Becoming A Living Sacrifice

Randall Caselman
Bella Vista Church of Christ
Date: 4/6/97

Becoming A Living Sacrifice

Reading – Romans 12

Let me tell you a story of LOVE, MERCY and GRACE. It is a real story. It happened in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Ted Morris, an 18 year old teenager, was driving home from his part-time, after school job. Another young man, 24 year old Tommy Pigage was also going home after spending the day in a bar... He was driving drunk. He crossed the center line and hit Ted Morris’s car head-on.
Four hours later the only child of Frank and Elizabeth Morris lay dead in the hospital. Tommy Pigage was barely hurt. He was charged with murder. And even though he was drunk, he pleaded not guilty.
• He never once said he was sorry.
• Throughout the trial he showed no remorse.
• In fact, there were times he made light of Ted, and laughed at his parents Frank & Elizabeth.

Tommy Pigage was found guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison... Or he could speak to high school students against drunk driving for two years and spend his weekends in jail.

The amazing thing in this story is that Frank and Elizabeth asked permission for Tommy Pigage to be released to their custody on the weekends so that he would not have to spend them behind bars. Since then Tommy’s life has changed. Now he serves the God that Frank and Elizabeth Morris serve. He is a child of God. You see Tommy was a recipient of Frank and Elizabeth’s Love, Mercy and Grace.

Did you know that you to are a recipient of such Love, Mercy and Grace. For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son. You see, we are the prodigal son... God is the Father. The Hebrew’s writer says, we crucify the Son of God afresh again & again every time we sin.

The love of God, His mercy and grace is the theme of the Book of Romans.
• In chapters 1, 2 & 3, Paul shows that the Jews were sinners because they didn’t keep the law of Moses. Then he shows how the Gentiles were guilty because they didn’t keep the law written in their hearts.
• Chapter 4 & 5 informs us that we cannot save ourselves by meritorious works, but that we can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
• Chapter 6 begins like this, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
• Then Paul makes a very important point... That in New Testament baptism the old man of sin is crucified. After baptism, he says, you need to know... That whoever you give your allegiance to, that is the one you belong to — either to sin and Satan or to God and godliness. He says in the act of New Testament baptism we are raised to be: Instruments of God; Servants of Righteousness.

Then in verse one of our text, Paul gives us a new title Living Sacrifices. I beseech you therefore, brethren, I urge in view of Gods love, His mercy and grace that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

As baptized believers, As people raised to a new life, we are to become LIVING SACRIFICES.

Living sacrifices as in opposition to the dead sacrifices of the Old Testament. The truth is there was never a time when God was pleased with dead sacrifices. The Hebrew’s writer tell us this... Listen, Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made).

You see, God wants us to offer ourselves as Living Sacrifices, not dead ones.
Well, how... How do we become:
• Instruments of rightness,
• Servants of righteousness,
• Living Sacrifices?

There are some here tonight who have not taken this initial step... And you need to.
• Jesus in Matthew 18.3 says, I tell you except you be converted.... You cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven... Except you be converted you cannot be a part of this new economy.
• Peter, in Acts 3.19, told his Jewish audience, Repent and be converted... (NIV says Repent and be changed), so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Just what is conversion?  I spent 30 years as a Broadcast Engineer, so I know a little about electronics. In electronics, most all circuits use what is called Direct Current. What comes from our wall plugs and from off the utility poles is Alternating Current. It must be changed, converted so that it can be used. We call this device a rectifier.  A rectifier takes something of one nature and changes it into something of another nature. This is the same in the Christian life.

Before we can be useful in God’s economy we must be Changed... Converted... Rectified. We must be made holy, changed from our fleshly, worldly nature into the Spirit nature.

