Sunday Sermon: ‘A New Way of Thinking’ pt 1 (A New Me Series)

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Do you ever struggle with your thought life? Do you ever struggle with immoral thoughts, or perhaps angry thoughts, or vindictive thoughts? Are you someone who is always very judgmental and critical of others? Or, are you someone who struggles with jealous thoughts? Are you envious of who others are or what they have? Or maybe you’re someone who struggles with self-defeating thoughts. You’re always putting yourself down and think everyone else is out to get you. Or maybe you’re the person whose mind is always filled with worry and fear.

There are lots of thoughts that can go through our head, but the question we might ask is – “Does it matter? As long as our thoughts are just thoughts, do they really count?

The Bible says – “Above everything else, guard your heart, for from it flows the rest of your life.” (see Proverbs 4:23) The word ‘heart’ as it is used here, refers to the very most inner part of our being. Solomon is saying, “More than anything else, protect what you allow to linger in your mind, for the thoughts you think will determine who you become.” Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it –

“Sow a thought and you reap an action;
sow an act and you reap a habit;
sow a habit and you reap a character;
sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

How do we change the way we think? Can we change the way we think? Consider what Paul tells us in Romans 12 –

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In this passage Paul is telling us that there must be a constant renewing of our mind. What does it mean to renew our mind? How do we renew our mind? What will happen if we don’t?

I. Present Your Body to God as a Living Sacrifice

A. Present Your Body as a Living Sacrifice

Whenever I read this passage, the first thing that jumps out at me is the word ‘sacrifice.’ For one thing, I thought that sacrifices were a part of the Old Testament and done away with when we get to the New. In addition, the word sacrifice kind of scares me, especially when Paul tells me that I am to become a sacrifice.

But we should note that Paul is not telling us to kill ourselves. He’s not saying – ‘present yourself to God as a dead sacrifice.’ He’s saying – ‘present yourself to God as a living sacrifice.’ How can a sacrifice be living?

1. Dead to Self

One of the greatest problems you and I face in following Christ is dying to ourselves. “I want, I think, I deserve” are just some of the demands of self. “It’s not fair” is the cry of our inner man whenever we don’t get what we think we deserve.

Sometimes this selfishness spills over into our relationship with God. On the one hand we say that we want to serve God, yet on the other hand we want to make sure that we’re properly being taken care of.

To die to self means to lay our will –our glory – our praise –our desires down before the Lord and say – “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

 2. Alive in Christ

But notice that Paul calls this a ‘living sacrifice.’ Though there is death, there is also life. The death is the death of our self-will, and the life is the will of God living in and through us.

Maybe this simple illustration will help us better understand. One day a woman was struggling with this concept and so she went to her pastor and asked him to explain. The pastor took out a blank sheet of paper and asked her to sign her name at the bottom. Then he told her to present the blank sheet of paper, with her signature, to God.

I remember many years ago when our daughter Cindy was a little girl and came home from Sunday School singing this little song – “Father, I adore You. Lay my life before You. Oh how I love You.”

 B. Why Should We Present Our Lives to God as a Living Sacrifice?

Although I often never said it openly, whenever someone tells me to do something, one of the first things that pops into my head is the question – ‘Why? Why should I do this?’ My why is not always a sign of my rebellion, but rather my desire to reason out why this is important? Why should I die to my self-will and allow God to perform His will in me? I especially want to know why whenever God’s will involves something that maybe I wouldn’t choose. Paul tells us why –

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

1. In Light of the Mercies of God

Chapter 12 is the turning point in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Actually chapter 12 is the doorway that leads into the rest of the letter and verse 1 is the hinge pin on which that door swings.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…”

Notice the ‘therefore’ in that sentence. Whenever you see a ‘therefore’ in scripture, you should pause and ask yourself – ‘What is the therefore – there for?’

Therefore is a word (conjunction) that joins together two thoughts or parts of speech. It’s sort of like the conjunction takes one thought with one hand and another thought with the other hand and brings to two of them together. What is Paul bringing together with his ‘therefore?’

