Romans – Wayne Barber/Part 53
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|Our first responsibility, according to Dr. Barber, is a conscious and consistent presentation of our body to Christ. How do we go about accomplishing that? Are we able to do so, apart from the enabling power of the Spirit?|
Our Responsibilities Under Grace—Part 1
We have finally finished the long trek through chapters 1 through 11, which are the doctrinal chapters of Romans. Now we come into that part that has to do with what we now are to do, the responsibilities that we have under grace.
At the outset I want to share with you that there is a balance in the Christian walk. The balance is that it is 100% of my cooperation and my willingness to say yes. The other part of that is a balance of His 100% power and presence in my life. As a matter of fact, it is like being in a yoke.
If you have ever watched a team of oxen, one of them is doing the leading. Both of them are not leading. One is leading. The older, more mature, the wiser one is the one doing the leading. The younger one is strapped in beside it. It simply has to learn to cooperate and walk with the older ox. He is not the one doing the leading, the other one is. They say that you can tell which ones are trying to pull away by all the abrasions, the cuts and sores, that are on the side of their necks where they have tried to pull and go their own way. So there is a balance.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” Now you tell that to many Christians today and they will say, “No, it is not. That yoke is difficult. That yoke is hard.” It is because they don’t understand who they are yoked to. They haven’t yet found the balance in their Christian walk.
You ask, “Why are you bringing this out?” Because many people all over the country say, “When you preach and talk about the sufficiency of Christ and you talk about the exchanged life and the message of grace, you appear to be imbalanced.” Recently two people came to me after I finished preaching and said, “Listen, we know that you love Jesus and we know that you talk about who He is and what He does and what He wants to do, but you are not heavy enough on what we are supposed to do.” They began to talk about all the commands of what we are supposed to do.
As I was listening to them talking to me, I was thinking, “Oh, me. I don’t mean to be out of balance.” Something hit me that I believe is a key to solving this whole puzzle. Do you know what it is? The attitude by which they came to me tells me that they don’t understand the walk; they don’t understand the yoke. Friend, listen, it is not what you do. If it were what you did, every Pharisee who ever lived would be in heaven. It is why you do what you do. That is your balance.
Some of you may be saying, “I think what you are preaching is passivity.” No, it is not. It is a moment-by-moment choosing to walk surrendered in the yoke that Christ has put me into. And my friend, the balance comes when my surrender is because of love for Him. He has loved me by giving Himself for me. Now I love Him in return by giving myself back to Him.
You see, chapters 12-16, if taken by themselves, will create the most legalistic imbalance in your mind that you could possibly find. It will become nothing more than a set of rules that you are to coldly and mechanically obey. But when you put chapters 12-16 where they belong, after chapters 1-11, you have your balance. For eleven chapters we have heard the doctrine of grace, the doctrine of how God has so loved us. Chapters 1-11, folks, frame your whole attitude to moving into chapters 12-16. It is not what you do. It is why you do what you do. Israel missed it. They did it, but it was an outward obedience. It was not an obedience of love out of the heart. That is where the balance comes in our Christian walk.
Well, when you get into chapter 12 and verse 1, you find a word there. He says, “I urge you therefore.” If we have said this once, we have said it a hundred times: when you see a “therefore” you always look to see what it is there for. That “therefore” backs up 11 chapters of doctrine.
You say, “Now, it really refers back to verses 33-36 of chapter 11.” Let me show you why it is not just that. Look at those verses: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
That word “Amen” means let it always be so. When he sums that up, he is not just summing up chapter 11. He is summing up 11 marvelous doctrinal chapters about the message of God’s grace in our life.
I want you to go back to chapter 1 and let’s do a little bit of review. You cannot do 12-16 without doing this. The mistake I made for years was to preach it without preaching 1-11. You cannot do 12-16 unless you understand 1-11. Verse 1 sets the premise for it.
Romans 1:1 says, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” The word “gospel” is euaggelion. Eu means good, and aggelia means news. The good news of God. So when you hear me talk about the good news, I am talking about the gospel that he talks about in verse 1 of Romans 1. What is that good news? I think you would have to agree with me when you summed it all up that the good news is that salvation, and sanctification is by faith according to grace of God alone and not by our works. Salvation and sanctification is by faith according to God’s grace, not according to man’s works.
