Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) – And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
“For Paul, having ones’ mind renewed and offering God one’s body are all part of the same complete event. Here Paul uses a vivid, indeed shocking, idea: one’s whole self must be laid on the altar like a sacrifice in the Temple. The big difference is that, whereas the sacrifice is there to be killed, the Christian’s self-offering is actually all about coming alive with the new life that bursts out in unexpected ways once the evil deeds of the self are put to death. Christian living never begins with a set of rules, though it contains them as it goes forward. It begins in the glad self-offering of one’s whole self to the God whose mercy has come all the way to meet us in our rebellion, sin and death.” [N.T. Wright’s Paul for Everyone, Romans Part Two, p. 69-70]
Let’s follow the teaching of our Lord in Romans 12:1-2 today. Let’s also pray for the children, youth, and campus ministries of our churches, that each one will experience this glad self-offering way of life. Let’s worship and sing with the song, “More to Come” (click here) by Passion.
Romans 6:19-23 (NIV/NLT) – …I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. 21 And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. 22 But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Have you memorized Romans 6:23? I have, as a “back-pocket” passage to have ready to share the gospel. But when I memorized it, I didn’t pay attention to what is going on here in Romans. This “eternal life” through Jesus Christ our Lord is not merely a promise of eternity; it is actually a way of living here and now.
If we have received this promise, then today, here and now, we are under one obligation alone: We are slaves of God. So our lives, every day, aren’t about merely waiting for “eternal life,” but about doing “those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.”
Let’s pray for ourselves and our churches, that we will live fully in this free gift of eternal life as taught in Romans 6:19-23. Let’s worship with the song, “Here and Now” (click here) by Eddie Kirkland.
Romans 6:17 –But thanks be to God because you were slaves of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over. [Douglas J. Moo’s translation]
“Paul now dispels any idea that Christians stand in a situation of neutrality with respect to the master they are to serve… They have already made the decision to follow a new master. For Paul give ‘thanks to God’ for the transfer of spiritual allegiance that they have manifested. Once, Paul says, ‘you were slaves of sin’; but now ‘you have obeyed that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over.’
“… Paul uses ‘obey’ because he wants to underscore the aspect of submission to Christ as Lord of life that is part of becoming a Christian. It is probably for this same reason that Paul chooses so unusual a way of describing the object of their obedience. Paul uses ‘hand over’ to refer to the transmission of the early Christian teaching. In this verse, however, it is not the teaching that is handed down to believers but the believers who are handed over to the teaching. Paul wants to make clear that becoming a Christian means being placed under the authority of Christian teaching. The new convert’s ‘obedience’ to this teaching is the outgrowth of God’s action in ‘handing us over’ when we were converted.” [Douglas J Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), p. 400-401]
Let’s thank God that we have been handed over in this way by our rescuing God. Let’s be filled with the Spirit afresh for obedience and love. Let’s worship with the song, “No Longer Slaves” (click here) by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser.
In the book, Death by Love: Letters from the Cross, Pastor Mark Driscoll shares of Thomas, who came to him enslaved by sexual sin. Thomas was not yet in Christ, and so the following counsel is given:
“During all of your foolish sin, you have been deceived into thinking that you are free to do as you please. However, the truth is that you have lived as a slave…you are helpless before your lusts. There’s nothing you can do to get free, so you just give up. The good news is that God is more powerful than anything, including your sinful desires. If you turn from sin and trust in Jesus, God the Holy Spirit will indwell you. As a result, you will receive a new power by which to say no to your sinful desires and yes to the holy Desires of God” (p. 63).
Luke 23:32, 39-43 (NIV) – One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at [Jesus]: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him… 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Here we see one man’s day to leave his life of sin and trust in Jesus. Have you had such a day? If not, may it be today. If you have called upon Him, let us remember and receive afresh this life of intimacy with our Master promised in Luke 23. Let’s worship with the song, “Belong” (click here) by Aaron Shust.
John 8:31-34, 36 (NLT) – Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 “But…” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” 34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 36…If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
“Verse 32 rings like a great bell through so much Christian language: free from sin, free from slavery, free from the law, free from death, free from injustice, free from debt … It’s needed as much today as ever, in all these senses and more. The way to freedom is through the truth, and what matters therefore is to know the truth.
“…So what is the truth, and how can it set people free, then and now? Throughout John’s gospel the answer is clear: Jesus himself is the truth. But we mustn’t forget that the Jesus who describes himself as the truth is the Jesus of the whole story John is telling, and above all the Jesus who dies on the cross as the supreme act of love, the act in which the father’s glory is finally revealed.” [N.T. Wright’s John for Everyone, p. 122-123]
Let’s give thanks to God for His supreme act of love. Let’s pray that through our ministries and churches, this message of freedom and redemption in the Son will ring out. Let’s sing to the song, “You Redeem” [Click Here] by Aaron Shust.