Romans 12:1-2 God’s Work in You Produces the Ability to Respond

I told you I was going to talk about commitment. There are some times, like last week, I preach a message because I know you need it; sometimes I preach because I need it. This is one everyone needs to take note of and maybe reevaluate and reassess a little bit of what we’re calling “commitment.” There’s something in making bullet points, you know my late husband had a knack of doing that, he did that with “faith,” the ABCs of faith. Do you remember that? Do you remember what they are? Action, based upon Belief, sustained by Confidence, we call those the ABCs of faith. I took “commitment” and did a similar thing. You have more ABCs, except it’ll go a little bit further than A, B, C. You’ve got the Act of commitment. You’ve got the Basis, and I’m just going to do that to shorten the writing time, of commitment. You’ve got the Character of commitment, the Demands of commitment, the Effects, so you can see I went to E for you, and in brackets right down here I’ll put results. Forgive me for doing that but there’s a text that would be easily attached to this, Romans 12. It seems a little bit unfair to just bring you into Romans 12, because the whole book of Romans is extremely important. Chapter by chapter you can kind of classify the understanding of faith, our faith, how Paul defines sin. Moving through the book, if you were going chapter by chapter, then gets to that great passage talking about by one man’s disobedience, by one man’s obedience, speaking of the first Adam and the last Adam, Christ. Chapter 6, if it’s simplified is understood as “If grace abounds, why not sin all the more? If it’s all covered, just go out and knock yourself out.” And he says, “No, to whom ye yield your members; you’re either yielding to the flesh, to sin, or to God.” You, there’s that bifurcation, I taught on that. Romans 7, which is the epicenter of the I; the wrestling match which is within each and every one of us, some people would like to say that Romans 7 is before Paul was converted, and that is quite frankly just a big misunderstanding of the Christian walk. If you think that you will get to a point in your life where you will no longer wrestle with the flesh, and somebody tells you, “That was before his conversion,” you’re a lunatic for believing that, because you’re still wearing the clothes of fallen Adam and you will, you’ll die in those clothes. You’ll be given new ones, the Scripture is very clear about that, but you’re still wearing these fallen nature clothes and this is why the flesh and the spirit are constantly warring. And go back to chapter 6, “To whom ye yield your members,” this is why you cannot read just randomly and say, “Aha!” Romans 8 is that great passage about the victory we have in Christ. Chapters 9, 10, and 11 have much to do with the salvation of Israel, Paul’s brethren, as he called them, after the flesh, the circumcision. And the 12th chapter, which begins, we’ll call it the implementation. If, if eleven chapters were explaining, we’ll call it “doctrinal issues,” the application begins here. Now I’m not, and please don’t twist my words, I am not Jamesian at all. You’re saved by grace, you’re saved by faith; put a period there. The understanding of, we’ll call it “the application”” is that in the life of the believer, change occurs. Change is ongoing. There is what we’ll call the initial change, which I’ve referenced many times out of John 3, “You must be born again from above.” 1 Peter talks about that, that we, something we receive from God that reconnects us, that opens our eyes, that opens our, the beginning of our understanding to want to hear, to listen, and to receive. I’ve said, and it’s true of many of you, it’s true of me, there, there was a lack in my life, I didn’t have an interest or an inclination to know about the Bible or to read or to understand until much later in life, and that which we’ve called prevenient grace, that is without question, God’s timing working in somebody’s life. But up until that time you may not have the inclination, you may be just out there in the world, drifting, thinking you’re okay. Now you get to this application part and you realize that many people start to think of that as application, and they immediately jump to works; things that are manifested by you doing something. But this passage really makes it clear that there’s something happening in you to you that, if rightly understood, should make us all stop for a minute and kind of re-examine perhaps for some of us our understanding. And then I’ll clarify this based on two words in my text, which I’m just now giving you background for as I kind of gear up to get started here. So let me read Romans 12:1 and 2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,” italicized, added by the translators, “which is your reasonable service. 