Remember who is writing this—an old legalistic Jew by the name of Paul. He said in Philippians 3, “I am a Pharisee of the Pharisees and when it came to the law, I am found blameless.” He knew what it meant to work for God. But he had found the good news that it is a whole different thing. You leave a set of rules and you enter a relationship when you get up under grace. That, to me, is the message of Romans. It is the grace of God. This is the good news that God wants us to know.
In chapters 1-5 Paul showed us that Christ, out of His great love, came and paid the penalty for our sin debt. Now I don’t want to belabor this and read too many verses to lose you in what we are going to do, but let’s read 3:21-26: “But now, apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned [Jew and Gentile] and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Now that is good news, folks. I cannot justify myself. I can come up with a set of rules and measure myself by them and think I have justified myself, but in God’s sight, nothing I do justifies me. The good news is, it is not what I do for God, it is what God has done for man. Justification is by faith alone in Christ alone. He came as a man to do what men were required to do but we could not do because we were sinful. He is the God-man, inherently pure and holy, and He lived sinlessly on this earth. He did not come to destroy the Law. He came to fulfill the Law. He is the law-giver. He is God. But as a man, what He did met the requirement for all men. Then as the God-man, He went to the cross and paid our sin-debt. When I put my faith into Jesus Christ, what He did is written to my account. It is never what I did, but what He did for me and what I received by faith into my life. As I begin to be sanctified, it is what He does not only for me, but in and through me that is written to my account. That is why one day, if there are any crowns ever given to me, I will give them right back to Him. He is the one who is worthy of this kind of honor.
So we see in chapters 1-5 this marvelous message of grace. And I tell you what, to a Jewish mind-set, one who is working every day to try to earn the love of God and earn the respect of God, God says, “You can’t earn it. It is by grace. I loved you when you were a sinner, when you were ungodly.” This marvelous message of grace is by faith according to the grace of God.
Then in chapters 6-8 he shows that He didn’t just come to die and save us from the penalty of sin, to justify us. He also came to save us from the power of sin. He shows that He sent the Holy Spirit, His very life, to come and be baked into us. He begins to tell us in Romans 6 that I am a brand new creature in Christ.
God went further than He was expected to go. I mean, He is not expected to do anything. He owes us nothing. But it says in Romans 5:20 that where sin abounded, grace also abounded. It went beyond what was required. He met the requirement for my sin and He paid the sin-debt. But He goes beyond that. He put His life into me so that now daily I can live with victory over sin.
He also shows us in chapter 6 that now that we are this new person, we have this new power and we also have a new problem. That problem is we have to start learning to make the proper choices. Paul says in the last part of chapter 6 that whoever you submit yourself to, to that person or to whatever it is, you become its slave. He begins to show us that we are slaves either way we go. You serve Christ to be a slave to Him or you serve yourself and sin and the world and the devil. You only have two decisions.
Then Paul comes into chapter 7 and shows the frustration of living under the Law. I heard the story that I thought pictured a person under the law who puts himself back under that old principle he can measure himself by. It was about a fellow who had a grandfather clock. That clock was so big and so old and so precious, he loved it. It was a family heirloom. One day that clock just stopped. He was really distraught because he loved that old clock. He asked his wife, “What can I do?” She said, “Well, the factory is only two blocks down the street. Why don’t you just take it down and let them fix it?” He said, “That is a great idea, but how am I going to do that? This thing won’t fit in our car.” She said, “Well, I think if you will equally distribute the weight on your back, you ought to be able to carry it two blocks. I will lean it over on your back, then we will get a strap and put it around you and you can carry it down the street.” So they found an old strap and strapped it around him.
He was doing pretty well. He had that thing balanced on his back and he was walking down the street. This pictures to me a person under the law. I don’t know why this story does that to me, how a person puts himself back up under that.
