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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Devoted Lifestyle

Worship: An Expression of Devotion.


     If worship is, essentially, an expression of love and devotion to God, where in scripture is that concept mentioned and what do the scriptures say about the Christian life.

     In the previous post, Romans 12:1 was mentioned as one of the main commands in the New Testament for a life of holiness. Let's elaborate that verse a little bit.

 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a    living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

      Believers are beseeched or strongly exhorted to present their bodies a living sacrifice. This is only possible by the mercies of God. The Greek word translated "mercies" in this verse is the word for compassion. The etymology of "compassion" is Latin, meaning "co-suffering." More involved than simple empathy, compassion commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering. As we can see from the etymology of this word, it is more than just an exhortation, rather it is God's desire to alleviate our suffering and it is only by faith in God that our suffering is alleviated. Colossians 3:3 states that "...your life is hid with Christ in God." The believer's life is found in Christ every time that believer humbly kneels at the cross of Calvary. It is not easy to kneel at the cross, but like Isaiah 57:15 says (and in many other passages as well) the Lord delights in the presence of contrite heart. It is necessary to give the sufferings of this life to God so that believers may be of more service in God's work on earth.
      The first command in this verse is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. There are all sorts of sacrifices and offerings made unto the Lord in the Old Testament. In the New Testament there is a different type of offering commanded by the Lord, the sacrifice of our body and life. According to Romans 6, our old nature has already been crucified with the Lord. Believers now have to offer their bodies and lives to the Lord. Our life is already in the hands of the Lord, which is both a comforting thought and a fearful thought. This can't be some nonchalant offering, but needs to be made to be pleasing and acceptable and holy to the Lord, unlike need Nadab and Abihu offering their strange fire. So often, Christians believe that what they offer is automatically accepted. If believers are commanded to offer a holy and acceptable sacrifice, then not everything is holy and acceptable, and only God has told us what is holy and acceptable.
       What is a holy offering? This verse commands believers to present their living body as holy. (The next group of posts will analyze the individual parts of the body mentioned throughout scripture.) There are two aspects to holiness, within one definition. The essence of the word holy means to separate. In the Christian life, a holy life is twofold, in that there is to be separation FROM sin and the world, yet also separation UNTO God. This is very similar to thinking of the advice that Daniel gave King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4: 27.

 “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.”

        Sin is all the flesh knows, but God has given us a new and spiritual nature...A nature that the flesh is unfamiliar with. It seems that believers need to deceived their own flesh and offer a spiritual offering. James chapter 1 verse 22 exhort the believer to deceive their own selves by doing the word, by living out our faith.

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

        The whole christian life is filled with choices between sin or righteousness. God hates sin and the more time a believer spends getting to know God, the more repulsed the believer will be by his sin nature and his daily sins. God commands His children to be holy all throughout Scripture. Reading through Leviticus, it is easy to see how holiness was to be expressed, in the clothes the high priest wore, the sacrifices, the choosing of the high priest, etc. In the New Testament, holiness is to be displayed in the life of the Christian, not only his life in general, but in every facet of his life. Holiness is only obtained through the recognition that there is nothing good in the flesh, as Paul lamented in Romans chapter 7.

       The next step, according to Romans 12:1, is that our life needs to be acceptable. Only God tells us what He accepts. Yes, God will accept any man that will come to Him on the basis of child-like faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, but does God accept the way christians live their lives? This verse in Romans is a small indication that our lives are not acceptable, simply because we are commanded to live a life that is acceptable. For instance, 1 Timothy chapter 2:1-3 exhort believers to pray for their president, and this is acceptable to the Lord.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;"

      There are numerous other places in Scripture that instruct us in acceptable and holy living. Those will be looked at further in the following posts.

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