Freedom in Christ (part 2 of 2)
FREE TO OBEY
Because of God’s incredible love and the wonderful salvation he has provided through Jesus Christ, Paul urges a “voluntary and enthusiastic response.” “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1).
We have read of the universal sinfulness of mankind, and of the
universal grace of God; of his infinite love in sending his Son to
die for our sins, and of the free justification by faith alone which,
in his mercy, he offers. We have read of the power of the Spirit
of God to bring life out of death; of predestination, and God’s eternal
purpose for his creatures.
“Because God is what he is, and has done what he has done, certain things follow; or rather ought to follow.”
Paul is strongly encouraging believers to respond with wholehearted commitment to the God that has provided such an incredible gift of salvation. “What God has done for us is the basis and stimulus for what we need to do for God.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to “transform a person’s life.” There should be a complete transformation of a believer’s attitude toward God once she has a glimpse of the unfathomable love of her Heavenly Father. “Christians need to display the reality of God in a new way of living.” She should be willing to offer herself freely as a living sacrifice to the Lord as an expression of true worship.
Too many post-modern Christians have a jaded concept of sacrifice. Many see giving up chocolate for Lent as a real sacrifice. Gonzalez cautions Christians not to see sacrifice as just a way to “reform our carnal behaviors or curb our worldly appetites.” Because the Roman Christians would have been familiar with the offering of sacrifices, they would have had no problem understanding the significance of true sacrifice. Becoming a living sacrifice will require complete surrender. “A sacrificial victim is brought to the flaming altar bare naked, with nothing in hand.”
Sacrifice will mean pain. To think otherwise is to live in a fantasy. Tozer refers to those religious groups who paint the Christian life as easy as “false as the sheen on the wings of the angel of darkness when he for a moment transforms himself into an angel of light.” Sacrifice may require coming under “God’s divine scalpel.” He wants to strip away those sins and flaws in a believer’s life that are hindering her from being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
God may even strip us of whatever security blanket we think
we can’t live without. When we understand fully that our security
is in God through Christ, we hold on to everything else tentatively.
Surrendering one’s will to the will of God is more than just consent to God’s will. “It is rather to choose God’s will with positive determination.” “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2). “Paul does not envisage a mindless emotionalism, but a deeply intelligent approach to life, as characteristic of the Christian who has been renewed by the Holy Spirit.”
“Appropriate behavior for believers is, for Paul, the natural expression of their trust in God and their experience of his indwelling Spirit.” As Morris points out, Paul teaches a “continuing process of renewal.” As stated by Luther, this renewing of the mind “takes place from day to day and progresses farther and farther.” “The inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
"Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual
blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation
of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he
predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ,
in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his
glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves"
Too many Christians try to live the Christian life within their own human efforts. Many are guilty of living by a list of dos and don’ts; while others are guilty of living just like the world. A believer today must begin to turn her back on the world’s philosophies and turn her heart and mind toward the Lord. “The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.” (That is a very difficult truth for most of us to hear today.) A believer will begin to walk in freedom from defeat when she recognizes that she is free from condemnation, free to live by the Spirit, and free to obey with complete surrender. “The moral behavior of the believer is to reveal something of the character of the new life given by God.”
As Bruce points out, “It is by the power of the indwelling Spirit, the pledge of their inheritance in the world to come, that they can resist the tendency to live according to the standards of ‘this world’.” “All of our life is to be a continuous worship of God who created and redeemed us.” Making the commitment to live holy is like “weeding a garden.”
“The work of the Holy Spirit is, among other things, to rescue the redeemed man’s emotions, to restring his harp, and to open again the wells of sacred joy that have been stopped up by sin.”
The believer has started to realize that before the Creator of the Universe ever spoke the worlds into existence, he had already carried unfathomable love for her. He had already developed a plan for her before she was ever conceived in the womb (Eph. 1:5-6). There are times when she tries to describe to others this indescribable God she serves, but her limited language cannot begin to describe the indescribable. “No man has ever entertained a thought that can be said to describe God in any but the vaguest and most imperfect sense.”