He got about a block and a half down the street, when here comes a wino. He was kind of drunk and he wasn’t walking too straight. The guy tried to anticipate which way the wino was going to walk, but sure enough, they walked right into each other. He lost his balance, fell over and broke that clock in a thousand pieces. Oh, he was distraught. He said to the wino, “Man, what are you doing? Do you realize what you have done? Don’t you understand what this thing means to me?” And the wino said, “Buddy, why don’t you wear a watch on your arm like everybody else?”
The more I thought about that, the more I think about what it is like to be back up under the law. How many Christians don’t understand that to be under grace is an attitude of trusting God, not bearing all that on yourself? Paul talks in chapter 7 about what it is like when you go back up under that law. You lose your joy and your peace. Your faith becomes cold and mechanical. You become condemning and judgmental of everybody. You become suspicious. You can’t trust God or anybody. It is a terrible way to live, folks.
In chapter 8 he starts off in verse 1 and says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I think what he is saying is, “If you have drifted off into this, don’t think you have lost your salvation, but you sure have strayed from the message of it.” Chapter 8 talks about the role of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives, that God has a purpose in our life, that He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us to accomplish that purpose.
You finally find out some family secrets in chapter 8. The family secrets are two words that people fight over and even break fellowship over, which is really ridiculous. They are the words “foreknowledge” and “predestined.” Paul doesn’t even bring those words up until chapter 8 because these are family secrets. These are things you need to know when you are under grace. You need to realize you didn’t find Jesus. I saw this bumper sticker that said, “I found Him.” You don’t find Him. He finds you! He knew you before you were ever born. He loved you when you were ungodly and a sinner. This love has been established throughout all of eternity. He has predestined something to happen in your life: that you be conformed into the image of His Son.
I tell you what, when you get into chapter 8 you will start shouting. All of a sudden life starts working for you. It doesn’t work against you any more. Now, all of a sudden you can say, “Lord, I don’t know what is going on in my life, but You certainly do. And God, I know you love me.”
You see, it takes you out from under that old heavy clock. I just picture that guy walking with that thing. Which says, “I have got to do this or God won’t love me.” God says, “Son, you don’t do it so that I will love you. I already love you. You do it because I love you.” People can’t turn that key. They grow up in families where the father or the mother was very hard on them. They grew up with that conditional love where they tried to do something so their father or mother would love them. They think God is that way. God is not that way. You are loved. That is the root of the message of grace. That is what melts down the old obstinate flesh. That is what melts down the old hard-heartedness of my life. That is what makes me want to submit back to Him. God loves me today. That is grace.
You come out of chapter 8 and into chapters 9, 10 and 11. Paul shows you that the righteousness of God was not only shown to the Gentile world, but the righteousness of God was shown to the Jewish world. There are a lot of Gentiles who say, “The Jews don’t deserve for God to ever do anything more with them as a nation. The church is the new Israel.” That is nonsense. Friend, no Gentile deserves anything but hell, and neither does any Jew. Who are the Gentiles to say anything about it? They are the wild olive tree. The Jews came right out of the tree that was rooted in Abraham by faith. Now some of them did not believe the branches were broken off. But he says to the Gentile world, “If I can take you, a wild olive, and graft you into the tree of faith that was given to Abraham, don’t you think I can take those branches that have been broken off and graft them back in?” What do you mean God is finished with Israel?
Then you come down to verses 33-36 of chapter 11 after Paul has so beautifully shown God’s love and grace and how salvation is His business and not man’s.
Now we are back to 12:1 which says, “I urge you therefore.”
If you have an arrogant bone in your body don’t study 12-16 with us. Because I want to tell you straight out, you are not going to understand a thing we are talking about until you have learned to respect and appreciate and be humbled by the fact that God loves us. That will bring you to tears and brokenness when you realize that God loves you and died for you on the cross. Don’t even attempt 12-16 until then. “Therefore” ties in what he is going to say to everything he has already said. Like I said earlier, you don’t want to make a set of rules and use it measure yourself by and judge everybody else by. Paul said, “I am a bond-servant.” You lovingly choose to serve the one who has loved you more than anybody has ever done in your life. That is what 12-16 is all about.
