The Proper Attitude: True Humility, pt. 4

“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 judgement, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

We discussed last time the five wrong attitudes toward spiritual gifts. Review the last study if you have not seen them. Of course there are certain right attitudes toward spiritual gifts. First, as alluded to in the previous discussion, humility would lead us to conclude that the Lord God knows what He is doing; He knows what He wants to accomplish and how to do it. He could easily do it Himself, but He has chosen fallible human beings to help Him reach His divine goals.

“…we must acknowledge that the Lord Himself provides exactly what He wants for us and everything we need to serve Him according to His will, just ‘as He has allotted to each a measure of faith.’” (Mac. p. 161) Each believer has his own set of operating capabilities. To try to manipulate or change this, for whatever reason, and to do what we were never meant to do will only produce “frustration, discouragement, guilt feelings, mediocrity, and ultimate defeat. We fulfill our calling when we function according to God’s sovereign design for us,” (Mac. P. 161).

Mac lists 9 Scriptural guidelines to help us to fulfill our calling regarding spiritual gifts. We should give ourselves as a living sacrifice (Ro. 12:1); recognize that all believers are gifted, ourselves included (Ro. 12:3); pray for wisdom, seek for nothing (humility) (Acts 8:18,24); examine our heart’s desire (1 Tim. 3:1); seek conformation; look for the blessing of God; wholeheartedly serve Him; and cultivate the gift as it becomes obvious, (Mac. P. 162).

Even after all of this it can become an easy temptation to regiment this whole thing. Relax. Let God lead you. The New Testament does not precisely identify the gift of any believer. It doesn’t come in a box with nice wrapping. We live by faith, so we must use faith eyes and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. It requires a close and healthy relationship with the Spirit of Christ, who comes along side us and helps us find our way.

There are many combinations and degrees of giftedness. MacArthur uses the idea of  an artist painting with a full palette of colors to mix any way he chooses to arrive at an unnumbered array of tones and colors. The Holy Spirit, who is God, does the same thing with us. Be open to however He chooses to lead you. Don’t be dogmatic or stubborn. Let the Artist work through your unique life to edify the church and glorify the Lord!

1 Peter 4:10a says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it…” As noted, each believer is given at least one gift, and that gift is unique in the individual person because that person is already unique. It is some combination of…” the manifold and multicolored categories of speaking and serving giftedness (vv. 10b-11) from which the Spirit colors the believer, and which are then blended with the uniqueness of the mind, the training, the experience, and the effort of the individual- the result being that every Christian is like a snowflake, with no other having the same pattern,” (Mac. P. 163).

Romans 12 and 1 Corinthian 12 are the two central passages in Scripture concerning spiritual gifts. Important to note: “…it is not on a believer’s precisely identifying his gifts but on his faithfully using them,” (Mac. P. 163).

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose,” (Phil. 2:13). The Lord has given believers the wonderful opportunity to work in partnership with Him to complete His body, to build up and edify that for which Christ died.

 In our next study, our good Lord willing, we will discuss proper relationships in the body: unity in diversity. Until then, God bless you all richly with His manifest love…your brother, mike.

 

 

The Proper Attitude: True Humility, pt. three

Before we look at passages teaching about spiritual gifts we need to regard in depth how crucial humility is to the proper use and exercise of our God-given gifts and their use in the body of Christ. In a general sense there are five wrong attitudes Christians can stumble into if we are not careful regarding spiritual gifts.

First, a gift can be used in a boastful manner. Many people are naturally competitive; they love to win and excel. Believers, if not careful, can bring that into the church, where it has no place. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Cor. 12:21), “which is what a Christian does when he boasts of his own gifts and accomplishments,” (Mac vol. 2, p. 160).

Second, we must not devalue our God-given gift. See 1 Cor. 12:11-12, 19. This belittles what God has sovereignly given for the church’s edification and His glory. All spiritual gifts, from the greatest to the least, are necessary. One is just as important as another for the proper functioning of the church body.

A third wrong attitude toward spiritual gifts is claiming a gift we don’t have. This is a form of stealing from God. In doing so we crowd out those who have that gift and also denigrate the gift or gifts God has given us, thereby casting insult upon God’s wisdom and sovereign choice in placing us where He wills in the body.

Paul asks the Corinthian church, “All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?” (1 Cor. 12:29-30) John MacArthur says: “”If God has not chosen to give us any of the more notable gifts, we should neither feign nor covet them.”

A fourth wrong attitude is to refuse to use an inconspicuous spiritual gift out of shame or jealousy or resentment. This again disrespects the Lord and His church, which we are called to serve in with humility and grace. “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body,” (1 Cor. 12:15-16).