It would be impossible for us to cover in one sermon all that Paul has said in eleven chapters; especially the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans. But I think that there are a couple of verses found in chapter 3 that do a pretty good summary.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

What do these two verses tell us? Verse 23 tells us that we all deserve to be punished because all have failed God. We have failed Him by sinning against Him and we all have failed Him by not bringing Him the glory He is due. There is one great truth in scripture that we often overlook – He is the Creator and we are the created.

But then verse 24 tells us something that is marvelously different from verse 23. Verse 24 tells us that although we have failed God and deserve to be punished, God has made a way for us to be rescued from our punishment. The word ‘redemption’ means to purchase something out of bondage. How has God rescued us from our punishment? He did so when He allowed His Son to be crucified on the cross. The Bible says that Christ died for our sins. (see 1 Corinthians 15:3) The Bible says that God made Jesus, who had no sin of His own, to be punished in our place so that we could be forgiven and declared innocent in the sight of God. That’s what the word ‘justified’ means. It means to stand before God – Just as if I had never sinned.’

It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. It’s something so magnificent that our only logical response is to live for Him who died for us.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2. Present Your Bodies to God as a Living Sacrifice

Note that Paul is telling us to present our bodies. The word ‘body’ here means just what we think it means. It refers to our physical body. You see, our relationship with God is not just spiritual; it’s also physical. God is as interested in what you do with your body is He is with your singing or other forms of worship. Look with me at Romans 6 –

Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

The word ‘members’ refers to the various parts of our body. It refers to our hands, and our feet, and our eyes, and our ears. It matters to God what we see and what we listen to and where we go and what we do. It includes the sexual part of our body as well as our mind and intellect.

Is it reasonable for God to control what we do with our bodies? Consider what we read from the book of 1 Corinthians-

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

In these verses Paul is telling us three very important truths:

a. We have been purchased with a price

“You have been bought with a price.” Literally these words mean – ‘Christ has paid the ransom price to purchase you out of the slavery of sin.’ What is the price paid? Peter tells us that it was the precious blood of Christ. Christ gave His life on the cross to purchase our freedom. (see 1 Peter 1:19)

b. We now belong to Christ completely

“You are no longer your own. You now belong to Christ.” Whenever you and I try to manage our life outside of the will of God, we are sinning against God. We belong to Christ.                                           

c. Therefore, glorify Christ with both your body and spirit

The word ‘body’ means the same thing here that it does in Romans 12. It refers to this physical body that you and I live in. Notice also that Paul says that now that we have come to Christ, our body is the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit.’ In the Old Testament, the temple was the most holy and sacred place upon earth. Nothing was as important as the temple.

But the temple in Jerusalem is gone. God doesn’t dwell in a building made by hands. God dwells in the soul of those who have received Christ as their Savior.

Conclusion

Many years ago there was a young woman named Frances who understood what this scripture is saying.

Frances was a very godly young woman who was also very talented. Not only could she write, she was also very gifted musically. Yet Frances also suffered from poor health and died when she was only 42. Yet she probably accomplished more in those few short years than many accomplish in a life time twice the length.

Her father was a pastor and she served faithfully in his church. But there reached a point to where she needed some time off to rest and recuperate. She scheduled some time to go and stay in a very large estate that often housed several guests. As she neared the home she felt the Lord place a prayer in her heart – ‘Lord, give me all in this house.’ There were ten other people also staying there and during that week she talked privately to every one of them about their relationship with Christ.

On the last night of her visit, there was a knock on the door. It was the lady who managed the house and she asked Frances if she would talk to her two daughters about their salvation. Frances agreed and that night she led both of the girls to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Afterwards she wrote in her journal – “I was too happy to sleep and passed most of the night in renewal of my consecration.” The word ‘consecration’ means to dedicate ourselves to God for His glory. The Lord then gave her these words as a song –

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

 Frances Havergal, 1874

 

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