Well, let’s enter into it. “Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life is way too hard.” So let’s just take it slow. This is a big elephant and we will eat it one bite at a time. You will get frustrated. We are going to go slow. But hopefully you will keep the balance in your mind. It is not what He tells you to do, it is why you do what He tells you to do that establishes the balance in the message of grace.
What are my responsibilities under grace? First of all, to walk and live under grace there must be a conscious presentation of my body to Christ. Not only conscious, but consistent. Let’s put that in there. There must be a conscious and consistent presentation of my body to Christ. That is verse 1: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Now it is very obvious that Paul had been converted by the message of grace and was burdened by it, coming out of that old legalism and religiosity, and now he wants the Christians over in Rome to understand.
You see, back in John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and that you might have it abundantly.” The only way you are ever going to understand the abundance of it is when you do your responsibilities under grace. But you must do it with that proper attitude. Him having loved you, now you loving Him by doing what He asks you to do. He says, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God.” The word “urge” is the word parakaleo. Para means to motion alongside, and kaleo means to call. It is the idea to admonish, to exhort. As a matter of fact, it is more emphatic than I am saying. I understand that it means to beg. Literally it is like Paul says, “I am getting down on my knees over here in Corinth, and I am begging you people over in Rome to understand something. Yes, you are saved by grace, but live under grace. The same choice that got you saved is the same choice you must make every day of your life.”
It says the same thing in Colossians. He says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus.” How did you receive Him? Desperate, totally aware that you couldn’t save yourself, totally overwhelmed by the love that God has for you. You responded. He says, “so walk ye in Him.” He said, “I am begging you, I am urging you. I have been called alongside you to teach the doctrine of grace. Now I am begging you to live under it. Live it out. Don’t just be a hearer, be a doer of what you know.”
Well, the word “brethren” in Romans 12:1 refers to Gentile and Jewish believers. Chapters 12-16 are not for unbelievers. Chapters 12-16 are for believers. It makes no sense to the unbelieving world. It only makes sense to the believing world. He says, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God.” The word for “mercies” is that little word oiktirmos. We saw it back in 9:15 in a different form, but it is a form of that word.
There are two words for mercy. When God spoke to Moses, He said, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” They are two distinctly different words. Eleeo for mercy means, I am so burdened for you that I am making the move to help you bear up under the consequences of the choices you have made. I am doing something about it. I am moving in to help you out. But the word “pity” or “compassion” is the word we are looking at here in 12:1. It’s the same word used over in chapter 9, or a form of it. This word means “I care.” The same care is there, but I can go no further. It is up to you now to do something. You have a responsibility. It is like parents who have a child who has finished college or whatever and they have prayed with him, they have fought the battles with him, they have taught the Word to him and now that individual has to go out into the world on his own. That parent begs and urges, “Oh, please, please, please live in what you know.” But the parent cannot step over and make that decision for him.
The mercies of God. Does He care? All the mercy of God can be wrapped up in what Jesus Christ has done, is doing and will do for us. It is all wrapped up in Him. He has manifested and demonstrated the love and the mercy of God. Paul says, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies [plural] of God.” Now he is begging them, urging them. I don’t know of a pastor who doesn’t feel that way. When you stand before people every Sunday prepared you want to say, “I am begging you. I am urging you. Please, please, please live out what you know God has revealed in your heart.” But you can’t make that decision for them.
It is almost like the Apostle Paul is saying, “I have spent 11 chapters telling you. Now I am begging you, but I can’t make your choices for you. You have got to make them yourself in the grace and the power that the Spirit gives you and with the right attitude.”
Well, we keep on going in 12:1: “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice.” That is what He urges them to do. What does He urge them to do? “to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” The word “present,” paristemi, is the word that we saw back in 6:13. The more I study chapter 12 and on, it seems like Paul is working out what he introduced back in chapter 6 when he talked about being under grace. He says sin shall not be master over you because you are no longer under the law, you are now under grace. Then he starts telling us to present. He says in verse 13 of chapter 6, “and do not go on presenting [the exact same word] the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
He says almost the same thing in 12:1. The difference is he leaves off the fact of the members of your body, but he has already qualified that for us. So when you think of presenting your body, you think of all the members of your body that are to be presented to Him. And you have got to remember something. This is in direct reversal of what you used to do when you were in Adam. When you were in Adam, you didn’t present your body to Christ, you presented your body to the world, to sin and the devil. You didn’t present it to Him. Now you reverse the process and you present it unto Him. He has already identified the body for us. He says in Romans 6:6 the old man is dead in order that our body of sin is done away with, can be shifted into neutral so that sin might not rule over you. You see, it is a body of sin.
