Formations lesson for Nov. 18: Living Sacrificially
November 1 2001 by Tom Greene , Romans 12:1-8

Formations lesson for Nov. 18: Living Sacrificially | Friday, Nov 2, 2001

Friday, Nov 2, 2001

Formations lesson for Nov. 18: Living Sacrificially

By Tom Greene Romans 12:1-8 Having proclaimed the power of the gospel and emphasized the undeserved mercy of God, Paul begins to give instructions on the Christian life. He speaks practically about ethical issues that 1st century Christians faced, and that Christians would also confront.

How would the people of God live differently? The proper response to their Creator is the shaping of their total lives by His gracious will. Like the burnt offering given completely to God, the Christian is to be a total sacrifice to Him - presenting themselves as a "living sacrifice" consecrated to Him. Instead of living by the standards of a world at conflict with God, believers are urged to let the renewing of their minds by the power of the Spirit transform their lives into conformity with God's will.

The Task (Romans 12:1-3) Because of God's mercy, we should live to His glory by offering our bodies, our very selves as spiritual worship to Him. Those readers of Jewish background would associate the worship of God with animal sacrifice in the temple. The smoking, lifeless offerings of the old regime are set over against the service of living men, possessing new dynamic and instinct - a new vitality.

Paul redefines sacrifice for Christians as putting one's very self at God's disposal. He challenges the church to live in obedience to the will of God not in conformity to the demands and desires of the world.

None of us is able to fulfill this challenge out of our own resources. The mercies of God both inspire us to seek and equip ourselves toward God's will. We discern His will through revelation that occurs through His initiative, and through an openness on our part, as we are aware of our own weakness and inability to know what is good and right by ourselves. The gospel reminds us of our own sense of inadequacy and instead of condemning us and leaving us hopeless, calls us to a higher way of life. This way of life becomes a form of spiritual worship.

Life under the lordship of God means a life influenced by the power of grace. Grace that transforms individuals and their relationships to the community around them. The Christian's world has been made new by living by the power of the Spirit, and accepting the gracious lordship of God.

The task is now to let the power of grace shape our lives and transform the world into the shape of grace. Believers are to be transformed by a whole new way of thinking not shaped by what everybody else does. This new way of thinking enables one to discern God's will; what is good and pleasing and perfect - grace to be able to hear and obey!

Many Yet One (Romans 12:4-8) When we discern the will of God, we are drawn into the church. The church is comprised of those saints who have heard the gospel and who, "by the mercies of God," have responded, seeking not to "be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds."

This illustration of the church is not a precise description of attributes that define the church but Paul's understanding of the church.

Christians should not be arrogant but humble and loving to one another. It is expressed in a new way, "for as we have many members in one body ... are one body in Christ ... members of one another." It is implied that Christians have diverse functions that are necessary to the proper working of the body of Christ. Paul's use of the term 'body' makes visible the importance of unity and the dreadful consequences of the lack of it.

God's gifts are not given for the congratulation of those who receive them but for employment in the building up of the body. Paul, showing the corporate life of Christians, uses the most effective term, which he can find to express the vital bond that unites the life of believers with the risen life of Christ.

It is important not to over-emphasize the importance of one's own gifts. The health of the body depends as much upon the full functioning of each part as upon people being subordinate to the whole.

If we are walking close enough to Him, if our wills have been lost in His, we shall not sidestep the act of sacrificing when it comes to us. It will belong to us as naturally as it belongs to the Master.

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11/1/2001 11:00:00 PM by Tom Greene , Romans 12:1-8 | with 0 comments
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