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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1354

Our Living Sacrifice
Part One

September 16, 2018

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— Brother Phil Enlow: You know, I’d like to focus, just for a little bit — I don’t know if this will take a long time or a short time — but anyway, in Romans chapter 12, a very familiar scripture, in fact, I used it recently, I think, on a Wednesday night. But there’s something that just kind of has jumped out at me and I believe, in a great measure, it’s the answer to a very simple question. It’s, what is the Lord looking for from us? What does He want from us?

Because you know, we’ve got all kinds of ideas in religion where some people think, well, God wants this perfection of personal holiness. And some people it’s all about there’s stuff to do, I’ve got to be busy with the Kingdom and busy with activity and programs and all these kinds of things. This is what the Lord wants from me.

And, I believe there’s truth around the edges of some of these things, but I believe there’s a simplicity to what God is wanting from every one of us. And I don’t want this just to be the usual Wednesday night unity service, but I believe there’s a vision.

You know, oftentimes when I come to this meeting, it’s like it’s time to reestablish the vision. And a lot of times, I think what we’re looking for is something real high-falutin and sexy and — use a common word. It needs to be really exciting and really something ‘wow,’ something that tickles the intellect. But I believe the simplicity of what God wants, is just that. It’s very simple.

And it’s something that we find so many ways to dodge. But anyway, as I’ve pointed out many times, I don’t want to go back through the whole Book of Romans, exactly, but this begins with the word ‘therefore.’ And, of course, you always need to ask what it’s “there for”? It’s a word that’s meant to connect it to everything else.

And so, what God has, basically, spent 11 pages, 11 chapters, through the pen of the Apostle Paul, establishing is, what the Gospel is all about: what He’s done; what His purpose is; what His plan is.

And of course, He begins with our state, as coming into this world, born into Adam’s family. It’s a pretty dark picture. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Jew living under the Law and active in your religion, or if you’re somebody in a jungle murdering people and eating them. The need is exactly the same! Everybody absolutely is not only a sinner in terms of having committed sins, but we, by nature, continue to do it.

In other words, the scripture very plainly says, “All have sinned…” (NIV). That takes care of the past. See, I’ve got two problems. One is about the record I’ve already got. I can’t do anything about that. It’s history. I’ve done it; there it is. I can’t argue about it. Justice demands that I, the sinner, die. If God’s gonna be just, that penalty has to be carried out. But suppose God somehow got rid of all that. My record is clear. Now what? It’s not only that I ‘have’ sinned, it’s that I fall short.

My best effort, if I’m leaning on Adam and his ability, my best effort will always fall short!

( congregational amens ).

There’s nothing I can do about that! So I have two problems. One is the record of my guilt. The other is the fact that I need a different life on the inside! That’s why religion can’t help.

( congregational amens ).

And of course, by religion, I mean anything other than the Gospel, anything other than a real life, and a new life in Christ, that comes on the inside, changes me from the heart out. Anything else is just me trying to act like something I’m really not. And that, obviously, isn’t what God wants.

And so, Paul, in great detail, lays out God’s answer to this. That how in the world — this is something that no other religion, that pretends to have an answer for sin, has the answer to this question! How is it possible for God to be just and merciful? If He’s merciful and overlooks my sin, He’s not being just. Because, “…the wages of sin is…”

( congregational response ).

…Death.” End of story! You make a law and you say this is the penalty of that, and you don’t carry out the penalty if I commit the sin, you’re not being just! What a dilemma it is! And yet, God has the perfect solution in that His Son came, assumed my guilt!

( congregational amens ).

He became sin for me so that I could become the righteousness of God in Him! What an exchange! I gave Him my sinfulness. He stepped in and took all of the wrath of God that I deserve! Praise God! Praise God!

( congregational praise ).

That’s how God can be merciful! It’s because justice has been satisfied!

( congregational amens ).

It was completely satisfied at the Cross! And so, now God is free to be merciful to me. But that still leaves me with a big problem! See, you get on into chapter 5 and you find out that whereas the death of Christ reconciles me to God, that is I was at war with Him, a great gulf was there, nothing I could do to cross that and come into the presence of a Holy God. That gulf was there, but there was a reconciliation. Now all of a sudden, He and I can come together. That was through the death.

