Romans Series #17
The Least You Can Do
Let's be honest here, many times in life we just want to know what is the Least I can do and still be acceptable in this endeavor.
What's the least amount that I can give and it will be ok?
What is the least amount of effort I need to put in to lose that extra 5 pounds?
What is the least amount of work I need to do this week at work to complete this project?
What is the least amount of work that I have to do in my room until my Mom will consider it "CLEAN"?
What is the least amount of work that I have to do on this paper where my teacher will accept it? Right? You know, you are assigned a paper that must be 20 - 30 pages typed. It is not a 21 page paper, it is a 20 page paper, right?
Well, here we are in church, here we are in a relationship with the Lord of Heaven and Earth, J`eshua, the Messiah. I know that the Bible is full of commands and dos and don'ts. The Bible lays out a picture of holiness and perfection to strive for, but What is the LEAST I can do to be acceptable before God?
Well, we find ourselves today answering the question, "What is The Least I can do?"
Read Romans 11:33 - 12:2
Our focus today is on verses 1,2
"The Christian who fails in life has 1st failed at the altar refusing to surrender completely"
The word "therefore" has been used 4 times in Romans so far
1) 2:1 - we cannot judge others by our own “sinlessness” because we are not without sin
2) 3:20 - the law silenced our excuses "therefore" we are all under condemnation
3) 5:1 - justification is provided through Christ, "therefore" we are "justified through faith"
4) 8:1 - we sin and we struggle with sin, but Christ provides freedom "therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus"
5) 12:1 - since we understand what his grace has provided, "therefore ... offer yourselves, present yourselves"
1. Offer Yourself v1
A. Urgent -
1. I beseech you
2. this is a PLEA from an urgent heart
3. Paul could have commanded lifestyle change or conduct correction, but that would have been because he "said so". Instead Paul was saying, don't look at me, there is a deeper reason why I'm asking for behavioral modification. I'm pleading with you to take a look at your life and see if there is something more important than you, see if there is a different way to conduct yourselves.
B. In View of God's Mercy
1. in view of, or "by" God's mercy - the greek word is "dia" - which means "the immediate agent that leads or calls us to something
2. the immediate agent that leads us or calls us to what Paul is pleading for is what? God's Mercy.
3. How is God's Mercy Provided? Through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
4. the immediate agent or vehicle, that should drive a mature Christian to behavior modification, is a complete understanding of God's Mercy and Grace provided through the Cross of Christ
5. If we understand what we deserve, what our sin has provided for us, and then understand what Christ went through on our behalf and stepped in and took our punishment, then we should be driven to a change of life, love, passion, and purpose.
OFFER WHAT? What is the Sacrifice that God Requires
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart…" Psalm 51:17
C. Living Sacrifice
1. Living? All sacrifices die right? Well there are only TWO recorded "living sacrifices" in scripture
a. Isaac - God called for Abraham to sacrifice his only Son Isaac. He laid him on the altar and God provided a "ram caught in the thicket" and Isaac became a living Sacrifice.
b. all other sacrifices of the old testament were dead. Dead animals, harvested and burned grain, birds, etc. All dead. All substitutionary sacrifices were Dead
c. that is UNTIL Jesus Came and put and end to sacrifices of death. He was the LAST sacrifice. Never again would man be required by God to shed blood themselves to atone for sin
2. two kinds of sacrifices
a. atonement - to pay for sin
b. acknowledgement - or sacrifices of praise and worship
3. Christ died once for all as the atonement sacrifice to satisfy God's requirements because of our Sin. Therefore as people who acknowledge and recognize and receive his sacrifice, we Offer a Sacrifice of Praise / Acknowledgement.
4. what is our sacrifice? OUR LIVES Lived as a Sacrifice to Christ
5. Paul describes this Living Sacrifice as "HOLY" - set apart for a sacred purpose
6. and "Pleasing" - the word "offer" or "present" above means fully to "offer someone once and for all" - What is Pleasing to God? A life presented or offered like a bride or groom that says, "I do, till death do us part"
Then Paul gives us the "why" behind the Sacrifice
D. This is WORSHIP / Service
1. KJV says "this is your reasonable service"
2. another translation of this word is "rational"
3. in other words faced with the facts of the sacrifice of Christ and the Mercy of God, the most rational thing, most reasonable thing, the LEAST YOU CAN DO, is present yourself once and for all as a Living Sacrifice of Worship. That is a true expression of Adoration to the Object of your Affection.
