“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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)
This verse really aggravated me until someone pointed out that Paul was not talking about becoming a literal bloody sacrifice. He said, “a living sacrifice”.
What’s a living sacrifice? It’s a life in which our wills, our hopes and dreams, are sacrificed to live out the will of God in our bodies, our hearts, our minds. Remember Paul saying, “To live is Christ”?
What does that mean? A soldier’s duty and goal is to kill the enemy and, if possible, return home alive. A Christian “soldier” ‘s duty is to kill the “enemy” we carry inside of us…
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:16-21)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)
“Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.‘ ” (John 14:23)
“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” (John 14:24)
That’s four times in one chapter Jesus equated keeping His commandments with loving Him. That’s what we call a clue, detective. 😉
Do you want your life to accomplish something in the spiritual war? To have beneficial eternal results?
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)
There is a promise to those who do keep His commandments:
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)
Our resources are not primarily our own superior wisdom, or our own amazingly coordinated, beautiful, agile bodies. The most important resource we have is the Holy Spirit living inside of us:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
We need to be careful not to grieve or quench the Spirit. We can’t afford to. We need the Holy Spirit to be active in guiding us, instructing us, and warning us:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:20)
“Do not quench the Spirit.” (1st Thessalonians 5:19)
One reason we need the Holy Spirit’s guidance:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)
Jesus’ commands are not only contained in His words alone, but in the rest of Scripture. We know this because the disciples regarded their own writings as inspired by the Holy Spirit:
“There are some things in [Paul’s letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (2nd Peter 3:16)
King Jesus told the disciples they would receive further instruction and wisdom from the Holy Spirit:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-14)
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2nd Timothy 3:16-17)
So we know where to turn for guidance.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:5-8)
In Matthew chapter 24, the disciples asked Jesus what sign there would be of His return, and of the “end of the age”. He answers them, and the answer is grim. Then He concludes with a warning that we should take very seriously because of the consequences if we don’t, which He also described:
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:42-51)