Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


Living Sacrifices


  There's a phrase in the Old Testament that appears over-and-over-again: "When the Lord brought you out of Egypt." It's usually used to encourage or admonish Israel to behave in a manner that pleases God because of His deliverance, His Love, Mercy, and Grace.


  So when Paul gets ready to switch from the doctrinal section of the Book of Romans to the righteous-living portion, he writes: "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. 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." (Roman 12.1-2). Again, because of His Love, Mercy and Grace, He has delivered us from sin and its consequences, so it's only reasonable that we should live for Him. So Paul gives us guidelines for living as a redeemed people in a fallen world; giving ourselves to Christ as a living sacrifice.What does that look like?...


  We're to rid ourselves of pride. Narcissism is a sin: not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought, not thinking ourselves to be something we're not. It was Solomon who pointed to God's most despised sins, naming pride as His number one: "A proud look," "Haughty eyes." Ironic isn't it that God demands humility while our culture teaches us that an elevated self-esteem is a virtue.


  Find our place in God's Kingdom Work. Scripture teaches that God has gifted each of us differently, and that He expects us to use our talent in His service: teaching, serving, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, leadership, showing mercy, etc. His love should compel, prompt, us to use our gifts in gratitude. Amen? Just how thankful are we of His grace?


  Our love to be genuine, sincere. What does this love look like? We're to be devoted to one another, honor one another, putting others before self, (placing the interest of others before our own), sharing with one another, practicing hospitality. This love is agape, a love of the will, not because we like someone, but out of submission to God; because we are to love as God loves, without respect of persons. Christ-like love loses itself in service to others; meeting needs in brotherly affection. Remember this: our zeal for loving others, all others, is a sign of God living in us: "The fruit of the spirit is love." Paul goes onto say: "Never be lacking in this zeal, be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Church, if God lives in us, those around us will be able to see His presence in the attitudes we hold and how we behave, especially in our attitude and behavior toward others, even our enemies, those who persecute us. We are to bless them. We are to be touched by the plight of others: Rejoicing with those who rejoice; mourning with those who mourn. Living in harmony, associating with people of low position, not being conceited, never repaying anyone evil for evil." Think about it, when our love is genuine: there will be no hatred, no discord, jealousy, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, no gossip nor slander, malice, no bitterness nor rage, but only what is helpful in building up others in the faith.


  Submit to authority. Paul reasons that God is Sovereign. That being so, means that all authorities are set in place by Him, so submitting to authority is equal to submission to God. "Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."


  Keep the Commandments. There is no doubt that Paul has in mind the Ten given at Sinai: "Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet." Then he adds: "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, love your neighbor as yourself, put aside the deeds of darkness and behave decently: not in orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension, and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ."


  Stop passing judgment upon others. How do we do that? By helping the weak! Welcome him! Stop passing judgment on disputable matters. Respect the faith of others, especially those who are overly strict and scrupulous in their personal conduct. Do not ask them to violate their conscience. Fellowship in Jesus is not based upon agreement on matters of opinion, but in the exaltation of Jesus as Lord. Genuine love is able to sustain fellowship across barriers of personal and cultural opinions and preferences. Amen? Then Paul reminds us that we will be judged on our personal faith and behavior. "Therefore, let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification." "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Oh how we like to try to get around this idea of not judging others, but Paul is plain. Respect the faith of others and allow God to be the judge of both the weak and strong. We need to remember this: Our judging another person doesn't define who they are; it defines who we are, so let's allow God to be God. Amen?


  Church, how can we miss the point? In view of God's Love, Mercy and Grace, in view of His delivering us from sin and its consequences, how can we deny that we ought to become a Living Sacrifice?


 —Randall Caselman