Do you realize that you live in a body of sin? Do you realize that Paul is saying if you don’t present this body that has the sinful potential, the sinful propensity in it, if you don’t submit it to Christ, this body will be so perverted it will either turn outright rebellious or it will turn out religious and mask all that God is trying to do in your life? The flesh will manipulate the whole thing. You are making a decision every day of your life. You are either presenting your body to Christ or you are presenting your body to the world. There are no other options. You are a slave either way. That is what he said back in chapter 6.
So he says in 12:1, “I am urging you, I am begging you, make the right decision. Present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Well, in verse 6 of chapter 6 it said that our bodies are bodies of sin. Now you say, “I don’t have a body of sin.” I can guarantee you that you do. I believe if I had enough time, I could prove it to you. I can make you mad enough to react to me and show you how sinful your body is. We have bodies of sin. Therefore, they are to be presented unto Christ.
That word “present” is that word we looked at earlier, and it means to place it in the presence of, to place it alongside, to place, to set, to deliberately set. It is in the aorist tense, and it is an infinitive. The infinitive there means it is purpose. Infinitive always shows a purpose for something. When you look at that face in the morning when you are putting makeup on it or whatever you do to try to make it whole lot better looking than it is, when you are looking at that face, you have to ask yourself the question, “What is this body for?” Paul tells you right here. It is to be presented to Christ every day of your life. That Christ in this sinful body can use you. He is not here to renew that. He is here to replace your flesh. He wants to do through you what you cannot do for Him. So this body is His vessel that He wants to use while you are still here on this earth. That is what the body is for. Infinitives always express purpose.
But the aorist tense catches us. Some people ask me the question, “Do you think that is a one time presenting your body?” Well, yes and no. It is aorist, which means once and for all, but you have to remember something about the aorist tense. It also has a punctiliar sense to it and that is the thing I think he is bringing out here. Yes, you do it one time and I think you ought to start by doing it one time when you finally come to the end of yourself and you present yourself. But I want you to know, you are going to have to keep on presenting every day of your life.
Have you ever had a 35mm camera with an automatic advance? You push the button down and it just takes pictures. You say, “That is the present tense; that is continuous action.” No, it is not. Each picture is a once and for all picture, once and for all, once and for all, once and for all. That is the punctiliar sense that the aorist tense can be used in. I think what he is saying here is, you do it and do it and do it and do it and do it in the little bitty things and the major things of your life. Sometimes it is so little, it is just an attitude change. But you’ve got to do it, do it, do it, present this sinful body that will lead you astray, present it to Him who lives in you and let Him be through you what you could never be yourself. Present, present, present. It is never an option to let down. This is not a truth you learn and move on to something else. This is the truth that you have to continue to learn until the day Jesus comes. It is a constant thing. The lessons some of us are having trouble learning are the ones we thought we already knew.
He says, “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice.” Now this is our offering to Him. Do you want to make an offering to God today? God does not want your money. We do, but He doesn’t. In case some of you aren’t in chapter 12 yet, we do. But God doesn’t. Listen, if God gets you, then He has your money. If God gets you, then He has your time. I love when Paul was writing to the church at Corinth, and he was giving them a hard time because they were rich church. He uses the church of Macedonia and how they gave out of their poverty and even begged to give more. He was taking up an offering for the Jews over in Judea who had a famine and he wanted the Gentile believers to express appreciation to them and show love toward them by taking up this offering. But he made a statement about them. He said before they gave their money, they first gave their lives unto God. That has to happen first, folks. You can’t give your money so you can give yourself. You give yourself so you can give your money. If you don’t present your body, you won’t give like God wants you to give. You can’t give like God wants you to give because your mind won’t let you. You have submitted your body to the unholy tendencies of the flesh. So present your body to Him, not to the world. You have to make a choice in everything in your life. That is what he wants. He wants you right now. Any restriction you put on Him, He is going to turn right around and put that restriction right back on you.
