Doing Your (Big) Purpose in Life
Topic: Holy Spirit Passage: Romans 12:1–
Great to Good
Grace Community Church
Oct. 30, 2022
Doing Your (Big) Purpose in Life
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Rom. 12:1
I want to pick up where we left off a couple weeks ago. In chapter 11 Paul talks about God’s mercy to both Jews and Gentiles and then breaks forth in praise of God’s unfathomable greatness and untraceable paths. We worship a great God, a big God, a living and awesome and merciful God!
Therefore, we are to offer our bodies (ourselves) as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. It pleases God when we live our lives as an act of worship. Worship isn’t something we interrupt life to do, worship is to be a part of everything we do. But how do we do that? What does that look like?
For us to answer that, I think it’s important to revisit a point from the last message. God created us as worshippers – we can’t help but worship, worship is built into our DNA.
You might doubt that but it’s true. We all worship something. You worship. I worship. Atheists worship. Humanists worship. Materialists worship. Everyone worships something. The problem is that because of sin, our hearts are naturally bent to worship the wrong things. Sin didn’t suck worship out of the world, it sucked worship away from God and towards other things. And that’s what’s wrong with the world. When you get God out of order, everything else gets out of order.
Using the analogy I mentioned about the way God constructed the solar system, He set the sun at the center, and the sun amounts to 99.86% of all the mass contained in our solar system. And because of its great mass, it has the gravitational pull to keep all the planets and moons in their proper order.
When we remove God from the center, it doesn’t matter what we put in His place. Money, sex, alcohol, success, family, philanthropy, it doesn’t matter what it is – nothing is big enough to be at the center. These aren’t bad things, they’re just not big enough to hold our lives together. Some people add God to their lives, not as the blazing sun at the center but like another planet. Just enough God so we know He’s there but not so much that He makes much difference. A little church, a memory verse in the morning, a little bit of God and we turn God into Pluto – still in our solar system but not close enough to make much difference or interfere with our lives.
And then we wonder why our lives are so far out of order (and maybe we blame our Pluto God).
The world is out of order. All the wars and crime and evil, all the injustice and broken relationships in the world are a result of misplaced worship. Of God not being in the center.
Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Put God first, put God at the center and guess what happens? Jesus says all these other things we need will be added to us. Added to us means we’re not revolving around them, they’re revolving around us as we revolve around God. Life gets in order when we put God first. Worship is living with God at the center, and that is the (big) purpose of our lives.
But how do we do the big purpose of our lives? How do we live a life of worship?
2 Do not conform 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. Rom. 12:2
How do we put God at the center? How do we live a life of worship? Paul says it takes a don’t and it takes a do.
Don’t be conformed to the world…Do be transformed! Let’s look at those one at a time.
Don’t be conformed to the patterns of the world.
The world has a pattern, a mold it wants to pour us into so that we look like it. That’s what conformed means – to look like something. But here’s I think the church often gets it wrong by limiting worldliness to certain appearances or behaviors. A traditional church full of suits and Sunday dresses is scandalized when someone walks in wearing a nose ring and a mohawk haircut. “That’s so worldly!”
Jesus encountered this all the time. When the prostitute washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, Simon the Pharisee thought, “if Jesus knew what kind of woman this is…” When Jesus went to eat at Matthew’s home, the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, “why does Jesus eat with sinners and tax collectors?”
They thought they were being holy, but the truth is they were being worldly. God wasn’t at the center of their thoughts, self-righteous pride was. They were proud of their religious pedegree. The world has a lot of different molds so if you prefer the religious snob mold over the drug addict mold, the world says, “go for it!”
Don’t be conformed…but be transformed. How? By the renewing of your mind.
The only way not to be conformed is to be transformed, and the only way to be transformed is by the renewing of our mind. But how do we do that? Sometimes – and I’ve been guilty of this – we reduce renewing of our mind to “reading our Bible”. Maybe you’ve heard whole sermons on how you need to renew your mind by reading your Bible. Now, reading our Bibles is a vital part of renewing our minds, but there are tons of people who read their Bibles and look nothing like Jesus. People who are mean, angry, bitter, selfish, abusive, deceitful, proud – and they can quote Bible verses all day long.
So how do we do this? How do we “be transformed”? How do we renew our minds?
