Wood & Nails

God led Noah to build an ark in order to carry one family safely upon the waters of the great Flood and deliver mankind from utter destruction . Wood and nails said He; build Me an ark of wood and nails.

God’s Son Jesus was a carpenter. He fashioned many things for many people. He made them happy, using His skilled hands- and wood and nails, wood and nails.

One windy, cruel day, on Golgotha, the place of the skull, the Lord lay back upon a wooden cross, to which His enemies nailed Him. He did not resist or curse against the agony and torture. He was not surprised. This, after all, was His plan, His mission all along:

To win eternal salvation for all those who would believe in Him, as He lay a-dying against wood and nails, wood and nails!

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive, and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 

After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned,” (Mark 16:9-16).

Oh, blessed wood and nails; blessed wood and nails, which braced that sacred form, which bore the Savior of the world!

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself, (John 12:32).

Wood and nails; wood and nails. Amen.


The Proper Attitude: True Humility; Romans 12:3

For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

The Apostle Paul has just given us 11 chapters filled with why we should consecrate our lives to God: because of God’s great mercies toward us!

In the first two verses of chapter 12 he shows us what we are consecrating. Now in verse 3 he illustrates how we are to approach our Christian lives in order to be able to get out of the way and let the Lord effectively work through us.

The first word, For, is a word of connection, pointing back to what he has just said. “It ties spiritual service to spiritual dedication, the bridge between them being spiritual attitude,” (Mac) The proper attitude for any and all believers is humility.

Humility is a virtue hard-fought for. It is easy to let it slip through our fingers without even realizing it has escaped us. The harder we struggle against pride and try to stay humble the wider the crack in the door becomes for pride to slither through. We may become self-conscious, try too hard, or, worse, become proud of our humility.

We may be tempted to be self-deprecating. If I put myself down enough I’ll be humble, we might think. If I declare that I am truly worthless and therefore of no good use to God, then I’m not only humble, but I don’t have to lift a finger to serve the Lord. This, of course, is not humility, but rather laziness, self-indulgence, and hypocrisy, as well as prideful.

Not with-standing, the proper Christian attitude of true humility can be attained, but only with divine help, and we must take that fact seriously. Otherwise, we will miss the boat and fail to ever successfully serve the Lord in a way that brings Him glory. We must realize it isn’t about us, but about Him.

By grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is a gift of God and not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them, (Eph. 2: 8-10). God gets the glory, the honor, the praise, not me or you.

Do you understand the difference. Instead of me working for God, God works through me and you to accomplish His will. The glory and praise are His. Always! We are vessels, He is the Master, using the vessel how He will.

Our attitude toward humility is not to think more highly of [ourselves] than [we] ought to think. Paul can say these things with authority because it is by the grace given to me (that is, Paul). No believer can do anything worthwhile without God’s help. On our own we would be hopeless, but He is our help, and we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.

“No matter how well-grounded we may be in God’s Word, how theologically sound we may be, or how vigorously we may seek to serve Him, our gifts will not operate so that our lives can be spiritually productive until self is set aside,” (Mac commentary p. 157).

Humility is the most basic human virtue, only truly achieved through Christ, and it opens the door to love, power, and unity in the common faith.

In verse 3 Paul uses a form of the Greek word, phroneo, four times. It means not to overestimate oneself, but to think of ourselves as we really are. We are to ask God for wisdom and seek the truth about our gifts, talents, character, and so on. Paul warns, If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing he deceives himself, (Gal. 6:3). Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves, (2 Cor. 13:5).

The basis of pride is the belief that we have accomplished something in and of ourselves that is worthy of attention, even adulation. The truth is that we can’t do anything good by ourselves. The Scripture tells us there is none righteous, no, not even one! The reason for pride is a sense that we have a right to call glory to ourselves. But we don’t; it’s a lie. Paul asks the Corinthian church: And what do you have that you did not receive [from God]? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Cor. 4:6-7; cf 1-5).

By God’s sweet grace we’ll continue next time. May the Lord bless all with abundant mercy…mike.

