Peninsula Community Church
Worship – How Do You Present Yourself?
September 29, 2013
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
As we look at this study so far, what have we learned? We have learned that worship means to ascribe worth to something or someone. It means that we tend to worship what we value and what we worship will control us. We have also learned from last week’s message that all of life is worship and all worship is about life. We cannot and must not separate the sacred from the secular. There is no dichotomy here, or least we need to attempt to avoid one.
Paul has instructed us that real worship is defined as a presentation of our bodies as “living sacrifices.”As living sacrifices, our worship is not restricted to a specific location or place. As living sacrifices, we realize that true worship is a matter of the heart. As living sacrifices, we seek to honor God with our lives. To be living sacrifices is a lifestyle. It is a way of living. To be living sacrifices means that our actions, our language or speech, and our responses to life and to life’s circumstances conform to God’s word and his ways. Since worship is what we are, we cannot put on and take off worship as we would a garment. True worship is a lifestyle of living for God. Our desire to honor God must impact everything we do: our jobs, our personal life, our interactions with others, our thoughts, our will, and our emotions.
As living sacrifices, we exemplify Christ to those around us and to those we come in contact with. To say this in the vernacular “Do we walk the talk in everything we do?” Do we live as passionate followers of Christ? Do we consider everything we do as an act of worship? Is it a way of life for us? When worship becomes a way of life, everything we do will be shaped and viewed through the perspective that everything is a function of worship and an act of honoring God. Look at what the Bible says about this. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17). Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strengths that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:11).
We mentioned this briefly last week, but I want to remind us that we are empowered to live as living sacrifices because of the work already achieved for us by the work of the cross. We can present our bodies as living sacrifices because of God’s mercy. Because of His mercy, we have the power, the freedom, and the motivation to do so. The question that bears being asked here is “What mercies is Paul talking about?” Let’s review this. Paul uses the term “therefore” here. This was a common term in Paul’s writings. When the term is used, it means that we must consider what comes before the “therefore.” What precedes the “therefore” is critical and must be considered to fully understand what follows the “therefore.” Someone has said that when we see the word “therefore” we must ask what is “therefore” there for.
What is presented prior to Romans 12 is critical to our understanding of how to present ourselves as living sacrifices. I see several truths at play. First, let us consider that if we reject the truth or attempt to create our own truth, our hearts can become hardened and calloused. We begin to worship the creation and fail to worship the creator, as Paul warned in Romans 1-2. It is this false worship and change of focus that leads us to futile thinking and missed opportunities of living life to the fullest.
One of the observations I have made about today’s world is that how people present themselves is critical to their self esteem and and how they want others to view them. The problem here is that this act is often based on a presentation of what we want people to think of us rather than who we really are. Someone has said that this is the difference between one’s personality and one’s character. One’s personality is presented as to how we want people to view us while character is who we really are. Two weeks ago, we discovered that true worship is focused on the truth and is based on honesty. What does this mean for us? It means we do not try to present ourselves as something we are not. We have an honest appraisal of who we are and what we are about.
What mercies have we received? Paul continues to lay out the argument that we are saved, justified, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Spirit because of Christ’s mercy. Because we recognize the work of Christ, we can feel secure and trust that presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is the way to go. Why? Because Paul dealt with the issues of security in Christ as he stated nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39). Because of these actions, on the part of God on our behalf, we can live as spiritual worshippers and as living sacrifices. What keeps us focused is the mercies of God, and the ongoing reminder of what has been bestowed upon us and given to us by God.
While the work done for us is by way of the mercies of God, a second point must be made. Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices is a choice. Paul tells us that we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices. We can’t blame someone else or excuse ourselves from taking this step or action. The fact is once we understand and comprehend the mercies of God, we will find that the choice to be a living sacrifice is much easier and is not cumbersome at all. In fact, understanding the mercies of God will assist us in making right decisions as worshippers of God. It is noteworthy that God provides the means but we must make the choice to be living sacrifices. This means we must avail ourselves of the mercies of God described in Romans 1-11.
The Greek word for “present” literally means “to place beside.” In this case, we are to place our actions and who we are next to and along side God’s word and his truth to determine wether or not we are living as living sacrifices. It is interesting to note that the Greek verb used here specifically “to present” carries the idea of presenting but keep on presenting. It is an ongoing process.
Let me explain it this way. If we were building a house, we would, or at least we should, look at the plans that have been drawn up by a qualified architect. Because he is qualified two things are at play. One, we can trust him and we must trust that if we follow his plans we will be successful in erecting a quality home. In other words, we must place the work we are doing along side the plans drawn up by the architect to be sure that what we are building is according to the plans we have been given. To do otherwise invites chaos and major complications.
Look at the following verses in Romans. As we read them, look at the idea of “presenting” ones self in these passages. Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:16-18).
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness (Romans 6:13).
Will you place yourself along side of righteousness or unrighteousness as your guide? This is critical because as we have already stated, what we present ourselves to we will become. If we present ourselves to living out righteousness in our lives then we will be righteous. If we give ourselves as slaves to sin then we will become slaves to sin, but if we give ourselves to righteousness we become righteousness.
Because the act of presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is an ongoing act, to present our bodies as living sacrifices, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The point to be made here is that presenting ourselves as living sacrifices is not a passive act but is both active and it is also proactive. It is active in that it requires an ongoing process of commitment and the presentation of ourselves to God. It is proactive in that we renew our minds with a goal of transformation even when we don’t feel like it or sense the purpose for doing so. We don’t wait until an issue arises; we are always in the process of renewal and transformation.
You see true worship requires a commitment of the head and the heart. It is the introduction of truth into the mind which finds its way into the heart that brings about a transformation of worldview and concepts about living life as a passionate follower of Christ. This must be an active response. This word transformation is an interesting word. It is the Greek word “metamorpha.” It means to change. It is the same word we get the word “metamorphous” from. Metamorphous means a change of form. Like the caterpillar that is changed into a butterfly we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
How does this occur. It is by way of the truth that comes from God’s word. We need the truth that sets us free. It is also truth that leads us to faith. Truth alone in the sense of intellectual prowess falls short of God’s purpose and His plan for our lives. The key for truth to be effective is that it must find root in our hearts so that the truth received is applied in order to bring transformation to who we are and how we act.
Let me illustrate this in this way. When you get angry what is the first reaction you have. Is it to curse? Is it to throw things? Is it to scream? Is it to clam up? In this case, how you respond has been a result of the conditioning of you heart, your emotions, and your will. If you have presented yourselves as living sacrifices and your heart has been transformed, then your actions and reactions will be different than a person who has not been transformed. How we respond will be an act of worship and a living as living sacrifices.