The word “transformed” is an interesting word. The Greek word is metamorphoo from which we get the word metamorphosis. It’s only found in four places in the New Testament. It’s the word used to describe when Jesus was transfigured (transformed) on the mountain. And it’s the word used in 2 Cor. 3.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:17-18
This is how we are transformed! This is how our minds are renewed. It happens as, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we behold the glory of God! We don’t transform ourselves. The “do” here isn’t something we do to ourselves, it’s something that’s done to us by the Holy Spirit as we behold Jesus.
I want to highlight two things from this:
- We need to behold Jesus if we are to reflect him to the world
God made us as image-bearers – we are to reflect His glory.
Last week our son Jared came home for a few days and one night he took his telescope outside. I joined him and through it we were able to see Saturn with all its rings and Jupiter with the lines that run across it, and the four larger moons that surround it, and Mars with its redness. It was really cool!
The telescope helped us to see these planets with more detail than we could ever see with the naked eye. But there was something even more essential to our being able to see these planets. The sun! Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars don’t emit any light of their own. They shine because the sun shines on them and they reflect its light.
That’s us. As we behold Jesus, we are able to reflect him to a dark world. Jesus said we are the light of the world, not because we have light but because as we reflect him to the world.
But to reflect him, we have to behold him. Jesus has to be at the center of our life so that we live our life as an act of worship.
We become like what we worship. We reflect what we behold. 2 Kings 17:15 says of the rebellious Jews:
They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. 2 Kings 17:15
- If we worship money, our lives will become poor
- If we worship entertainment our lives will become boring
- If we worship people, people will disappoint us and even betray us
- If we worship success, success will fail us
- If we worship family, one way or another eventually we will lose our god. Our kids are designed to grow up and leave, and eventually every member of our family will say their final goodbye.
These things make decent planets but they make a lousy sun. Added to our lives they can be a blessing, but if we center our lives on them they will leave us empty. If we follow worthless gods long enough we will become worthless.
God has better than that in mind for you and me! It starts with beholding Jesus and his glory!
Don’t just read your Bible – read it to behold Jesus! Don’t just pray – pray to behold Jesus! Don’t just go to church or sing worship songs, come expecting to behold Jesus!
Are you on a mountaintop? Enjoy it but don’t worship it – behold Jesus there! He put you there – thank him for his blessings! Give him praise for his generosity!
Are you in a dark valley? Behold Jesus in that valley– he will never leave you or forsake you. Better to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with Jesus than to be on a mountaintop without him! He will meet you, he will fill you, he will give you strength to keep going, and best of all, he will change you through the valley!
For Christians, trials aren’t there to destroy us, their there to make us. Make us stronger. Make us purer. Make us more like Jesus! The world needs to see the reflection of Jesus in us but we can only reflect him (and be transformed like him) as we behold Jesus!
I find this part of verse 18 very encouraging:
beholding the glory of the Lord, (we) are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
Instead of being conformed to the world (so that we look like the world) we are transformed to look like Jesus. But we don’t get transformed all at once. One degree of glory to another. It’s a process. As we behold Jesus we become a little more like him and one degree at a time we are able to reflect him and his glory to a world that needs to see him reflected through us.
- We need the power of the Holy Spirit to do this
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom… For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Paul sandwiches talk of transformation with the Holy Spirit. There is no transformation without the power of the Spirit. This is something the Lord’s been working to help me see more.
Church without the power of the Spirit is like a car without an engine. It might look good, but it’s going nowhere. We need more than go to church, sing a few songs, hear a good message, go home. That may reform us, it’ll never transform us!
To see the glory of Jesus as we read this book, we need the power of the Spirit. To sense the presence of God as we worship Him, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. To overcome in life when life is trying to knock us down, we need the power of the Holy Spirit.
To love the unlovely, to forgive when someone hurts us and rather than close down our hearts open them up even more, it takes the power of the Spirit. To stand up for the truth when lies are trending, it takes power.
As we live life as an act of worship, being transformed by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ, we will know through His word and in our spirits that we are in God’s will. We will be able to test and approve – that is we will know – that God is increasingly the center of our lives.
I pray for our young people that at a time when so many are walking away from their faith – just as Jesus said would happen in the last days due to the intense spiritual deceptiveness of the devil – that God by His power will raise up an army of young people who when the world says, “bow to the idol I’ve set up” say, we won’t bow to anyone but the Lord Jesus Christ. When the crowds are following the newest lie from hell, will have the courage to say, I’m going to follow Jesus, I don’t care what it costs me.
Young person, your peers might be pressuring you to conform, may God give you the courage to say no. It will take the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can pray for that with faith! Let’s ask God to do a great work. He’s a great God and He loves us, is committed to us, is kinder and
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