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.” And it’s on these two things that I want to hang all of my ideas about commitment. You see, it’s very easy to put together these ABCDs, but if you don’t have some form of application nothing’s going to work. Now the act of commitment itself, a lot people can come to a place━let’s go outside the church for a minute, and commit to a cause. They can commit to volunteer; plenty of people do that and they are committed to something their whole life. If you want to talk about relationships, I’ve met people, who, oh, they’ve been in very compromising situations in their relationship and yet in their commitment they’ve stayed together. So we can talk about commitment, but the act of commitment, primarily and foremost in this message as a Christian. Well, the first activity must begin with God. There is nobody, the Bible is very clear about this, nobody can come except He, through His Son and through the Spirit are actively working on you and through you; no one can come. And there are many people who are actively drawn, if we go to the parable of the sower, they don’t stay. So commitment is not “I’ll just, I’ll stick it out because I made a commitment,” you know that Scripture that’s often twisted, you know, “if you make a vow unto the Lord,” and then people will take off on that and, you know, you never break your vow. Well, there’s plenty of times people have made promises and vows to God and broken them. God on the other hand is; He keeps His Word. So we’ll start first with the act of commitment, understanding that the first activity is of Him, bringing you and bringing me, but you’ll hear me repeat these in a different way, but from my text, “to present,” and I’m going to put plural, “yourselves,” to present yourselves. Now I think it’s interesting that if you go back to the text in the way I’m going to pull this apart, you notice Paul says, “I beseech you.” I want you to look; it’s kind of interesting, his, his way of addressing people, his manner of exhortation, “brethren.” He doesn’t say, “Now come on, all you stiff-necked you-know-what you are,” he says “brethren.” And if you really read Paul’s letters, you know that he included people in there that really were probably more like cistern than they were brethren; and I’m talking not about the female version but about containers. He included everybody. So I want you to notice that’s the first thing, his, his manner of exhortation, “brethren, I beseech you; I beseech you therefore, brethren; I urge you, I appeal to you, I’m asking you. Parakaleo is the Greek, which many times is used. We might say that it’s a very common address, but the King James, interesting choice of words, in Old English, “beseech,” really has a sense. Usually I think Old English fails us because we’ve, we’ve evolved with words that are so wonderful. Pardon my humor, but “beseech” really does convey the essence of his tone, “I beseech you therefore, brethren.” And I just, just I want to go slowly because I have a tendency to try and blow by to get to the place I want to be and I, I want to take my time here. How many times have I said to you specifically, I’m asking you to open your hearts to listen to me? I’ve kind of pleaded with you at times, and people have misunderstood that, pleading, as though that’s some weak individual. That’s a nice term, huh, a weak individual speaking, but actually it’s a pastor’s heart. And I didn’t start trying to urge or to plead with people because I’m desperate, but because I’m actually wanting you to hear something that I think is vitally important. So I, when I read these words, “I beseech you therefore, brethren,” parakaleo, he’s talking about all the things that he has said before now wrapped up in this one, “I beseech you therefore, brethren.” And here is the interesting thing, the motive or the motivation is “the mercies of God,” what you have been a recipient of. Remember, in light of the eleven chapters that have come before and all that he has unfolded about salvation, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,” there’s your motivation. If somebody says, “Why should I even look at this idea of commitment?” Well, Paul begins with “the mercies of God” for a reason. If you think about it, he was a great recipient of that love of God, mercy of God, forgiveness of God, so he could certainly, and again I go back and say look at last eleven chapters, certainly say this in such a way to say, “Surely, if you recognize what God has done for you.” Now I’ll come back to what I just said about recognizing what God has done for you, because people who have not yet been called out of darkness into light, they cannot see what God has done for them; they are blind. Paul says elsewhere, “The God of this world has blinded their minds,” they cannot see, they cannot understand; they cannot receive. The first act of commitment therefore is this, “present your bodies” and I’ll put underneath the basis is the mercies of God, if you want to kind of isolate these, but the act here of presenting yourselves. And the language, by the way, out of the Greek, carries the connotations of high liturgical, Levitical, Old Testament practice, except there’s a big difference. In the Old Testament what was brought to the altar, the priest himself would lay hands upon, and then carrying out the act of slaying the animal. Here Paul says, “Present yourself living, a living sacrifice.” Now lest some nutty person out there think that you have to go and do something to yourselves, this is talking about the sense of offering yourself entirely. And please don’t misunderstand. I preached on this one somewhere and somebody said, “Well, this is too scary for me because that means I won’t have a life.” Didn’t Jesus say, “If you should lose your life for my sake and the gospel,” you essentially find yourself, you find out actually who you are and who you’re supposed to be by virtue of what Jesus said, and not the other way around. The world says, “Oh no, don’t go there; you’ll, you’ll lose everything, you’ll lose your identity,” well, the fact of the matter is, what if I told you that most of us walk around like clones, not like original masterpieces that we’re supposed to be. And my text will actually prove that when I get to it, and I’m just dangling thoughts here. But the act of commitment, and I’ll come back to these, the act of commitment to present yourself, it