- Sermon Notes
God’s Transforming Power
The theme of the book of Romans is victory, yes, but it’s also more; it’s surpassing victory. That is God’s will for your life. God does not want you defeated. He wants you to have surpassing victory through Him who loved you.
He’s been building on this theme for several chapters; verse by verse, laying a foundation and then building upon it; truth by truth, precept by precept. The Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which you cry out, “Abba! Father!”
The Spirit helps you in your weakness. And even though you do not know how to pray as you should, the Spirit intercedes for you, he prays to the Father in your behalf.
God works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. What can we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? For I am convinced, Paul said, that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Those are great promises. It’s when you hear such promises and take hold of them and live according to them that faith is strengthened. Faith is anchored to truth. That’s why Paul said in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
That brings us to our current study in this short series through the book of Romans. In chapter 12, Paul gives the epicenter of what it means to live according to faith. It’s all about God’s transforming power. God doesn’t want to just give you truth, he wants you to be transformed by the truth — so he sends that truth with power to transform your life.
That’s God’s will for your life. Paul talks about God’s will in these verses. Many people are very interested to know God’s will for their lives, but what they mean is that they want to know what God has in store for them. But the key to understanding God’s will is that He is first and foremost concerned with who you are and that you be transformed by His power, His truth, and His presence in your life.
I.Be a Living and Holy Sacrifice
- Paul begins by passionately entreating, beseeching them, “I urge you, therefore,” Paul said.
- “I beseech you by the mercies of God.” These are strong words. Paul is imploring you, by the mercies of God, to be transformed…
A.Present your body as a living sacrifice
- In the Old Testament a sacrifice was something offered to God which represented the heart, “My heart is yours, Lord, so I give You this offering from my heart.”
Illus – Last week I gave the illustration of someone who gives flowers on Valentine’s Day simply because it’s the thing to do on Valentine’s Day. Giving a gift simply out of obligation is empty; it means nothing. But when your heart does love and you give something because of that love, that’s completely different.
- To present your body as a holy and living sacrifice is to say, “God I want to honor you with the strength of my body, the effort of my endeavors and the way I live here on earth.”
- The body has many drives; hunger, thirst, and sexual desire, for example. If the drives of the body are allowed to be the master, you will be in trouble. Because the flesh is like a spoiled child; 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, “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. 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. It’s a gift you give because your heart is truly thankful and when you say you love God, you mean it.
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 and a desire to honor God.
Illus – I remember reading an article in Farm and Ranch magazine about a farmer who bought his first tractor…
B.This is your service of worship
- When you present your body to God it’s an act of worship unto the Lord.
Isaiah 6:8, Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send?” Then I said, “Here am I, Lord. Send me!”
- We often think of worship as that which is musical or perhaps a 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, that’s what makes it worship.
llus – 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 our son Sasha was in high school, he was telling us about his mission’s trip to Mexico. On that trip they ministered to disabled orphans. As he was caring for them, he said he saw in their faces the face of Christ. “What you’ve done to the least of these, you did it unto Me.”
C.This is well pleasing to God
- The NASB version says, “This is acceptable to God,” but a better translation is “God is well pleased.”
- There are many examples of Old Testament sacrifices that were not pleasing to God.
- They offered sacrifices that were blind, lame or sick. If, when you give a gift, an offering, or a sacrifice, it represents the heart, then their heart was blind, lame and sick. What God 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 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
Illus – Leonard Nimoy, as “Spock,” created the famous Vulcan greeting, “Live long and prosper.” It was actually a Hebrew blessing and came 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 your life is to 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 emotions or feelings.
Habakkuk 2:4, “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within the him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”
- The phrase “be transformed,” is interesting. We can learn something from the Greek here. It’s a word in the passive present tense.
- To touch is active; to be touched is passive. “Be transformed,” is passive. In other words, don’t imagine that you can transform yourself. To be transformed means this is God’s work; God’s transforming power will transform you.
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 translated ‘world’ is not the common “cosmos.” Instead, it is the word “eon” which means, ‘the spirit of the age,’ 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 must 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 your 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 will 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 test, to examine, and find it worthy. In other words, be transformed by the renewing of your mind and you will find that the will of God is good and well pleasing and perfect. God will prove it to you.
- God wants 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. Raising children is an illustration. There is a vast difference between obedience and agreement. A parent can get a child to obey if they raise their voice and intimidate, but how much better to win the heart.
Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, unless they be agreed?”
- The will of God is good, it’s well pleasing to God and is complete in every way.
Illus – My definition of good was different than my kids’ definition of good. Their definition of good was not having any homework and playing video games…
And your definition may be different than God’s.
- God’s will is worthy of our agreement and the desire to be changed by it.
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?
Romans 12:1-2 NASB
1Therefore 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. 2And 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.