Summary: Living for Christ is a rational decision!
Text: Romans 12:1,2 " I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
There are many famous battle grounds. They are places of great victories and monumental defeats. Names like Gettysburg, The Alamo, and Iwo Jima conjure up visions of the battles that immortalized these places. We think of great battles of the Bible; Jericho, Ai, Armegeddon, Gethsemene, and Calvary. Many brave soldier has spilled his blood upon a battlefield because he believed in a cause, and he loved a country.
But there are battles that are being fought every day that will never be chronicled in the annals of history. These unseen battles are being fought this very moment. They are being fought in this very building. The battle ground is not a piece of terra firma. It is not a naval maneuver, or a sortie flown over a distant enemy. The battle is not being fought for land, oil, food, or political posturing. The stakes are much higher than that. The victor in this battle will realize a much greater reward. It is an eternal reward. The battle ground is in our minds.
If there is ever a battle that we must fight, and a victory we must win, this is it! I don’t believe our greatest enemy is Satan. Yes, he is the adversary that is seeking to devour. But the Bible makes it plain that he is a defeated enemy. Jesus defeated him at Calvary, and in hell when he took the keys to death, hell, and the grave! He arose victorious, and gave the victory to his church. No, Satan is not our greatest problem. Our problem is ourselves.
Locked up in the minds of all of us are many things. There are secrets no one will ever know. There are fears we don’t admit, and that we hope remain undiscovered. There are doubts. Doubts about ourselves, doubts about others, maybe even doubts about God. And it is in these secret recesses of our minds that the battle rages. Paul refer to this battle field as "the carnal mind". Romans 8:6,7 states; "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Simply put, our natural selves tend to fight against the things of God. We are at odds with God and His ways, and have no way of reconciling those differences on our own. The natural man is at war with all things spiritual.
When we try to understand the things of God with the natural mind, we will always come up short. The things of God must be received and understood through faith. Hebrews records; "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. . ."(Hebrews 11:3a) Man may exhaust all his resources, all his knowledge, all his technology, and still never understand the ways of God. It doesn’t make sense that a spoken word could create a universe. It is not logical to think that an iron ax head could float, or that a man could walk on water. We can’t explain Jericho’s walls falling flat at the sound of a trumpet and a shout of victory. And five thousand men would never be satisfied eating five loaves and two fishes. We only believe and understand these things through faith.
It is precisely here that we face our biggest battles. We have been taught those stories from the Bible since we were small. Many of us have worked through the doubts we may have had, and now embrace them with faith. But faith is not just for the past. "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17) We must learn to go from faith, to faith. We must take the faith we have relegated to the past, and appropriate it for today! We must live by faith. To do that, we must win the battle for our minds. That is KEEPING THE FAITH WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND!
Our text was a passage many of you could quote. I want us to look closely at a couple of words. Paul said the living sacrifice that we present to God was our ". . . reasonable service". Many have preached, (myself included), that what we do to serve God is only reasonable. It is not extreme or excessive. We have construed this verse to mean that God wasn’t imposing anything on us that would be unreasonable, or unusual. Although that is the English definition of the word "reasonable", the Greek is much different. Reasonable could be better translated "rational"-having reason or understanding. Serving God is a choice we make. It is a choice based on our reasoning abilities, our ability to think or to rationalize. The Psalmist wrote; "Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:" (Psalms 148:3-5,7-10) All creation was created to praise God, "for he commanded". Only mankind is given the abilty to make a rational decision to praise God. Fire, hail, snow, vapour, mountains, trees, and hills cannot decide to serve God.