means no one else can do it for you. God must call you and you must bring yourself. That’s like trying to tell somebody who has an addiction, trying to convince them that they have an addiction and they need help, that may be a small percentage of people who might respond to that, but by and large most people cannot and will not until they hit bottom, until they acknowledge they have an issue that can only be dealt with at that moment facing themselves, not usually by somebody else addressing it. So you present yourself, something you do, that only you can do. Yes, the preacher preaches and delivers the message, which should stir the soul and should be illuminating and enlightening and should be revelation at times and lights come on and bells and whistles and people are flying to the rafters; no, that was added. But the presenting of yourself only you can do. And I think a lot of us, and I’m going to include myself, up until a certain time in my life, it scared me what would that mean if I actually did this, present myself as a living sacrifice, what would it mean? Would I, would I cease to be? Would I cease to have an existence? Would I cease━it’s all those questions that whether or not you want to admit it and whether or not I want to admit it, it’s all passed through our mind at some point: what will that mean? Now this is not the passage to describe, let’s all give up our life and go live in a cloister somewhere. In fact, if you think about it, although that design was for human convenience, the Lord God never intended people, religious, forgive me, but those who He called, to live in a bubble somewhere. He sent them out into the world, did He not? Isn’t that what Scripture says? He doesn’t say, “Now go build a little place where you can be safe in your enclave and you can do your little two, four, and six.” He said, “Go out into the world,” and the last time I checked the world is outside of the bubble. So━and that was gratuitous too. So, and then he describes “holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable sacrifice.” I translated this one time. The difficulty with this passage is we’re talking about something that is just a little bit more than what Christianity has done, which is make this the text for the altar call, and then people step forward and they think by virtue of answering the altar call of an evangelist or a preacher that they’ve laid themselves on the altar. I hate to tell those folks, but that’s not at all how it works. It’s a life long journey in commitment. Now the character of commitment, and that’s probably where I should turn to, the character of commitment outside of my text is that we are new creatures in Christ. Many times over, and I’ve spoken about this, new creatures in Christ brings the character of the commitment. The commitment itself, if it’s just a commitment done in the flesh, if it’s just a commitment done; anybody can have a commitment. We’re talking about the church of Jesus Christ. So new creatures in Christ, that character of commitment will be present, why? All you’ve got to do is read Philippians and the description of what is described of Jesus Himself. He, He took on the form of fallen man and that form came to serve. He stepped down, He condescended, took on the form to show us what God looks like in the flesh, and we became the beneficiaries. I refer again to John 3, the “born again” passage that makes us new creatures in Christ. So it’s that new creature character that is functioning in the commitment, not the old man, because the old man says, “Oh, ho, ho! I don’t have time for that! I’m busy. I’m busy paddling my way to a nice hot place.” I’ll come back to that maybe too. Somebody asked me, when am I going to preach a message on hell, and I said, “Soon, and very soon.” The demands and the effects, and that will bring me to my text which is the second verse. “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.” So let me start first with a few, two words I said, and two very important Greek words. I’m going to write them down in Greek and you can, you can try and figure it out or you can listen to me talk about them afterwards, or maybe I’ll just leave the platform now and leave you wondering, “What was she going to say?” This one word which is being translated in your Bible “conformed,” and the other word that is being translated “transformed,” which looks like this, all right. So I want to take these two words to explain the basis of commitment through all of these and when I talk about demands and effects it will become self-evident that there’s a reason why when people begin to engage in making this text something that it’s not, you’re certainly bound to have failure. So let’s first talk about this word “conformed,” the admonition here is “to be not conformed,” and I want you to take a look at this Greek word, we’ve got a prefix here su- and I’m going to try to spell this out, skematizesthe. And if you’re looking at this real carefully you would see this word for “scheming.” And it’s much different, you know, our English words are, are related, “formed, conformed” and “transformed,” but in the Greek they’re different words. We get our English word for “transformed,” this word which is metamorphose, metemorphousthe, metamorphose, or -morphosis, -morphousthe; I’m supposed to be writing Greek, in English. So you can see that they’re two different words, and what’s so important about this? Well, this first word for “conformed” which is the “schemed” word, that word; and this is the only grammar I’m going to do with you today is, it’s a verb, in the imperative if you’re interested, which is not