But it’s through His life that I’m saved! There was an absolute, amazing thing that the Devil — I don’t think the Devil saw this coming. In fact, I’m sure he didn’t because the Word says he was deceived. The rulers of this world were deceived. They thought they were winning. And all they were doing was engineering God’s plan. Praise God! The Devil can’t win for losing!

( laughter ).

So, don’t be afraid of him. We have the answer to everything that he can throw at us in Jesus!

( congregational amens ).

Oh, man! If you put your whole hope in Him, and your trust in Him, that’s all there is, that’s all that matters! But anyway, praise God! And so, the life by which Jesus exited that tomb — He simply disappeared through the rock, through the clothes, everything — He just came out! Nothing was a limitation to Him anymore! There was a life, the very life of God was in Him and that is what He shares with every soul that repents of their sin and puts their faith in Him, invites Him to come and dwell in the heart, there is a real, literal birth that takes place!

( congregational amens ).

Praise God! It’s real! There are so many fake Christians! Talk about fake news — that’s all in the news.

( laughter ).

But fake Christians are those who try to play the part of a Christian but they’ve never been born again on the inside! That’s not the Gospel! The Gospel is all about having a new life in Christ!

And, of course, Paul develops a lot of things I’m not gonna take time to go into, about how that grace, the power of the new life in Christ, is greater than the power of Adam to keep us in bondage to sin. We now, by faith, can lay hold of something that God has given us that we could never possibly earn or deserve! Thank God!

And so, he goes on and he talks about how — where’s God going with this? Because, that’s all wonderful, but what’s it all about? Are we just…I don’t know — where’s He going? And where He’s going with this is to make us like Him, to have a family of sons. He already had one Son who was perfect, but God wanted a family of sons.

As I’ve made the point many times, “son” is not a gender word in this case. These are God’s offspring. We would say sons and daughters. We would include all, obviously. But I’ll tell you, you and I are not fit to live with Him, with a Holy God, unless something really happens that’s pretty drastic! And God has determined to work everything for our good. All things work together, “…for the good of those who love him, who…” have been…

( congregational response ).

…Called. See, there’s a voice — it’s not an audible voice, but there is a voice that has come to call us into His Kingdom—to invite us into His Kingdom, to call for repentance. But to those who are, “…called according to his purpose.” And His purpose is to conform us, “…to the image of his Son.” (KJV). So that He, the Son, would be what?

( congregational response ).

“…The firstborn among many brothers…” (NIV). And so, everything else that happens in this world has everything to do with fulfilling that purpose that God has declared.

And of course, Paul then spends three chapters talking about the problem of, what about the Jews? How do they fit in? And it boils down to this, that God has a remnant of people that has nothing to do with whether you’re a Jew or Gentile. Thank God for every Jew who has come to know Him and every Gentile! But when it’s all said and done, there’s gonna be one Kingdom!

And God will have done it! We couldn’t figure it out! We couldn’t earn it or deserve it! It all comes from the heart of God! Praise God! I can trust and love Somebody like that! Can’t you?

( congregational response ).

Thank God! That’s the reason we have for being here tonight. It’s what God has done! So, what again, is the question? Not only, where is God going with this? What does He desire from us, right here, tonight? What’s the thing that is uppermost in His mind, tonight?

And this is the point where, if you went to a lot of modern churches, they would say, come on in, believe in Jesus, be baptized, we’ve got a lot of programs. Come and find the one that suits you the most, get in there, get busy, work for the Kingdom, build up the church! Let’s go out and see how big we can build the church. And that would be one answer you might hear. And you could go in a lot of places and hear a lot of answers.

But what is Paul’s answer? You know, I was thinking about this the other day and it just really struck me. In fact, I can’t find any place in chapters 12 through 16, which is the “therefore,” where Paul even talks about, let’s have a Bible college, let’s go soul-winning, let’s — it’s not that there isn’t a place for God reaching out! But I’ll tell you, if you don’t have what Paul is talking about in these chapters, forget trying to reach out! You haven’t got anything to reach out with!

( congregational amens ).

