The Resistance

Circa A.D. 50, the apostle Paul charges the Corinthian Church with being “Carnal Christians.” In his estimation, the Corinthians were behaving no differently than unbelievers.

So begins the cycle of Church leaders indicting the Church for not taking responsibility to live up to their potential in Christ.

“Cheap grace” is a term you may be familiar with. It that was coined in the 1930s by Dietrecth Bonheffer, a prominent theologian and pastor, to describe the widespread and unfortunate practice of the preaching of forgiveness of rebellion against god without requiring true repentance, baptism, or exercise Church discipline.

more recently in the 1970s, RIchard lovelace, an Evangelical Church leader, coined Yet another term, i.e., the “sanctification gap,” to define the epidemic discrepancy between what confessing Christians know God expects of us and how we actually live our lives.

Unfortunately, 21ST CENTURY Church leaders face the same challenge of our predecessors as secular forces shape the agendas, felt-needs, and aspirations of CHRIST’S FOLLOWERS.

Point being, Church leaders have faced the same challenge throughout Church history of confessing Christians not pressing on to the obedience of faith –not displaying the reality of God in a new way of living – in their daily conduct.

This begs the inevitable questions…

In what way ought Christians to be conducting ourselves, and how ought we to go about it?

THankFULLY, we have not been left to our own devices. In the Scriptures WE will be in today, the apostle Paul addresses these exact issues of the “What?” and “How?” of Christian conduct.  First, however, in the verses leading up to them the Paul organizes a strong case for the “Why?” of Christian conduct.

Namely, Paul recounts the saga of the gospel narrative, that Christians have been rescued from lives of rebellion and enemy-status with God WHICH would have led TO eTERNAL punishment (had it not been for the Atoning life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus). 

In Romans 12 we Find the answer to the “what” and “how” of Christian conduct.

Romans 12:1 answers the “What?” of Christian conduct. Plus, as a bonus, this verse also deals with the “why” of Christian conduct which I already mentioned.

Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.

Therefore…in view of God’s mercy, when considering God’s redeeming of our human souls, on account of God rescuing us from eternal damnation, because of God giving us the hope of eternal life, all on account of His unmerited favor, His unconditional love for human…the spirit of the gospel.

Paul provokes the confessing christians to contemplate God’s mercy. as we do so the ensuing appeal comes across as totally reasonable.

I urge you to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…HERE Paul IS exercising his wisdom and authority as an apostle TO ALL BUT command his readers to resign all of our hearts, souls, and minds TO THE WILL OF GOD…in tribute to God. Even though Paul does not demand this of us, IN VIEW OF GOD’S MERCY is probably the most passive-aggressive appeal that one could ever imagine. 

Even so, the appeal place ourselves at the disposition of living sacrifices, indicates “power of choice.” God’s mercy does not automatically produce obedience. Until Christians choose to offer ourselves we typically  fall into the “carnal Christian,” “cheap graced,” “sanctification gapped” categories.

What type of living sacrifices are Christians to be?

We are to be active, thinking, influential, dynamic forces OF LIGHT in the world. EASIER SAID THAN DONE.

We are to be holy, consecrated to God, “set apart” from the profane, dedicated to Yahweh, abstaining from intentionally looking at, talking about, or practicing any sort of evil. AGAIN, easier said that done but this is the expectation. we are all works in progress and there is grace in the learning curve.

We are to be pleasing, acceptable, good, and faithful reflections of His image which demands wholehearted commitment to God.

Again, easier said than done. even so, we are to be intentional in our attitudes, deliberate in our sincerity, aware of ourselves and, consequently, mindful of the type of tribute, testimony, homage we are offering to God.

also, trust that God is interested in the giving habits of Christians. He is well aware of the fact that where our treasure is, there ours hearts will be also. In view of His mercy, God desires not just our giving but us…the givers. 

we Offer our bodies as living sacrifices…because this is our true, proper, logical, reasonable worship. In view of God’s mercy…A lifestyle of worship is our sensible response as rational human beings. Even more, as rational human beings having been created in God’s image.

Now, to the “how?” of Christian conduct” which Romans 12:2 aptly addresses

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world…resist being fashioned after, resist complying with, resist adopting, resist corrupt ideologies, resist deadened social conventions, of satan’s dominion. Some of the more apparent systems of the present evil age to us southern California Westerners are individualism, consumerism, power politics, success syndrome, and the pleasure principle. All of which I will address in more detail in a moment.

Before I do so, I want to make the point that us Christians, presently have a dual spiritual citizenship. Having been redeemed by God’s mercy we are a people living in an “evil age” who are expected to conduct ourselves as heirs of a “holy age” that has broken in to this one but has yet to fully “come of age.” We are to live with an eschatological worldview, operate daily with the present mind but the end always in view. This age will come in end and new, better one is on the horizon. Amen.

What is my point?

The expectation is that we would no longer conform but be transformed, changed by the renewing, rehabilitation, reconditioning of our minds – the control center of our attitudes, thoughts, appetites, and conduct – by the Word and Holy Spirit…revolutionized.

To what end are we resisting conformity and engaging transformation?