The Ministry of Spirtual Gifts; Romans 12:3-5

For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

When Jesus left this earth after His resurrection, He made it clear to His disciples that He was giving the church into their hands. He would be with them by way of His Holy Spirit indwelling them. But they and those they converted would now be in a literal sense His hands and feet and arms and legs to carry on the mission.

Once one has consecrated his body, soul, and spirit to the ownership and authority of God, the logical next step is to be put into the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus commissioned His followers to, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, (Matt. 28:19-20).

“His present ministers to the world in His name are those described in the previous eleven chapters of Romans, who have been freed from the bondage of sin and become children of God and bond-servants of Jesus Christ. On the human side it is upon their faithfulness, obedience, and usefulness that the work of His kingdom now depends.” (MacArthur commentary, p. 154)

God’s order of being obedient to Him is first worship, and then service. The believer who has not first consecrated his body, soul, and spirit to God as an act of spiritual worship, cannot truly and effectively serve God or Christ. Only as a living sacrifice can we be what He wants us to be.

“That act of spiritual worship marks the Christian’s entrance into divine usefulness.” (Mac) That usefulness manifests itself most effectively within the parameters of the Church, through the use of spiritual gifts, which every Christian has. We have a common commission to serve Him, but it is through edification with widely diverse spiritual gifts.

We will see that devotion to the Lord (worship) and work for the Lord (service) are inseparable. They are two sides of the same coin. Mac puts it this way: “We cannot be truly sacrificed to Him and be inactive in His work. And on the other hand, we cannot be truly successful in His work without being genuinely devoted to Him. True worship cannot be divorced from service,” (p. 154).

There is no true Godly commitment without Godly service, and no service to God prevails without a true and deep love for Him. Jesus commended the Ephesian church for their works, but He also warned them they had lost their first love (passionate devotion to Him), and unless they returned to that first love they could lose their church (see Rev. 2:1-5).

There is a balance here that only God’s Holy Spirit can help us keep. The Church has always had members who claim intimacy with our Lord, but who are lacking the works and service to show any natural fruit-bearing. On the other hand, there are always those who are very busy in the church, and yet show no spiritual growth or love for the Lord of the church. We must be neither of these, but rather, true and complete disciples, loving the Lord with great passion and serving Him with great zeal!

So then, we must also realize this: although we have a common ground of commitment to and unity of message about Jesus Christ, our spiritual gifts are unique and varying, leading to diversity in service. Now our gifts are diverse, but our responsibility to use them is not.

As we will study in more depth later, Paul states that we have many members but only one body, and all the members do not have the same function. We have gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, (12:4-6). If the eye does not guide the feet the body will walk into a wall. If the hand just quits, the other hand and all the body will suffer, and so on.

As we will study in more depth, Paul states that we have many members but only one body, and all the members do not have the same function. We have gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, (12:4-6). If the eye does not guide the feet the body will walk into a wall. If the hand just quits the other hand and all the body will suffer, and so on.

Let’s also note that every gift, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is equally important to the health and function of the body: And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary, (1 Cor. 12: 21-22).

“Total surrender to the Lord is also foundational to Christian service in another way. Without genuine, selfless, commitment to Him, we not only will lose the desire and forfeit the power needed to serve Him effectively but also will never experience what God has intended for us to do when our gifts and calling are used to the fullest,” (Mac commentary p. 155).

Much has been made and said about how to identify our spiritual gifts. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. Pray to God about it. Talk to other Christians who know you about where they think you shine. Listen to your own heart, guided by the Holy Spirit and God’s word. Keep drawing closer to God and be active in the church and in good works, and your gift or gifts will come to light. The Lord does not want you to be confused!

Mac says this: “Therefore, if we are not sure of our gifts from God, it is most likely because we are not close to God. We come to know our gifts more fully as, through worship in spiritual truth, we come to know Him more fully. When our lives are on the altar of sacrifice, we will have no problem discovering or using our spiritual gifts,” (p. 156).

Lord willing, next time we will look at verse three more fully. Until then, God bless you all through Jesus Christ our Lord…mike.



The Will Must Be Given To God; 12:2b

that you may  prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

A fourth part of giving ourselves completely to God is to give Him our will. The will makes the choice, pulls the trigger, so to speak, and creates action. There is a forward movement when a man’s will enters the picture. Something happens.

