I think I need to confess to you that when I am called upon to preach occasionally, I have trouble staying out of the book of Romans because it is such a great book. No doubt you will remember, earlier this year I drew your attention to Romans 1:16 in regard to the gospel being the power of God unto salvation. I would like to draw your attention now to the 12th chapter of the book of Romans and we will be looking at verses 1 and 2, which, by the way, are printed out on your order of worship this morning.
The book of Romans is indeed a great book, and Romans 12 has long been considered one of the great chapters of the Bible. Like I said, I have problems staying out of Romans 12. Those first two verses of this great chapter in my mind reveal many wonderful and great principles of faith and truth that we need to understand and meditate upon. I would like for you to follow along with me now as I quote from the King James translation and we will refer you to some of the other translations a little later in our service. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." I want to implant this so strongly in your mind that I am going to ask that we read it again. If you have that memorized as I have over the years, you might just want to quote it along as I quote it again. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."
I am sure that we are all aware that the human body consists of two components, the body and the soul, or as this text says, the body and the mind. I am sure that you are also aware and believe firmly that both the body and the soul came from God. Now I know that we have numbers of people out there in the world that wouldn't accept that. I know the evolutionists wouldn't accept, the humanist wouldn't accept it, and no doubt many others. But, again, we know, don't we, that the body that we occupy that the soul is in came from God. We believe that message of Genesis which tells us that God breathed into our nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. So then, as such, and knowing that God is the creator of our bodies and the giver of our souls, then certainly we must understand that God is concerned with the body and, of course, with our souls.
We can see this in several places in the Bible. For example, in Matthew 10 at verse 28, Jesus warned about those who are fearful of those who could destroy the body and not the soul. But Jesus said to fear him that is able to kill both the body and the soul. And then in Matthew chapter 16 at verse 26, we also find that the value of a soul can be seen in these words that really ought to touch our hearts as they are such thought-provoking words. I think they fit perfectly with the thought of our lesson this morning when Jesus said, "For what is a man profited if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul." Or, "what would a man give in exchange for his soul?" Yes, I have always considered that to be a very striking verse.
What we want to do this morning is look at the meat of the message this morning with regard to Romans 1, which again reminds us of the importance of making our body and our mind as a living sacrifice unto God. I mentioned earlier that my quote was from the King James translation and I wanted to mention some other translations for emphasis sake. The words "I beseech you" not only are in the King James but they are in the New King James as well as the American Standard version. But if you are holding this morning the Revised Standard Version, it says "I appeal to you." If you are holding the New International Version or the New American Standard Version, it says "I urge you." Or if you are holding the McCord's translation or perhaps the New English Contemporary, it says "I beg you." Now I bring these thoughts to your mind for this reason. Whatever translation you might be holding this morning, surely you can see that what is to follow is of utmost importance. Again, "I beseech you," I appeal to you," I urge you," "I beg you."
I wonder why Paul stated that we ought to offer our body in the first place. What is so important about offering our body and renewing our mind? Well, let me mention two or three things before we go any further in our lesson. (1) The urgency of the matter is simply the fact that we have no way of knowing just how long that this body is going to be able to function and how long our mind is going to be able to function. As we grow older, believe me, the body deteriorates and so does the mind. My wife and I do a lot of visiting in the rest homes where people are well up in years and it is sad to see people that you have once known, great members of the church and very faithful to the Lord, with a very active mind, but as the years came along it took its toll and they no longer have complete use of the mind as they once did. But on the other hand, it doesn't just apply to older folk. It is absolutely urgent that we heed the message of our lesson this morning because how do we know what tomorrow will bring. James says, "For what is your life. It is even as a vapor that appears for a little while and then it vanishes away."
One of the first things I do every morning, and especially since I have been here as the Golden Age Minister, I get the paper and I turn to the Ozark section and I see how many people are in the obituary columns that I know. I don't know if you have been following or not, but for the last three or four weeks how sad it has been to see young people, 16, 18, 19, 20 that have been killed in car wrecks. So what we are saying this morning and the reason we used those translations again was to show you the importance of following what Paul says here that we present our bodies and that we renew our minds. Surely by now you are seeing a connection between the offering of our body as a sacrifice to that of presenting our bodies in baptism and, of course, the renewing of our mind, as it reflects upon the command to repent. The offering of sacrifices, as Bobby showed in our auditorium class this morning, goes way back into the Old Testament when Moses told the children of Israel, and especially the tribe of Levi, the details and the offering of the sacrifices in that time. And so we bring our body and we bring it as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, even prior to becoming a child of God and then most certainly after that. Peter said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Now can't you see there the connection between offering of the body and the renewing of the mind? I am going to talk from another angle here in just a moment on that, but for now, the urgency of the matter is this. Let us be sure that we are right with God. If we have not obeyed the gospel, if we have not presented our bodies as a sacrifice, if we have not renewed our mind (that is to repent), then now is the time to do that. It is an urgent, urgent matter.
Let's look further at these passages to see again evidences that also inform us of the urgency of the matter and the depth by which Paul is making this plea. He says, "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God." Why do you suppose that Paul (of course, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) made that statement "by the mercies of God?" Well, if you have read from the pen of Paul, you know that Paul believed in the mercies of God and Paul believed in the grace of God. You not only can see that in other chapters of this great Roman letter, but you see it throughout the writings of the apostle Paul. But in using these words, he is making an appeal to us by the mercies of God. In other words, what he is doing is appealing to the highest person, he is appealing to the highest being, he is appealing to the highest court, he is appealing to the highest spirit on our behalf. You can't go any higher than God, can you? Do you see what we are saying. It is vitally important that we learn the message of sacrificing our bodies and, of course, renewing our minds.
