Romans 12:1 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.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Today’s devotional will be a little different. It will be some of the testimony of my past and how God has brought me to where I am today. Those who have a German background will be able to read the following hymn.
So nimm den meine Hände und führe mich Bis an mein selig Ende und ewiglich! Ich kann allein nicht gehen, nicht einen Schritt; Wo du wirst gehn und stehen, da nimm micht mit.
In deine Gnade hülle mein schwaches Herz, Und mach es endlich stille in Freud und Schmerz. Lass ruhn zu deinen Füssen dein schwaches Kind; Es will die Augen schliessen und folgen blind.
Wenn ich auch gar nichts fühle von deiner Macht, Du bringst mich doch zum Ziele auch durch die Nacht. So nimm denn meine Hände und fürhe mich Bis an mein selig Ende und ewiglich!
This hymn was one of several that were sung in the church I grew up in. My background is being raised in a Mennonite Brethren church. When I was a young boy, that church had bilingual services — German and English. The German language was being pushed out by the younger generation, but there were enough older people to keep the German language alive in that church for most of my youth. Today that church is nothing more than a social club. There is no Gospel there. It is a shame to see how many people still bother to attend that place.
The hymn above and several others show us that even false religion can use hymns that have good meaning, but are not believed. The root problem with the church I grew up in was the failure to accept God’s Word as Truth.
I can remember when that church gave all the youth that turned 16 that particular year, a “New English New Testament”. I can also remember the concern that some of the older men expressed to this change. However, the “educated” leaders convinced them this was a good thing. When a person forsakes the Word of God, there is no hope.
There were many other changes taking place in that church during my younger years. I was not a saved person, but I did read my Bible at times. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of the lost to convince them of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (John 16:8). God does not lie. He was working in my heart but I was resisting Him. Sad to say, I was a rebel. My father tried to turn me, but he could not because he did not have the truth himself. It is not enough to follow traditions. We need to be taught the truth and we need to respond to the truth.
At the age of 14 I decided that I was not interested in pursuing the God that was being proclaimed at my home and at the church I attended. At age 17 I left home and that church as well. I wandered aimlessly for 3 years, trying to find my way. I am thankful that God continued to show me that I was going the wrong way. I had friends of my age who died in car crashes and drownings at that time. God spared my life, not because I deserved it but because of His mercy.
God was continuing to work on my heart and soul and near the end of my 20th year, I finally stopped fighting against God. He kept showing me that I was going the wrong way and that if I were to die, I would not go to heaven. I knew the only other option was hell. I did not want to go to hell, and I knew I was a lost sinner and deserved that fate. I knew enough about the need to be saved that I bowed my head and prayed to God and asked Him to forgive me and save me. God is good and He heard my prayer and saved me.
After being saved, I wanted to find a good church. I wanted to know the truth but all I knew of was New Evangelical churches like I was raised in. God was not content with having me in those places and thus I was not content there. Not long after being saved, God led me to a Christian young woman and we were married about a year later. Over time God blessed us with three children but there was still a longing for something in my soul. We attended different churches but did not find that rest for the soul.
The hymn quoted above is a prayer. In that hymn the writer is asking God to take his hands and lead him. The song writer wrote that he wanted to be lead for ever. He was not interested in some short term help. The hymn is about having a right relationship with God. That will be eternal.
As the verses in Romans 12 tell us, we need to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God. Paul was directed to write these words to those who are saved. Lost people cannot present their bodies a living sacrifice unto God.
Those who are genuinely saved hunger for truth. They have been made alive and they need to feed on truth. Playing religion will not satisfy the longing of the soul. I had discovered that as a young person. After being saved, I also found that the deceptive ways of the New Evangelical religion does not satisfy the soul. I was praying and asking God to lead me. He is good and He has been leading me. It has been a long process, but that is not His fault.
My trust in Him was weak and needed to grow to where I would simply trust Him and follow Him. His way is not the popular way. The Bible makes that clear. His way is the right way, and it is the only way that satisfies the need of the living soul, but it is going against the tide of society. The flesh does not want to be ostracized. However, the spirit desires truth.
God states that it is a reasonable service to give my life as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. He will never lead a person the wrong way. Having been raised in New Evangelicalism and having been involved in that even as a Christian, I was starving spiritually. I was not satisfied with what they were trying to feed me. It did not fit with what the Bible declares.
God has been very gracious to me and He showed me that His Word is truth. My foundation is not a church. My foundation is the God of the Word and I learn about Him through His Word. A true local church is important and sometimes it is difficult to find a good local church. God kept working in my heart and He led us out of New Evangelicalism and into an Independent Fundamental Baptist church. Since aligning with this group, I have discovered that New Evangelicalism has its tentacles in many IFB churches as well.
Through study, I also discovered that the “Fundamentals” while important do not encompass all that God’s Word declares. This has led me to change our church description to “Independent Baptist” without the word “fundamental” in it. We want to build upon all of God’s Word, not just what some people thought was important.
God is good and He will lead the saved person to a good local church. That is His design. The true child of God cannot be spiritually content if he or she is not involved in a true local church. That is not my opinion. That is what the Bible teaches.
In verse 2 of our text true Christians are told not to be conformed to this world. We are not supposed to be trying to fit in with the world. We have been changed at the moment of salvation. Now it is important to grow in the Lord. We do that by being transformed by the renewing of our minds. There were many things that I had heard and observed in my younger years. There were many things that I had heard and observed after I was saved. Much of it was false teaching. It was in contradiction to what the Bible says. Most people do not have a good Bible and they do not examine what the preacher says by the Word of God. They let the preacher redefine the Word of God. It sounds good to the willfully ignorant person, but the person who has the Spirit of God indwelling them, is not satisfied with spin doctors.
Every thought that the saved person has needs to be transformed. Every habit that has been developed in the past, needs to be examined in the light of God’s Word. When we take what we hear and we examine it through the lens of God’s Word we will prove what that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God is.
God is still teaching men. He has shown me the emptiness of the New Evangelical camp. He has shown me the poison that flows out of that system. That system is still swallowing up lost people who want something to try to soothe their guilty conscience. Those who attend those churches are content to let the preacher redefine the Word of God. They are not like the Bereans who gladly received the word of the apostles but they examined what the apostles taught them by the Word of God. They were students of the Word and they would take the time to see if what they were being told was actually true. That is not offensive to a godly pastor. He welcomes those who will examine all things by the Word of God. He welcomes questions to help understand things from the Biblical perspective. Sound doctrine is essential. The soul of the saved person cannot rest until it is in tune with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We need to be grounded in the truth. Those who are truly saved have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. He will help them to be able to discern truth from error. The Christian life is a worthy fight of faith.