The implied element of this passage is that the Christian yields his will to God’s will first. In doing so, he proves, or holds forth as evidence, that God’s will is good and acceptable and perfect.

In the act of living out the word of God, believers show its value and verity. MacArthur says that we offer Him our wills…”allowing His Spirit through His Word to conform our wills to the will of God.” (Mac Ro. Commentary p. 151)

That you may prove is a purpose/result phrase, meaning that when a believer’s mind is transformed, his thinking ability, moral reasoning, and spiritual understanding gain clarity and understanding so that he can make wise decisions emanating from the very will of God.

Acceptable borrows from the sacrificial language of the Old Testament. Those animal offerings from the Levitical system were to be unspotted, perfect, and then sacrificed. But as Hebrews clearly shows us, Jesus Christ was the ultimate and perfect dead sacrifice: the last one and the only One ever required by the Law. He died for us all.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Because Christ died a sacrificial death, we His people can now live sacrificial lives to His glory. God approves a living sacrifice that is morally and spiritually perfect, spotless and without blemish (Mac), and we can be that because of Christ. He can live His perfect life through our fully yielded lives. We are still flawed in this body, but Jesus can shine brighter than our sin to show Himself to this generation through our lives.

“Our imperfect wills must always be subject to His perfect will.” (Mac p. 152) “Perfect carries the idea of being complete…A transformed mind produces a transformed will, by which we become eager and able, with the Spirit’s help, to lay aside our own plans and to trustingly accept God’s, no matter what the cost. This continued yielding involves the strong desire to know God better and to comprehend and follow His purposes for our lives.” (Mac 152)

This divine work of sanctification in our lives must be constant. Paul said we are all, at best, leaking vessels. We need constant renewal, re-energizing, and cleansing from dealing with the world.

As we yield to faithful Bible reading and study, to prayer, to communion with other saints, to good works, the Holy Spirit can continually re-awaken us to a strengthened faith and clear understanding and strong desire to know the will of God and to do it.

“The product of a transformed mind is a life that does the things God has declared to be righteous, fitting, and complete. That is the goal of the supreme act of worship, and sets the stage for what Paul speaks of next- the ministry of our spiritual gifts.” (Mac p. 152)

Until then, may the peace of Christ dwell in you all richly…mike.

The Body and Mind Must be Given to God; Romans 12:1,2

By God’s leading, I’m back. By God’s wonderful grace I hope to continue to guide us through the remaining chapters of Romans. I’m glad to see people are reading past studies and mining the depths of the riches of God’s Word for us.

Our first fresh content is a page out of the commentary on Romans by William Barclay, a noted British theologian of the past century. He deftly makes use of the original Greek to render a meaningful summation of verses 1 and 2. Here is what he says:


12:1-2 Brothers, I call upon you, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies to him, a living, consecrated sacrifice, well-pleasing to God–for that is the only kind of worship which is truly spiritual. And do not shape your lives to meet the fleeting fashions of this world; but be transformed from it, by the renewal of your mind, until the very essence of your being is altered, so that, in your own life, you may prove that the will of God is good and well pleasing and perfect.

Here we have Paul following the pattern he always followed when he wrote to his friends. He always ends his letters with practical advice. The sweep of his mind may search through the infinities, but he never gets lost in them; he always finishes with his feet firmly planted upon the earth. He can, and does, wrestle with the deepest problems which theology has to offer, but he always ends with the ethical demands which govern every man.

“Present your bodies to God,” he says. There is no more characteristically Christian demand. We have already seen that that is what a Greek would never say. To the Greek, what mattered was the spirit; the body was only a prison-house, something to be despised and even to be ashamed of. No real Christian ever believed that. The Christian believes that his body belongs to God just as much as his soul does, and that he can serve him just as well with his body as with his mind or his spirit.

The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works. After all, the great fact of the incarnation basically means that God did not grudge to take a human body upon himself, to live in it and to work through it. Take the case of a church or a cathedral. It is built for the offering of worship to God. But it has to be designed by the mind of some architect; it has to be built by the hands of craftsmen and of labouring men; only then does it become a shrine where men meet to worship. It is a product of the mind and the body and the spirit of man.

