Reference: Romans 12:1
From last week’s post: In Deut. 29, when Moses spoke to the people of God before they entered the promised land, he reminded them what God had promised. It is the covenantal formula: “I am your God, and you shall be My people.”
That is the blessing of being a recipient of God’s redemptive work. That means 2020 was a year in which you and I were blessed, and 2021 will be a year in which you and I will be blessed.
Holy and acceptable
The authors of the Heidelberg Catechism sum up the whole question of comfort by concluding with this statement. They lead us to confess that Jesus Christ “makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.” That declaration is the conclusion of this entire promise God has made to you.
Notice how they frame it. First notice what they did not say. They did not say, “Look at all God has done for you. Don’t you think that now, out of thanksgiving, you should also do something?” This is not about God’s part and my part. This is about what God is accomplishing within me and within you.
Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2:10 that our good works are actually the works of Christ, prepared in eternity by God, that we might walk in them. Give close attention to the words of Paul in our text (Romans 12:1): “it is your reasonable service.”
By means of the comfort accomplished
You may ask, how is this “reasonable service” possible? When we start going down the road of moralism, you cannot. I cannot. No one can. In all of life’s issues and complexity, you have nothing inherent in your nature that enables you to accomplish something, and then point to it and say, “This must count for something before God.”
But Christ can. And here is the wonder: Christ did and He does. That is the whole point in coming to this conclusion as we answer the question, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” Christ has given you a life, and He continues, working through the Holy Spirit in you, to live that life.
To better understand vs. 1, we need to look at the context found in vs. 2. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
If you know the answer, if you know Christ as your Savior, if His work of renewal has taken place in you, then you are a changed person.
Here is the reality of that change. It means living a life which is good and acceptable to the will of God. We must be careful here. You are not a person able to live completely without sin now, fully meeting the requirements of God’s law. But God is pleased when you, as a citizen in the kingdom of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are faithful in your life as a child of God.
There are no points gained with God in terms of your eternal stand before Him. But God does say, “Well done, faithful servant.”
As acceptable sacrifice
Paul calls this a “living sacrifice.” It is a sacrifice because this lifestyle causes you to look away from yourself and look to God.
It is living because it is the very day to day life that you live. Our nature apart from God is totally selfish. We want to do what we want to do, and that desire and the actions which come from it are sinful. As the catechism says, we are “still prone always to all evil.” Thus to live for Christ means making a sacrifice. As a believer, you are no longer living to satisfy yourself, or what you perceive to be best for you. You belong to Christ, and you are to live for Him.
It is a living sacrifice because it entails a life of service. The rest of Romans 12 goes on to speak of the various ways in which God equips His people to serve Him.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.