saying, “will you” or “might you,” or━but there’s something interesting here. It’s present, which means it’s ongoing, and it is either middle or passive, and I’m going to explain what that means for those who are not familiar with Greek grammar. Middle: I do it for myself, I act upon myself. Passive: I stand still and something is done upon me. So when it says “be not conformed to this world,” it’s really important to understand something, that this Greek word makes it clear that the conforming is something I either do to myself or it is impressed upon me by the flow of society, what society expects me to be and therefore I become, or I’m influenced by, or gripped by the things that I’m told to conform and be like. And the best example that I can use to make my case for these two words, is the word for “confor”” in the Greek, think of it as taking a piece of wax that’s relatively warm and being able to press it on something and you have an imprint, and that would convey the concept of conformed. I’m doing this so I don’t bore you with the details of what the Greek word might convey. In the dictionary, this word in the Greek dictionary, this word specifically refers to changes that are superficial, that can take on the shape, but mainly have to do with exterior, okay, versus the word metamorphousthe, which when understood aright has everything to do with the change, which brings me back to the new creatures in Christ; the change of the inner man and what is changed on the inside. This Greek word metamorphousthe, if you read carefully, is a verb in the imperative, it’s present, but it’s simply passive and that means that you are standing still while something is done to you. You are receiving, which brings me back to what I referred to, “being born from above,” which brings the new man in Christ alive, the new person in Christ is alive. That process begins the metamorphosis. And the difference between the first word, which conveys just the surface being changed, as I said soft wax being pressed up against something and it takes on the shape, but it does not define and can never be the substance of. The word for metamorphous, “transformed” is very much the word, when we say something internally has changed. It’s the caterpillar to the butterfly, this is that metamorphous we described. There is a change in nature, beginning on the inside. Now in the Bible, this word metamorphousthe is used to describe Jesus, His appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration. And I think to myself, you know, it’s a strange event that happened, but there on the Mount, a few chosen disciples with Jesus, and He, He was changed; His appearance was changed. Now, don’t confuse this with “conformed,” there’s something about His essential being, whatever that was, that was changed. So, coming back to my text, when it says, “Be not conformed to this world,” don’t take the imprint of the world, but be metamorphosed. And there is a method, a means and a method, which is by the renewing of your mind. And I’m jumping ahead of myself, but I specifically want to talk about, now this metamorphose word because change for the Christian will come, which is going to bring me back to reread what Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God,” what you now are awakened to from where you were, without understanding, without interest, without whatever, to at least an initial beginning desire, want, affection toward the things of God. “By the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,” it’s the very least that an individual can do. Now I want you to think about this, because this is indeed a call to commitment in every way; the act, presenting yourself; the basis of it, the mercies of God, what I’ve received; the character which it cannot be of me. We’re talking about the Christian commitment. This is why I said a lot of people come into the church and they fail to grab hold of something that specifically will bring an understanding. God is not interested in imitation. When people say, “Well, why can’t”━I’ve had people say, “Why can’t you do or be like other churches?” I don’t want to! In fact, I had somebody this week describe to me, they went to a church somewhere in Southern California, which I will not say where, just keep it vague and ambiguous, that━and this individual has watched me on TV for years, watched Dr. Scott for years, said that they went to a friend’s church because the friend had suffered a loss and asked if this individual wanted to go. And she was just confounded, she said she didn’t understand. It was like a rock show, you know; here’s the, the music is like, just like the world, and she said she couldn’t understand the difference between what was going on, and the people were, the activity of the congregation, it was just like a rock show, and people were, you know, they were just, it was like “Wow, it’s a concert!” But then when the preacher got up, this is where she said, “And I’ve watched,” she said, “And I’ve watched you and I watched your late husband,” and she said, “I was just very confused about how anybody could think of this as anything but the desire to be just like the world and to be accepted.” And I, I mean, I already knew that I was delivering this passage, so I thought isn’t that, you know, that’s one more, like confirmation of something, because then people bring their ideas. Now if God is doing the changing on the inside, let’s start first with the preacher, see, I’m not even going to talk about you right now, you’re saying, “Hallelujah!” If God’s bringing the changes on the inside and they are actively happening to me, I’m passive, I’m the