Thesis:The "sacrifice of one's body" must be rooted in glad response and must be governed by specific revelation.
Introduction:In our opening study of this text, I attempted to make the point that Paul "urged" believers to take a step of loving faith that cannot be "judicially decreed" in the face of our on-going development in knowledge, love, and faith.
This evening we are going to pursue our consideration of what he is "urging" upon us.
I. The Summons is Rooted in Whether We Significantly Grasp the "Mercies of God".
A. The order is crucial.
1. God has shown "mercy" before He has asked anything of us.
2. Paul is calling for what he calls "our logical response".
B. The principle is relative.
1. There are the most basic principles of Luke 7.
a. At the beginning of the chapter is the extraordinary "faith" of the centurion.
b. At the end of the chapter is the extraordinary "love" of the prostitute.
c. At both ends of the chapter is the blindness of Israel to the nature of faith and love because of the blindness imposed by their legalism.
1) Legalism shifts "faith" from divine capacity to human effort.
2) Legalism denigrates the seriousness of sin so that forgiveness is not a big deal: this, in turn, makes "love" minimal or non-existent.
2. There are the realities of which we spoke in our last study: we are "in-process" in three large areas; knowledge, faith, and love.
3. The result is that "the mercies of God" often do not carry the weight in our thinking that they ought.
a. We do need to understand the nature of what the translators called "the mercies".
1) This is not the typical concept of mercy even as Paul used it in Romans.
a) The translators actually acknowledged the difference in Romans 9:15.
b) The difference between "mercy" and "compassion" seems to be the difference in what is done and why it is done.
c) This means that "compassion" is the more deeply "T"heological term.
2) However, in calling God's motives "compassions", Paul actually moves into the realm of what He has done and why.
a) The compassions of God are, by this figure of speech, the actions He has taken that have reflected those compassions.
i. In Romans those "compassions" are most fundamentally two: the arresting of Justice by the redemption of Jesus; and the suspension of Bondage by the workings of the Spirit.
ii. But those "compassions" are rooted in God's perception of what will happen if Justice and Bondage are not frustrated in respect to those under them.
b) Thus, the issues of the "compassions of God" zero in on what Paul had taught in Romans 1-11.
b. The question of the weight these reflections of God's "feelings" is thus a question of the degree to which we understand the disasters that faced us.
C. The assumption is that the revelation has been sufficiently detailed to bring thoughtful believers to a point of wanting to reciprocate.
1. This is not, and cannot be, a "guilt response".
2. This must be a glad return as Luke 7's illustration reveals.
II. The Summons is to Sacrifice.
A. The "thing" sacrificed is the "body" as the "container" of the soul and spirit and that which "expresses" both.
B. But the focus is "sacrifice".
1. As "sacrifice" the issues are two.
a. It is the essence of "sacrifice" that the entity "sacrificed" is "killed" (if it is a living creature) or "consumed" (if it is a non-living thing).
1) The end result is that it is of no further use to the one making the "sacrifice".
2) This means that, at root, a "sacrifice" is the loss of the usefulness of the thing sacrificed in respect to the particular agenda of the one making it.
b. It is fundamental to this sense of "loss" that the one "losing" is acting deliberately and voluntarily.
1) It is no "sacrifice" to have a thing/person forcefully removed from one's options.
2) Nor it is a "sacrifice" for a loss to be accidental or unintentional.
2. As a "presentation", the issue is deliberative and formal within the relationship.
a. The term is prejudiced by Romans 6:13, 16, and 19.
b. The action is a post-justification, post-compassion, deliberate, glad response.
III. The Sacrifice is Characterized.
A. It is to be "living"
1. The typical issue of "living" is the continuing ability to be functional.
2. But, under this issue of function are the issues of "the nature of experience" and/or "the ability to pursue objectives".
3. The word Paul chose here is the word that focuses upon the quality of experience rather than the ability to pursue specified objectives.
a. It is not merely the ability to function nor the ability to chase objectives; it is, rather, the ability to "experience" what comes out of the actual function.
1) 1 John 2:16 warns us that this world is all wrapped up in the arrogance of achievement (using the word for "function unto an end").
2) But 1 John 2:25 declares that the large umbrella of the promises of God is "eternal life" as a qualitative experience.
b. This signifies, then, that the kind of "sacrifice" for which Paul appeals is one which retains the ability to experience the goodness of God while "sacrificing" the ability to set and pursue the objectives of functional capacity.
1) This means that the "sacrifice" is of one's soul's confidence that it knows what is best.
2) The outcome of such "sacrifice" is the giving of thanks in every circumstance because the soul has ceased to be arrogant about it's claim to know what is going to happen or what will be the impact of what is going to happen and it has ceased to "scream" or "cajole" the spirit into certain specified activities.
B. It is to be "holy".
1. The typical issue of "holy" is the "separation" that sets one apart to a specific purpose.
2. It is not, essentially, a moral term, but a delimiting one.
3. "Holiness" is being focused upon a specific objective.
4. What Paul is calling for is a "sacrifice" that is made with the understanding that there is a specific purpose for one's "body" in the will of God.
C. It is to "seek God's pleasure".
1. The third issue is called being "well-pleasing" to God.
2. The term is used nine times in the New Testament and seven of the nine address being "well-pleasing" to God.
a. The concept is the relationship between an action and the love/faith issues that drive it.
b. When one is motivated by the Love and Truth of God, the actions bring "pleasure" to the heart of God.
1) Jesus claimed to "do always those things which please Him" (John 8:29).
2) The author of Hebrews said "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (11:6) and that it was Enoch's testimony that "he pleased God" before he was caught up to God without death (Hebrews 11:5).
3. The challenge is the present state in which one finds himself.
a. There is much in the past of every person that militates against the "faith" that Bondage can be broken.
b. There is much in the past of every person that argues that "love" does not require me to alter my deeply ingrained practices.