Peninsula Community Church
October 20, 2013
Worship – From Formation to Transformation, Part 2
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. 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).
Today, let us look at the need we have to move from formation to transformation. 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.
The fact is we are not a blank canvas. We all have things written on our hearts which have 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.
Let me illustrate this in this way. Just this week I heard a message by Pastor Jimmy Evans (Gateway Conference) who stated that when we have hurt or pain in our lives there is a tendency to live out of that pain rather the healing that is available to us through Christ. He suggested and I concur that when we have been hurt or we have experienced failure, there is a code embedded into our psyche. The code works something like this, I failed at “x” so I must be flawed because I am flawed I cannot succeed or accomplish anything. Every time we face an obstacle or a problem our response is to not even try because we believe we will fail before we ever begin.
This encoding happens quite often when we have faced a divorce, have faced rejection, have suffered a major loss in your life, have suffered an illness, or continue to deal with issues of sin. These issues serve to embed in us that we are failures and that we are no good. If this continues, we can have embedded in us a code that we are unlovable and that there is little or no hope for us. The problem is that too often we strive for acceptance and to have people love us. We will do what it takes to make this happen including a compromise of who we are, as a person. We will sell ourselves to the devil if that would make us be loved by others. The sad truth is that we are already loved and when we allow the embedded codes of our lives to rule us, we miss out on the greatest of opportunities to experience love and life to its fullest.
This act of encoding our psyche and our emotions is like having a virus on our computers. Quite often we have viruses embedded in our files that we are not even aware of. Sometimes these viruses are revealed when we least expect it. Often they are attached to files that are seldom used but when these files are opened the virus acts up. For some it is a simple virus where the files we are opening are extremely slow or there can be a full failure of the system. When our psyches have been encoded with these false images of who we are, our responses, our imaginations and our reactions will be effected. For some there is only minor harm done as we have learned to contend with difficulties and deal with these codes. For others, it is a system failure when these codes are acted upon. Our world falls apart and we are devastated to no end.
It is for this reason that we must realize that we have all been formed and shaped by things and people even when we don’t see the formation taking place. One way to illustrate this is to ask a question. 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. It is a response to the encoding that has taken place in your life. It is a 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.
God wants us to be transformed but, how do we know we are being transformed? To understand this lets turn to two passages: Colossians 3:9-10 and Ephesians 4:19-24.
Paul says 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 God? Through the transformation process our knowledge of God, our understanding of life, and our worldview is being changed. We are in fact being transformed into the original intent of God’s creation for us. From the fall of man in the Garden until our present day, the knowledge of God has been tested. Throughout the centuries we have experienced a distorted view of who God is, His purpose for our life, and His expectations for us. When we have our knowledge of God transformed we will begin to see God for who He is. Moses asked this question. Can I see you God? What God revealed to Moses was His character. He is a loving, forgiving, justice God.
Second, we know we are being renewed and transformed in the spirit of our mind when we begin to understand true righteousness. Righteousness is how we relate to others. How do we treat one another? Do we genuine love one another or are we filled with anger and hatred? Notice that it was only one generation after Adam and Eve that we have our first murder recorded in the Bible. You would think that being so close to the experience of the Garden that mankind would have been a bit wiser but as we see here he failed. He had a code embedded in his heart. It was one of anger and malice which lead to death. Of course as you may guess we are talking about Cain and Abel. Throughout Biblical history we have seen what happens when anger and malice has been embedded in man’s heart. Look at the story of Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, David and his sons, and Christ and Judas. But as we read so many of these stories we see the redemptive story of God revealed. As we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds the way we deal with people is also being transformed. As we are being transformed, we begin to realize that we are made righteous by the gift of God. We don’t have to make ourselves righteousness we are righteous because of his acts on Calvary, and the empty tomb.
Third, we are being renewed and transformed in the spirit of our minds when we begin to understand true holiness. We understand this holiness is not a legalistic list of rules, but it is a life of 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. We live holy because we have been made holy.
In all three of these illustrations we are being transformed into His image. We are being transformed more into His likeness. 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.