recipient, then a number of things are going to happen. It doesn’t mean by the way that suddenly because a person is called to the ministry that they stop being who they are. In fact, I think their character, a true man or woman of God, their character is magnified, it’s not dimmed down. I think people couldn’t wrap their minds around Dr. Scott, because Dr. Scott was exactly what you see is what you get. He didn’t try to play the hypocrite, “Now let’s all stand with our hands clasped, and let’s speak in a certain”━when he was, when he was ticked off at you because of your failures to do your part, believe me, he would let you know and he didn’t say it in syrupy tones. He, he’d let it all out. And I believe that each person who is called of God, they will, in their own way, be more of themselves, more of what God intended them to be as the undershepherd. And the more that I read this text, the more I realize, oh, I could fight and I could try to be the “conformed,” the skematizesthe; I could try and be what all the world thinks that a preacher ought to be and I could press into that mold and come to you in the likeness of, and perhaps that would draw bigger crowds, but that wouldn’t be the thing that God desires, because He desires it not just of the undershepherd, He desires it of the sheep as well. The change that has to come, can’t come from, “I will,” or, “I will not,” or, “Don’t you dare do that,” or, “You’d better not do this,” but the change comes from the inside. And if you think about what is being said here, it’s pretty profound that nothing has changed since the day that Paul wrote this. Let’s talk about being shaped, being molded into, superficially, to this world; and you think that anything has changed? Let’s go back before Paul, has anything changed in the consequences of conforming, of being, we’ll call it being “schemed” by the world, has anything changed? Go back to the time of Achan or the time of Haman or the time of Judas or the time of Demas; has anything changed since then? The answer is no! Man is still man; generic so don’t go, you know, “She’s talking about men.” Man in generic, fallen man doesn’t have the capacity for anything thing else but the world. So when Paul says, “Don’t take the shape of that,” and the words of Christ echoing, “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” You know how many people have come into the church, and I’m not just talking about this church, the church, the body in general, and are so afraid of what might happen to them, in a word that has been tossed around like somebody’s dirty laundry: “surrender”? That’s scared more people away for lack of understanding. That has scared more people out of the Kingdom, and it has brought people in, quite frankly, who in their mind’s eye, they might have been surrendering, but the activity, by the way, the act which begins the act of commitment is presenting yourself, it does not say right here; there’s another passage which talks about surrender. This is to present yourself, you bring yourself. And you bring yourself ready to commit and you’ll find something very interesting. How many have━I want to see hands, but no cameras on you, so we won’t take pictures, you won’t be, you won’t be caught on tape, its only between you and God and whatever I see, which may affect my eyes forever, but be honest now because I, I’ll say it’s true probably of many people: how many have made a commitment to something and failed to keep it? I rest my case. It’s very easy to toss around the idea, and it’s very, by the way, it’s very enticing, the idea of commitment is very enticing. Now let’s go back to the church, let’s talk primarily about being a Christian and the commitment to Christ. You present yourself and in the presentation of yourself a few things will happen. My late husband, he said it the best. He said, “All hell is going to break loose on you”” That’s true. The minute you make a commitment to God, you’ll find every hindrance put in your way, every obstacle tossed out, every idea; every friend that ever gave you good advice will now be telling you otherwise. And this is why these two words that I’m differentiating are very important. Distinguish between what Paul was cautioning against. You know, look, I just referenced Demas. What does he say about Demas? Demas, Demas left him! He preferred what was out there, instead of being with Paul. That’s the way the man will be remembered in the Bible. Now think about our lives in the Book of Life. Now people think of these things as like cartoon caricatures, but think of your life as, as being recorded in the Book of Life and the commitment opportunities that you have are not to━it’s a paradox: to not lose yourself, but to lose yourself. To lose yourself to really actually find who you are in Christ and when that is understood scales come off the eyes like, “Wow I, I didn’t see it this way before.” You see, we have this idea somehow we can harness and we can control a little bit with technology, of nature, but tell me who’s able to stop an earthquake? Is any man able to stop an earthquake? Not yet. So we don’t have control of things, there are things outside of our realm, which means failure to acknowledge greater and higher and more powerful at work in your life and mine, well, that leads you down the path of just simply going with the flow and being pressed into a mold that takes on the superficial shape of, which becomes the standard for the world. And somebody said, “Describe the world for me.” Well, if we were to do that we might be; if I was to do that, we might be here the whole day. But I can tell you what the world looked like, if