Summary: To establish the requirements for one to know and achieve spiritual perfection. This lesson will discuss the importance of a life of sacrifice, unconformity to the world and a transformation into the image of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
1. A Life of Sacrifice
2. A Life of Unconformity
3. A Life of Transformation
1. In our lesson today we are going to be discussing a “Prescription for Perfection.” Is spiritual perfection even possible? Many have given up on this idea. Some religious groups interpret the word “perfection” as living free from sin. In our discussion it means as always in the bible: “completeness, full grown or obtaining spiritual maturity.” Paul outlines this prescription in Roman Chapter 12 verses one and two. He suggests three important elements in this prescription, and they are a life of sacrifice, a life of unconformity, and a life of transformation. These were, as you know the epithet of the life of our Lord, as well as the life of the beloved Apostle Paul. We all know what a prescription is; and who writes it?
2. First, he says it begins with presenting your bodies as a “living sacrifice” unto God. He begs us to live a life of sacrifice. The life of Christ was borne out of love and sacrifice to God, and for mankind. Paul urges us to live a life of continued self-denial, of divine service, and commitment to the will of God. If our lives are to ever measure up to that which proves as “good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God,” it will be through such a life as Paul here describes.
3. Secondly, he says the believer must exhibit an “unconforming” life style. The believer must be uncompromising in his devotion to God, unswerving in his faith, and serving the Lord in reverence and godly fear. We can no longer pattern ourselves after the course of this world, but after the divine character, and example of Jesus Christ himself. We should walk in his footsteps, thereby endeavoring to be pleasing and acceptable to God, and no longer in favor or friendship of the world. For, “whosoever will be a friend of the world is an enemy of God,” James 4:4.
4. Finally, the last element of this spiritual prescription involves a genuine change of heart or a “transformation.” This is a change from within, that of the “inner man, the new man.” This is accomplished by the “new birth” or “regeneration.” The proof of the new birth, then, is seen through the fruit of a transformed life, a new behavior. This is made possible by a continual and constant “renewing of the mind” that we may serve God with our whole being, our body, soul and mind, Matthew 22:36-40. Do you want to hear more?
BODY OF LESSON
I A LIFE OF SACRIFICE
A. The apostle begins his instruction by pleading, or beseeching the brethren, “by the mercies of God,” or in light of the mercies of God, that they present their bodies as a “living sacrifice.” Paul was careful not to direct, but to beseech or entreat their willing obedience. This admonition was introduced with kindness, and with genuine compassion. He addressed the worst of the congregation as brethren, a term of affection and endearment. A leadership, which entreats and exhort its brethren rather than commanding; would accomplish more, by winning over the opposition rather than continually clashing with it, 2 Timothy 2:24-26. Real leadership will beg, entreat and encourage, rather than threaten!
B. His motivation for this request - “the mercies of God.” Paul reminds them that they were recipients of God’s Mercy. He concludes chapter 11 with a burst of praise regarding the mercies of God upon both the Jews and Gentiles, Romans 11:30-36. Survey these verses.
1. It is because of the mercies of God. Paul beseeches them to be living sacrifices.
2. David speaking of God’s mercy said, “For thou Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee,” Psalms 86:5. Elsewhere, “His mercy endureth forever,” Psalms 136:1.
3. And Peter speaking to the church. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him ... which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God, which hath not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy,” 1 Peter 2:9-10. And Paul: “God, who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us,” Ephesians 2:4.
4. It is because of God’s mercies he asks them, “to present their bodies as a living sacrifice unto God.” He urges us to be living, active, willing sacrifices, “which is your reasonable; --expected service,” because of God’s abundant mercy.
C. He asked them to be a “living sacrifice.” He no doubt alludes to the law, where the lamb was brought alive before the altar, and then slain. It was for mercy the priest asked, when he laid the sacrificial lamb upon the altar, and sprinkled its blood on the Ark of the Covenant and mercy seat. Illustrate: The Mercy Seat, Hebrews 8:5. Christ is our mercy seat – the propitiation for our sins, 1 John 2:1-2.