4. The greatest expression of love I've ever given my wife is when I said to here, I will love you and care for you and stay with you for the rest of your life, I am yours. I continue that expression as I offer myself to her daily as a living example of the veracity, truthfulness of that promise I made nearly 19 years ago.
The most rational choice you will ever make is to give every moment to Christ as an expression of Worship,
That is the LEAST you can do
Well, Does Paul tell us how to carry this out?
Yes he does and those are our final two points
First is our second point
2. Don't Be Conformed v2
In his paraphrase, "The Message" Gene Peterson renders this phrase this way
"Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking"
Are you well adjusted to the world?
Are you uncomfortable at times in your environment?
Do you always Fit In?
I hope your answer to those 3 questions was NO, Yes, No.
Is there anything wrong with being culturally relevant or aware? NO
But should we as followers of Jesus Christ just Blend In? I don't think so
Do you think Jesus stood out at time? I think so.
Does salt stick out? Jesus said, "if salt loses it's saltiness what good is it, through it out."
Polls say that 85% of Americans claim to be Christians but even if only 50% of American is born again and following Christ, you would think that ½ pound of Salt in 1 pound of Meat would stick out a little huh?
Put a ½ pound of salt in the next meat loaf you make. Will you notice? YES
Now I'm not necessarily calling us to be WEIRD
Can we Stand Out without being "ODD for GOD". Yes I think we can
This is NOT calling us to be unnecessarily Offensive. The Gospel is offensive enough on it's own.
However, don't be Conformed to the Pattern of the World
Don't be squeezed into the Mold of the world - one has said
The word con-formed when broken down comes from a root word and a prefix.
Suschematizo- soos - khay - mat - id' - zo
Schematize - "Formed" - refers to the act of assuming an outward expression that DOES NOT come from WITHIN. It is like putting on something. It's an act, not what you are within
The Prefix "sun" pronounced "soon" - the prefix here "Con" means assuming a pattern of a definite thing.
i.e. you are acting like a specific thing and you have taken on it's form but this action doesn't come from within you it's something from outside you that you are imitating
another translation says it this way "stop masquerading in the habiliments of this world, its mannerisms, speech expressions, styles, and habits."
You probably aren't familiar with the word "habiliments" because I wasn't but it is a word that means "the special dress or garb/clothing associated with an occasion or office.
So Paul is telling us to stop putting on the costumes of the world and parading around like we are citizens of this world, lay those costume down, because they don't represent what has been placed within you as a regenerated follower of Jesus Christ.
Paul will say it again in Ch. 13:12 - "put off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light"
We want to break the habits of our old nature, we feed our new nature -
It's the Least We Can Do
But it is Not enough to just NOT be Conformed to the world
It's NOT enough to Just be a "good" person
We must be Transformed, that's going past being Good to Being godly
3. Be Transformed
well haven't I already been transformed?
If any man is in Christ is a new creation right?
Yes but that's supernaturally happened on the inside, that is what we call "justification". What happens on the outside is called "Sanctification"
Paul is calling us to allow the transformation of the outside so that our outside / lifestyle begins to catch up with the inside.
Transformed - is the word "metamorphoo" - which translates to our word metamorphosis same word is in 2 Cor 3:18 - it is talking about external, visible change
Paul says that we are being "transformed" into Christ's image from glory to glory, day by day process of surrender
This is also the same word used in Mt 17:2 when Jesus took Peter, James and John, on a mountain top and was "transfigured before them; and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as light"
When Jesus transformed himself in front of the disciples it was evident and visible on the outside. When Moses had been in God's presence you could visibly see it as his face glowed.
When offer ourselves to Christ we will be transformed and it will be visible on the outside
A. Renew Your Mind
1. true change happens on the inside and is visible on the outside
2. faulty thinking leads to faulty actions and faulty feelings
3. the world without is trying to effectually control your mind and change you outside to inside to outside.
4. The Spirit within you has the power to change you FROM the INSIDE and it will transform you Outside as well
5. Take Every thought captive to obedience in Christ 2 Corinthians 10:2
6. YOUR "MIND" - is the word "nous" (noose) = your "capacity to perceive
a. allow God to change us from normal to supernatural perception.
b. That we might perceive the world from a heavenly frame of reference and react accordingly.
c. Then you will know his will because you are looking from his perspective
Hey, it's "The Least You Can Do"
1. God's Spirit - he is a down-payment guaranteeing what is to come and he reminds us of everything the Lord has said, he intercedes, and encourages us, strengthening us for the purpose of transforming us and sanctifying us.