you read in the Bible what the world looked like in Noah’s day. It didn’t look to good and God had to send a flood and start over with that first family of eight. And what about in the days of Elijah, what did the world look like then? Idolatry; and I ask again, has the world changed? No. The world is still━we have to be in the world. Elijah was in the world; Elijah was walking the same earth that all the other people were walking, what made him different? He knew the God that he served and he recognized God being present and present with him, most of the time. My point is it doesn’t make you less; it makes you more once the process has begun. That process opens the door, the commitment, the basis, the character all of these put together, and the demands and effects is what I was going to talk about. The demands of commitment, these are tough things. If you think about this, these are really tough things, which is why Jesus, when He was saying certain things, people stopped following Him and He asked His disciples, “Will you go too?” because some people said, “These are too tough for us to deal with, it’s too much for us.” Jesus said, “No man, putting his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom.” That’s a familiar passage; people don’t think, “What does that mean?” I’ll tell you what it meant for me. It’s meant, when it felt like the whole world was against me, between the years 2005-2007 it felt like the whole world was against me, everything. And I wasn’t some stoic, I kept getting up thinking, “The Lord is with me, the Lord will help me, the Lord will enable me,” and the world, the world is just a place where some people will be plucked out of and translated into the kingdom and others will remain and be damned and that’s just the way it is. You may not like that, that’s just the way it is. And what the world meant to me maybe after those years: God’s in control even though the devil has free reign, and we’re talking about what’s in the world right now, what’s at work out in the world. Now that doesn’t stop me, or you from living because we live in that place called the world I just described, but it doesn’t mean I have to become like the world. It doesn’t mean that I have to imitate, mimic. I’m not wanting, in fact, the more I look at, I talk about churches on TV, I talk about the mega-churches, the description that this individual told me about at the church she attended; I don’t want that. And it’s not because that’s what I want. I’m interested in one thing; can I open up enough from one passage or from two verses or from a text, whether it’s a general topical sermon or whether we’re pulling apart words, can I open up enough to bring something a little bit to the table that says we need to pay attention to this. There’s just in these two words enough bread here and enough fodder to think on for the next six days, to really recognize transformation of the kind that Paul is talking about, that metamorphosis that is the very thing that Jesus was talking about, which you’ve heard me say for the millionth time probably, “Without me you can do nothing,” that capacity to bear fruit comes from Him. That is the internal working of God, the same capacity to be committed to Christ to the cause, we’ll call it the gospel, the church; the proclamation comes from Him. So, when people say, “You know, I just can’t be committed, I just can’t come every Sunday, I just can’t to what other people do,” I’m going to say what Paul said, “I beseech you, I urge you, I appeal to you to consider what God has done, the mercies that you’ve received.” And for some people maybe the mercies they have received are not a reality, for me it is. I’ve said this before; I know what my destiny would have been without receiving the mercies of God. And thank God that at time I didn’t understand and I didn’t know, but thank God, and I’m not unique there are hundreds, thousands, and millions of others just like me and probably many in this room that when you heard and when it finally sunk in the reality of heaven or hell, the reality of God’s presence or God’s absence in your life, the reality of being a part and belonging to something and Someone who will never change cannot be taken away, cannot be removed, cannot be hindered. What a radical concept, if at all possible, and of course it is, but the conformity that Paul is cautioning against, it’s pretty much anything that is not that inner transformation. Now, I want to just highlight one other part of this because it’s the second part. How is this metamorphosing process, which is passive, how is it happening? By the renewing of your mind, and I’ll simply say about this Greek word renewing, the word is anakaino. It’s the prefix ana-, which gives either intensity upward. It is the process of something, kaino, either “newly made, new or not known before,” like Scripture and doctrine, the revelation of the will of God through His Word, “new as opposed to old, or former.” And Paul talks about this abundantly in Ephesians about “the new man, the new creature in Christ.” So the renewing of your mind, again comes back to a concept, if the inward working that metamorphose that is passive, the renewing of your mind can only happen, and again please stay focused with me, we’re not talking about something out there, we’re talking about the church, we’re talking about commitment to Christ and we’re talking about you, it can only happen by these methods. Someone who is actively reading the Word, because what does the last part of this say: and the perfect will of God━“that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Well, how can you know the will of