In the previous five articles, we have looked at Romans 12:1-2, where Paul calls us to live the gospel-shaped life. In this final article, I attempt to pull all the threads together and offer some concluding remarks.
The foundation of Christian sanctification is justification. Before Paul calls us to spiritual worship, transformation, and everything that revolves around the Christian life, he reminds us of the mercies of God. These mercies of God have been the subject of his exposition of the gospel in the previous eleven chapters. Every attempt at Christian sanctification must, therefore, be founded on a correct grasp of the gospel and true abiding faith in Christ. It is those who have been justified and adopted, saved from the wrath of God by the blood of the lamb that Paul calls to sanctification. This means that we do not approach sanctification from a position of merit but a position of grace. While we grow in sanctification, our standing before God is never up for grasp – we are made perfect in Christ forever (Hebrews 10:14), clothed in his righteousness (Romans 3:21-26), and secured by his blood (Colossians 1:20). All those who the Father gave to the Son, the Son keeps, none is lost (John 6:39)
Justified, adopted, secured believers are called to live in a certain way. They are to offer their bodies as living sacrifices. This offering of themselves is a total yielding and consecrating of all of their lives to the one who bought them. We can no longer live to ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:15); rather, we are to continually yield ourselves to God to do with us as He wills. To offer our bodies is to offer the entirety of ourselves to the will and purpose of God. This yielding of ourselves is what Paul calls our spiritual act of worship. To worship God then is to yield ourselves continually to the will and purpose of God, making a total commitment of ourselves to our Lord. Worship is, therefore, more than a weekly gathering; it is a daily experience affecting every facet of life.
If we are to worship God in this way, then we are to detach ourselves from our former objects of worship – self, Satan, and the world. Before we came to Christ, we live by the standards and principles of the world. However, the world is in rebellion against our new master since it places the will and purpose of man above God’s. Therefore, as believers, we can no longer conform to the world since no man can serve two masters (Mathew 6:24). We are to turn away from the world if we are to yield ourselves to our Lord and Master. Friendship with the world is enmity against God (James 4:4)
The bible does not call us from worldliness to nothingness. Instead, it calls us to a new standard. The world is no longer the object of our worship; Christ is. It is this that the bible calls transformation. It is a metamorphosis, a transfiguration. We are no longer conformed to the world; rather, we are to be conformed to the likeness of Christ. Christ-likeness is our new goal and experience. This Christ-likeness occurs as we take our eyes off the world and keep our eyes on the glory of God that is in the face of Jesus. The more we behold Christ, the more we know the character, perfections, and being of God. The more our knowledge of who God is, the more we know his will. This process is what Paul refers to as the renewing of our minds.
Since the call of the gospel is to yield ourselves to the will and the purpose of God, the more we know his will, the more we submit to it. The Holy Spirit produces the transformation in us. The nature of this transformation is that we begin to think, feel, judge, decide, discern, adjudicate based on the will of God. The will of God becomes the basis of all our thoughts, decisions, evaluations, perceptions, and everything in between. So this renewal-transformation process occurs as we discern the will of God and approve it. This approval of the will of God is the yielding of our own will and the will of the world to the will of God. It is affirming that in every area of life, on every matter of interest, it is the will of God that is good, pleasing, and acceptable. Therefore, the only reasonable thing to do is to submit to that will joyfully. This is not a mere mental process since it is the Holy Spirit alone who produces Christian Sanctification (Romans 8:13, 14).
• Knowing the will of God is crucial to Christian Sanctification. Christian growth is not a nebulous process that happens out of thin air. It occurs as we grow in the knowledge of God and his will.
• Knowledge is, therefore, an essential part of the Christian faith. No wonder Peter admonishes the church to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18).
• What Christ demands is total commitment. He is either Lord of all or not Lord at all. However, he is Lord, which means, he is Lord of all. We must, therefore, offer the totality of our lives to him. We must hold back nothing. The will of God, known through the word of God, must rule over every segment of our lives.
• This, therefore, means that we cannot segment our lives into secular and spiritual. How we live in every circumstance, environment, and place is to discern the will of God and approve it. There is a Christian approach to work, leisure, entertainment, etc. There is a Christian way to think about the culture, politics, economy, and everything in between. We are not one day in a week Christians; we are 24/7 Christians.
• The grace of God must be the foundation if we will live a joyful Christian life.
• We are not to think that Christian sanctification is a purely intellectual matter. It is made possible by the “Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
• While there are many aspects of our salvation that are definite, they are also continuous. We are transformed already, but we must continue to be transformed. We already have a new mind, but we must continue to renew our minds. We are no longer of the world, but we must continue to make efforts not to be conformed to the world.
• The Christian life is not a passive “let go and let God.” We are to work out our salvation while remembering that it is God who works in us to will and to do. While we are not passive, we must understand that every effort and progress we make is a product of God’s grace in us.
This is what this website is about. The goal is to help believers live this gospel-shaped life that Paul calls us to in Romans 12:1-2.