Now I will go back to what I mentioned earlier. We have long used Romans 12:1 as the proof text in regard to that which might be detrimental to our physical bodies. And certainly I don't deny that this applies here. In fact, as you look at other passages from the Bible, you see that that also is suggested. For example, Paul wrote in I Cor. 6:19-20, "What! Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." You see, what God wants is that our bodies and our minds are presented to him in the language of the Ephesian letter, chapter 5, "without spot and without blemish." And so to that end, we need to take care of our physical bodies.
But on the other hand, let's think of it in this way. Before we can ever be of any service to God, before we can ever be useful to God in his service and in fact, before we can ever be called a child of God, in keeping with the thought of this lesson this morning, we must present this body to him in complete surrender. We are going to sing about that at the conclusion of our lesson this morning. We sometimes say, "Well, he is not talking about dead sacrifices here. He is talking about living sacrifices." And again, I am not denying that. As a living child of God, we need to go about making as many sacrifices as are necessary to accomplish the will of God. We must understand that Christianity began on the principle of sacrifice and if we are to follow in the footsteps of our Lord, there are certain things that we also must sacrifice to be pleasing in his sight. But on the other hand, all of the sacrifices before they were offered were alive. Those who brought these sacrifices had to do the slaying. As far as that is concerned, we look at Christ himself and the death that he died upon the cross. He was very much alive, wasn't he, as they took him to Golgotha's Hill. So, in that respect, we must bring our bodies as a living sacrifice and completely surrender to a spiritual death with Christ as we offer ourselves a candidate for baptism. You will find that very plainly stated by Paul in Romans 6:3-4. "Know you not," he said, "that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death; therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
But let's examine those two verses a little further. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Now think about this. God has never ever asked us to do anything that was unreasonable. It is in the realm of a reasonable request that God invites us to present our bodies to him. So when we surrender our body to God and when this body has been buried with him in baptism, then it becomes holy and then it becomes absolutely clean. "Old things have passed away and behold all things become as new." But let me mention this. We will never be able to completely please God until we make the supreme sacrifice of offering our bodies to him in baptism.
Now let's look at verse two. And be not conformed to this world." You know, one of the biggest problems with God's people down through the ages and today is no exception, is that God's people seemingly want to make a conformation to the world instead of following in the footsteps of the Lord. I always liked Bro. John Alley's little illustration. He said so many of us as Christians "like to tow the line and lean over a little bit into the world." But Paul is saying, and this is the part about renewing the mind, that we be not conformed to this world, that we be not conformed to the pressures that this world presents to us, but rather we are to put those things aside through the process of renewing our mind. You know you cannot think about things of the world constantly and still have room to think on spiritual matters that build you up spiritually. The apostle Paul said in Col. 3:2 (and this is what we are trying to get across this morning) that instead of thinking about carnal things and instead of thinking about what this world has to offer, we need to set our affection on things above, not on things of this earth. When we have presented our bodies and when we have renewed our minds, we have the promise that goes far beyond, far above, what anything this world has to offer. In fact, I don't believe we will ever be able to appreciate fully the blessings and the promises that God has made to us as long as we feel totally tied to this world and the things of this world. No doubt that is why Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." This is why Paul said that godliness is profitable in all things, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is yet to come. But he says, " but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Again, surely by now you have understood that we are talking about presenting our bodies for baptism and the subject of renewing our minds as it relates to the process of repentance. Now I know that a great part of this audience this morning are already members of the Church, but we could start right here and turn this things around and preach Romans 12:1-2 and make it fit perfectly in the church. So we are still talking about complete obedience to the Lord and complete surrender of body and mind to the Lord. But as we come back to the original thought of offering the body and renewing the mind, we must understand that there has to be a change take place. There has to be a transformation of our desires. I remember an old preacher saying there has to be a metamorphose that sets in, that the old ugly life of sin is changed to a life of happiness and joy and a life of letting the beauty of Jesus be seen in our lives every day. When this takes place, also a conversion takes place. And Jesus said that. "Except ye be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."
When we have complied with these instructions and, of course, many others, we will have then proved what is good and what is acceptable and what is the perfect will of God, not only to ourselves, but to others. And here again is one of the urgencies of the matter. How are we to know who it is that will be looking at us after we have presented our body and after we have renewed our mind? How are we to determine what little child or what stranger or what fellow employee might see in us and what guarantee do we not have that our own children and grandchildren will see us, especially as we have proved ourselves all down through the years in regard to our faith. That is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God. Sometimes we think we are not doing much good. We are not seeing as many people being baptized as we would like to see. But on the other hand, when we present our bodies that living sacrifice and when we renew our minds as we have talked about this morning, there is no way of our determining the length of weeks and months and years that that influence will be there. That is very valuable, not only to us, but unto God.
Remember, I have said all along it is an urgent matter. I don't know how many in this audience are Christians. As I said earlier, probably the great part of you are. I don't know how many who are Christians that might have some need for prayer publicly this morning. I don't want to be overly dramatic in any case at all, but based upon what we have seen, it is a very urgent matter that if we are a subject to the invitation of our Lord at all that we need to do it today and we need to do it even now, as together we stand and as we sing.