God? Don’t look for something that is personal to you before you understand what God’s will is from His general revelation through this Word, reading the Bible, renewing your mind. How many times have I said, when people start back sliding and they cease to read the Bible, what happens? Your mind is not being washed by the Word of God, other things take that place. Our minds are controlled very much by our thoughts and our surroundings and our environment. You take a group of people, and I’ve seen this before when I’ve worked in the institutions, you take a group of people who suddenly have developed a love for God’s Word and an interest in God’s Word, and then put them back, after they’ve developed that interest, into the general population and a great majority of those who haven’t spent enough time in the Word, it will be less and less important to them. Other thoughts, other ideas fill their mind and suddenly separation has occurred. So this change process, this metamorphosing process that is happening in you, I said first starts, by the way, by God’s new life being placed in you; the new creatures in Christ; but the renewing of your mind that is reading the Word of God, hearing the Word of God━I’ve had so many people say, “Well, why do I have to go to church?” It’s not that you have to go to church. The idea is that most people, and I would say most people, are not Bereans and they will read and not necessarily understand. Scripture is then taken at of context. Paul, in Romans 10, talks about the necessity of a preacher and someone that has actually been sent, because that is how faith comes, by hearing the Word of God. So we have these steps, if you will. God’s working, drawing Spirit that is placed in you that’s the new life, the reading, the preaching. So please don’t talk to me and say, “Well, I don’t want to, I don’t want to come to church.” Listen to, find a preacher; I’m not telling you to listen to me. Who am I? I’m telling you, find a preacher who’s opening up the Word of God, who actually has a care to deliver words that are not just speeches, but important to the substance of your salvation. And when you find that person, you’d better follow them because that person is trying to lead you into the kingdom of heaven and not to be conformed to the worldly ideas of what they think heaven is: that lovely place where little cherubs, wearing sweet, little, fragrant smelling, rose-type diapers are shooting arrows at each other and sleeping on clouds. If that’s your idea, then you can stick with it. Meditation upon the Word and conversation with God, which means your prayer life; these are all the things that put together the renewing of the mind. And so I say demand and effect, the demand here of the commitment is not just in the presenting and all of these other things I’ve said, but an understanding of something that essentially would be required of you at any place if you were really being ministered to, and that’s a response. When you have received the mercies of God. There is an expression that is put out, it’s put on display in what Paul is calling here, or the King James, “reasonable service.” It is the presentation, the commitment of oneself to the recognition God’s love was placed on me and upon me and I’m not deserving of that love, of that mercy, of the greatness that He’s bestowed upon me, but this is, this is my way of communicating back to Him. Now say whatever you want, but as I look at this, I say there are certain things that should come out of this renewing of the mind. You, you begin to go through this book and you’re going to find a lot of things that will be repeated over and over again. Do you remember a passage in 1 Samuel, the reference of, “Obedience is better than sacrifice, and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”? God’s looking for people to trust Him. When He says He’s placed new life in you and He’s given you that new life that you might have life more abundantly, you take Him at His word. I’ve told you, you can’t see your salvation, but you walk in it; you walk in Him by faith. I could talk about the idea of God’s love and God’s hatred expressed in this book, the things He says He loves, the things He says He hates. They’ll produce, eventually, these concepts as you keep reading them, which are not concepts; they are God’s heart and God’s will, expressed here will eventually produce metamorphosing, and it will not be, I do not believe everybody experiences the change and the changing does not occur at the same time and at the same moment and in the same way, but we’ll call it a progression that brings, hopefully brings us to a place of recognizing this act, basis, and character of commitment is all hinged on one thing: my understanding of what the Lord has done for me, my understanding of what I’ve received, my understanding of the changing process, which as I, I’ve said, I open this book and I find myself somewhere on the pages. I find myself at times as a person like Nehemiah, wanting to rebuild and come on, here’s the charge! What a disgrace that we’re in this state. And at other times I find myself wanting to just go off in a corner and I just want to work; just let me do the work and get out of the way. I can find myself on the pages here; I’ve asked you to do the same, which brings us to a state of renewing the mind and recognizing what God has said, what God has promised and the change that is occurring in, wow, I suddenly actually see myself in the light, maybe, yeah, about that much, but as God might have seen me when He found me, the reality check of what I’m not. The world being conformed says, “You’re