“So,” Paul says, “take your body; take all the tasks that you have to do every day; take the ordinary work of the shop, the factory, the shipyard, the mine; and offer all that as an act of worship to God.” The word in Romans 12:1 which we along with the Revised Standard Version have translated worship, has an interesting history. It is latreia , the noun of the verb latreuein. Originally latreuein  meant to work for hire or pay. It was the word used of the labouring man who gave his strength to an employer in return for the pay the employer would give him. It denotes, not slavery, but the voluntary undertaking of work. It then came to mean quite generally to serve; but it also came to mean that to which a man gives his whole life. For instance, a man could be said latreuein kallei, which means to give his life to the service of beauty. In that sense, it came very near meaning to dedicate one’s life to. Finally, it came to be the word distinctively used of the service of the gods. In the Bible it never means human service; it is always used of service to and worship of God.

Here we have a most significant thing. True worship is the offering to God of one’s body, and all that one does every day with it. Real worship is not the offering to God of a liturgy, however noble, and a ritual, however magnificent. Real worship is the offering of everyday life to him, not something transacted in a church, but something which sees the whole world as the temple of the living God. As Whittier wrote:

“For he whom Jesus loved hath truly spoken:

The holier worship which he deigns to bless,

Restores the lost, and binds the spirit broken,

And feeds the widow and the fatherless.”

A man may say, “I am going to church to worship God,” but he should also be able to say, “I am going to the factory, the shop, the office, the school, the garage, the locomotive shed, the mine, the shipyard, the field, the byre, the garden, to worship God.”

This, Paul goes on, demands a radical change. We must not be conformed to the world, but transformed from it. To express this idea he uses two almost untranslatable Greek words–words which we have taken almost sentences to express. The word he uses to be conformed to the world is suschematizesthai; its root is schema, which means the outward form that varies from year to year and from day to day. A man’s schema is not the same when he is seventeen as it is when he is seventy; it is not the same when he goes out to work as when he is dressed for dinner. It is continuously altering. So Paul says, “Don’t try to match your life to all the fashions of this world; don’t be like a chameleon which takes its colour from its surroundings.”

The word he uses for being transformed from the world is metamorphousthai. Its root is morphe, which means the essential unchanging shape or element of anything. A man has not the same schema at seventeen and seventy, but he has the same morphe; a man in dungarees has not the same schema as a man in evening dress, but he has the same morphe; his outward form changes, but inwardly he is the same person. So, Paul says, to worship and serve God, we must undergo a change, not of our outward form, but of our inward personality. What is that change? Paul would say that left to ourselves we live a life kata sarka, dominated by human nature at its lowest; in Christ we live a life kata Christon or kata pneuma, dominated by Christ or by the Spirit. The essential man has been changed; now he lives, not a self-centred, but a Christ-centred life.

This must happen, Paul says, by the renewal of your mind. The word he uses for renewal is anakainosis. In Greek there are two words for new–neos and kainos. Neos  means new in point of time; kainos means new in point of character and nature. A newly manufactured pencil is neos; but a man who was once a sinner and is now on the way to being a saint is kainos. When Christ comes into a man’s life he is a new man; his mind is different, for the mind of Christ is in him.

When Christ becomes the centre of life then we can present real worship, which is the offering of every moment and every action to God. End Quote.

Lord willing, next time we will discuss an implied fourth element of true worship. God bless you all…mike.

The Mind Must Be Given To God; Romans 12:2a

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Not only are we believers to offer the Lord our bodies, but also our minds. Our thoughts and patterns of thinking belong to God; He is Lord of all, even our most subtle inclinations and desires and fears.

The mind is the seat of choice, of the expression of our will and decision-making. “It s with the mind,” says John MacArthur, “that we make choices as to whether we will express our new nature in holiness or allow our fleshly humanness to act in unholiness.” (Mac commentary p. 149)

Be conformed is from the Greek word, suschematizo, which points to a outward action that does not reflect what is within. It also reflects the idea of being transitory, impermanent, and unstable. The verb form points to the fact that this is something we allow to be done to us.

