True Worship, Part 1 (Romans 12:1-2)


Romans 12:1-2


What is worship?  There is a huge movement within Christianity that mistakenly makes music out to be the most essential idea of “worship.”   A music movement is afoot where the goal is to create global revival through music and lead people into an “encounter” with God.  Music is seen as the vehicle for bringing people into God’s “presence.”  These things are foolish and unbiblical.   

So what is worship?  We turn to Romans 12:1-2 today to let God’s word tell us.  Paul says in verse 1, “this is your true and proper worship.”  And as I study it, I think everything he says in these two verses is united by that one theme of our worship of God.  Now, I don’t have a fancy title or outline.  I’m just going to walk slowly through these 2 verses and try and unpack them.

I have six aspects of true worship I’ve pulled out:  1) It is important, 2) God’s Mercy is the motivator, 3) Sacrifice your body, 4) Rebelling against the world, 5) Renew your mind, 6) Approve God’s will


First, true worship is important.  “Duh!”  No, not “duh!”  Look at what Paul say, “Therefore, I URGE you…”  Paul is not suggesting something.  He is not saying “here’s my advice, but take it or leave it.”  Urging someone means to appeal to them, to press them towards something, to plead with them, even to insist.  You’re trying to make them see how important the thing is that you are urging on them.

What he says is true worship is not optional, he is urging the believers to make their worship of God look like this because it is the only thing worthy of God.  A lot of pastoring, and being a Christian for that matter, is urging people.  Paul urged the Romans to pray for him (Romans 15:30).  He told the Corinthians, “I urge you to imitate me, because I imitate Christ.” (4:6).  Jude said, “I urge you to contend for the fath.”  Peter said, “I urge you…to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against your souls.” (1 Pet. 2:11).  Paul told the Ephesians “I urge you to live worthy of your calling.” (4:1).  

APPLICATION:  Do you let yourself be “urged” into righteousness?  It’s a humble, godly attitude to let yourself be persuaded to do what is righteous.  There are many who have stubborn and defiant attitudes.  But a godly attitude says, “You know what, God’s will is more important to me than my pride.  I can be convinced to do this or that.”

APPLICATION:  Urge others to righteousness.


The second thing about true worship is that it is motivated by God’s mercy.  “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy….”  

The first thing about true worship is not what we do with our bodies.  The first thing is focusing on God’s mercy towards us.  If this is the starting point, then the rest follows.  In my mind I am humbled by God’s mercy because I’m aware how sinful I was, how just He is to judge my sins, yet, how merciful He is towards me in not bringing condemnation on me for my sins.  God’s mercy brings out humility in this sense where I don’t think highly of myself any longer but I now think so highly of God.  And I’m so grateful to him for his mercy.  Now try and tell me that there is a better starting point for worshipping God!  Tell me humility, gratitude, and reverently holding God in the highest esteem is not the best posture for worshipping God.

Our obedience to the multiple commands in these two verses comes from our 20/20 vision of God’s mercy.  When I have God’s mercy front and center I am motivated to offer my body to righteousness; to be transformed by having my mind renewed; to prove God’s perfect will; and I am motivated to not conform to the world’s pattern.  Because of mercy.  When the woman caught in adultery was tenderly spared by Jesus, it was that mercy that motivated her to “leave and sin no more.”  When the corrupt tax collector Zaccheus heard the message of forgiveness of sins was for the worst of sinners, it was mercy that motivated him to refund anyone and everyone he had ever cheated and pay them back 4 times what he cheated them out of.

APPLICATION:  Does God’s mercy towards you make you worship Him?


Third, true worship involves sacrificing your body.  Verse 1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…”  He says “This is your true and proper worship.”

The noticeable phrase here is “living sacrifices.”  Our bodies are to be offered to God as “living sacrifices.” A living sacrifice is where we live to please God.  Which is different from a death sacrifice where someone dies to please God.  Jesus already did that for us.  A living sacrifice is when we sacrificially live in our bodies to please God.  It means we dedicate our bodies to be used by God for righteousness.  Turn to Romans 6:13, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.”  

Yet to offer your body parts to God as instruments of righteousness still requires your death – but a different kind.  It is a death to your sin, a death to your old ways, a death to the sinful nature within you that still pulls you to do evil.  Look at verses 11 and 12, “…..”  In other words, because you are now alive in Christ you are dead to sin; therefore live your life dead to sin; live your life instead alive to righteousness.  From now on your body parts are prohibited from sinful use and they are exclusively designated for righteous activity.  

This is the essence of holiness – to be set apart.  This is why Paul said in 12:1, “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, HOLY….”  Keeping your body holy means not allowing your body to be used for sin, but only allowing it to be used for righteousness.  

APPLICATION:  Your eyes are part of your body.  Are you offering them to God as living sacrifices so that you will not look at things that are sinful but rather only look at what is righteous?  Your ears are part of your body.  Are you offering them to God and ensuring that you only hear what is righteous?  Or are you giving them over to sinful ways – listening to godless teachings, listening to slander and evil talk.  Your mouth is part of your body.  How is your mouth being offered to God for righteousness?  Or is it offered to sin all the time?  Your hands are part of your body.  Do you use them for inappropriate things, or violent things?  Your nice figure and cleavage is part of your body.  How are you offering those to God?  Or are they offered to everyone around?  Your body is your body and it is not to be used for fornication, prostitution, sexual immorality, homosexuality, lesbianism.

APPLICATION:  Your male body is not to be altered to try and look more like a woman’s and your female body is not to be altered to look more like a man’s.  

APPLICATION:  Our bodies are not ours, they are Christ’s.  Turn to 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.  We are not our own.  We are owned by Christ.  He bought us with His own blood.  So, the basis for daily sacrificing our sinful desires and not letting our bodies participate in sin, is the fact that our bodies aren’t even ours anymore.  They are the property of Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION to the APPLICATION:  The basis of the fact that we are owned by Christ is the doctrine of redemption.  We are redeemed.  Redemption has the idea of paying a price in order to liberate someone.  We were owned by sin and slaves to sin, “Whoever sins is a slave to sin” Jesus said (Jn 8).  But Christ purchased us with his blood and set us free from sin, “In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Now this does not mean that Christ purchased our freedom from sin and then lets us just go on our merry way never having to hear from him again.  Redemption means I go from being the property of sin to being the property of God.  

  • Romans 6:22 says, “But now you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God.”  Slavery conveys ownership.
  • Ephesians 1:14, “The Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.”  Those who are God’s WHAT?  Notice here the idea of the Holy Spirit given as a gift to us to dwell inside of us marks us as the possession of God.  Again, we are God’s possession. 
  • Again 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “You are not your own, you were bought with a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  
  • Finally I’ll share one straight out of heaven.  Revelation 5:9 has heaven singing praises to the Lamb, Jesus Christ: “With your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

The point of this application is this:  because Jesus bought our bodies and they now belong to Him we are to no longer let our bodies be used for anything wicked and instead we are to ensure they are holy and set apart to be used only for righteousness.  This is true worship.

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