Worship is a Living Sacrifice
Singles Alive! Night of Dynamite talkBy Nathan Mates
On April 29th, 2000, I gave a 10-minute talk at the Hope Chapel Singles Alive Night of Dynamite, between some performances by _The Strangers_, a band formed out of several members from Hope Chapel. What follows below is the text of my talk, though as delivered some things were phrased differently as I wasn't reading this script word for word.
Thank you all for coming tonight, and putting up with this intermission between the excellent performances by The Strangers. How many here were here last Friday, at the purity ceremony? That was a time when many people chose to publicly dedicate their bodies and actions to God, until marriage and even beyond. Now, some may be wondering what exactly such a purity ceremony has to do with tonight's worship, other than both happen at Church. So, let me fill in the dots: the apostle Paul calls offering our bodies to God a spiritual act of worship.
That passage by Paul is what I'll be speaking out of tonight, and it's Romans 12, 1-2. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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."
Worship shouldn't stop when you leave here tonight, and drive home. What Paul encourages us to do is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices-- something that extends beyond just being at Hope, but it's something to be done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For an analogy, imagine an athlete that wants to get into the Olympics or professional sports. What is the first thing their coach is going to tell them to do? Is the coach going to tell them to take up a diet of Domino's pizza and oreos? I don't think so-- unless this is a sumo wrestling coach. Coaches tell their athletes to have mental discipline in eating right, exercising, and taking good care of their bodies.
In the same way, even though our goals are spiritual in nature, not physical, Paul coaches us to to have similar mental discipline over our bodies. Can you imagine going to a pastor for guidance and hearing "Ahhhh, go do whatever you want. Sin doesn't matter." If you do hear that, run very far away and don't look back. Why? God gave us our bodies, and wants us to take good care of them. But, our bodies also have some of the sinful nature in them-- our bodies want pleasure, whether it's gotten correctly or sinfully.
Jesus Christ was our ultimate example here on earth? He offered his body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God on the cross. Why? So that God could show mercy on us and forgive us our sins. Is that forgiveness a great gift for us? You bet. So is it a reasonable or spiritual act of worship back to control our bodies? Yep.
Also, consider this: Jesus did more in his 33-odd years here on Earth than just die for us, he was also tempted in every way, but was without sin. Jesus's body had the same temptations as our bodies, yet Jesus resisted them. That's our model. So, like Jesus, we are to control our bodies and use them for God's plans, not the desires of our sinful nature-- that's our spiritual act of worship.
Secondly, we are to be changed people. Look at what Paul says in the first part of verse 2: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." God's in the business of transforming people. He took a bunch of backwater fisherman hicks to the point where they preached to thousands. He turned murders like Saul into the evangelist Paul. He's changed so many here at Hope Chapel as well. This change is available to all believers, but happens when we don't follow the world anymore.
As a quick review, what does the world say about sexual issues? Quite simply: "if it feels good, do it." Sex before marriage, pornography, sex outside of marriage, lust, and the like are all raised up as "normal." But, in God's eyes, all of those are something quite different: sin. God made sex to be between a husband and wife, nothing else. When we go outside of God's rules, and do what the world says, we sin.
It doesn't matter what we've done in the past, God can forgive us of what sins we've done. In fact, look at Jesus's words to the woman caught in adultery: "I do not condemn you, but go and sin no more." Jesus offers forgiveness to those who ask for it, but we must confess our sins and ask for forgiveness.
Peter, in Acts 3:19 says this: "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Who here wants times of refreshing? Who here wants to be transformed? The Bible is clear on this: turn away from your sins.
So, my question to you is this: are you willing to confess to God your sins, sexual or otherwise, and turn from them so you're living fully for God?
We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices as an act of worship, and we are to do so by not conforming to the sinful patterns of this world. Finally, we come to the reward mentioned by Paul: "Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will."
So, who here wants to know who they'll marry? *If* they'll ever marry? What they should do in their job. What they should be working on in their life. Where they should be living. All of us have thousands of questions, but Paul says that as we shed the sins that keep us away from God, we'll be able to see what God's will is.
[Note: the following 2 paragraphs were trimmed off the talk given 4/29/00 for time reasons, but as I originally wrote them, they're preserved here.]
How does this work? God doesn't change-- he's the same yesterday, today, and forever. But, as we change, we get closer to God, and can see what his will is because we'll start to think more and more like God does. Zac, a few weeks ago, said this in his sermon: "If you're living outside of God's will, how can you possibly know what his will is for your life?" That's what Paul says here: you want the rewards, you gotta spend the time and energy seeking after God.
We need to seek after God with our entire heart, soul, mind, and strength-- not just while we're here in Church, but throughout our entire lives. So, my challenge to you is this: this is a course of action that requires discipline, sacrifice and work to keep at it. But, the rewards are great for those who follow God and do his will. Are you willing to choose to make all of the actions of your body pleasing to God? Are you willing to change from the patterns of this world, and really seek after God? Do you want to know God's will? I cannot make these choices for you, but pray that you will choose to follow God more closely in these areas.