July 5, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Romans 12)

Submitted by Annie K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

  • Why is “in view of God’s mercy” the basis for offering up our bodies as living sacrifices?

God showed me mercy when he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and take on the punishment that I rightly deserved. Thus in view of God’s mercy, the only way I can and should respond is to offer up my body as a living sacrifice. Knowing full well what God has done for me, there’s no way that I can still try to cling onto my own life. I offer up myself to him out of gratitude for his mercy and because I now want to live a life that is holy and pleasing to him as an act of worship.

  • What can I learn from the fact that the command to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” primarily involves the “renewing of [the] mind” and thinking of myself with “sober judgment?”

The bible doesn’t simply command me to no longer conform to the pattern of this world as if it was that easy, but gives me two concrete ways to help me do so. I know from personal experience that it’s very difficult to turn away from the world just because I want to. I find myself giving into sin again and again because my will power just wasn’t strong enough. I will be able to resist the pattern of this world by renewing my mind. That means I need to think differently. I can’t simply go along with what the rest of the world says or does. I need to think about and understand why the patterns of this world are sinful and unbiblical so that I won’t succumb to them. I have to be able to pinpoint things that are strong sources of temptation so that I can take concrete steps to protect myself so that I won’t give in to the pattern of this world in moments of weakness. Though it’s difficult, I also need to strive to think of myself with sober judgment by being humble and very honest about my thoughts, desires and actions. I also need to make myself open to receiving truth from people in my life about things that I’m blind to.

  • What is the “pattern of this world” to which I should no longer conform?

The pattern of this world that I should no longer conform to is the one that says that the key to a happy life is living to gratify your every desire, financial security, and human approval. I’m especially convicted of this as I look at the lives of some people I interact with. On the outside their lives looked pretty good. I remember I had to really struggle once I started working there because their lives seemed pretty attractive to me at the time. They were clearly the cool group, the most fashionable, and would often go out to bars and clubs on the weekends together. They would talk about how much free time they had to do whatever they wanted and travel on a whim. As a first year ministry intern, I realized that I didn’t have very much free time to myself because I was involved ministering to others. I would think of my co-workers with envy who got to sleep in on Saturdays and sleep way before midnight during the week. They also spend a lot of their time, money and energy on keeping up with the latest fashion, celebrity gossip and having lots of fun. As I turned to God’s word I realized how unbiblical it is to live a life like them and saw just how empty their lives really are. They can afford to spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothes and makeup because they really have nothing or nobody else to spend their money on. Often they sleep early because they’re bored and don’t have anything better to do. I feel so blessed as I look at my life that’s full of meaning, purpose and a wealth of relationships.

  • What would it mean for me to daily offer up my body as a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God”?

To daily offer up my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to god would mean denying my body and putting others before my own desire for physical and emotional comfort, personal space or agenda. It would mean making myself available to people when they need someone to talk to even when it’s late at night and I’m tired after a long day at work. It would mean putting a lot of thought and care in my ministry to others rather than just doing the bare minimum and saying that I’ve done my job. It means driving into Berkeley after a long day at work rather than turning around to go home. It would mean being all there when I’m at bible studies, Sunday services, DT times and prayer. It essentially means learning to die to my own desires in order to put others before myself to live an others-centered life.

Submitted by John C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 12:1-3

Our refusal to conform to this world’s values… must go even deeper than the level of behavior and customs—it must be firmly planted in our minds—‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ It is possible to avoid most worldly customs and still be proud, covetous, selfish, stubborn, and arrogant. Only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects our minds are we truly transformed.” [Life Application Study Bible, NIV Edition. (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. & Zondervan, 1984). p.2050.]

  • Why is “in view of God’s mercy” the basis for offering up our bodies as living sacrifices?