The world is full of religious activity that people substitute for what Paul is talking about here. This is the essence of it! And I believe with all my heart, God is longing to bring together a people who don’t just assert what is said here. They don’t just say, oh, yeah, yeah, I know all about that, but who learn how to walk in it, starting with me. This is God’s heart, folks. Let’s ask Him to help us to unpack this a little bit.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices….” And I’m gonna pause there because that is actually a slight mistranslation. I remember noticing this, oh goodness, way back when I first came. I stood up in a service and I made a point out of this passage, based on the King James reading, and it is in some others, some of the modern ones. And I don’t know if I’m crazy, it’s probably…

( laughter ).

…But I have yet to ever encounter anybody who saw the same little point that I did. And I’m gonna say it again and just put it out there. It’s a grammar lesson again. You ready for one? “I beseech you…” (KJV). Is that singular or plural?

( congregational response ).

That’s plural! You, plural, right? Okay? “…To offer your bodies…” (NIV). Is that singular or is it plural?

(congregational response ).

Yes! Okay. If you look in the Greek and if you look in the NLT, I believe it gets it right. The ESV gets it right. But the word ‘sacrifice’ is not plural. It does not say, you offer your bodies as living sacrifices. What you get out of that, if you’re not careful, is individualism. There is a corporateness to what God seeks.

It’s wonderful that we have individuals who say, Lord, I love you, I want to serve you, come and live in me, I offer myself to you, I want to do whatever you want, I want to learn about your will. That’s great! But what God is talking about here is something much bigger than a whole lot of individuals doing that.

I’ll tell you what’s easy to happen. If you and I have this private relationship with God, and it doesn’t involve a lot of interaction on a real, real deep level with anybody else, we’re real good at deceiving ourselves. We can imagine that we have this wonderful, glorious something and I’ve encountered incidences where there was so much a fantasy in a lot of it.

It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have a deep personal relationship. Of course, He does! Of course, that’s real! But you know where the character of God is manifest? You know where He wants it to come out and to find expression? It’s in the Body of Christ! It’s not just a whole collection of individuals just individually coming to Him. This is a body of people coming together to present one sacrifice!

( congregational amens ).

Am I crazy? Does that make sense?

( congregational amens ).

Yes I’m crazy? Yeah!

( laughter ).

( laughing ).

Amen! Both! Okay! Carl said that it was both! And he’s probably right. No! That’s the dimension. Most people — you read commentaries on this. They’re gonna talk about, oh, the sacrifices of the Old Testament — this is mirrored, this is a mirroring of that. And it is. All that’s true.

But I’ll tell you, there is this sense of when God’s people are brought together and they come and they present themselves as a people. Now you’ve got another dimension of what God is looking for. If God’s nature does not find expression in human relationships on this planet, there’s something very big missing! God is not simply looking for body parts to inhabit.

You think about that for a minute. You know, a leg here, an arm over there and, you know. No! God is looking for a body! You and I would have a hard time with that kind of a body, wouldn’t we? We need something that is absolutely joined, committed! It better be committed or we ain’t going anywhere! God wants a — God is building a people together to live in!

This is not a new revelation at all. It’s just a — it’s another way of expressing something that God has made real, in varying degrees, over the years. But I sense a need and I sense a desire in the heart of God to make it real to this generation in a new and a deeper way.

You know, there are ways, if you go through this passage and you go through what he talks about in the next chapters — I’m not gonna try to break it all down, but you will see relationships that you and I, many times without intending to, we gloss over while we assert all these wonderful, glorious truths. And God is wanting something that is real!

Folks, I thank God for the degree to which He has blessed us with love, with unity, with all the virtues of His character. But I believe with all my heart, God wants to inhabit this people in a deeper, more powerful way! Let me tell you, if God really inhabits a people and empowers them and brings forth their gifts and abilities, don’t you know it’s going to lead to activities that are from His heart?

( congregational response ).

The danger is, we will substitute all kinds of religious activity and think we’re doing great things for God, when we need to just humble ourselves, and look to Him and say, God, change me! God make me the kind of person You want me to be! Lord, don’t let me deceive myself with religious works and activity and making a substitute of all these superficial things and never getting down to the deep issues that govern my life in a practical sense. I’ll tell you, anything that doesn’t get down in here is not very real!