2. God's Word - 1 Peter 1:23 - "you have been born again not of a seed which is perishable, but imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." And 2 Peter 1:3-4 - "?3? His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. ?4? Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires"
3. Man's Surrender - through prayer - as we humble ourselves before him in prayer and admit our need of him, our inability to be good enough or strong enough to make this happen for ourselves, we drop the costume of the world at the door into our prayer closet and in that same prayer closet we put on the armor of God, the Holiness of God, operating in the fruit of the spirit and by the gifts of the spirit, we are transformed
4. THEN you will know God's will and be able to distinguish between God's will, Your will, and Satan's Desires. That completes the circle
The "circle" I see here is
>God's mercy is displayed to us
> We offer ourselves as a Living Sacrifices
>That is Pleasing to the Lord
>It is an offer of Worship
>We put off the costume of the World
>We are Transformed into his Likeness
>We then understand that this has been God's will all along
>And THAT is even more pleasing to Him
Then we become more aware of his mercy toward us
And the offer ourselves more deeply
And the circle continues
It's the Least You Can Do
How many of you have seen the movie?
I'm not sure if you fully understand what a Sacrifice is, that is Pleasing to God.
The Old Testament Laws were VERY STRICT regarding what would be pleasing to God and what was NOT pleasing to God when it came to sacrifices
As we CLOSE
If you are going to Offer yourselves in VIEW of God's Mercy, through Christ's Sacrifice, We need a clear …
PICTURE OF AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE
A Stereotypical Ritual Sacrifice Consisted of 6 Acts
3 acts were done by the Worshipper and
3 Acts were done by the Priest
i. the worshipper brought near the sacrificial offering
ii. the worshipper lays his hand ON the sacrificial offering and confesses his sin
iii. the slaughter of the sacrificial offering by the worshipper accept the national sacrifice that was slaughtered by the priest for the nation. Then the sacrifice was torn/cut apart and laid on the altar
iv. the priest manipulates the blood. Spreading the blood on all four sides of the altar and on the base of the altar, that the altar is covered in the blood of the sacrificial offering
v. some burning was involved in all the sacrificial offerings and all of the sacrifice belonged to the Lord
vi. the remaining parts of the sacrifice not required to be burned were then eaten in a sacrificial meal
i. our sacrificial offering, Jesus the Christ, was brought near through his virgin birth through Mary. He was brought into Jerusalem and charged by the proclamation of the High Priest and sentenced in agreement of Pontius Pilate.
ii. they laid their hands on him time and again, as he was beaten, spit upon, beaten mercilessly to the point of death with reeds and then with a "cat of nine tails". They placed their hands on him and pronounced death as his sentence, and placed a cross on his back. As he prepared to offer himself for us he pronounced the sin that brought the sacrifice when he said "Father, Forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." He had NO SIN that he should offer a personal sacrifice, but our sin was that we were separated from God and didn't even know it.
iii. He was slaughtered without respect and complete brutality as a spotless lamb to slaughter. He was nearly torn apart as his sacrifice began with his scourging within inches of death. His executioners beat his to the best of their physical ability as was often the practice of the Roman Soldiers. They took delight in tearing his flesh that he might be fully laid on the altar.
iv. His blood was poured out as he was both sacrificial lamb AND ceremonially clean priest. He laid himself on the altar and his blood was poured out freely to completely cover the altar
v. while he was not physically burned, he was completely consumed and surrendered to sacrifice from the depths of his soul to this hands, his feet, his head, his back, and they pierced his side and blood and water flowed out mixed together as his heart had broken in sacrifice for our sin
vi. finally, as any sacrifice was then consumed, and eaten, he told us, "this is my body that is broken for you, and my blood poured out for you, as often as you eat and drink do so in remembrance of me." He told those following him in John 6 "if you would follow me you must taken and eat all of me or you cannot be my disciples."
Jesus, as both Sacrifice and Priest, went into the grave, fully dead for our sins, but though he died once for all, the just for the unjust, he was quickened by the Spirit and made alive on the 3rd day." He appeared anew and clean for 40 days before more than 500 witnesses and then he ascended to the Father, he presented himself as a final Substitutionary Sacrifice Holy and Acceptable to God for Our Sin and then was seated finished, paid in full, at the Right Hand of the Father
For All who would and will believe
12 "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. ?2? 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."
My Dear Brothers and Sisters is the LEAST YOU CAN DO!