I am sure that what you and I think about what should be present in the life of a Christian, and what the world may think would be two very different things. The truth is that it really matters very little what I think or what anyone else may think about it. What is important is what does the Word of God say concerning the matter.
Tonight I want to draw your attention to Romans chapter twelve and see three representations of the Christian life. The challenge is to compare our lives to the Scripture and evaluate what kind of reflection to this lost and dying world are we giving.
I. A Life of Consecration. v1-2
A. The Presentation. v1
1. True Christian service begins with dedication to the Lord.
2. The motive for this dedication is love.
a. Paul did not command us to be dedicated.
b. Rather, he beseeches or begs us because of what Christ has already done for us.
c. We do not serve Christ in order to get His mercies; we already have them.
d. We serve Christ out of love and appreciation for Him.
3. We present to Him our bodies.
a. The Christian's body is God's temple because the Spirit of God dwells there.
b. Jesus was a "living sacrifice" in that He willingly gave Himself for us.
c. We are to be willing to give ourselves to God...it is our reasonable service.
B. The Transformation. v2
1. Negatively: "Be not conformed to this world"
a. According to Webster, to conform means to adapt oneself to prevailing standards or customs.
b. Literally it means being forced into the world's mold.
c. To become identified with the world instead of with Christ!
2. Positively: "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind"
a. The word "mind" here includes both our thoughts and our wills.
b. The world exerts pressure from without to conform, but the Holy Spirit transforms our minds by releasing power from within.
c. This is accomplished through the Word of God. d. cf. 2 Co 3:18 & Jas 1:22-25
1) As we look into the Word of God we behold His glory and are changed into His image as we apply the truth to our lives.
2) James warns us that if we are only hearers of the Word we only look and do not allow the Word to change us.
3. The effect of a life of consecration. "That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
a. The will of God is known.
b. The will of God is done.
c. The will of God is enjoyed.
II. A Life of Humility. v3-8
A. Think with restraint. "Not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think"
1. We are not to have exaggerated opinions of ourselves.
2. Nor are we to overestimate our abilities and importance.
3. Sometimes the opposite occurs and a believer may feel that they can do nothing of value in the local church!
B. Think according to faith. "Think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith"
1. Thinking soberly is having sound judgment, making fair estimates of ourselves and our abilities.
2. Our gifts are from God, we cannot take credit for them; all we can do is accept them and use them to honor His name.
C. Think as members of the body.
1. Each believer has a different gift.
2. Each believer must exercise their gift by faith.
3. God,in His wisdom, has bestowed these spiritual gifts in a balanced manner that the local body might grow and function properly.
III. A Life of Love. v9-21
A. The qualities of love. v9-13
1. Love ought to be in honesty not hypocrisy. (9a)
2. We all ought to hate evil and cling to good. (9b)
3. Love ought to lead to kindness and humility. (10)
4. We ought to be faithful in our business dealings. (11a)
5. We should be fervent in spiritual things, faithful in serving the Lord, and rejoicing in our hope.(11b-12a)
6. We ought to be patient, prayerful, and ready to meet the needs of others. (12b-13)
B. The attitudes of love. v14-16
1. Good will. (14)
a. Men do not naturally bless those who persecute them.
b. This is one of the greatest tests of the Christian experience.
c. "Bless and curse not" means that we are not to harbor vengeful or resentful thoughts against the persecutors.
d. Only the grace of God is sufficient to enable us to obey this verse!
2. Sympathy. (15)
a. Note that this verse has two commands.
b. It isn't always easy to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, especially when they are particularly blessed by God and we may be struggling!
c. It is also needful for us to be able to come along side those who are going through deep waters and be an encouragement to them.
3. Humility. (16)
a. Paul frequently exhorted believers to be of the same mind.
b. Here Paul emphasizes again the importance of how and what the believer thinks...because it will affect the way that the believer acts!
C. The Response of Love. v17-21
1. Honorable, even if others aren't. (17)
2. Peaceful. (18)
3. Submissive, let God be God and let us take our proper place in the scheme of things. (19)
4. Helpful, the "coals of fire" means that when we respond properly to those who are angry with us it will bring them to shame, remorse, and hopefully repentance. (20)
Illus: A soldier who was faithful to witness to his fellow company members was given a hard time by many unbelievers, but one in particular. One night, after a long march in the rain and mud, all dropped in their bunks with exhaustion. The young man who was God's faithful witness knelt beside his bunk to pray.
The one soldier who had been particularly harsh with the young man threw his combat boots at the man as he prayed. The boots, wet and heavy with mud, struck the soldier in the face, but he kept on praying. The next morning the man who had thrown the boots found them standing beside his bunk beautifully polished...the response to his cruelty broke his heart and he was saved that day!
5. Victorious, when we respond with love. (21)
Conclusion: What do men see when they look at our lives? Are we reflecting the proper view of the Christian life? A life of consecration, a life of humility, and a life of love. Let the Lord have his way in your life tonight!