This Sunday we are starting a series based on Romans 12. Sometimes when we read and study the Bible we focus all on theology: who Jesus is, what He has done for us, etc. And sometimes we focus on just application, how we are supposed to live. But true discipleship is both. It is the life we live because of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done. (Galatians 2:20) And today's sermon asks, "What does God really want from you?"
In order to answer that question, we will be looking closely at Romans 12:1. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship."
The first word "therefore" signals to us that Paul is making a summary statement. Because of all that Paul has written in Romans 1-11, he urges his readers to offer a sacrifice, a living one as opposed to a dead one, as an act of worship that is true and rational as opposed to ritualistic or superstitious.
Because of God's mercy, which is shown by all that He has first done for us in Christ, Paul urges them to offer a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, an animal sacrifice was a reminder that our physical life is accountable to God. "The wages of sin is death."(Romans 6:23)
The sacrifice that Paul is points to in Romans 12:1 though, is not about offering ourselves to pay for our sin. Jesus Christ has already done that. But it is to offer ourselves as "living sacrifices."
Sometimes when we hear the word "sacrifice," we think of something painful or something we don't really want to do or give up. But the paradox of a relationship with God is that when we offer up our lives, there is an indescribable joy that comes with letting go.
As we offer up ourselves in this type of "living sacrifice," this is the type of worship that pleases God. The Old Testament prophets were very critical when sacrifice was just empty ritual and not accompanied by repentance and obedience. God has always wanted more than the physical performance of meaningless sacrifices.
To be able to give God what He really wants, the key to this kind of worship and willingness is trust. Do you believe that God loves you and that He is good? Romans 8:31-32 tells us "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"
When we trust in God's love for us wholeheartedly, then we can freely entrust ourselves to Him. When we live in and for God's kingdom purpose, there is a joy and peace that can never come when we are grasping to fulfill merely our own desires.
Will you give God what He really wants?