March 13. Romans 12:1-2 part 3: Holy and Acceptable to God (it’s what you are).

Romans 12:1-2. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Holy and acceptable.

It is truly one of the most amazing truths of all the amazing truths of our union with Christ that we, the fallen creatures, can be acceptable, or pleasing, to God the Creator.

Say it with me, “I please God.” “God finds pleasure in me.”

Some of you didn’t say it did you? Why not? Is it too hard of a truth to believe? If so let me ask you this, “Does God find pleasure in Christ?” Of course the answer is yes. So next question, “Are you IN CHRIST?” If the answer to this question is also yes, then the truth is that God also finds pleasure in you.

Komako Sakai - The Velveteen Rabbit reimagined

The Velveteen Rabbit – love makes the raggedy toy real. It becomes what it is declared to be.

Look closely at Paul’s language in Romans 12:1. Most of us probably think that Paul is telling us to make ourselves holy and acceptable. “Try to be holy. Try to be acceptable today. For God’s sake (literally).”

But that’s not how it reads. The imperative is “present your body as a living sacrifice.” The indicative is “you are holy and acceptable to God.”

Paul is not trying to drive us to despair here. He’s not telling us to do something that God hasn’t already done in us. He’s not telling us to make ourselves holy and pleasing to God. Christ has already done it. That’s what “to live is Christ” means – we are as holy and pleasing to God as Christ is. He is telling us to present ourselves AS holy and pleasing. To present yourself to God AS what you ARE. Believe what you ARE, and then live it. You ARE holy, so live as holy. You ARE pleasing, so live as pleasing. This is the only way to truly live. The only way to find true joy and meaning in life is to trust what God has said about you. And to trust the power of his word.

You say, “but Brady I don’t act very holy and I don’t act very acceptable most of the time.”

I know right. Me either.

But we must start with what we ARE, not with how we ACT. Position first. Then condition. Remember, faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), so we must live by faith in what God has declared about us and imputed to us. Living by what we can do for ourselves is never faith.

Let’s remember the rest of Romans too while we’re at it. Romans 4:5 told us that God has imputed righteousness to the ungodly. That’s you and me. We are simultaneously sinners and saints. And remember Romans 7? “O wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?”

But that’s not the end of the letter is it? No despair. No quit. No condemnation. So keep presenting yourself as holy and pleasing, even when you’re not acting like it. Even when you just got done sinning…again. Even when you doubted…again. Even when you’ve been crying all day…again. Even when you failed…again. It is exactly then that you have to believe what God says about you – In Christ alone you are holy and acceptable. You please God! And it is exactly then that you must present yourself…again. It is exactly when you feel like running and hiding, like covering your nakedness with fig leaves, that you must step forward and re-present yourself to God as a living sacrifice. Because it is only then that God’s grace will be displayed in glorious fashion for all to see.

And that pleases God.

Here’s the full story (best version ever – the music of George Winston and the voice of Meryl Streep)

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