We as Christians must be very careful with our relationship to the world. We are not to let the world squeeze us into its own mould, as J.B. Phillips puts it. “We are to stop allowing ourselves to be fashioned after the present evil age in which we live.” (Mac).

But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that…those who buy [should act] as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away, (1 Cor. 7: 29-31).

New Testament scholar, Kenneth Wuest, says this to paraphrase our passage: “Stop assuming an outward expression which is patterned after this world, an expression which does not come from, nor is representative of what you are in your inner being as a regenerated child of God,” (Wuest’s Word Studies).

Mac says that world translates aion, which can point to this present sinful age. The world system is the sum of the demonic-human philosophy of life. It can be well described as “that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale,” (G.C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament).

Unbelievers, many times, mask themselves as Christians. Unfortunately, it is very easy for Christians to be fascinated with the allure of what this world has to offer. The temptations are endless and around every corner. It doesn’t help that the world wants us to join them, come back to their immoral ways. And the invitation can be both subtle and seductive.

But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Instead, we are to be transformed. We are to allow ourselves to be changed outwardly to line up with our new inner man, born of God. Paul said with elation, We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord, (2 Cor. 3:18).

My friends, I want to thank you for faithfully following this study of Romans. Unfortunately, at this time, there are some things going on in my life which will cause me to set this blog aside. Hopefully not permanently; I don’t know. We must all follow God’s path for us, no matter where it leads. It has been a pleasure serving you these past years.

There are many past blogs to refer to, and I hope you will. If you have trouble reaching the blog site, please email me at mk_Stockwell@yahoo.com.

I’m sure you are aware that there are many excellent places online to be fed God’s word. I want to leave you with three of them.

www.gty.org, the address for Dr. John MacArthur and Grace to You ministries. I’ve followed John and his excellent Bible teaching for many years. He has never steered me wrong!

www.intouch.org, Dr. Charles Stanley’s page. Dr. Stanley is an excellent Bible teacher, and he will not mislead you. He is easy to follow and learn from.

www.baysideonline.com. Ray Johnston at Bayside church loves the Word of God, and is a wonderful teacher. Get connected and have fun learning.

Whoever you listen to or watch, make sure to be a faithful student, putting into practice what you hear and then teach others also.

Therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, (2 Timothy 2:2).

My hope for all of you is…..to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen


The Body Given To God; Romans 12:1b

Speaking of personal sacrifice, the renowned and passionate missionary, David Livingston, once wrote: “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward of healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?

“I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.” (Livingston’s Private Journal).

…to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

The only thing a Christian really gives up is sin and the destructive effects of sin. We cannot out-bless God. When we give ourselves to God, He takes what we give and purifies and refines it for His use both for our present and eternal good, Mac says, and for His glory.

To be holy is to be separated or set apart for a special divine purpose. It is descriptive of God, holy people, and holy things.

MacArthur states: “Under the Old Covenant, a sacrificial animal was to be without spot or blemish. That physical purity symbolized the spiritual and moral purity that God required of the offerer himself .Like that worshipper who was to come to God with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:4), the offering of a Christian’s body not only should be a living but also a holy sacrifice.

We are to fear God and present Him with the holy sacrifice of our bodies; we are to give Him our very best. In Malachi the people were bringing the Lord inferior sacrifices. Through Malachi God asks these people some questions: When you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly? (Mal. 1:8). They feared men but not the Lord God Almighty! God requires our best. We owe it to Him!

Only a living and holy sacrifice is acceptable to God. And only in that way can we give Him our spiritual service of worship.

Logikos (spiritual) is the term for logic or logical. But spiritual here means more closely, as the King James renders it, “reasonable.” That is, our service, being holy and sacrificial, is reasonable in light of the great sacrifices Christ has made for us and all the eternal blessings He has bestowed on us.

Paul is saying that because of the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and of His unsearchable…judgments and unfathomable…ways; and because from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, (Rom. 11:33, 36), we are to present God with all we are and all that we have.

