Romans 11:33-12:2 How we Should Respond To God

 

Romans 11:33-12:2

Our Reaction to God

Good Morning. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles with me to Romans chapter 11. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please grab one from the table in the back as our gift to you. If you forgot yours at home or in the car, you can grab one as well, to follow along, though we do ask that you leave it here for us to gift to those who do not have one.

We will be looking at the last couple of verses of Romans chapter 11 this morning and the first two verses of Chapter 12. We started touching on these verses last week and I wanted to expand on that as we start off this morning.

We talked last week, and many other weeks as well, that these letters we have in the bible were not written with verse numbers nor were they written with chapter breaks. They were written as a continuing flow of thoughts, connected and meant to be in context. However, we also know that, as when you or I write a letter, do any of us still write letters?, we touch on numerous subjects and we wrap up one line of thought and start another one. Thats what is happening here.

Paul does this often in his letters. Often he talks and writes about theology in the first part of a letter and then changes directions, which is a poor way of wording it because they are necessarily related, but he changes directions and talks about application and how to live a christian life in the second part of the letter. Thats what Paul does here in Romans.

The first 11 chapters have been called a systematic theology by Paul, and there are many things to focus on and take away from it. Often people think of Romans and what they see and read is conviction and repentance. And thats in there for sure. Some read Romans and what they see and read is God sovereignty, and praise, God, thats is there too. There is sin, total depravity, hope for the future, the work of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. There is justification, sanctification and salvation. All of that is in there, so what are we supposed to pull out all that? Thats what pull uses to transition to his practical instructions going from Chapter 12 on through the end of the letter.

SO thats why we are looking at the last few verses of chapter 11 and the first two verses of chapter 12 this morning. So lets see what Paul has to say, reading from chapter 11, verse 33 through chapter 12, verse 2. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Paul writes:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Heres the important thing. This is Paul’s response to all he has written in the previous 11 chapters. Praise and Awe of God, worship and joy. These are the marks of understanding who God is. because when we see God for who he truly is, it shines off us in a way that is impossible to not see.

The Bible shows us the darkest sides of our selves. It does so, not only because it is true, the heart is deceitful above all things, as Jeremiah says (17:9) but also to show us how great God is. Lets break both of those things down for a quick moment.

God is God. As such he is holy and perfect. His standard is the same. He created us to commune with him in perfect paradise. But we sinned, now we cannot meet that standard. God cannot abide any unholiness and so our communion, our perfect fellowship with him is broken.

Tell that to people today on the street. Their response would be to talk about how incredibly unfair that is. Why would God take issue with the occasional sin? Or our sin isn’t really that bad. Or any other myriad of thoughts that don’t allow them to realize how serious their sin is.

And so the Bible has to make clear just how serious it is. Because our eternal souls literally depend on it. We die without having made atonement for our sins, no matter how small WE think they are, and we get to spend eternity in Hell, Gods perfect and holy wrath being poured out onto ou for all of eternity. However, we deal with our sins before we die, and we get to spend eternity with God in perfect paradise, sinless, perfect bodies, worshipping and serving Christ our King, just as we were created to do. No more death, no more sickness, no more tears, no more hurt.

But here once again, the Bible has to be crystal clear because our human assumptions, thoughts and beliefs are not accurate and will lead us astray. We can’t atone for our sins. We, despite what our friends and family will say, we are not good enough. God does take sin seriously and we cannot not sin. We cannot pay the cost to make up for our sin and wipe our slate clean.

And so the Bible shows us our darkest sides so that we can see and appreciate what God did. In a plan from before time, God the Father sent his son, His only begotten son, God the Son, Jesus. God became man. He was born a human being. He didn’t stop being God, but made himself man. And he lived the life we couldn’t live, died the death we should have died, to pay the price for sin, and through the grace of God, through our faith in Jesus Christ, we become are no longer seen as unholy or unrighteous by God, but we are seen through the lens that we are clothed in Christs righteousness and no longer seen as unholy or as sinner, but seen as a saint, and our relationship with Him is restored.

So the Bible shows us our bad, to show us how in need of His good we are. And then we get to see the good of God and we get to marvel at it. How big, how great, how loving is God! He chose to do those things, to save us from our sins. He chose to love us, while we were unlovable. He chose to redeem his people, to bring them out of this broken, sin nature and change us from sinner to saint. To change us from goats to sheep. We cant chose Him without him first choosing us.

