Getting Serious: The Real Disease
1. We are fast approach election time in America.
2. It is a tense time with a tense election coming up.
3. What amazes me is the number of people who are yet undecided.
4. What amazes me more is how people make decisions: peer trends, emotion, etc.
5. Former president Ronald Reagan once had an aunt who took him to a cobbler for a pair of new shoes. (Do you know what a cobbler is?)
The cobbler asked young Reagan, "Do you want square toes or round toes?" Unable to decide, Reagan didn’t answer, so the cobbler gave him a few days. Several days later the cobbler saw Reagan on the street and asked him again what kind of toes he wanted on his shoes. Reagan still couldn’t decide, so the shoemaker replied, "Well, come by in a couple of days. Your shoes will be ready." When the future president did so, he found one square-toed and one round-toed shoe! "This will teach you to never let people make decisions for you," the cobbler said to his indecisive customer. "I learned right then and there," Reagan said later, "if you don’t make your own decisions, someone else will."
Today in the Word , MBI, August, 1991, p. 16. (Source: Sermon Central)
6. Someone made this observation;
When the pilot of a giant airline is speeding down the runway, there is a certain point where it staying on the ground is no longer an option. When he crosses that line, he is committed to the air, he will take off or a disastrous crash is imminent. At the pilot the pilot can no longer change his mind he is committed.
Unfortunately churches are filled with members who have never got off the ground. They have been sitting there gunning their engines, making noise but getting nowhere. They have been planning on it, meaning to, wanting to, trying to, going to, aiming to, hoping to. But tragedy of tragedies, they have never got off the ground. (Source: Sermon Central)
7. In today’s text, God is asking YOU to make a decision. For some of you, the decision will be, “no, not yet.” For others, the decision might be, “I am willing to be made willing.”
Main Idea: When you understand God’s mercy and the wonders of salvation, when you are overwhelmed by Who God is, you are ready to get serious about serving God. We call being serious about God surrendering ourselves to God. We can be serious followers of Jesus Christ by making a decision and sticking to it on a daily basis.
I. The Decision: Present Ourselves to God As Available SERVANTS (12:1)
A. This includes our BODIES
1. Others can urge us, but it is OUR decision
----notice that we can encourage but we cannot force convictions; we can only provide an environment where God’s will can be considered…
----this concept has very much influenced my perspective on pastoral ministry; we should not normally pressure people, but present truth for Christians to consider…and urge, not coerce
---coercion produces Christians who are into image; urging produces fewer public decisions but more GENUINE change…
2. This decision is for those who are already saved, BROTHERS
· Too many people make salvation dependent upon surrender; but submitting to God in a deep way is result of growth AFTER salvation…
3. It is in response to God’s MERCIES, especially when we realize that we are objects of God’s mercy (9:23) while others are objects of His wrath (9:24)
4. We offer our bodies: this is the figure of presenting an ANIMAL at the Tabernacle
· Note that we are the PRIESTS who do the presenting
· Note that we are the SACRIFICE too!
· This means we offer the members of our bodies to God: eyes to read His word, hands to minister to others, etc.
5. A LIVING Sacrifice (see Psalm 40:6-8)
· Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced ,;
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7Then I said, "Here I am, I have come- it is written about me in the scroll. 8I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart."
· We are nowhere told to imitate the LIFE of Jesus, but His Attitude; Jesus’ life was a living sacrifice in that He submitted His will to the Father’s
· Jason Duncan put it this way: The command is to “offer/present your lives/bodies as a living sacrifice to God.” …It calls for you to …surrender to God [your] life … as His exclusive possession. To put it another way, it is a command to become His slave, surrendering all personal privileges and possessions…”
· This should not be confused with a call to full time Christian service….but it does mean that, if called, you would respond
6. This sacrifice is holy and PLEASING to God
B. It includes our MINDS
1. The word, “spiritiual” really is better understood as “REASONABLE” ; we get our word “logical” from the Greek word
2. “Service” refers to religious duty…you are to APPLY YOUR MIND to serve God like a priest went through all the rituals and tedious duties of serving at the altar; OUR MIND and OUR HEART is the altar, and we worship God by setting it apart for Him.
II. This “Presentation” is to SURFACE through Daily Commitment (12:2)
A. A Commitment to forsake PEER DEPENDENCY
· God has given you permission to be different and to still feel good about yourself
B. Be TRANSFORMED By Habitual Renewal
--- the word translated “transformed.” This is the word that from which we get the English word “metamorphosis.”
· The battleground is your MIND
· If you SATURATE it with the influence of society’s way of thinking, you will be conformed; if you SATURATE it with God’s way of thinking, you will be transformed; this is why we need to value our minds and why we need to educate them in the things of God and be serious about Bible CONTEMPLATION.
· If you don’t want to use your mind, you are spiritually HANDICAPPED.
C. Be INFORMED By Proving What Is and Is Not God’s Will
· God’s will is more often PROVEN than revealed
· We take our scripturally saturated, transformed mind, our surrendered lives, our connection to the others in the family of God, and EVALUATE life’s decisions in light of these things…
Because we are living sacrifices, we are OPEN to God’s
· to God’s direction…
III. Important Applications
A “Living Sacrifice” means being committed to God
1. I think God the Holy Spirit has to bring us to the point where we are ready to make this decision
2. But the decision to present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice is easier than the daily commitment of choosing not to be conformed but transformed…
B. It can be seen in several sub-commitments; here are a few:
1. Commitment to Following Christ as a Disciple
(1) a learner – taking in both new information (e.g., Bible Study, reading good books, listening to sermons attentively, Sunday School participation, etc.) – never past this stage…
(2) a reviewer – there are certain foundational truths that, if you don’t use, you lose…most of you have heard sermons just like the one I am preaching, that’s okay
2. Commitment to the Body of Christ
(1) J.I. Packer put it this way: “The church is not a bus where one person does the driving. It’s like an anthill where everyone works.”
(2) Regular attendance, regular financial support, and then finding a way to serve
(3) Although we are saved as individuals, the Christian faith is a social faith, and connecting to a particular church is necessary to your spiritual development; you will not mature in the Lord as evenly or as completely without the group dynamic of church life…
3. Commitment to Integrity
(1) character is foundational to serving the Lord
(2) if you teach a great lesson but abuse your wife, that’s not what a living sacrifice is all about; it begins personally, then at home, then everywhere
4. Commitment to Checking in with Headquarters
(1) proving what the will of God is
(2) devotional life of prayer and Bible: reading, meditation, devotional guide…
5. Guarding and using the mind
---if we do not guard ourselves from conforming to the world, our minds will work against us
---if we renew our minds, they work for us
---if we let our minds vegetate, we are conformed by default
---today’s chief means of conformity and vegetation: excessive TV/movie watching, intimidation to be like our peer groups, intimidation by university professors or other instructors with an anti-christian agenda, following our emotions rather than our convictions, and materialism
6. None of this does any good if we are not firmly resolved, or if we sabotage ourselves or leave ourselves the option of not serv