“True worship does not consist of elaborate and impressive prayers, intricate liturgy, stained glass windows, lighted candles, flowing robes, incense and classical sacred music. It does not require great talent, skill, or leadership ability. Many of those things can be part of the outward forms of genuine worship, but they are acceptable to God only if the heart and mind of the worshiper is focused on Him. The only spiritual service of worship that honors and pleases God is the sincere, loving, thoughtful, and heartfelt devotion and praise of His children.” (Mac commentary p. 148)

Until next time, praises to our God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!…mike.


The Body Must Be Given To God, part three; Romans 12:1b

Hello all! We are spending time with this verse because it holds the key to successful Christian living.

Our imperfect but very useful bodies are to be used as a living and holy sacrifice. Paul is talking in the language of the ritual sacrifices made in the tabernacle and later the temple by the Levitical priests on behalf of sinners who wanted their sins covered.

Following the Law, a Jew would bring an animal to lay on the altar, and the priest would kill it to cover the sins of that person. But these were dead sacrifices, and are of no effect now. For when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption, (Hebrews 9:11-12).

MacArthur comments: “Because the Lamb of God was sacrificed in their place, the redeemed of the Lord are now to offer themselves, all that they are and have, as living sacrifices. The only acceptable worship under the New Covenant is the offering of oneself unto God. From the beginning, God’s first and most important requirement for acceptable worship has been a faithful and obedient heart,” (Commentary p. 144-145).

When king Saul disobeyed God at Gilgal, Samuel the prophet asked him, Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams, (1 Samuel 15:22).

David, Saul’s successor, understood this. When confronted with his sin, David answered, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise, (Psalm 51:17). “David offered God his repentant heart as a living sacrifice- apart from outward, visible ceremony- and he was forgiven (2 Samuel 12:13).” (Mac p. 145)

Most of us know the story of Abraham’s supreme test in Genesis 22. God called him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, the son of promise, on a mountain God would lead him to. Abraham didn’t question God or complain, but took his son to Mt. Moriah, tied him to an altar, and raised the knife over his head, poised to kill his son because the Lord had commanded him to. God stopped his hand at the last moment. God knew from this that Abraham would give him anything, even the thing most precious to him. This is a wonderful example of a living sacrifice. It was Abraham’s own heart and willingness to please and obey God.

I believe this is what Jesus meant when He said these words: He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it, (Matt. 10:39).

If Abraham had plunged the knife into his son’s heart, Isaac would have been a dead sacrifice. But that didn’t happen; God didn’t require it. Isaac was also a living sacrifice. Father and son went down from that mountain together in order to live holy and sacrificial lives unto their God! “Both men had already offered the real sacrifice that God wanted- the willingness to give to Him everything they held dear.” (Mac p. 146).

This imagery is a great example to us. Paul said this: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

“The living sacrifice we are to offer to the Lord who died for us is the willingness to surrender to Him all our hopes, plans, and everything that is precious to us, all that is humanly important to us, all that we find fulfilling. Like Paul we should, in that sense, die daily, (1 Cor. 15:31), because for us to live is Christ, Phil. 1:21).

“Because Jesus Christ has already made the only dead sacrifice the New Testament requires- the only sacrifice that has power to save men from eternal death- all that remains for worshippers today is the presentation of themselves as living sacrifices,” (Mac p. 146).

By God’s grace through Jesus Christ we will continue next time…mike.

The Body Must be Given to God, part two; Ro. 12:1b

To present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

We saw last time that the soul of a believer is born of God, and therefore perfect and redeemed. Our bodies are not redeemed until they are changed into new, glorious bodies, when the mortal shall put on immortality. In our present state, our bodies can be a launching pad for all manner of sin and corruption.

The New Testament writers constantly exhorted believers to put off the old man, and to present our bodies, not to sin, but to God, as instruments of righteousness unto God, (Ro. 6).

Paul stated the truth in 1 Cor. 6:11-13 that the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body. From Genesis we learn that when God created our bodies He looked and saw that it was good. Sin and corruption followed Adam’s disobedience, but even then God expected that “our unredeemed bodies can and should be made slaves to the power of our redeemed souls.” (Mac p. 143)

Just as God made our souls for Himself He also made our bodies for His use. The body of a Christian is holy unto God, set apart for His use, not our own, selfishly. He cannot work through us without using our physical bodies. Our mouths speak for Him, our feet travel for Him, our eyes see and understand, and so forth. If we think for Him it is with our minds, which reside in our bodies.

