Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Bethany Bullet-August 26, 2008

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Paul gives us three things from the beginning of Romans 12:
  • We are to offer bodily dedication
  • We are to avoid worldly contamination
  • We experience Godly transformation

First of all a bodily dedication; Paul says to present our bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God. This is worship talk.

In the Old Testament, animal sacrifice was the center of worship life. The temple in Jerusalem was where sacrifices were made and forgiveness gained. Old Testament sacrifices surrounded the death of a substitute so that mercy could be given through the blood of the sacrifice.

When Jesus took on flesh and walked the earth he became the ultimate sacrifice as he went to the cross, shed his own blood and died a horrible death so that all could experience the mercy of God. Because of Jesus we are all made holy.

Now we are asked to be a sacrifice. But this is a bit different. Because of Christ, we offer living sacrifices in our daily lives. As the priests in the Old Testament offered sacrifices, as our High Priest Jesus offered his own body as a sacrifice, we too as a royal priesthood redeemed by God now can offer our own bodies as living sacrifices.

Second, we need to avoid worldly contamination. This world, this age, is filled with sin. Sin is what separates us from God, it brings about death, it springs to life at opportune moments, and it is a reality for every human being. We all need to live our lives in view of God’s mercy instead of in view of our own actions.

Third, because of Christ we experience Godly transformation. As Paul urges the Romans to be transformed we could also translate it as “keep on being transformed”. It is a continual process that we find ourselves in because of the reality of sin in this world. Paul uses the Greek word, metamorphosis, to describe this transformation. A metamorphosis is a complete change from the inside out. It is the same word both Matthew and Mark used to describe our Lord on the mountain of transfiguration. When Jesus was transfigured, transformed, “metamorphosized”, as Mark describes it: His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. Or as Matthew writes: His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light.

When we look for the transformation that comes we can only look to one place. That is Jesus, who transformed himself in humility as he came to earth to perform the great transformation of all of his people so that we would be white as snow forgiven and ready to receive an eternal reward prepared for us from the foundation of the world. As Paul told the Corinthians: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)

Only with God’s mercy in view can we

  • Offer a bodily dedication
  • Avoid worldly contamination
  • And experience Godly transformation

God’s mercies are always before us but perhaps what we should remind ourselves each morning, “Is God’s mercy in view?”


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