To test and approve what God’s will is… to grow in our capacity of forming correct Christian ethical judgements and conducting ourselves accordingly in such a way as to champion God’s guidance and purpose for lives – testifying to god’s love and benevolence.

There are three areas we are to approve, agree with, endorse God’s moral direction for us. First, that God’s moral direction is good, right, the best for us. Second, that God’s moral direction is pleasing, acceptable, it fits us. Third, God’s moral direction is perfect, complete and sufficient to inform every area of our lives.

Ultimately, what does all this look like in real life?

In our daily conduct we must prove that we have been changed by the gospel, resisting deadened social conventions and being revolutionized by God’s ways.

1. As Christians, we must resist conforming to individualism, self-reliant, self-informing, and/or self-centered lifestyles [◆].

  • We are to be transformed by accountability partners.

    • prayerfully being transparent about our trial, sins, as well as sharing our victories with others we trust will minister Godly wisdom to keep us grounded in the truth 

  • We are to be transformed by being members of a Church community.

    1. prayerfully belonging to a Church group practicing the reciprocal “one anothers” of the Holy Bible.

    2. prayerful loving 

    3. prayerful sacrificing

  • We are to transformed by being faithful witnesses..

    1. prayerfully modeling and telling others of the difference Jesus has made in our lives.

2. As Christians, we must resist conforming gross consumerism [◆], buying with motives of greed or status symbols.

  • We are transformed by living simple lives,

    • prayerfully aim at loosening inordinate attachment to owning and having unnecessary things.

  • We are transformed by denying ourselves every comfort available.

    • prayerfully addressing excessive attachments or appetites and the entitlements behind them, and partnering with God for changed habits

  • We are transformed by practicing radical generosity.

    • prayerfully tithing regularly and giving often

3. We must resist conforming to low power politics, self-serving actions for selfish motives [◆].

  • We are transformed by by being humble.

    • prayerfully not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less

    • prayerfully letting go OF self-promotion at the expense others

    • prayerfully trusting God for the opportunities for increase and/or decrease in our lives

    • prayerfully honoring others by making other people needs as real and important as our own.

    • prayerfully speaking life to others rather than death

    • prayerful dependence on God

  • We are transformed by being stewards,

    • prayerfully living out of the awareness that nothing we have is our own but God.

    • prayerfully volunteering and generously offer God’s gifts of resources, time, talents and treasure for the benefit and love of God and others.

      • a systematic, intentional generous lifestyle flowing from God and others

      • living a way that exemplifies that your life, your time, your money, your home, your family are not your own

  • We are to be transformed by practicing justice

    • prayerfully helping others through correcting and redressing wrongs, seeking the best possible outcome for all parties involved.

    • prayerfully treating others fairly

4. We must resist conforming to the success syndrome, the seduction of secular thinking that success in ministry or life means increased numbers. [◆].

  1. We are called to loving.

  2. We are called to faithfulness.

  3. We are called to prayer.

“God is not calling us to succeed. God is not calling parents to produce perfect children. God is not calling pastors to double the size of their churches. God is not calling us to the bestseller list. But God is calling us to listen to his call and to respond, faithfully. And then to trust that his calling on our lives will indeed bear fruit.” 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/amyjuliabecker/2015/january/how-should-christians-measure-success.html

5. As Christians, we must resist conforming to the pleasure principle, driving force of the id, ego, that seeks immediate gratification of all needs, wants, and urges [◆].

  • We are transformed by lives of chastity. i.e., revering God by receiving and honoring our bodies and the bodies of others with purity of thought and action.

    • prayerfully chaste behavior cultivates sexual purity and nourishes trust

    • prayerfully refraining from demeaning sexual jokes and practices

    • prayerfully dressing and acting with modesty

  • We are transformed by lives of fasting.

    • prayerfully abstaining from food, drink, shopping, desserts, chocolate or whatever to intentionally be with God.

    • prayerfully overcoming addictions, compulsions, whims, and cravings

  • We are transformed by self-care

    • prayerfully practicing self-awareness rather than self-absorption

    • prayerfully living within limits with burnout

    • prayerfully being comfortable in your own skin 

    • prayerfully learning to love ourselves and, in turn, others as ourselves

Conclusion

Until we as Christians live out our confessions, demonstrating that our lives have been changed by the gospel, resisting the dead end, proving that God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect, the gospel has yet to accomplish God’s redemptive purpose in their lives.

#reborntodie #saintlife #resistance4life

Sources Used

Bruce, F.F. Romans: The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985.

Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

Cherry, Kendra. “What is the Pleasure Principle.” VeryWell. https://www.verywell.com/ what-is-the-pleasure-principle-2795472 (accessed November 27, 2016.

Fitzmeyer, Joseph A. Romans. Vol. 33, The Anchor Yale Bible. Edited by William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Moo, Douglas. Romans: The NIV Application Commentary. Edited by Terry Muck et al. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

Osborne, Grant R. Romans: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Edited by Grant R. Osborne, D Stuart Briscoe, and Haddon Robinson. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

Witherington, Ben III and Darlene Hyatt. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2004.