Spiritually speaking this change occurs in the act of New Testament Baptism.
• Romans 6 says that old nature (the body of sin) is crucified and buried in water baptism... And we raise with another nature to walk in a new life.
• Peter in Acts two says, it is the point where we obtain the forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
• Paul in Galatians 3 says it is the point where, we by faith, become children of God. We are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ, have been clothed with Christ.
• 2 Corinthians 5.17 tells us, If anyone is in Christ, he is (WHAT?) A new creation, a new creature; old things have passed away, behold all things are made new.
• The Hebrew’s writer says, it is the time when we have our hearts sprinkled from a guilty conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
• Jesus called it the NEW BIRTH, being born again of the water and of the Spirit.

In the act of New Testament baptism we become:
• Converted,
• Changed,
• Rectified individuals.
We are made holy, made into something useful to God. Listen closely, this is important to the lesson, ONLY AFTER CONVERSION, are we ready to be come Living Sacrifices.

Scriptural conversion consists of the fact that:
• We must have faith in God and His Son Jesus.
• We must repent, have a willingness to become changed people, giving our allegiance to God rather than to sin and Satan.
• We must confess the name of Jesus before salvation can occur.
• We must be baptized, immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins.

Have you ever thought of this? That baptism is the ONLY command that we are not commanded to repeat.  Faith we grow in continually.  Repentance we practice regularly.  Confession we practice for the rest of our lives.  But Baptism is never repeated. WHY?
• Because, it is the point at which we become a child of God.
• It is the point that we are clothed with Christ.
• It is the point at which we are forgiven and our conscience is made clean.
• It is the point where everything is made new.
• It is the point that we are born again...

We are only born once Physically and once Spiritually . Right? That’s the reason we are baptized ONLY ONCE, but we do everything else a multitudinous of times.

Baptism is the point of enlistment in the Lord’s service. The early church liked to compare baptism to the oath of allegiance that a Roman soldier took as he entered the Roman army. At that point the Roman soldier swore allegiance to Caesar as his lord. In the same way a Christian, when he was baptized, professes his allegiance and loyalty to Christ as Lord and King of his life. That oath which the Roman soldier took was called the Sac-ra-ment-um. If you hear our word sacrament in it, you have heard appropriately. The reason baptism came to be referred to as a sacrament, in the Middle Ages, was because the early church preachers, preached so many sermons on baptism as the Christian’s sac-ra-ment-um.

So, the first question we must ask ourselves tonight is have we been:
• Converted,
• Changed,
• Rectified, into that which is useful in the economy of God?

Now, the next term we want to examine is found in our text. It is TRANSFORMED.

Not only must we be converted, we must be transformed.
Again in electronics we use transformers. Remember a converter changes the fundamental nature of the current. A transformer changes the power. It enhances that nature that is already what it should be and makes it stronger. A transformer takes one voltage and makes it into just the right voltage needed to accomplish the task that the engineer has in mind.

The Greek word for transformed, in Romans 12, is metamorphoo. What English word do you hear in this word metamorphoo? Metamorphosis of course. You know what happens in metamorphosis? An ugly fuzzy caterpillar crawls in; and a beautiful butterfly comes out of that cocoon. But note church, what came out is the same thing, it is the same creature. But in a totally transformed state. It has been enhanced to do the task designed by the creator.

You see, conversion is the process in which our nature is changed from:
• A lost nature,
• A flesh nature,
• A sinful nature,
• A worldly nature.
To a relationship with Christ.

But, becoming a living sacrifice is simply enhancing what we already are. At the moment of conversion:
• We are now already Christians.
• We are already children of God.
• We have already been clothed with Christ.
• We are already saved.
Then by becoming a Living Sacrifice, we become what we already are. Does that sound confusing?... It shouldn’t!

In 1958 I stood before some officers and enlisted men, I held up my hand and took an oath of allegiance to the constitution of the United States. I promised to protect it from all its enemies both domestic and foreign. I promised to carry out the orders of the President and all those who would be lawfully appointed over me as commissioned and noncommissioned officers. When I finished that statement I was fully a member of the United Stated Armed Forces. I was just as answerable to its Uniform Code Of Military Justice as I would ever be. But what I would proceed to do, over the next six years, was to learn to become what I already was.