It’s a response out of a deep sense of gratitude towards what has been done for me. According to the commentary provided below, “in view of God’s mercy” can be translated as, “as a recipient of many mercies, I urge you”. This highlights the fact that the act of offering myself and surrendering my body as a living sacrifice is the proper response given what’s been done for me already. I turned 28 not too long ago and I had a chance to reflect and take stock of all the blessings that I have in my life and the moment by moment mercies that I’ve received starting even before the day of my birth. It’s a miracle that I was even born as there were many complications before I was born. Even before I can begin my life, I almost did not have one. Speaking of birthday, there was also another incident on my birthday party when I turned 8, I almost drowned in the swimming pool as my friends were joking around and not allowing me to come up for air. There were many instances where I barely escaped getting into a major car accident while I was my rollerblades or on my bike on the street. But not only have I continued to be rescued from such near death experiences, furthermore God granted my life with so many blessings in which I cannot help but to think “it didn’t have to be this way”. I have a job, a good education, loving parents, loving wife, like-minded friends with the same purpose and goal, I am part of a loving vibrant community sold for the gospel, am a spiritual leader of college students, have faithful spiritual leaders whose life I can exemplify. What do all the mercies and blessings I listed above have in common? None of them I deserved. None of them came from my own works. There were a web of people, circumstances, events that took place that led me to receive all those blessings. Ultimately, it was God who provided and graciously granted them to me. But far greater and more important than all the mercies that I have listed above, the greatest mercy that I received which really is the main basis for which I offer my life to God is the mercy of salvation from my sins. As Apostle Paul has written in Romans 7, “I would not have known what sin was except through the law” and when I saw my life and how I’ve been living measured against this law, God’s perfect law, I fall very short. What other law is there that matters other than the one that comes from God, the creator of the Heavens and the earth, the one who brought me into this world, the rightful owner of my life. I have fallen short—day in and day out, consciously and subconsciously—and lived a life that has been unpleasing to God. I have lived as a slave to my sinful nature, the desires of my lustful heart, the pride in me that desires misfortunes on others if it brings fortunes to me, my covetousness and greed that strives to grasp what I want even if it is at the cost of compromising my moral values or hurting other people. Inevitably this kind of life I was living was down a pathway of destruction. Such life of being enslaved to my sins was the life that I was living until out of God’s mercy and grace, God sent his one and only Son to take upon the punishment that is due for my sins and die for me. That death was a death to my sins, to my old life of following my sinful desires, and through the resurrection I, too, have been given a new life, a life of righteousness, being in the right relationship with God. For such great mercy, what else can I say, what else can I do. As written in Romans 8, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” What is the only proper response to this? It is to offer every aspect of myself, despite how small it may be, despite how small it is compared to what God deserves, to give myself as a living sacrifice to God.

  • What can I learn from the fact that the command to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” primarily involves the “renewing of [the] mind” and thinking of myself with “sober judgment?”

In fully embracing my new identity being a servant of God and slave to righteousness, my old ways of conforming to the ways of this world, succumbing to the superficial values of this world will not just go away. As Apostle Paul says in verse 2 and 3, it is done through the renewing of my mind and thinking of myself with “sober judgment”. To renew my mind, this will require work and to think of myself with “sober judgment” this will require humility. In the first step of renewing my mind, it is to first stop feeding my mind with the false values that this world throws at me. The world that says a person’s value is by their appearance or performance, it says that there is nothing more important to life to maximize my own pleasures, it says that money is the key to happiness, it says that I should follow my heart no matter what…these values and voices enter my mind through internet, music, movies, magazines, coworkers, professors, parents, etc. As written in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial” I am free to listen to whatever voices the world may throw at me, but it’s definitely not beneficial. When I think about the past 20+ years of my life time, all I have been doing was listening to the voices of this world and following its values. One of the values that was really deeply ingrained in me was this idea that I need to always save myself, even if it means to wear masks. All my life, I wore masks and for me to save myself was to be accepted by people. In high school I would hang out with multiple different groups of friends. I was friends with the nerds, the jocks, the fobby group, the church group, the orchestra group, the vandalizing group. After I became a Christian in college, this value that I need to save myself and be accepted by people permeated into my spiritual life. I would wear masks to be accepted by my leaders thinking that I would need to appear like I am spiritual, trying to share in group settings what’s not actually in my heart but more what I think would make me sound more spiritual, go to prayer meetings when I was a sophomore not because I was spiritually interested but because I wanted to appear like I am spiritual even as a sophomore…in such ways, this value was deeply ingrained in me. It wasn’t until my leaders spoke truth into my life of who I really am inside in which I was finally able to see myself with “sober judgment” with humility of who I am, that I was able to continue to struggle against this worldly value of mine. When I finally saw this worldly value that I was still clinging onto, it was then when I was able to clearly see what it was that I need to renew in my mind. I renewed my mind day by day through God’s word, that it is the truth that will set me free, the truth that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me and I am loved even when I don’t wear my mask. In fact, to wear it, is to deny what has been done on the cross for me.

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