Peninsula Community Church
Body Soul and Spirit – The Soul Part 2
March 2, 2014
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 verse, we find an implied connection between the body and the soul. Notice that Paul states that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices. This is something we do. It is a spiritual act of worship. Notice that Paul says that action is motivated by the mercies of God. How do we present ourselves as living sacrifices? We do so by realizing how much mercy is ours through Christ. This mercy allows for mistakes. This mercy allows for false starts. This mercy allows for us to say and do things that are less than God’s perfect intent for us. This mercy does not stifle us, but rather it encourages us to act on God’s will as a result of recognizing the work already done for us. And when we fall, we pick ourselves up and start a new day because the mercy of God says that we can start again It is a new day! (Lamentations 3:22-24) It is a new moment! Each time we start anew, we are made stronger and become closer to the goal of freedom in our life. We do as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Notice that Paul also states that we are to present ourselves as living, holy, and acceptable beings before Christ. We are to give ourselves to Christ. We come to him with honest hearts and open minds to receive from Him. Paul states that this is our spiritual worship. What is spiritual worship? It is living open and free lives because of the mercy of God that has been bestowed upon us as Children of God. Too often, we fall short in this because we deceive ourselves and we deceive others. We live lives of deception because we are afraid of what others will find, and we fear they we will not like us. The greatest issue is self deception because it is often the hardest to deal with but we are called to honesty and realness before God.
Paul then moves from the body to the mind. Listen to what he says. Do not be conformed to the this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Let’s break this down. First, Paul states that we are not to be conformed to this world. The problem with conformity is that it just changes the order of things. We reshape our issues and mold them in a way that they look different but the inner heart and motivation is not changed. There is no real change only a shuffling of the issues.
The problem from a spiritual state is that when we try to conform to the world’s ways we are still faced with the inner issues that brought us to where we are to begin with. Too often, conformity deals with the symptoms and not the disease. In this discussion, we must recognize that there is a difference between sin management and spiritual transformation. For example, in sin management, if one is a shopaholic, removing one’s credit cards may be a step in the right direction, but removing the cards will not change the inner motivation to shop or spend money uncontrollably. To effect change, there must be a change of heart and a change of desire so that the inner man is renewed and revived.
The problem that exists, as well, is that too often when we are living in conformity, we are simply exchanging one thing for another. We stop smoking and then we binge on food. We stop drinking soda, so we binge on coffee. The inner issues that drive us to make decisions and take steps that are less than what we need are never changed.
One of the problems, in America at least, is that people are spending a lot of money to change their outward appearance. Now, I know that studies show that changing some features of our body makes us feel better about ourselves. I do not deny this. The problem is that too often the outward appearance is changed but the heart is still messed up and is dealing with falsehoods, problems, and addictions. The outward has changed, but the inward man is still at odds with itself and with God. True transformation brings change to the inward man, which results in change to the outward man, which results in a change of behavior and of action.
Now, Paul moves beyond the need to conform to presenting the need to be transformed. He states that we are to be transformed. In one sense this is not an option, it is a command. Please note that the word “transform” is an interesting word. It is the same word we get the word metamorphosis from. It means that a complete change occurs. We see this in nature. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly. A tadpole becomes a frog. This is metamorphosis. Something is found in one state and then it is totally and completely changed into a different state.
Paul is calling for us to do this as believers. What is the formula he is proposing? He states that it occurs by the renewing of our minds. It is a process of feeding our minds with the truth of who God is, who we are and what we can be when we have completely committed our way, our hearts, our way of thinking, and the way we live life to Christ.
As I look at this, let me say that feeding our minds must be more than an act of receiving information. To be honest with you the problem for most believers today is not information but application. We are a nation in information overload. We have books, magazines, and TV are our disposal 24 hours a day. We can go to amazon.com and find a book on just about anything we want. In seconds, I can have a book downloaded to my Kindle app or to my IPAd. We can do a google search and in seconds have more information than we will ever need.
I love what Rick Warren had to say about this. God gave us the Bible to transform us, not simply inform us. It should give us a bigger heart, not a bigger head. In the Book of James, we’re told, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22, NIV) In other words, God wants our beliefs turned into behavior.
A second problem with information alone is that we must have a filtering system to determine what is truth and what it is not. To be effective our filtering system must be in alignment with God’s word. Too often, we try to prove the Word of God by our experiences but the fact is the Word of God must prove our experience. Here is what I mean. I read a passage of Scripture that calls me to action. I act. I receive the blessing or reward for that action. I see that the Word of God is right and is what I need. Let me say this. Just because you experience something does not mean that it is aligned with God’s word. God’s word must always be the filter through which we ascertain the validity of truth. The fact is the enemy of our soul is an incredible lier and is a fabricator of truth and experiences that seem right.
I love the commercial on TV that shows two people standing outside a brownstone. The guy asks the girl where did you get that information. She says on the internet. Then she says you know if it is on the internet, it must be true. Then she says she met a guy online who is French. Just as she communicates this we see him enter from off screen and he is anything but French. How many have been caught in the hoaxes on Facebook or by email that proved to be error. The point is, just because something is printed does not make it true. we must have a filter to assure that what we are receiving is truth.
There are those who are experiencing many ungodly acts in our world today. For example, there is a battle brewing in many churches over the union of gay and lesbian couples. While some have experienced this, we must turn to the Word of God to define our truth about this matter. This does not mean that we are hateful or vindictive toward couples who wish to do this, but we must stand on the principle of God’s truth and his definition of marriage. We find this in the abortion issue, as well. Experience has trumped God’s truth. This is never good. Just because we experience something, does not mean that truth has been validated. However, God’s word can and will be validated through our experiences when truth and experience are aligned.
In this regard, let me also make this observation. We must be careful and not pick and choose what passages we will cling to. Too often, we have done a disservice to the body of Christ and the world to which we are ministering when we pick a single scripture or a phrase within a scripture to base our doctrine on. We must interpret the scripture with other scripture. The doctrine or truth we present must hold up throughout Scripture and not just one verse or phrase. And, it must be held up around the world and just in America.
As I noted last week, we have been shaped and formed by our environment. We have been shaped by what we are exposed to in life. We are shaped by our experiences. We are shaped by the theological input in our lives and our view of God. We are shaped by the voices that speak into our lives. The problem therefore is not a problem of formation but the need to be transformed into the image of God and the image of God’s purpose for us.
The key to transformation is the renewal of our minds. And, this renewal must be a daily practice because we are so easily formed and shaped by the the things around us. The formation of our thoughts are not always in alignment with God’s will or His purposes, so we must renew our minds on a daily basis. When that happens is we must find out what God’s will and plan is and then conform ourselves to that plan.
This is not always easy, but it is necessary. It is not always popular, but it is right. It may not always win friends, but it touches souls.
The audio version of this message can be found at http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14