Summary: Christians are to be different than the world. If there is not much difference in your life it is time to renew your mind.
March 9, 2003
Text: Romans 12:1-2
Subject: Living Sacrifices
Title: Living Like a Chosen Generation
Are you different? People tell me that all the time. I’m not always sure how to take it but I am sure about one thing - I am different. How do your friends and acquaintances in the world see you? Do you fit in with them or are you different? I’ll give you some time to think about that before you answer.
There is a worldview that emanates from the population areas of America - Los Angeles / Hollywood and New York - that tells us that anything goes. Whatever you do, as long as it does not affect others, is all right. If it feels good do it; if it looks good taste it; if you’re not sure, go ahead and try it anyhow. You can make up your mind later. While the entertainment world condones sex and violence and drug use, Christians must consider the alternatives to viewing such "entertainment".
In many cases it is hard to tell a Christian from the rest of the population. And believe me that those in the world know there should be a difference and are quick to point it out when the see discrepancies.
Here are two differences that are evident between the Christian and the world.
One. We believe the Bible to be God’s written revelation of Himself given to man by which we can come to a more complete understanding of the nature of God.
Two. We are born again, new creations, crucified with Christ, a chosen generation. We may look the same on the outside but everything on the inside is different; the way we act, the way we speak, the way we listen, the way we feel, the way we understand. Our whole being has come under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit.
A fifth grade science teacher was teaching her class about whales. She spent a lot of time talking about how ridiculous the biblical story of Jonah and the whale was. It could never happen. She asked the class, "Does anybody believe that story?" One little girl raised her hand. The teacher began to harass the girl. "How could you believe such a thing and how are you going to prove it?" The little girl just said that it was in the bible and she believed it and when she got to heaven she would just ask Jonah.
"What if Jonah went to hell?"
The reply, "Then you ask him."
I Peter 2:9 says, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation." There is something about us that makes us different than everyone else.
Today we are going to look at a familiar passage and just break it down to see what is expected of those who have committed their lives to Christ.
I. We are to encourage others. "I beseech you therefore brethren..." (NKJV) "Therefore I urge you brothers..." (NIV) Paul exercises a gift that is mentioned later in chapter 12:6-8, "having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." Webster’s dictionary says to exhort means, "to urge or advise strongly, seek earnestly to persuade." The Greek word for exhortation is "Paraklesis" the same as the English translation But look at the root of the word. It has a distinct connection to The Holy Spirit, the parakletos, the comforter, intercessor, counselor, advocate; the One who walks along side of another. The other comforter Jesus said He would send if He went away. Paul’s urging or exhortation is a gift from the Holy Spirit. We are called to exhort one another and build one another up. I Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore comfort (encourage) each other and edify one another, just as you are doing." Ephesians 2:20-22, "having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." We are all little building blocks that are placed on the firm foundation of Christ to build the church. Each member is of equal importance. Each gift of the Spirit given to build up the church -To edify one another. How do we do that? Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as we see the Day approaching." We won’t build each other up if we stay at home on Sunday. What is Paul’s reasoning behind this? "By the Mercies of God..." (NKJV), "In view of God’s mercies..." (NIV) He is looking at the church and individual lives that are highlighted by God’s mercy. What are the Mercies of God?