The rich young ruler was told to go out and take everything he had, sell it and give it to the poor. He wasn’t doing that because that was a restriction for everybody. That was the restriction He knew that man was going to put on Him, so he turned it right around and said, “I am putting it right back on you.” What you won’t present to Him is going to be the area in which it is going to stop you from moving on in the message of grace. You may say, “Well, I don’t know if I can trust Him.” Can’t trust Him? You have 11 chapters of what He has done for you when you didn’t deserve it. Who are you going to trust if you can’t trust Him? Do what He says because He has loved you. That is presenting your bodies. That is an offering that God accepts. It is the only offering that God accepts.
Paul says, “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice.” The word “living” there is the word zao, which is the word for existence. Here it is used in opposition to dead, something that is dead. You present your body as a living sacrifice.
The word “sacrifice” gives us quite a bit of illustration here. It is the word thusia. It refers to the expiatory sacrifices of the Old Testament, but not the one made once a year. It refers to the one made every single day. It is a sin offering, every day, every day, every day. The particular sin that was committed was not the issue. The fact that they were sinners was the issue. It was out of gratefulness of the heart that they made this offering. The motive and attitude of the giving of the sacrifice was so important because when they would take the sacrifice and when they would kill it, they were saying, “Oh, God, I deserve to die like this substitute, this animal that has died. But oh, God, thank you for giving me a substitute that I don’t have to die. But God, I am saying to you, the blood that is flowing out of this animal represents my life being resubmitted to You because the life is in the blood.” Sacrificial offerings were something much deeper.
Paul is saying that is not needed anymore. Jesus came to be your substitute. He died on the cross for you. He gave of His life to you, now you turn around and give of your life back to Him. That is what he is saying. That is the offering God is looking for. That is the only offering He is looking for. He doesn’t just want my time. He doesn’t just want my money, like I said. He doesn’t just want those things. He wants them all. He wants all of me. That is what He wants. When you look back I guarantee you, the hard part has been times when you chose not to give all to Him. You presented whatever area it was that you held on to: to sin and to the world and the devil, and you are reaping that consequence right now. Thank God for that clean sheet of paper. Thank Him for His grace. What you can do now is present freshly your body unto Christ. Make the right choice. That is the offering He is looking for in your life.
He says that it is a living sacrifice, a sacrifice that is holy and acceptable unto God. The word “holy” is the word hagios. It has the fundamental idea of separation, consecration, devotion to God, of sharing in the purity of God, thus escaping the defilement of this world. What he is saying is beautiful. When you give of yourself to Him, that is your surrender. Then He takes that surrender and separates you from the world.
Let me show you the difference in the legalistic system of this world. There are many people who say, “Well, if you will do this, this and this, separate yourself from the world, bless God, then you will be doing what God says.” No, sir. You surrender to Him and He in you will separate you from the world. Do you see the difference? The way I separate myself from the world is not make a list of what I can’t do. The way I separate myself from the world is to get in His presence and bow before Him and say, “God, here is my body. Take it and use it as you will.” And He, friend, will definitely separate you from the world. Your choice starts with your surrender to Him. Then, as He commands and as He leads, you do as He tells you, but you don’t do the separation first. You turn to Him and do the surrender first. Then everything else can be in balance in your life.
Well, he says that it is holy and acceptable to God. The word “acceptable” means well-pleasing. Do you want to please God? Then God wants every bit of you. If you had to write down on a piece of paper the things in your life that you have not been willing to trust God with, areas of your life that you are not willing to surrender to Him that would be your problem. What you need to do every day, every single day, is just learn out of love to present that to Him. Just give it back to Him. Don’t worry, God will get your attention on what it is that is bothering you because He chastens and disciplines and scourges those whom He loves. When I make the wrong choice, I am telling you, God has ways of backing me into a corner. Does He do that in your life? What does He have to do to us to get our attention? He will do it to help us to realize that has got to be presented to Him. But remember, it is only going to work the way it is supposed to when you present it out of love because He gave of Himself for you and you, out of love, are willing to give of yourself back to Him.
