What Directs Me
A Living Sacrifice
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
When I think and meditate on this scripture so many things come to mind. There are several other passages of scripture that fits with this. These scriptures add even more substance to what Paul is speaking to; Psalm 51:16-17, Romans 6:16, 1 Corinthians 6:20,Ephesians 4:1, 1 Peter 2:5.
It is funny how when we wish to sin with the body, we ask God to “know” our hearts. Yet we must present to our Lord our bodies as we do not belong to ourselves. This is a part of our worship to God. We use the term “heart” so loosely and I doubt we really know what it means. I heard a pastor describe the “heart” as being made up of three components. The heart consist of; the mind, emotions and will. People are directed by whatever is going on in their minds, which is encouraged/fueled by their emotions and driven by their will. So whatever idea, ideology, philosophy, beliefs etc. in the mind is used to reason with. This lays down a foundation that their person stands on, aka their principles or standards. These principles start walking themselves out but can’t do that without fuel or passion. This passion is provided by an emotional attachment to the principles. How strongly we believe in whatever “wisdom/knowledge” we have going on in our minds work with our deep emotions. But it is our will to see these things through that give life to it all. This is our heart. When we watch an athlete give it his all on the field and play through adversity, we say; “that guy has heart”.
This heart is what directs us and it is what directs me. The question now becomes what is in our minds, what is our passion (emotional fuel) and what is our will focused on or around? There is a big difference in the responses of a Christian and a non-believer as Paul makes known. Essentially, the question that starts the self-examination is why I do the things that I do? What is driving me to be me? What pushed me to make that choice? What made me respond the way I did? What is directing my path and my life? What is it that I’m living out loud for the whole world to see? What am I living out right now?
The quickest way to the answer is to ask this, what is it that we treasure? What is of value to us? Still don’t want to be honest, who do you do not want to disappoint? What do you yearn for, what do you carve to have? What do you desire to be a part of? This sounds like an addiction doesn’t it, it does not look like someone who is free or someone who has an absolutely free will?
Paul writes: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Some may try to take this at face value and shout “legalism” but external expression is not what Paul is talking about. The Lord is always concerned about the heart and its motives. The intend of the heart is key to what the “branches” are connected to. It is what the branches are connected to that influences the fruit. The fruit is that bodily expression of the heart. How we present ourselves reflect back to God. If a gardener had vegetables that looked bad and were rotten, what does that say about the gardener? We are not talking about salvation but worship and God’s glory. We are talking about being fruitfulness but yes there is a correlation to having true salvation. True salvation comes by faith alone in Jesus Christ and it is that salvation that reconciles us to God. Being reconciled reconnects us to the true vine, we are now alive in Christ and not dead in sin thus we bear fruit. We now should bear fruit which is now deemed holy because God is holy. God is gloried by our fruit because it reflects the grace, love, mercy and power of God to bring the dead back to life.
Presenting ourselves to God as living sacrifice is a part of our worship as we have been bought by a price. That price is Christ’s blood, we are bought by something more precious than gold. From the very beginning we are set a part for God’s work, his holy work to complete his purposes and not our own.
Ephesians 2:8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God already has our business plan set and in order. The course has been set by the heavenly Father and being obedient to that by willingly giving ourselves over as slaves of righteousness is apart of our service to him. Yet, so often we decide to do other wise and give our bodies over to do evil. Romans 6:13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
We do not even choose to focus our minds on the things of God as we avoid the word of God. We don’t realize that the words recorded in the bible are inspired by the very same spirit that dwells within us. Or maybe we do and just refuse to listen or yield to the Holy Spirit. We want the things that the world has and chase after the world’s gods. The things of this worldly life directs so much of our desires and fuels so much of our passions. We don’t realize that our love of the world has made us enemies of God.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
It is the love of these things that directs us and not a renewed mind. Our love has conformed us as we love what they love and what matters to them matters even more to us. It is this same love that causes us to gather to ourselves spiritual leaders who will tell us that having such desires is okay with god. Even though Jesus says in Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Is what this world has to offer more attractive than what God offers? Is gaining a foothold in this life worth the consequences? Is it worth that much to us? Mark 4:19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Is it worth conforming to its ways only to set us against God. As the worldly desires direct us to align with the ruler of this world. Is allowing it to direct us going be worth it? 60 years of being its slave compared to paying for it for all of eternity?
But its not just a renewal were we don’t do as they do but we don’t see like they see, we don’t think like they think, we don’t interact like they do. It means we don’t respond like they do, we don’t feel they we they do, our answers are not like their answers, our reasons are not their reasons. Why we love is not why they love. We see the world, life, living, each other, death and all of the above through the eyes of Christ. Our minds operate in the midst of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ is our heart and our eyes are on the cross. When you live gospel centered, it changes you and all the things that use to be important mean nothing as our standard is Jesus. A renewed mind loves because God loved first.
1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
When Christ is everything to you, everything else is garbage and your eye sight changes forever and it is now Him that directs you.
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Who can honestly say that Jesus is worth that much to them? Can we count all of our possessions as a loss for the sake of Christ? Look at our lives and all the things that direct us and ask yourself would you count them as nothing compared to doing God’s will? Would we suffer to losing it all in order to have righteousness through faith in Christ? Is losing the friendship of others and their respect worth it for us? How much do we enjoy slavery to sin? How much do we enjoy conformity, do we fear being called a Jesus freak so much that we deny Jesus three times? People don’t die for righteousness, we die to protect our “good” name and not the name of the only begotten Son. We hate to been seen as different so bad that we run and hide. But the twelve did the same thing and then they saw the risen Christ and the fear of God became greater than the fear of man. We can all be directed by fear at times but which fear is directing and driving us? Reverence of God or shame of God? When your mind is renewed and has become gospel centered. you can’t do anything but live it. The gospel is a part of you in that you see life and live it by way of the gospel thus making everything you do ministry. All of life within the world is born out of sin. All of mankind is seeking reconciliation by any means. So let our fear of the Lord lead us to share the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:11).