Paul prayed, May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thess. 5:23).

Because our bodies are as yet unredeemed we must consistently battle against fleshly lusts and desires of all types. Believers now belong to God and Christ, but Satan wants us to believe we have no power against temptation and sin. That is a lie. We are to put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6). Paul shows the Lord’s expectation of us in Ro. 6:12: Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts. This is a command, something we can do and are expected to do. 

He follows this with strong positives: …present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace, (Ro. 6:13b-14). Under God’s immense power, our unredeemed bodies can and should become instruments of God’s righteousness. It is divine power which He has made available to us in order to accomplish this!

Paul asked the Corinthians this: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Cor. 6:19). God lives in us! Imperfect as it is, my body is a temple of the most high! Paul continues, You are not your own. You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s, (vv. 19b-20).

Paul explained to the Philippians that Christ…will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself, (Phil. 3:20-21).

John MacArthur teaches this: “We cannot prevent the remnants of sin from persisting in our mortal bodies. But we are able, with the Lord’s power, to keep that sin from ruling our bodies. Since we are given a new, Spirit-indwelt nature through Christ, sin cannot reign in our souls. And it should not reign in our bodies (Ro. 8:11). Sin will not reign if by the Spirit [we] are putting to death the deeds of the body, (Ro. 8:13).

Lord willing we will continue this line of study next time. Until then God bless you all who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ!…mike.



The Body Must Be Given To God; Romans 12:1b

to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

We learned last time that the soul is given to God at salvation. Our soul is a new creation, born of God, not of the flesh. Our bodies are a different matter. They have not yet been redeemed: Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies, (Ro. 8:23).

It will help us better understand this passage if we realize what believers are. You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 2:5).

The main function of a Mosaic priest in the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament was to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. To present is a technical term for a priest’s placing an offering on the altar. We believers, as God’s holy priesthood, are to offer our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.

One may ask, “Why not offer our souls as a spiritual sacrifice?” Our souls already belong to God fully, as we saw in the previous post. The new man is God’s forever.But our bodies have yet to be redeemed and made perfect.

This happens at death: in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory, (1 Cor. 15:53).

Until then, the body is a place of struggle. MacArthur puts it this way: “Our bodies, however, are more than physical shells that house our souls. They are also where our old, unredeemed humanness resides. In fact, our humanness is a part of our bodies, whereas our souls are not. Our bodies incorporate our humanness, our humanness incorporates our flesh, and our flesh incorporates our sin, as Romans 6 and 7 so clearly explain,” (Mac commentary p. 142).

Our physical being along with the evil longings of our emotions and mind and will are a part of our bodies. Paul informs in Romans 7:5, For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

Long after Paul had become a Christian he confessed, For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man [the new man born of the Spirit], but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members, (Ro. 7:22-23).

Paul repeats this theme in Galatians 5:17: For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not able to do whatever you want. The flesh he is speaking of is part of our unredeemed nature, seated in our bodies

MacArthur comments: “In other words, the redeemed soul must reside in a body of flesh that is still the beachhead of sin, a place that can be readily given to unholy thoughts and longings.

It is that powerful force within our mortal bodies that tempts and lures us to do evil. When they succumb to the impulses of the fleshly mind, our mortal bodies again become instruments of sin and unrighteousness.” (see Romans 6), (Mac p. 142)

The body is still the center of spiritual doubts, sinful desires, and emotional depression. It is a natural beachhead for satanic influences of all types. Even the great apostle confessed to this constant inner battle when he said: I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified, (1 Cor. 9:27).

Like Paul, we need to know that we are in a spiritual battle with sin. Our souls are redeemed, but our bodies are still in a state of corruption. They get old or sick, and they die.

We learn in Romans 8 that we actually have to kill the flesh. This takes work, sacrifice, and persistence. This is what Jesus meant when He said we must first lose our life in order to gain true life. By God’s grace we will see next time how this is accomplished.

In His love…mike.