okay. Just press into the stamp and nothing else needs to be done. Just act like me and do what I do and think the way I think, and you’ll be okay,” but that’s not at all what the Word of God says. Which is why I said these two words rightly translated from the Greek and rightly understood, should bring about a mindset that says, “Hey, wait a minute. I’m not looking to be a piece of wax simply pressed into something to take on the surface.” If my inside inner person is not being changed by God, by God’s Word, by God’s Spirit, then what? What are we doing here? We could be in, you know, a self-help group where everybody’s eating, you know, bran muffins and smiling; I don’t know. Whatever they’re eating, they’re smiling. My point is this passage should speak to all of us. You know, when we talk about the wrestling match of commitment, I’m going to say just what Paul said, I beseech you therefore, brothers and sisters. I beseech you, I urge you, I appeal to you as those who have been listening. We’re talking about in terms of the Christian walk. And some have taken it to these extremes and others to other sides, and what I’m trying to tell you the message here about commitment is you will find that once these principles are understood, the presenting of yourself, based on the mercies of God and the character of which are the new creature and the new creatures in Christ, the demand and effects that come are going to be, we’ll call it the fruit or the byproduct: no longer, “Oh, I don’t want to do this,” but “What else can I do? And how may I do it?” And then suddenly, the individual that may have deified self for many years becomes the servant who desires to just serve without fanfare and without recognition, because the One who sees all and knows all is watching. And this is why I said to you it’s quite important for us to understand commitment isn’t something you will just kind of say, “I’m here today,” and then two weeks from now you flake out. And if you’re tempted to quit on your commitments that you’ve made, I want you to remember something. Just right here in these two verses, I’ve highlighted something that I think is important. The fact of the matter is what are the mercies of God in your life, reflect upon these things and ask yourself what, what does it mean, an hour of your time or two hours of your time? What does it mean when you say, “I give because I’ve received the Word of God; I’m doing what the apostle Paul says, I’m koinonia-ing, jointly participating with the one who’s taught me,” what does all that mean? It means that God is acting actively in your life! You have been the recipient of God’s grace for Him to act upon you, which then brings forth that fruit, which includes every type of commitment that can possibly be imagined for you to participate in what we call the church here on earth. So the next time somebody says to me, “I can’t make a commitment,” concerning the church, concerning Christ, please go back and reflect on this message. Christ’s words, “Without me, you can do nothing,” it’s right. Those who labor to build the house and they labor with their own hands and God is not doing; they labor in vain! But if God is doing, a great work has begun and He’ll finish that work through you, which includes you crossing the finish line, faithing and actively participating in your commitments that you’ve made. So I, I’ve just made the plea: I beseech you, I urge you, I encourage you, and I’ve told you this whole message is hinged on what’s needed to happen. I have some very committed people here. I’ve got a core of volunteer people, who they’re always here, but the ministry functions on that core. It’s time for the rest of you to step up to the plate, and you who listen all the time to start doing your part. Maybe it’s baby steps, but the opportunity to respond to something God has done, believe me, is part of that metamorphosing change. Don’t think you will be changed in an instant into something that you, by your design or by the world’s design has said, “That’s good.” What did Paul say? What did some of the prophets say: there is no good in me, but that which dwells in me; the life of Christ! We have the mind of Christ; that part, that portion is what is changing me and as I am conformed to the image and likeness of Christ, I bring myself afresh to this passage and I bring you afresh to this passage to say it makes no sense for me for people to go through the motions and to press into something; rather, think on what will be changing you from the inside like radioactive material changing your cell structure to a fruitful, productive child of God. And I’m not saying, “Get out there and do works!” I’m talking about the work He’s doing in you, which should produce the ability to commit and respond. And with that, my prayer is that you meditate on this and it becomes something that you think about for the great meaning of this is maybe for some the metamorphosing has come to a stop. And maybe that’s because the mind is not being renewed; not being in the Word, not coming and listening to messages, and not hearing, and not participating in what we’ve called the Bread of life to give you spiritual sustenance. So maybe it’s a call for some. I pray it will be a call for some urging you and appealing to you to do your part and the commitment that I’ve just preached hopefully will take root in some to bring forth much fruit for this ministry and for Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. That’s my message. You have been watching me, Pastor Melissa Scott, live from Glendale, California at Faith Center. 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