Summary: Just as a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly, and just as a tadpole metamorphoses into a frog, God wants metamorphose each of us into a different kind of person who thinks differently and acts differently. Our job is to repent.
Open your Bibles, please to Romans 12. I’ve been preaching through the book of Romans, verse after verse, for a year and a half. In May, we took a four-week break to talk about families, and now we are back in Romans. We will go verse by verse through the rest of the book. It will take us pretty much the rest of 1999. As we are coming to this section, it begins the third of the three major sections of Romans. Let’s review where we have been.
Romans 1-8 talks about God’s righteousness declared. God is a righteous God. Because we are sinful men and women, we must receive the righteousness that is in Jesus Christ. Romans 1-8 is all about that process, how we are justified by faith, how we are being sanctified by the Spirit of Jesus, and how one day in the future, we will be glorified. That is God’s righteousness declared.
Then we came to chapters 9-11, and suddenly we ask the question, “Well, if God is a righteous God and He keeps His word, what about the Jews today?” And that is God’s righteousness defended. We talked about how God is still holding out His hands all day long to the nation of Israel, and how He still has a plan for them.
Then we come now to the third of three sections, and we begin the section, God’s righteousness displayed through me and through you. This is the very practical part of the book. It is, “What do you do now once you understand who you are in Christ Jesus?” So we begin that today with a very practical section of chapter 12:1-2.
He says, “Therefore” I told you before, never start with a verse that says therefore. You always see what is it there for, so you go back and read the words before it. Glance back up in Chapter 11, the last verse. “For from him (that’s Jesus) and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever and ever amen. (And because God is such a great and mighty and awesome God,) therefore, (Paul writes) I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, (that’s what we’re going to be talking about today, offering your bodies as a living sacrifice) holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”
The title of the message today is “Your supreme act of worship.” That is one side of the coin. Here is the other side of the transaction, verse 2. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern (the word is “schemata,” schematic) of this world, but be transformed (it is the word metamorphosis) by the renewing of your mind. Then you’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Now, the problem with a lot of Christians (and maybe some of you who are in this room) is that you are only involved in a Christian religion or you are merely participating in church work. It is like the conversation that took place in the barnyard between a hen and a pig. The hen and the pig were talking to each other, discussing the problem of human hunger around the world. They decided they would do something about it. So the hen said to the pig, “All right, this is what we’ll do. Because people are hungry, this is what I propose. I propose that every morning, we provide a ham and egg breakfast to hungry people.” The pig looked at the hen, and said, “For you that only requires involvement; for me it requires total commitment.”
Some of us are like that hen; we are just sort of involved. We give a little bit here; give a little bit there. This passage of scripture is talking about a pig kind of commitment, total commitment. We are giving all that we have and all that we are to Jesus.
I. MAKE A SACRIFICE TO GOD
There are two sides to this transaction. Verse 1 is the positive side, something to do. Verse 2 is the negative, what not to do. Let’s talk about both of them. Number one, if you want to make a total commitment to Jesus, you make a sacrifice to God. I know we have thrown this word “sacrifice” around a lot, especially last year when we were in our Discover the Joy campaign. When you hear the word “sacrifice,” you may be thinking, “What is it going to cost me? Is it going to hurt my pocketbook?” We are not talking about giving some thing; we are talking about giving yourself. I want you to notice four things about the living sacrifice we are to make to God.