Paul goes on to say, “which is your spiritual service of worship.” The word “spiritual” really is the word we get the word “logic” from, reasonable. Did you know that none of this, as I told you earlier, is reasonable to the world? It is not reasonable. It is only reasonable to the believer who understands what he came out of and what he is into and realizes that if he starts submitting his body back to this, that is unreasonable. But this is reasonable. It doesn’t take you long to learn those lessons and learn out of love to give yourself back to Him. Folks, that is the only way to worship Him. We talk about worship. He says, “your spiritual service of worship.” The reason the New American Standard says “service of worship” is because the word latreuo is used.
There are four words for worship in the Greek language. Proskuneo means to get down flat on your face before God, totally humble for Him. There is the word sebomai, which means to live out in the community Monday through Saturday what you say you believe on Sunday. Live such a pious life, a devoted life that people look at you and realize you love God. That is the word for worship. There is the word latreuo used right here and it means to serve, but it is translated worship because the only way I can serve Him is by presenting my body to Him and then He becomes in me what I am not and He leads me. It is that yoke and His burden which becomes easy and light. You see, that is what I have got to learn in my walk and you have got to learn in your walk. To learn that this is my way of worship. Worship is not when I hear somebody sing. I love to hear people sing, but that is not when I get all emotional and goose-bumpy. That is not worship.
I hear people say this a lot lately, “Boy, we really worshipped the other day!” Now careful, worship is not a feeling. Worship is not when I hear my favorite preachers. Worship is not just because I got something out of it. Worship is because of what God has done for me and what He said to my heart, I am willing to give fully of myself back to Him. That is worship. How difficult it would be to try to lead praises to people who haven’t worshiped. Praise is the flip-side of worship. It is the celebration for having given yourself to Christ and watched Him prove to you His faithfulness in your life. Praise flows out of that. But worship has gotten all mixed up in people’s minds. It is our reasonable service of worship. My prayer for you and my prayer for me is that we learn to worship Christ.
By the way, did you know that is the purpose of missions? That is the purpose of everything. There is not going to be missions in heaven, but there will be worship. The reason you take the gospel is so people can be so overwhelmed by it that they learn to worship Christ and that worship will last them and govern their lives from now on, lovingly surrendering and presenting.
Well, you say, “Can you get more practical?” I don’t really know what you are talking about. What do you do with your body? You know what I found? My body that I am to present to Him follows me everywhere I go. Have you ever noticed that? Wherever I show up, my body is there. It is amazing. I cannot get rid of it. It is just there. When you think about your walk with God and when you think about your discipleship and what God is trying to teach you, what does it mean to present your body? Do you think with your body? Surely, because your mind is a part of your body. “Lord, I am going to present the way I think to you. I want to start thinking like You think.”
You know, I haven’t had to fight about the inerrancy of the Word. Most people in the churches I have pastored believe that. But you know what has been the biggest problem I have faced? It is the authority the Word has over somebody since it is inerrant. That is the problem. If you are not going to let it rule your life, then forget presenting yourself to Christ, forget living in the abundance of joy He is trying to give you. You are short-changing yourself. You have made a wrong decision. You have chosen to go back and do it your way. When you do, you are no longer presenting your body to Christ. Your body is wicked. I don’t care how much religion you mask it with. It is still wicked. It will do it’s own thing and get the glory for it, you see. You think with your body. You love, you do all kinds of things with it. You see, my body has got to be presented to Him which means everything that I enjoy, everything, my ambitions, my desires, must be constantly presented to Him because the wickedness of my flesh will pervert it in a minute.
I want to tell you something, friend. Chapters 12-16 won’t mean anything to you until you understand who has loved you and who you can trust. When He tells you to put it, put it down. If you don’t, you have just chosen your sick flesh and it will manipulate and pervert everything God is trying to do in your life. There has got to be a presentation every moment of every day for the rest of your life. “Lord, I present my body. This is my worship to you today. I am presenting myself back to you.”