that were blind, lame or sick, but what He wanted most was a heart after Him.
Malachi 1:8, “When you present the blind for sacrifice, is this not evil? And when you present the lame and the sick, is this not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased? Would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts.
Psalm 51:16-17, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
Illus - Leonard Nimoy, the famous “Spock,” died this week. His famous greeting, “Live long and prosper,” was actually a Jewish blessing and comes from the understanding that spiritual prosperity comes from God.
II. God’s Will is to Transform You
- Be transformed, Paul is saying, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.
- Many people want to know what the will of God is for their lives, by that, they mean they want to know what direction their lives will take or what decisions they should make.
- But the greatest part of God’s will for our lives is that we be transformed and live by faith. Life is a journey and must be lived day by day, simply trusting God with each step by faith; rather than by feelings.
A. Do not be conformed to the world
- The Greek word means to be molded, to be changed by outward pressure; like a lump of clay that is shaped and molded by pressing and pulling and eventually hardened into that shape.
- In other words, the world wants to squeeze you into its mold; and there’s a part of us that wants to fit in to that mold, to be cool, to be accepted.
Illus – The word for world is not the common “cosmos.” Instead, it is the word “eon” which mean, ‘the age in which we live,’ or the culture around us.
- But the world’s view of things is distinctly different than God’s view. Certainly the world’s view of marriage is different than God’s view.
Illus - God’s view says, “Till death do us part.” The world’s view of marriage is, “Till boredom do we part, or till conflict do we part, or until we have irreconcilable differences.”
- Is there any question but that the world’s view of sex is distinctly different than God’s view? God made it beautiful and pure and honorable…
- Being conformed comes from outside pressure.
I Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’
Illus - One of the things I tell young people is that when it comes to peer pressure – you be the pressure.
B. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind
- The word for transformed in the Greek is the English word, “metamorphosis.” It means to be changed from the inside.
- This is in direct contrast to being “conformed,” or changed by outward pressure by the spirit of the age.
- Paul says we are transformed by having our mind made new. In other words, our thinking is off; the old thoughts have to go. We need the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:14-16, A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things… For ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.
- There is the key; be transformed by the renewing of the mind – the changing of our mind.
- If you can change the mind, you can change the world.
Illus – The Soviet Union began to lose its power over the people when knowledge of the world started coming to the people.
- How do you renew the mind? By abiding in God’s Word and letting it abide in you.
John 8:31-32, Then Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
- If you know the truth, you know which thoughts need to go.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5, The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.… We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
C. Prove what the will of God is
- The word “prove” in the Greek means to tested, examined and found worthy.
Illus – God tests as He did in the days of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:22-28)
- We will find that the will of God is good, what God wants is for us to agree with His will, which is found in His Word.
Philippians 1:9-10, And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
Illus – This is a critically important point when raising children. There is a vast difference between obedience and agreement.
Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
- The will of God is good, is well pleasing to God and is complete in every way.
Illus - My definition of good was different than my kids’ definition, and now raising Aviah, it’s different than hers. Her definition of good is to not have any homework and play with her dolls… And my definition may be different than God’s.
- God’s will is worthy of our agreement and the desire to be changed by it.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
Micah 6:8, He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Illus – When God directs our lives and whistles for us to stop dead in our tracks, when we strongly want something else; that is where we need to agree with God that this is good and that Gods’ will for us is good, well pleasing and complete.
Romans 12:1-2 NASB
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.