0237 The Miracle of Transformation
Encounter Radio Outline #0237
Air date: 9/15/02
The Miracle of Transformation
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
Introduction: With divine obligation to dedication (#0236), there is further:
II. The Divine Order of Dedication (v. 1)
As we noted earlier, divine addiction presupposes an established order; and this is precisely what Paul now emphasizes in the words before us. We need to give the closest possible attention to this aspect of truth, for it is here that so often our acts, as well as our attitudes, of dedication are misconceived and, therefore, misdirected. In the divine order of dedication, Paul spells out two specific requirements:
A. Our Bodies Must be Totally Offered (v. 1)
The word “present” means “yield” (Rom. 6:13). It is a term associated with gifts presented to God in the tabernacle and later in the temple (Lev. 1:3; 16:7). For you and for me, this presentation, or dedication, signifies the voluntary response of our minds, hearts and wills to the love, grace and mercy of God.
Observe, moreover, that we are to present our bodies. The phrase “our bodies” stands for the complete personality, including the spirit and soul. It involves the giving of everything. Paul reminds us that what we do with our bodies now will determine our reward or loss at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). For this very reason the body is to be totally offered. When God consecrates He never consecrates a part, but only the whole. Until and unless we are prepared to bring our total personalities – spirits, souls and bodies – we fail in our dedication.
As we study the Old Testament sacrifices, we discover that specific instruments were given concerning the offering of the animal victims. After they had been slain, the priest had to lay them on the altar in their several parts with careful deliberateness and thoughtfulness. When we bring our bodies to God, we must do the same. Not one member or faculty must be held back.
B. Our Bodies Must be Worthily Offered (v. 1)
This language reminds us of the burnt offering of Old Testament times. That offering had to be wholly consumed, but even more important, it had to be worthily consumed. Thus the Spirit of God insists that our offerings should be brought to God as:
1. A Living Sacrifice
There are at least three ideas implicit in that word “living.” First, the sacrifice is to be intelligently alive. The apostle is drawing a contrast between the dead animal sacrifices of the Old Testament and the living sacrifice that we are to bring to God. In this case, the offerer and the sacrifice are one and the same person. How important it is that every Christian should think through God’s order of dedication and then, with sanctified common sense, respond accordingly.
Secondly, the sacrifice is to be spiritually alive. An unconverted person can never offer anything to God; he can only receive from God. But when a sinner is truly saved, he then qualifies to bring something to God. He must therefore be indwelt by the life-giving and life-sustaining Spirit. There is no such thing as dedication to God without separation from sin. As believers, we must be willing to accept God’s sentence upon our old natures and refuse to allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies (6:11-14).
Thirdly, the sacrifice is to be continually alive. When the priest of old slew the animal and then placed the sacrifice on the altar, he knew that it must be kept there until is was wholly consumed. So often with the big sacrifices there was a tendency for them to slip off the altar, but God foresaw this problem and instructed Moses and Aaron to use “fleshhooks” (Exod. 27:3; 33:3; Num. 4:14). The purpose of these fleshhooks was to maintain the sacrifice at the center of the flame. Today, the fleshhooks could well be called “determination” and “discipline.” God only consecrates while we maintain our dedication, and there can be no dedication without determination and discipline. Day by day we are to remind ourselves that we are on the altar of sacrifice. If and when there is a slip, we must apply the fleshhooks and get back to the position of yieldedness.
For our bodies to be worthily offered they must not only be a living sacrifice, but also:
2. A Holy Sacrifice
We cannot offer to the Lord that which costs us nothing (2 Sam. 24:24). When God specifies a holy sacrifice He means one that has been initially cleansed by the blood of Christ and continually cleansed by the daily application of the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit of God.
3. A Pleasing Sacrifice
The sacrifice had to be acceptable to God, whether seen or unseen by the public eye. In like manner, we, as believers, must be pleasing to God in our private life, as well as our public life, if our dedication is to be real and sincere.
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@olford.org