Paul is looking back at the grand picture of Gods entire plan. He is looking back at the entirety of what he has written in Romans. And he is looking above some of the details and specifics, which, as we looked at last week, are not always the clearest and most important parts. But he is looking at gods entire character, his entire redemptive plan, the entirety of his love and goodness and he looks back and is just amazed by God.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.

I said this last week too, but I think it bears repeating, If we are reading the Bible and it doesn’t not lead us into worship and awe of God, we are reading it wrong. Yes, it should convict us, yes, it should teach us, yes it should inspire us, yes it should do all those things and more. But if it isn’t leading us into worship, we have completely missed the point. We have lost the forest for the tress. And Paul is reminding us of that here, as we finish up the systematic theology of the letter and we move into application. One commentary say this about Paul, “From a mountain height the apostle surveys the sublime plan of God, and his soul breaks out in a transport of delight.”

When you look at Gods plan, at his Word, does your soul break out in a transport of delight? Meaning, is it well with your soul? Do you have joy, joy, joy down deep in your heart? Do you Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

We talked last month about giving thanks in all circumstances to God. And the benefits of a joyful, a thankful heart. And what that does for us. And one of the things that Paul is showing here is that this joyful heart, this praise and worship of God in all things is what allows us to live for God. Joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5. These are the evidences that the Holy Spirit is working through you, that Jesus Christ has justified you and you are being sanctified.

Of course, Joy does not always mean happiness. It certainly does not mean “Grin and Bear it.” But it means that through the various trials that we experience, as James puts it, that we can consider it joy. That when we have Christ, he gives us peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.

And it is that peace, that joy and the rest of the fruit of the spirit that allows us to lead the lives that God has set before us. We can’t do it on our own. We cant have true, lasting peace or joy, we cant have true, meaningful worship without the work of the Holy spirit inside of us.

Paul shows us what a true understanding of God is. He ends what we have as Chapter 11 with  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

All Glory, all Honor, all praise and worship, all things are to be given to God. He is great and worthy to be praised. To God be the glory, great things he has done. Paul also writes at the end of Ephesians 3, verses 20 & 21:  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

When we look at God and the more we look at Him, the true Him, the more we learn about Him, the more we see him all around us and learn from his Word, his revelation to us, the more we should praise him. Paul said back in Romans 8 that one of Gods purposes for us is to conform us to the image of his Son Jesus Christ.

And to do that, he gives us rules, principles, advice and laws to live by. True worship is loving God. Jesus says if you love me you will keep my commandments. John writes that we show love by keeping his commandments. Paul says that obedience is not for obedience sake, but for worship sake, to show love to God. He says in 1 Corinthians 10:31:  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

And Paul is going to get into the practical nitty-gritty of that starting in Chapter 12. I want to say one more thing before we move on. We come together on Sunday morning here, the purpose of the church, the purpose of our gathering, the number 1 main thing is to worship God. This is a worship service. There are other reasons as well, to edify and build each other up. To learn more about the Bible and what God says. Even too much lesser extents, for fellowship and to be fed. I’m not going to say those things are not important. But the reason God calls us to gather together is to gather in worship of him.

This is a part of that unity thing that has been coming up lately. We have differences in a number of things. Backgrounds, ethnicity, gifting, musical preferences, order of service preferences, minor, secondary doctrinal issues, as we saw last week, we can disagree on a great many things. But when we gather together as a church body, we come together united in the Gospel to lift us glory and praise to the One True God. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

And so, one of the main ways we worship God is how we grow in him and how we live according to him, and so turns his attention from theology, or more specifically, why we need salvation, what salvation is, who provides salvation and how we receive salvation. The application part of this letter is Paul explaining what do we do AFTER we salvation.

Romans 12:1&2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Therefore. You know what comes next. When you read in the text, the word therefore, you should ask, whats it there for? It’s a connective phrase. Paul changes direction, changes his line of thought, but he doesn’t change subjects completely. What he starts writing here in Chapter 12 is directly connected with what he has already written. “Because of what I have just written, because of that, I say to you…”

Therefore, because of Chapters 1-11. Because you are sinners who have been saved by the mercy and grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, because he is conforming you to His image, we praise him and glorify him above all things. Because of all that, present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

Live your life for him. Do all things for him and through him. Theres a meme going around Facebook right now, I picture with a caption. It’s a person holding up their heart to God and saying, “Its all I have.” Gods response in this picture is “Its all I ever wanted.”

And if he truly has our heart, if we have truly given it to Him, that is true. But so many people think that this is all they have to do. They just have to profess faith. They can say I love God, while using the American word love, not the biblical word love. They can redefine who God is, who Jesus is and what love means and they can say that God has their heart and they dont have to change a thing.