• I was a soldier at that point, but they were going to ship me to Ft. Knox, Kentucky and send me through basic training. They were going to teach me how to be the soldier that I already was.
• Then they sent me to Ft. Dix, New Jersey to train me in communications, to become MORE of what I already was.
• I spent the next several years going to Natural Guard meetings once a week and to summer camp each July to enhance what I already was.

When we were born, we were just as much a child of our parents we would ever be. But, that birth was just the beginning of our becoming what WE already were.
• In Christianity, baptism serves as a point of enlistment.. It is the new birth.
• What Paul is commanding of us in Romans 12.1 is for us to become what we already are... Living Sacrifices.

So — The remainder of the lesson is HOW?
How do we become what we already are, as: Instruments of God, Servants of righteousness, Living sacrifices?

J.B. Phillips in his translation says, do not allow the world force, squeeze you, into its mold. Old allegiances have passed away, behold, now we have a new allegiance. We are no longer to allow this world to lead us. Our allegiance is to God through His word. We are NOW to be a Spirit led people and person.

Church, we must know tonight there is no genuine conversion... No real transformation takes place, until it takes place up here in our mind. God does not call us to religious ritual, He calls us to a change of heart... To changed way of thinking. Our relationship with God is not JUST based upon how many services we attend, but what is going on in our mind. Jesus said, out of the heart comes the issues of life.

Listen closely church, we will never become genuine living sacrifices until we come to a new way of looking at things... A new way of looking at:
• Our spouse,
• Our children,
• Our neighbor,
• Our school companions,
• Our teachers and our boss.
• Our enemies,
• Our job,
• Our money,
• Our entertainment choices,
• The way we dress,
• The way we care for our bodies,
• The church... And a thousand other things.
Paul gives us our goal in this area when he said, Let the mind be in you, which was in Christ Jesus.

Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought to think, but think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Solomon gives us the seven sins that make up God’s list of most hated. Selfish pride tops that list. Many of us in the church are not becoming living sacrifices because we see ourselves as being too good for some task in the Kingdom. Jesus was pretty plain on this matter when He said, the greatest in the Kingdom must become (WHAT?) The servant of all.

Beginning with verse 6, Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Becoming living sacrifices is much more than warming a pew in the church. It is finding our place in ministry and going to work.

Jesus pictured the Kingdom:
• As a vineyard,
• As a field,
• As a place of work.

We need to understand that the church is more than a place of worship. It is a place of labor. Young people that includes you. We make a serious mistake today when we refer to our teenagers as the church of tomorrow. They are as much a part of the church today as we are. God requires of them, the same level of worship and service, as He does we adults.

Listen to these admonitions from verses 9-21 of our text.
• Love must be sincere.
• Be devoted to one another.
• Honor one another.
• Share with God’s people.
• Practice hospitality.
• Bless those that persecute you.
• Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
• Associate with people of low position.
• Never repay evil for evil.
• Be careful to do what is right in the sight of everybody.

Well, the chapter ends, but the thought doesn’t. The chapter ends, but the context doesn’t. Chapters 13, 14 and 15 give us more. We will note two.

I’ll read verses 1,2 and 6 of chapter 13, Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves... For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Mark it down, those unwilling to submit to authority are not Living Sacrifices.

• Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
• Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
• The strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please themselves.
• Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
• Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

What do you need to do to respond to God’s Love, Mercy and Grace?
• Need to be converted?
• Need to be transformed?
What do you need to do to become a living sacrifice?

The challenge for each one of us is to respond appropriately to God’s: LOVE... HIS MERCY.... AND GRACE

Let me challenge you to become a living sacrifice.
• Begin today,
• Start right now!

Written By

Bella Vista Church of Christ


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