In my last post, we learned that we can worship the Lord daily by living according to His Word. Doing that, however, takes us sacrificing our will and desires for God’s. Sacrifice is where we run into a problem because as my father-in-law likes to say, “Living sacrifices have a habit of crawling off the altar”.
How Can We Die to Self, Giving Ourselves fully to God?
(1) We can and should be motivated to die to self and give ourselves fully to God because of the gospel (the mercies of God).
The gospel tells us that we are all sinners who want nothing to do with God. We will remain in the state, until God works in our lives, creating in us a new heart with new desires. Until God works, we won’t give ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice because our inward affections, desires, and way of thinking won’t have changed. But once God renews our inward man, we are given the power to live for Him because our affections, desires, and way of thinking are brought in line with His.
Along with having the power to live for God, we should also be motivated to live for Him. Armed with the knowledge that God created a new heart in us and saved us from His wrath should spur us on to live for Him instead of self. We don’t do that in an effort to pay Him back because we never could. Instead, we live for God out of gratitude for what He has done for us.
As one author puts its,
“All Christian living and ethics are ultimately rooted in a deep gratitude for what God has done for us… [so that our] [e]very decision and every action…[is] a response to His mercy.”
(2) We can die to self and give ourselves fully to God by purposing to no longer be conformed to the world.
In Romans 12:2 Paul writes,
“Do not be conformed to this world…” (Rom 12:2a)
The idea behind the word conform is that of a mold. Thinking about that reminds me of my son Camden’s play-doh set. Not only does it come with several containers of play-doh, but it also comes with a bunch of molds that help him make some really cool things like alligators, dolphins, monkeys, and dogs out of the play-doh.
The molds are easy to use, so easy that even Camden can use them. All he has to do is roll out the play-doh, push the molds through, and wa-la he has one of the animals.
Just like it’s easy for Camden to mold his play-doh into one of the sets many shapes, it is easy for the world to roll us out and mold us into itself. Christians, however, are to avoid being conformed to the world because its values and goals are antithetical to God’s.
While conforming to the world is something we must avoid, it is also something we have to be careful with. On the one hand, we are naturally nonconformists who don’t conform for nonconformities sake. But we can’t just be blanket nonconformists so that if the world wears lipstick, we don’t. Or if the world goes to the movies, we don’t. Or if the world plays sports, we don’t. And so on and so forth.
But on the other hand, because we are conformists by nature we must be careful we are not conforming to the world’s sinful patterns. So then, we must not run to either extreme. Instead, we must balance on the beam between conformity and nonconformity, which we do by purposing to no longer be conformed to the world, and by being transformed by the renewal of our minds so that we know the will of God.
(3) We can die to self and give ourselves fully to God by being transformed by the renewal of minds.
Starting in the middle of Romans 12:2, Paul says,
“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.” (Rom 12:2b-c)
Paul is explicit. He tells us that our minds must be renewed so that we can know and test what is the will of God. There is only one problem. We can’t renew our minds on our own. We first need God to work in our lives because our minds are fallen. They have a spirit all their own — a viewpoint, a mindset, a bent. Thankfully God doesn’t leave us in that state. He works in our lives renewing our minds through the work of the Holy Spirit, who both changes us from the outside-in and the inside-out.
From the outside-in He changes us by presenting God’s Word to us. By drawing us into prayer, and into relationships with other godly Christians. As well as by leading us to hear the Word preached and to meditate on Christ.
He also changes us from the inside-out, which is necessary because without this type of change we wouldn’t accept the truth of God.
You ever wonder why someone can grow up in a Christian home, attend church every week, have godly mentors, and even read the Bible cover to cover, but then reject God as soon as they move off to college? It’s because their hearts haven’t been changed by the Holy Spirit to accept the things of God. If our hearts aren’t changed, we can hear all the preaching we want, meet with godly people, and read God’s Word cover to cover, but we won’t accept God’s truth, nor will we apply it to our lives, which is why it is so crucial we be changed first from the inside-out.
Once the Holy Spirit has wrought a change in our heart, we should work as well. We work alongside the Spirit by reading God’s Word, attending weekly worship services, going to the Lord is prayer, meeting with godly Christians, memorizing Scripture, and reading Christian books and commentaries that help us understand and apply God’s Word. In these ways and others, we work alongside the Spirit to renew our minds, which means we must put a premium on doing these things.
As we do all these things our minds are renewed so that we are able to discern what the will of God is and live by it. Living by the will of God means that we are giving ourselves as living sacrifices, and we are worshipping God.
So if we want to worship God every day, we need to purpose to give ourselves as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God, which we do by:
- Meditating on the gospel, preaching it to ourselves daily.
- Purposing not to be conformed to the world around us.
- Working alongside the Spirit so that we are transformed by the renewal of our mind and are able to test what is the will of God.
So now that you know how, I challenge you to be resolved to worship God daily. To give yourselves “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Question for Reflection
- How are you doing living as a living sacrifice so far this year?
Post developed from the sermon How Can You Worship God Daily In 2016?