And yet, that is the very thing we see happen in the bible. We are changed. WE go from people who have an inherent sin nature, who cannot not sin, and we are made into new creations in Christ. We have been changed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out.

And that change requires action. If all there is, are words, then there has been no heart change. How many of us who have kids can attest to this? Your kid does something wrong, maybe they hit one of their siblings. You do whatever correction or discipline is required and then what do you say to them? Go say your sorry. How do they say it. Most of the time, you can tell they don’t mean it. They say the words, but there is not a heart change. And that means that often, only moments later, they do the same thing again.

And so, if God has a hold of our heart, we will worship him and one of our methods of spiritual worship, as Paul says is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. That is that all we do, we do to the glory of God.

And that should cause us to ask some pretty tough questions to ourselves. Are we presenting ourselves to him? Or are we living life as functional atheists? Are we living a life of sacrifice? Or are we taking, looking for what makes us comfortable and what makes us feel good? Are we living a life that is holy and acceptable to God? Or are we living a life, doing what is good and right in our own eyes. And I want to add another question that the scriptures are clear on; If we answer yes to those questions, that’s good, but, then the hardest question to answer, Are you trusting in those answers to save you? Because we can fake our actions, outwardly, for a while.

And Paul is saying that we cannot continue our old ways, we cannot remain unchanged as followers of Christ. Henry Blackaby says “It is impossible to worship and remain unchanged.” Worship changes us. And so, when Paul says that our lives are to our spiritual worship, he then tells us this same thing.

Do not be conformed to this world. We do not do what is right in the eyes of the world. We do not do what is right in our own eyes. We do the will of God. Proverbs writes, Lean not on our own understanding. Do not be conformed to the world. If the public at large, if society as a whole is on our side, then we are conformed to the world. Remember that Paul says that the gospel, the cross is foolish to those who don’t believe. It doesn’t and it wont make sense until and unless God reveals the truth to them.

Do not be conformed, but be transformed. Be changed by God. Change your life to live according to what you know God is saying. Do not call yourself a Christian and continue to live the same way you were before. Do not call yourself a christian and continue to live the same lifestyle. Transform. Repent. Grow.

C S Lewis says We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; Martin Luther says that The life of a Christian is one of repentance.”

Now, brand new Christians, or those who have not been taught, those who are still feeding on milk, may not know what God is calling them to change in their life. How will they know? The Word of God. The Bible is Gods word to us. It is not only inerrant, but all-sufficient. If you want to know what God says, read your Bible. If you want to know what God wants, read your Bible. If you want to know what God expects, read your Bible. And if you want to know Gods will, read your Bible.

That is the biggest, most important, and really the only advice to give a new believer who is looking to learn about God. Books are good. Solid theological books are great. We are giving some away both this morning and tonight. But I go back to one of the first pastors that I listened to after coming to church.

He was sharing his mentors advice, and after this pastor came to Christ, he asked his mentor, what should I do now? He said read your bible.

Ok, Did that. What should I read next?

Read your Bible again.

Ok, read the Bible again, there’s all these awesome looking books in the library and in the book store, what do you recommend I read next?

Read your bible again.

He read through the Bible more than six times before his mentor told him he could read something else. This book is foundational and is the only foundation we have to our faith, to know what is right and what is wrong. To know what the bible and therefore, what God says. That way, if a book says something else, or a friend or loved one says something else. Or if, heaven forbid, a human pastor says something wrong, we have a foundation to look back and knowing the truth.

But this is not just for new believers. This is for all believers. It’s easy to think we know what God says and what god wants. It’s easy to think that we know what the Bible says. Here’s the problem. James makes it clear that even the demons believe. Luke’s Gospel shows us during his recounting of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness that Satan knows the scriptures as well as anyone. I guarantee you that he knows the scripture better than you and I.

We have to keep reading, keep learning, keep seeking and chasing after God. Otherwise we will become reconformed to the world. We will not be able to discern Gods Will, what is good and acceptable. We are going to talk more specifically about gods will coming up, not next week which is our Christmas service, but likely the week after, when we continue through Romans 12.

But right now, we need to see that is through the reading of the Bible that allows us to know God better. The more we know him, the closer we get to him, the easier it is to discern his will. The easier it is to discern between God and the world. There is no substitute. It’s the only way to grow closer and to stay closer.

And only by reading the bible and growing closer to God that we can see how he expects us to act and live. And it is only through the heart changing gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to see it in the Bible and gives us the want and the heart to actually act and live that way.

Lets Pray.

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