Peninsula Community Church
October 13, 2013
Worship – From Formation to Transformation
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.
Let’s review what we have learned so far. We have learned that what we value we will worship and what we worship will control us. We have learned that God desires that we live as living sacrifices which means that that all of life is worship and all worship is about life (Hayford). We have learned that we cannot and must not be duplicitous in regards to the sacred secular divide. We cannot put on and take off our spiritual worship as we would an old garment. Our worship and our Christianity must impact every aspect of lives. We have also talked about presenting ourselves as living sacrifices which is an ongoing process. It is an ongoing act of surrender.
Last week, we learned that to be living sacrifices we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This act must be a proactive one, as the renovation of the heart does not happen by osmosis. We learned that we must be in the word on daily basis. We must have more than a superficial study of God’s word. We must study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15).
On this issue of osmosis, while it is critical that we are a part of the Sunday service and Sunday school time, it is also critical that we study the word on our own. We must take what is said on a Sunday morning and study it, digest it, question it in the sense of application to your life. Make notes on the message. Allow God to send you on the rabbit trails that could be God’s voice speaking into your life. You see, just because I understand the workings of electricity, does not make me an electrician. Just because I understand the dynamics of flight, does not make me a pilot. Just because I am sitting in a service, does not make me a Christian, nor does that action make me mature. It is the application of the understanding that I have that develops my maturity.
In essence, what we are talking about here is the gaining of wisdom. Wisdom is the proper application of truth. We can have all the knowledge in the world but if we do properly apply the truth our knowledge is useless. The writer of Proverbs was fairly direct when he stated:
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways (Proverbs 2:1-15).
One of the illustrations used last week is that it would be foolish for our armed forces to wait until they are on the front lines of battle to prepare and train. The same applies to sports teams that are on the field of play every week. As you know, I love football. One of the things I have learned about football is that you cannot show up the day of the game without preparing yourself to face your opponent. You will most likely face defeat if you do that.
Whether you are a soldier, a football player, or passionate follower of Christ, we must be in the game. We must prepare ourselves for every battle. We must prepare ourselves to live life as living sacrifices. We must have our head and our heart in the game. As we continue to walk through this verse, we can draw the conclusion that 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. Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is simply this. It is the beliefs, experiences, and ideals that shape the decisions we make and it is the focus of our life.
I love what the late Dallas Willard stated in his book “The Renovation of the Heart.” He stated that the process of transformation carries the idea that we have been formed but change is needed. We need to be transformed because the current formation process is not working for us.
We have been trying the same things. We have been doing the same things but nothing is happening. There is no significant change occurring in our lives. Clayton has line he always uses and it is applicable here…. “So how is that working out for you?” If things are not working out perhaps what you need is a transformation of the heart and not just the mind.
We are not a blank canvas. We all have things written on our hearts which has formed and shaped who we are. We have all been formed and shaped by our experiences, by our culture, by our education, and by the influences in our lives wether they be friend or foe. This formation of self effects our ideas, beliefs, feelings, habits, choices, bodily tendencies, and social relations. Some would call this our worldview as it is out of one’s worldview that one lives and acts.
While we may not be able to control the issues of life, we can certainly control our responses. While I am not responsible for another’s actions, I am fully responsible for my actions and my responses to life. Our reactions to the issues of life will often reveal how we have been formed. Think about this is in this manner. Have you ever said something or acted in a way that reminded you of your parents and the way they responded to issues in life. I can remember a time that I was verbally correcting my son about a particular issue. In the middle of my verbal diatribe, I suddenly did that thing that we as kids say we will never do. I don’t even remember the phrase but I remember hearing my dad scolding me and now I was doing the same thing. I went from anger to laughing because of the statement I made. I am sure it was something like, “If you don’t stop crying, I will give you something to cry about.” Or, “This is going to hurt me more than it does you.” Whatever the comment, I broke into laughter because I couldn’t believe that I was my dad in that moment.
The idea here is that we all have been formed and shaped even when we don’t see the formation taking place. 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? How you respond is a result of how you have been formed and shaped. How you respond is a result of the conditioning of your 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. As we are transformed, how we respond will be an act of worship and an act of living as living sacrifices.
How do we know we are being transformed? I turn your attention to Colossians 3:9-10. Listen to what Paul says here. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Again in Ephesians 4:19-24 Paul once again gives us insight into how we are being renewed. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
In these two passages we have three areas of our life that reveal how we are being renewed or transformed. First, are you being renewed in the knowledge of who God? Through the transformation process our knowledge of God, life and our worldview is being changed. We are being transformed into the original intent of God’s creation for us. Second, we know we are being renewed and transformed in the spirit of our mind when we begin to understand what true righteousness and holiness is. We understand this is not legalistic, but freedom. We understand that we are not holy by our actions but by the actions of God on our behalf. In this our understanding that we are being transformed and renewed to God’s original will and intent. The result is how we think and what we think is being changed.
How are we transformed? We know we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, but how do we do this? First, we study the word of God to understand God’s commands, His principles, and His ways that bring us success in the purest sense. Second, we need to recognize what God has done for us and is doing in us. Too often we fail to remember and respond to the mercies of God. Too often we are to achieve what has already been achieved on our behalf. Third, we must practice the presence of God. We must realize that God is with and that He wants to reveal Himself to us, in us, and through us. We must realize that God wants us to be transformed and that he is with us to help us achieve transformation. Fourth, we must live out the life of God in everything we do. It is for this reason that we cannot use the excuse, “that is just the way I am.” Why? Because we are we being changed and transformed. It may be true that is what you are but it does not mean that is how you should stay. God is in the business of transformation.
So how are you doing? Are you being transformed? How is your life different today than it was last year, or last week? How about yesterday? Today is the day for change. Today is the moment we can be restored to God’s purposes and His will.