CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOUR SELFMany people have a false understanding of how God sees us. They see God as looking down with anger or disapproval. They also see God as demanding obedience. They see God as only interested in saving our souls and not interested in our physical bodies. Sadly, all these have a direct impact on how we see ourselves. Rom. 12:1 is a corrective to many wrong beliefs we have about ourselves.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Overall Background:  Some people see the Book of Romans as a deep theological book with spiritual principles. Nothing could be further from the truth. From Romans 1-11 Paul has focused on theology and doctrine. Now, starting in Romans 12, Paul is focusing on application.

There are 4 things packed in this passage that will change the way we see our self.

I. GOD CALLS US FRIENDS NOT SLAVES.

Listen to how verse 1 begins “I beseech you therefore, brethren”

Background: That word “beseech” implies tenderness. Paul did not say “I command you” or “I order you” or “You better.” Paul could have done that –

  • As an apostle, he had the authority to command them.
  • There are commands in the Bible for Christians. Look in John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Why did Paul not command us? Because the Christian life is not motivated by a set of rules, checklist, duty, fear, or punishment. It is motivated by love.

For e.g. My wife loves me. She does things for me daily that I don’t even realize. I’m glad she does them for me because if not we’d be in trouble. But what if I made up a list of all the things that she has to do and put it on the refrigerator and titled them “Commandments to be obeyed by wife.” I would be in the doghouse. She does it out of love and not duty or fear.

Listen to what Jesus said in John 15:14-15  14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

This is the difference between Christianity and all the other religions. Obedience is part of all religions. Christianity is unique in that the relationship is one of friend not slave.

Application: How do you view yourself? As a wretched sinner at the feet of a Holy Savior, as a worthless slave at the doorstep of the Master of the Universe.

How do you obey God? Grudgingly? Fearfully? Or Friendly? Psalm 119:143 “Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights.” Are you doing it because you have to or because you love Him so much that you cant help but do so?

II. GOD REMINDS US OF HIS MERCIES NOT JUDGMENTS.

I beseech you therefore, (“therefore” points back to all that has gone before Romans 12:1 – everything between Romans 1-11.) brethren, by the mercies of God,

Background: What are these mercies? All these mercies of God have been laid out between Romans 1-11. Let me summarize them:

  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Rom. 1:18)
  • Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world, as promised by the Scriptures and gave His life on the cross for our sins.
  • He died for the sins of every human being. All we have to do is receive Him as our Savior and all our sins are forgiven.
  • But that’s not enough. We still have a problem – we belong to the family of Adam/the family of Sin. We still carry the germ of sin that was in Adam and was passed down to us. What we need is to get out of the family. The Blood can forgive us of our sins but only death can get us out of the family of sin.
  • Jesus not only died as our Substitute but He also died as our Representative. Meaning: He died our death from the family of Adam. All we have to do is keep our eyes on the cross and there we will see that “We have been baptized into His death and we were buried with Him.” That’s what baptism symbolizes.
  • But, there’s more mercy – Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and when He arose, we arose with Him to “walk in newness of life.” His resurrection represented our new birth in the family of God. We died in Him as the last Adam and we live in Him as the second man.
  • There’s more mercy – Now we are no longer under law but under grace. We have a new law. It is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
  • So how do we live? So how do we deal with Sin? Not by keeping the Law but by walking according to the Spirit. You are no longer alone. You have the Holy Spirit living in you and guiding you and empowering you and making Christ real in you and “working all things together for good to those who love God.”

That in a nutshell is “the mercies of God.”

Application: What is your motivation of the Christian life? Is it judgment or punishment or disfavor or is it the mercies of God. Have you received the mercies of God? Are you saved? Is Jesus your Savior? Have you by faith received Him as your Representative? Are you living under grace? Is the Holy Spirit leading you?

III. GOD LOVES THE WHOLE OF US – SOUL AND BODY.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,”

Background: What is very interesting to me is that Paul does not say – present your soul, spirit, or heart. Instead, he tells us to present our physical bodies.

Throughout history people have looked down upon the body. For example, the Greeks stressed the importance of the soul but did not care about the body. Even in Christian history people have looked down upon the physical side of us as being sinful, carnal, fleshly, dirty, worthless, and temporary. You hear that even at funerals – “This body is just the shell/husk. The real person is no longer here.”

Some have purposely punished their bodies as the source of their sins and problems. They have subjected themselves to long fasts, and scourging and wearing cilice – a hair shirt or a barbed chain. They believe that they have to mortify their bodies in order to please God and be acceptable to Him. Some of the ancient paintings and stained-glass windows show Christians and martyrs as being pale and sickly and withered.

But listen again to how God sees our physical bodies – present (not hand it over or relinquish or surrender or bind) your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,” (God calls our bodies as holy and acceptable to Him.)

What can we draw from this passage?

#1.God wants us to take care of our physical selves just as much as try to take care of our spiritual selves. We spend so much on developing our spiritual side but completely neglect or trash our physical side. We are rough on ourselves. We have bad habits that are ruining our bodies. We would not dream of soiling and corrupting ourselves with pornography and immoral things. Yet, we do that all the time with our physical bodies.

#2.God wants us to be happy with ourselves. No one is ever truly happy with himself or herself – someone doesn’t like their eyes, nose, legs, and hair. By the way – hair doesn’t count for women. They can always change the color. The point is – we are never quite satisfied with how God made us. We talk bad about ourselves. We cut ourselves down. Researches have found that people who are extremely encouraging to others are sometimes extremely harsh on their own selves.

#3.God wants us to trust Him with our physical problems. He is willing to give us grace in the time of our need. This specially shows up when we are facing back, knee, migraines, and cancer problems.

Application: How do you see your physical body? As a curse, as a source of trouble, as not good enough, or as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God?

IV. GOD ONLY EXPECTS FROM US WHAT HE HAS ALREADY GIVEN TO US.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Background: The word for “reasonable” is a hard word. It shows up only one other time in the NT. There are many ways that different versions have translated this word. Some say “spiritual worship,” some “rational worship” or “intelligent worship” or “true worship.” Taking the context into consideration, I have a better translation – “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is a worship that makes sense. Meaning: It’s not unreasonable. It’s not unfair. It’s not over the top. It’s not expecting too much.

Why? God only wants what already belongs to Him.

I Corinthians 6:19-20  19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Application: Some people over indulge their bodies. If you are saved, you are a new creation. You belong to Him – body and soul.

When General Booth of the Salvation Army was in his deathbed, someone asked him – “What has been the secret of your amazing ministry?” The Old General, propping himself up on his elbow said, “Well, if there’s been any secret at all, it’s just been this – Jesus has had every bit of me.”

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