To sum up the matter in a single sentence, every possible
statement that can be made about God expresses some
possession or virtue of God, rather than God himself. What
words or thoughts are worthy of him, who is above all language
and all thought? The conception of God as he is can only be
grasped in one way, and even that is impossible for us, beyond
our grasp and understanding; by thinking of him as a Being whose
attributes and greatness are beyond our powers of understanding,
or even of thought.
This is the God she serves; this is the God to whom she has surrendered. The pregnant cloud of depression has been burned away by the power of the Holy Spirit. Her life is not easy, but she knows God never promised it would be. He just promised her that he would never leave or forsake her. She walks today in freedom to love and obey her Heavenly Father.
 Michael Parsons, “Being Precedes Act: Indicative and Imperative in Paul’s Writing” The Evangelical Quarterly 88 (1988), 114.
 Parsons, Being, 115.
 Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 432.
 Moo, Romans, 199.
 Moo, Romans, 393.
 Moo, Romans, 393.
 Rudy Gonzalez, Ph.D., D.D. Acceptable! Transforming Flawed Lives, into Living Sacrifices Through the Word (Bloomington, IN: CrossBooks, 2011), 78.
 Morris, Romans, 433.
 Gonzalez, Acceptable!, 8.
Tozer, Divine Conquest, 146.
 Gonzalez, Acceptable!, 78.
 Ibid., 8.
 Tozer, Divine Conquest,120.
 Morris, Romans, 435.
 Westerholm, Understanding Paul, 124.
 Morris, Romans, 435.
 Martin Luther, translated by J. Theodore Mueller, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), 168.
 Tozer, Divine Conquest, 114.
 Parsons, Being, 127.
 Bruce, Romans, 224.
 Moo, Romans, 398.
 Ryrie, Balancing, 81.
 Tozer, Divine Conquest, 124.
 Tozer, Divine Conquest, 108.
 Ibid., 109.
Bond, Lee S. “Renewing the Mind.” Tyndale Bulletin. 58:2 (NA 2007).
Bruce, F. F. Romans, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.
Calvin, John and Owens, John. Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Romans. Kessinger,1849.
Comb, William W. “Romans 12:1-2 and the Doctrine of Sanctification.” Detroit Baptist
Seminary Journal, DBSJ 1:1 (Fall 2006).
Essex, Keith H. “Sanctification: the Biblically Identifiable Fruit.” The Master’s Seminary
Journal. MSJ 21/2 (Fall 2010) 193-213.
Fee, Gordon D. Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996.
Gonzalez, Rudy, Ph.D., D.D. Acceptable! Transforming Flawed Lives, into Living Sacrifices,
Through the Word. Bloomington, IN: CrossBooks, 2011.
Luther, Martin. Translated by Mueller, J. Theodore. Commentary on Romans. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954.
Moo, Douglas J. Romans, The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.
Morris, Leon. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
Parsons, Michael, “Being Precedes Act: Indicative and Imperative in Paul’s Writing.”
Evangelical Quarterly, 88 (1988), 99-127.
Rufus, Ryan. Sanctification by Grace. New Nature, 2008.
Ryrie, Charles. Balancing the Christian Life. Chicago: Moody, 1994.
Stott, John R. W. The Message of Romans. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
Tozer, A. W. The Divine Conquest. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1950.
Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2008.
Walvoord, John F. Walvoord and Zuck, Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary,
New Testament. Colorado Springs: David Cook, 1983.
Westerholm, Stephen. Understanding Paul, The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997.
Westfall, Cynthia. “On Developing A Consistent Hermeneutical Approach To The Application Of General Scriptures.” Priscilla Papers, 24:3, (Summer 2010).
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament. Colorado Springs:
David C. Cook, 2007.
Leave a Reply.
Kathy Garrett McInnis