It is not what our station in life is that matters; rather it is our faithful execution of the responsibilities the Lord has given uniquely to us that matters to God and that will cause Him to sing your praises in heaven! It was not the rich, who gave large amounts to the temple treasury, who garnered Jesus’ attention and praise, but rather the poor widow who gave two mites, because it was all she owned, (Luke 21:1-4). She gave what she had, and that is all the Lord expects from us.

Number five is failing to use the gift(s) we have been given at all, to simply neglect them. Whatever the reason- jealousy, shame, neglect, bitterness, or indifference- this is a wrong and destructive attitude toward God’s grace and intentions.

“Every spiritual gift of God is to be used to its fullest, because every gift is divinely ordained and meant to be divinely empowered and employed. Certainly Paul is concerned with this issue when, in verses 6-8, he urges that all gifts be used.

“The humility that God requires and honors does not overestimate or underestimate Hs gifts but estimates them rightly and uses them rightly. Every Christian can attest, ‘God has gifted me. He has gifted me graciously and lovingly and will give me everything I need to use my gifts effectively to His glory. I thank Him and bless His name.’” (Mac commentary, vol. 2, p. 160)

Next time, Lord willing, we will look at correct attitudes toward spiritual gifts. Until then, God bless you all…mike:)

 

 

 

The Proper Attitude: True Humility, part 2 ; Romans 12:3

To have sound judgment…

From the Greek this means to think with a sound mind, to think soberly. It is to recognize that in and of ourselves, on our own strength, by our own morality and intellect, we can do nothing that advances the kingdom of God. We can only be effectively used to the glory of God by the Spirit of God, bestowed on every Christian at the new birth. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, (Eph. 2:10).

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s, (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Pride is the essential attitude of a fallen human race. Sin always involves pride. Somehow we think we have a right to go against our God and Creator. The very statement, “I’ll do it my way”, so popular in culture, shows how the unsaved truly live: “My way, not God’s.”

But, as MacArthur points out, it is not to be so with God’s children. “To be useful to our Lord, we must honestly recognize our limits as fallen men and women as well as our abilities as new creations in Christ, keeping both in proper perspective.”

The great reformer, John Calvin, wrote on this: “For so blindly do we all rush in the direction of self-love that everyone thinks he has a good reason for exalting himself and despising all others in comparison…There is no other remedy than to pluck up by the roots those most noxious pests, self-love and love of victory. This the doctrine of Scripture does. For it teaches us to remember that the endowments which God has bestowed on us are not our own, but His free gifts, and that those who plume themselves upon them betray their ingratitude,” (Institutes of the Christian Religion).

Says John MacArthur: “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 will be spiritually productive until self is set aside.” (Commentary, vol. 2, p. 157).

During New Testament times some churches were characterized by members desiring the more public or showy gifts, such as prophecy, teaching, and tongues, to the exclusion of others. The Corinthian church was a chief offender. But Paul admonished that we should desire a more excellent way, the way of humble love, (1 Cor. 12:31; cf. 13;1-13).

In the third epistle of John, vs. 9, the apostle identifies a man named Diotrephes, who loves to be first. Unfortunately this speaks of many across our churches who want attention and relish the spotlight. The spotlight should be reserved for One only, the Lord Jesus Christ!

The world we live in looks down on humility as weakness. Self-glory, to them, is strength, and meekness and generosity are for the “losers.” Faithless, selfish living “is…characterized by brash, and even exalted, self-centeredness, ego building, pampering the body, and striving to fulfill every personal lust and ambition, with little regard to who may be harmed. It is small wonder that depression and emotional chaos are so prevalent.” (Mac vol. 2, p. 159).

Professor William K. Kilpatrick, in his book, Psychological Seduction, the Failure of Modern Psychology, writes: “Extreme forms of mental illness are always extreme forms of self-absorption….The distinctive quality, the thing that literally sets paranoid people apart is hyper-self-consciousness. And the thing they prize most about themselves is autonomy. Their constant fear is that someone else is interfering with their will or trying to direct their lives.”

The great Christian writer, Augustine, wrote The City of God. In it he says this: “Two cities have been formed by two loves; the earthly by the love of self even to the contempt of God, the heavenly by the love of God even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord.”

John the Baptist, upon hearing of the success of Jesus’ ministry, said, He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30). He was saying that his ministry was decreasing in size and importance, but Christ’s was growing. John humbly and gladly accepted that. For believers, on the throne of our hearts, ego and self must decrease as our recognition of Jesus’ rule and authority over every facet of our lives increases. Paul said, I die daily. A big part of that was dying to self and becoming increasingly alive to Christ. This is growing and it is essential to sanctification and maturity in the faith.

The writer of Hebrews said this: Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near, (Heb. 10:24-25)

…. So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at
the right time he will lift you up in honor. … (1 Peter 5:6).

Until next time God’s praise and blessing be upon all!…mike.

 

 

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:

THE TRUE WORSHIP AND THE ESSENTIAL CHANGE (Romans 12:1-2)

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.