You know, I’ve expressed many times recently, the burden, the Lord’s burden for the younger generation. But you know what? What do they see in us? We cannot sit there and simply preach the words, no matter how impassioned they may be, no matter how true they may be, if they’re not seeing a reflection of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ in us and in our interaction.

( congregational amens ).

Is this the truth?

( congregational response ).

Yeah! It’s so easy for us to get in the — for all of this to become, to a certain degree, a matter of tradition. This is our belief system. This is how we do stuff. And we simply come together and we do all of the stuff up here and so many of the issues down here are just sort of glossed over, never really gotten down to the nitty-gritty of our hearts.

Now it’s getting quiet! But what God is wanting us to do, in a joint sense, and I don’t know what He wants to do. I’m not gonna try to do something dramatic here. That’s not my personality, I guess. But there is a place for a people to say, we are your people, we come together, we recognize you have joined us together, we present ourselves to you, come and live in, not just me, but come and live in us!

( congregational amens ).

God is building, to use Paul’s language in Ephesians 2, I believe, He’s building a temple. Every part is fitly framed together, isn’t it? But what’s the purpose? It’s a place for God to live! When Jesus was on Earth that was His home! He lived in Jesus! When people looked at Jesus, they saw God! God just oozed out of Him.

He didn’t have to say a lot. I mean, He did many wonderful things. But just being around Him, you knew something was different about this guy, ‘cause God was in Him. Do you think if God was in us the way He wants to be, we’d have any problem with people knowing about it? You wouldn’t have — you wouldn’t need a program.

What kind of program did they have after the day of Pentecost? They got together. They were glad. They were rejoicing. They were meeting from house to house and God was saving every day, people — there were people being saved every day. Praise God!

I’ll tell you what, it’s got to begin with this sense. I am a part of something bigger than myself and I am committed to Your plan, Your program. I give my life to You. I am no longer my own. I am Yours. I sign on completely with Your program, Your heart! Lord, take over. Reveal it to me! Change me! Because that’s where it goes…this is an offering, first of all.

“…This is your spiritual act of worship….” It refers to it as, “…holy and pleasing to God … Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” And boy, do we do that without even trying. The world of this — and of course, the world — He’s not talking about just the planet, the trees — there’s a spiritual system. It is a spiritual system. It is a government. It is an order of things. A kingdom, if you will, ruled over by the Devil himself, who is at war with God.

And there are so many things in this world that seem appealing and pleasing and all of that, but God doesn’t want us to become like that. It doesn’t mean we have to be Pharisees and look down our nose at people. Jesus intermingled with all kinds of people, but He didn’t partake of their spirit. He didn’t become like them.

You know, we can love people without being like them, without embracing the error, and all of that. Don’t be conformed to this world! God wants something different from us. Praise God!

In fact, doesn’t He earlier in chapter, in chapter 8 we referred to the fact that He wants to conform us to the Son! So, here are two options. Here’s somebody who says, I want to be like Him! That’s God’s plan for me! Oh, God, help me! Make me like Jesus! We love to sing that, but to what degree do we really live it and walk it? Or, do we make all kinds of choices where, oh, I can do this and I’m fine. God is looking for something deeper from us.

So, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed….” And that’s a — I’ve made this point here locally. That is a passive voice. That means something is happening to me that I’m not initiating. You get that? If I am hit, that means somebody out there is doing the hitting and I am the recipient of that. (Don’t do that, by the way!)

( laughter ).

But if I am being transformed, somebody out there is acting upon me to bring about change in my life. But if I am being transformed, what he’s talking about is not just an unwilling subjection to something. This is a willing — this is, my God, please change me! This is an inner attitude where I want to — I recognize you are working on me — but I want to be worked on!

This is where it breaks down for a lot of us, most of us, probably. We say we want to be changed but we really — not so much. There are always areas of reserve, there are areas down deep. Like I say, we tend to live up here in the superficial. But what governs us is what’s down in here, in the depths of our hearts.

There are attitudes, there are principles by which we live and unless we open up those areas and say, oh God, like David, search me Lord, see if there is any wicked way in me. “…Lead me in the way everlasting.” There’s got to be that sense — well, let me put it this way, do you realize you need to be changed?

( congregational amens ).

Yeah! We can all put up both hands and feet and whatever else we can put up! I’ll tell you, we need to be changed!