Summary: In one short chapter of the Bible, the Apostle Paul gives us a "quick start" guide to Christian living. Packed into this chapter are 6 "life principals" for living a successful life as a Christian in a fallen world.
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Have you ever noticed that guys don’t like to be told what to do? I mean, directions – guys will wander around aimlessly and totally lost for days before stopping to ask for directions. And putting things together – when I get a new piece of furniture, or a new computer program – the first thing I do is take out the parts or the disk and start working. Look at the manual? Forget about it!
Okay – often I end up with odd parts left over – or haven’t the faintest clue how to use my new program once its installed. If I’d just used the manual I would have saved so much trouble and gotten a much better result.
When it comes to life, we often react the same way – we don’t want anyone telling us how to live, we just go out there and start living – making it up as we go. We have a manual, a book of directions – it’s the Bible. We should read it, understand it, live by it.
But it’s a pretty big manual – and many of us don’t take the time to read the whole thing. When I buy a program I don’t look for the manual, I reach for the little card labeled: “Quick Start.” It gives me just what I need to get by until I’m ready to delve in deeper.
I’m not suggesting that we not read the Bible – but today we’re going to look at Paul’s Quick Start Guide to Christian Living – its found in Romans, Chapter 12. Here we find the basic elements to help us live the Christian life – to see what’s expected of us.
You’ll notice that starting in chapter 12, Paul leaves the purely theological discussion of chapters 1-11 and gets into some real practical stuff.
This little quick start guide covers three areas of life: our relationship with the Father, our relationship with ourselves, and our relationships with others – both in the community of believers and in the world. In each area I’ll highlight a “Life Principal”. And if you want the “quick start” guide to the “quick start” guide – its in just two verses – 1 & 2.
1. Our Relationship with the Father
Live a Worshipful Life dedicated to the Father
12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.
In the Old Covenant – an act of worship meant you took an animal and sacrificed it on the altar. Now that Jesus has become our sacrifice for sin – we offer ourselves up not as dead sacrifices on the altar, but living sacrifices. The problem with living sacrifices, of course, is that we can get up off the altar. Sometimes we feel like we’re “giving it all up for God” but at other times we get scared or selfish and we jump down and say – not today God.
“Spiritual” here means – informed, understanding. It is reasonable to give ourselves to God’s service in light of what God has done for us through Jesus – extending His mercy to us who didn’t deserve it.
The word “worship” doesn’t actually appear in the Greek – it’s the word: “service” which means – hired service, or service to God. We aren’t slaves in the sense of not having a choice – every day we have a choice to serve God – and we do it because we love Him.
Now Paul doesn’t just leave it there – a picture of sacrifice of self – he goes on to get very specific. First he talks about our relationship with the Father – one of giving up, of laying down – then he talks about our relationship with ourselves. But notice that it all starts with this – our relationship with God, our laying down our lives for His service – without that, none of the rest is possible
2. Our Relationship with Ourselves
Live a Transformed Life to find Real Purpose
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Sacrifices burned on the altar change – they are burned up – their literal chemical properties are different as the fire oxidizes the meat. We as living sacrifices should also be changed – no longer conforming (the word means “to fashion something after another”) but transformed (from the word where we get “metamorphosis.”).
The world system around us sets a pattern for behavior and demands that we conform to that pattern. Instead, Paul says, we should be changed to a different pattern – how? By the renewing of our minds. That word “renewing” comes from the Greek word for “renovation.”