Summary: Renewing the mind is a spiritual act of worship that requires the activity of putting on and putting off.
So a few years back, two professors from Baylor University, wrote a book on how America viewed God himself. And essentially they did surveys of American's and American Christians and how they viewed God. They came up with 4 different variations on how people viewed God.
They either viewed him as - number 1, "An Authoritative God." Meaning that God's very judgemental, and very engaged in the world at the same time. Number 2, he's "A Benevolent God." A God who is thoroughly involved in everyday lives - yet is loving and not stern. 3, "A Critical God." A God who is removed from daily events, but renders a strong judgment in the afterlife. And number 4, "A Distant God." A God who set the world in motion, and then disengaged. These people tend to call themselves spiritual, but not religious.
So there you have it. An authoritative God, a benevolent God, a critical God and a distant God. This is how Americans view God himself. And I've got to tell you, how we view God matters. How we view God in our mind, absolutely matters.
AW Tozer said in his book, "The Knowledge of the Holy," "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." And then he continues by saying, "For this reason, the gravest question before the church is always God himself. And the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he and his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God."
Therefore Gentlemen, how we view God in our mind matters. And therefore, renewing our mind is of gravest importance to us as men. So today, we're going to be looking at Romans 12 verses 1 through 3. These are probably verses that you know that are of critical importance to us in our walk of faith. Let me read these words to you.
They say, "I 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. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. By testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect for by the grace given to me, I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. But to think with sober judgment - each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned."
Now, I think these words here are profound and profoundly ordered. Paul here is trying to really get our attention. I can feel it from those first words there. "I appeal to you therefore." This is a major turning point in the book of Romans, where Paul is trying to woo us in. You feel the strength of his tone, the strength of his voice - as he's trying to help us to understand this spiritual life that we live.
And then he says, "Brothers." That's you and me, men. Brothers. "By the mercies of God." And so he's appealing to the character of God. He's calling us to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. I love that. There's a beautiful image here. It's that our bodies are a living sacrifice. Now you can feel the oxymoronic state of these 2 words coming together. "Living sacrifice." Because there is no such thing as a living sacrifice. I mean, that is a complete oxymoron.
But he's trying to get us to understand something from the past while reaching into the future. I hope you feel and sense it here. Sacrifices, gentlemen. Sacrifices were something that was first initiated by God in Genesis chapter 3, when God sacrificed the first animal to cover Adam and Eve's sin and their nakedness. And would find it's culmination in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
So God was the first person to offer a sacrifice, and the last person to offer a sacrifice on the face of this planet. At least one that works. And during those years between those 2 sacrifices, God was trying to teach us,and to emboss on our minds the critical nature of sacrifice. The power of sacrifice. That ssacrificeis offered in one time for our sins, right?
It's a time and a point when we sacrifice for the sins, and we're offering that sacrifice on behalf of our own sin. Whether we're conscious of it or not. And Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit was embedding the sacrificial system onto our mind. So it culminates for us in the life of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And Paul wants us to understand here that we carry that sacrificial system forward, But now it's a living sacrifice. It's you living daily in the sacrifice.