“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in the Church of Rome gave a perfect picture of worship. In our text from Paul we see the elements of true worship. Paul begins this verse with an urging to the believers in the Church with the greatest motivation for us to worship God. His presented motivation is “the mercies of God.” The mercies of God are everything that we have been given from God and yet we don’t deserve them. He gives them to us because His lovingkindness is everlasting. “For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)

The list of the blessings of the Lord are endless but here we name a few: eternal love, eternal grace, the Holy Spirit, everlasting peace, eternal joy, saving faith, comfort, strength, wisdom, hope, patience, kindness, honor, glory, righteousness, security, eternal life, forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, sanctification, freedom, and intercession. Understanding the knowledge of these wonderful gifts is the cause of our praise and Thanksgiving. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4) In other words our worship.

When we worship, if not always but often, Paul gives us a description of the manner in which we are to worship. “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice.” I had a Sunday school teacher tell me once that when we surrender ourselves to God we do so in increments. I was too young to disagree but today I know that is a false statement. God does not just want part of us, as we would be serving two masters, God desires all of us. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)

By presenting our bodies as a holy sacrifice we are giving Him control and use of our faculties. This would also be the mind, hands, thoughts, attitudes, and the heart of our core being. These are faculties that He gave us for our purpose and our purpose is to serve Him. This is our sacrifice to Him that we give control of our faculties to Him in the service to His Kingdom. The sacrificial system is not new to us as the Israelites sacrificed animals for the atonement of their sin. Jesus paid that debt by sacrificing Himself in our stead. It is our reasonable service to sacrifice ourselves and submit to walk in His ways. This is our “spiritual service of worship.”

The question becomes for me is how would I carry to the altar of worship a wretched sin worn body and sacrifice that body before the Lord God Almighty? How would I take this sin filled mind of mine and present it in worship to a God that searches the mind and heart of a man? The Israelites had to present offerings that were spotless and without blemish, how could I present one such as I to a God that expects our best? Paul answered this question for us in the next sentence. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This is a difficult task for us to accomplish. Satan will fight us with every temptation in his arsenal. We would be helpless to accomplish such a measure if it were not for the power of the Spirit that dwells within us and prayer for God’s help. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

The world is filled with its own wisdom which is full of falsehood and traps. The wisdom that comes from God is in opposition to the wisdom of the world and many a naive one sees it as foolishness. As children of God, as He is our Heavenly Father, it is His wisdom that we must replace the world’s faulty wisdom with. I have committed myself to read a chapter of Proverbs a day for seven times through. I am working my way through in the fourth journey and it is amazing the difference I without effort on my own have seen in my life and attitude. Just that small effort on my part has made me subject to the power and wisdom of God’s Word. I start each day reading through the Ten Commandments and stand in amazement of how they guide my thoughts and judgments. (Exodus 20:2-17)

When we follow and have our faith in Jesus Christ God sees us in His righteousness and not our own. We are able then to sacrifice ourselves blameless before God in the righteousness of Jesus and minds that have been transformed by His Word. The emotions that we experience before an Almighty God is a humbling thing so that our mind must be saturated by the truth of God’s Word. The mind must be renewed by the power of the sanctifying Holy Spirit, as where the mind goes so goes the will and the emotions follow behind. Our desire is to follow our role model, to grow in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ as Paul writes, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Through our study and meditation on God’s Word we learn the truth that sets us free from the bondage of sin and the pull of the past. A sound knowledge of the Word of God gives us an awareness of the mercies of God. There we find ourselves back to the first step which is our motivation for true worship of God. By our knowledge and understanding of the truth we will have the conviction to stand on the truth and true spiritual worship will naturally follow.

We cannot allow the tenants of worship to distract us from true worship. We at times tend to get caught up in the expressions of worship, the singing, the lifting of hands in praise, and in some Churches dancing. These are expressions of worship but true worship is God-centered worship. There is but one way to worship God as Jesus teaches us, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) We worship God from the heart which is how we were designed by God. We can in the service of worship express our worship with praying, reading God’s Word with a heart that is opened to His truth. We also can express our worship with singing and praise, taking communion, and our service to others. All this can be done with a heart that is focused upon the object of our worship, God.

True worship is not found only within the walls of a Church building. True worship is active in all that we do, in the home, in the neighborhood, in the community, and wherever life takes us. True worship is how we respond to God in all His power and glory in all that we do. True worship is in our obedience to God and to His Word. The only way that we can do this is to know Him in a personal relationship and to serve Him with all our might. “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” (Acts 17:23-24)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 15, 2016

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