Summary: First of a series of three messages on Romans 12. This message deals with the call to offer ourselves wholly to Christ.
Trinity Baptist Church August 10, 2008
Romans 12:1, 2
Did you hear about the college students who wanted to form a new organization on their campus? They called it the “Apathy Club”? Their “Apathy Club” wasn’t going to be like any other student group. Where most organizations have a purpose or goal -- or some common interest to unify and motivate them -- this club was advertised as “believing in nothing, pursuing nothing.” They simply didn’t care about anything, and they were going to demonstrate their apathy in an organized fashion!
…just one problem….the self-appointed officers of the Apathy Club advertised the first meeting -- and not a single person showed up -- because anybody who might have been interested didn’t care enough to attend.
That’s funny until you realize that there’s an apathy epidemic raging in American Christianity. Apathy. The dictionary says it’s “a lack of feeling or emotion“ -- it’s defined as “passivity and indifference” -- or an “absence of concern or interest.” Apathy has a close cousin -- complacency -- and complacency brings the added component of self-satisfaction.
I want to take three weeks to look at a NT chapter that could be called “God’s prescription for complacency.” We’ll notice as we go through Romans 12 that it speaks to three relationships -- these are relationships which are at the heart of either spiritual complacency or vitality. I’ve long observed that these are areas to which I must pay attention things consistently, every day. That’s because I when I let down -- when I sit back and relax, and don’t apply what’s in Romans 12, the thick fog of complacency becomes my experience as a believer.
Of the three relationships we’ll think about, the first is the most critical: it’s your relationship with God -- that’s where we begin today. The nature of that relationship determines all the rest. If it’s a vibrant committed one, like you see described in verses 1 and 2, the rest can follow. If not, then, the rest just falls by the wayside.
The second is your role and relating in the Body of Christ. Romans 12 informs us,
your response and serving in the Body become both a yardstick and a determiner of your spiritual temperature. The third relationship is with people generally -- Paul talks in the last part of the chapter about our acting and reacting with people every day. The challenge for us in that realm is to be just as radical as what’s described in verses 1 and 2.
That’s because, it’s in dealing with people that we can see whether we’re more like the world or more like Christ.
So, today, we’ll start with verses 1 and 2. They’re familiar to most of you. Let me read them again. 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. 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.
Let me make some general Observations. First:
Determined commitment is the only appropriate response to God’s grace.
Romans reveals what makes Christianity absolutely unique -- it’s grace and faith. Paul urges Christians to a commitment based on the reality that God is full of mercy and grace -- the truths Romans describes in detail.
In the early chapters of Romans, you can read God’s powerful indictment of humanity‘s sin. Chapters 1-3 insist that it doesn’t matter whether you are Jew or a Gentile, religious or secular, humanly good or humanly evil -- we read there God declares all men guilty and unacceptable to Him because of our sin. As you understand the nature of your sin, God gives you understanding of grace and mercy.
Beginning in chapter 3 Paul reveals God’s magnificent plan -- to take man’s sin and apply it to His Son -- so He could take the righteousness of His Son and apply it to every person who comes to Him in faith. Romans 5:1 says, therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Three chapters later, 8:1 tells us, therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
If you make the commitment urged in verse 1, it won’t win you God’s favor. The Truth is, if you belong to Christ, you already have God’s full favor. This commitment is only proper expression for God’s grace in your life.
A second observation: Commitment embraces both an initial decision and daily decisions.
People have used verses 1 to call people to re-dedicate their lives to Christ. And that’s not a bad thing. But those appeals often communicate that it’s only every few months or years that we need to make a re-dedication like that. That command verb in verse 1 translated to present says this is something like the commitment you make when you get married. There is a once-for-all final decision -- but then, every day, that one-time decision is to be lived out in day-by-day decisions that flow out of the initial one.