Summary: In today’s lesson we see how we should then live.
Last week we started a new section in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. I introduced you to Romans 12:1-2, and gave you a brief overview of those two verses.
In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul begins applying the doctrine that he has been teaching for the previous 11 chapters. Now, it is not that he has made no application in the previous 11 chapters; he has. However, as he begins chapter 12 he is, in a sense, saying, “In light of all that I have taught, how should we then live?”
And so I would like to take the next few weeks and look carefully at each phrase in the two verses in Romans 12:1-2.
Let’s read Romans 12:1-2:
1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
The Apostle Paul has written 11 chapters of doctrine. In those 11 chapters he has explained how we come into a right relationship with God, which is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Dr. John MacArthur, in his commentary on Romans, said that some years ago, a tearful and obviously distraught young woman approached him at a conference where he was speaking. She told him a story he had heard many times.
“I just can’t seem to live the Christian life the way I should,” she said. “I’m frustrated. I don’t have spiritual victory or a sense of accomplishment. I struggle with the simplest forms of obedience, and I’m constantly defeated. Can you help me?”
Dr. MacArthur asked her, “What has been your approach to solving the problems yourself?”
She replied, “I’ve tried everything. I’ve attended churches where they speak in tongues, have healings, and have all kinds of extraordinary spiritual experiences. I’ve spoken in tongues myself, had ecstatic experiences, been prophesied over, and experienced several supposed miracles. I’ve been ‘slain in the spirit.’ But in spite all of that, I’m not pleased with my life and I know God isn’t pleased. I’ve tried to get everything from him that I can, but I’m not satisfied. I’m still miserable and want more.”
“I think you have just put your finger on the problem,” said Dr. MacArthur. “The key to spiritual victory and true happiness is not in trying to get all we can from God but in giving all that we are and have to him.”
Did you get that? The key to spiritual victory and true happiness is not in trying to get all we can from God but in giving all that we are and have to him. That is a profoundly helpful statement. Dr. MacArthur continues:
"Countless thousands of people today, including many genuine Christians, flock to various churches, seminars, and conferences in search of personal benefits—practical, emotional, and spiritual—that they hope to receive. They do just the opposite of what Paul so plainly emphasizes in Romans 12:1-2. In this forceful and compassionate exhortation, the apostle does not focus on what more we need to receive from God but on what we are to give him. The key to a productive and satisfying Christian life is not in getting more but in giving all."
There it is again: The key to a productive and satisfying Christian life is not in getting more but in giving all.
There are many people who call themselves Christians who are frankly frustrated and disappointed with Christianity. Perhaps you are one of them. Oh, you might not say that you are frustrated or disappointed, but deep down in your innermost being you ask yourself, “Where is the joy? Where is the delight? Where is the satisfaction? Where is the growth? I just don’t see much of it in my life.”
Now, you cannot have more of God than you now possess. God has given you himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. He resides in you, and has done so from the moment you were born again. So, the problem is not on God’s side.
However, many of you do not have the fullness of joy that you know should be yours. You know that the Bible has countless statements about the blessing and joy and delight that belong to the people of God, but you don’t sense it in your life.
The Apostle Paul tells us in these two verses in Romans 12:1-2 that blessing and joy and delight is found in giving yourself completely to God.
So, in our lesson today I want us to see how we should then live.