Sermon: Romans Part 7 -The Mind of Christ; The Will of God

We are living in a time when Paul says to Timothy that people will have a form of godliness but deny its power.

Posted on

Today, I’ll be continuing our Romans series. We left off at the end of Chapter 8, and I’m going to skip the next three chapters and go to the first two verses in Chapter 12. So if you have your Bibles, you can turn with me there, to Romans Chapter 12.

As you’re turning there, let me encourage you to read Romans 9-11, if you haven’t already. Unless I’m giving an altar call, those chapters are not easy to give a typical sermon from, but it’s still (obviously) a very good and very important Bible study.

Let me just kind of quickly go through those chapters with you in a nutshell. Paul begins chapter 9 by talking about what it means for Israel to be the ‘chosen nation.’ I’ve always had a hard time wrapping my head around that phrase and being able to really understand it. But Paul does a good job in just two verses––verses 4&5––to show us how God chose Israel to reveal himself to humanity after we were separated from him during the Fall of Adam and Eve. Through Israel, God gave us His law, revealed His nature, and gave us His redemption through His son through the lineage of David.

Then, Paul talks about the sovereignty of God. And like I said, it’s not a great sermon topic, but it’s a great theological study. It’s brain food and I think it helps answer some questions.

In Romans 10, Paul talks about Israel and their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. And then he talks about salvation. This is the go-to chapter for the meaning and receiving of salvation. And I thought about preaching from there this morning, but I didn’t think you all needed to be saved again. But if you know someone who is curious about how to get right with God, this is a good passage to show them. Here’s what it says:

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And quite often, from there, we lead a person in a prayer known as The Sinner’s Prayer which leads them to proclaim this belief and accept the Lord’s free gift of salvation.

Then, Paul goes on in Chapter 11 to talk further about how there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, and whether Jew or Gentile if anyone accepts the free gift of salvation, they will be grafted into the same Kingdom.

Scripture: And then we get to Chapter 12. Let’s take a look at that, just the first two verses:

“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. 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.”

So, there is a lot packed into those two verses. I could split this up into three separate sermons if I wanted to, but since we are already taking our time going through Romans, I think one sermon would suffice. What Paul is talking about here is the summation of what he has talked about previously: Holy Living.

God does not want us to just be saved. If he did, the Book of Romans would have probably ended with Chapter 10, verse 13. And maybe the whole Bible would have ended there. But there is a new life ahead of us once we are saved, which is a more Godly life. It’s a better life. It requires sacrifice, dying to our old selves, we talked about our old self in a previous sermon not too long ago.

How do we do this? How are we to continually progress in renewal? By continuing to renew our minds. God has already renewed our spirits by making us born again, but we must make an effort with The Holy Spirit to consistently renew our minds.

Let’s look at verse one again. Paul says, “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.”

Notice how Paul begins this. He says, “therefore, I urge you…in view of God’s mercy.” Some translations have “mercies” plural, which indicates God’s many mercies.

J. Vernon McGee says, “I beg of you” is the language of grace, not law. There is no thunder here from Mount Sinai. Moses commanded; Paul exhorts. Could Paul have commanded? Well, he told Philemon that he could have given him a command, but he didn’t. Paul doesn’t command; he says, “I beg of you.”

So Paul is taking a cue from God. Paul is respecting people’s humanity and freedom. He is giving them a personal choice by pleading with them. He is saying, in light of God’s mercies upon you, it’s your duty to live a lifestyle that pleases God. Otherwise, you’re taking God’s love for granted. This goes back to our first sermon, where Paul says at the beginning of Romans 2, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.”

And at the beginning of Romans 6, Paul says, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

So Paul is urging the Romans––and us––to seek a holy life. “To offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”

What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? Another phrase I had a hard time wrapping my head around. But place yourselves in the Roman Empire at that time. The Jews certainly knew what a sacrifice was because they were commanded to make sacrifices at the Temple. The pagan cultures had sacrifices as well. So a sacrificial metaphor might have made some sense to the Romans, but to be a living sacrifice…what is that?

When you sacrifice something, you kill it. And we are not to kill ourselves as sacrifices, that would defeat the purpose of holy living, and it negates the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. So what does it mean?

Enduring Word says that the sacrifice is living because it is brought alive to the altar and it stays alive at the altar; it is ongoing––an ongoing sacrifice.

The Old Testament worshiper brought animals to the temple, to be killed and laid on the altar. Paul reversed the imagery. Bring yourself to the altar and die to yourself. Going back to Romans 6 again, we read in verse 6, “6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

And Jesus said that we are to die daily to ourselves. So this is an ongoing sacrifice. We sacrifice our sinful nature to God in order that we might live for him, in him, and through him.

In a church service one Sunday, the offering plate came to a little girl at the end of a row. She took the plate, put it down on the floor, and stood in it. When the usher asked her what she was doing, she responded, “In Sunday school I learned that I was supposed to give myself to God.”

She has the right idea.

To segue from that, when I pray before the offering every Sunday, you notice that I pray that our offering is an extension of our worship. The offering of ourselves unto God is an extension of our worship as well.

Paul concludes this verse with, “this is your true and proper worship.”

What does that mean? We worship every Sunday singing hymns. Isn’t that worship?

A little over a year ago, I gave a sermon on the true meaning of worship. Here’s something I said back then.

“Worship is an act of the heart and soul when we disperse from this church on Sundays and live our day-to-day life. How we love one another as Jesus did to the unclean and sinful Samaritan woman; deciding to take the risk of our family disowning us for following Christ or making some kind of ‘line in the sand’ decision at our work or school because they may try to coax us to compromise our Godly beliefs. Maybe we have to show those prosperity preachers what true Christianity looks like by risking our health to take care of someone with COVID or take on a lesser-paying job simply because God called us to. Worship is obeying God even when it hurts.”

Obeying God when it hurts is a form of self-sacrifice. Repentance is a form of self-sacrifice. Putting God first in all we do is a form of self-sacrifice. And self-sacrifice is a form of true worship because worship is exalting God above ourselves.

Paul continues that thought in the beginning of verse 2 with, “2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

So to give ourselves to living holy, Godly lives requires that we sacrifice ourselves daily. We take our own sinful desires and set them aside for what God desires. But how do we do that? By not conforming to the world, by being transformed by the renewing of our mind.

What does it mean to be conformed to the world? Conformed is a word we really don’t use much. What does it really mean here?

It means to form according to a pattern or mold, to fashion alike, to conform to the same pattern outwardly. The meaning is to form or mold one’s behavior in accordance with a particular pattern or set of standards.

The Greek root word for conform is ‘schema’ where we get the word, ‘scheme.’ In other words, “don’t go along with the world’s schemes.” But change your mind, change your thoughts, repent, turn around, and go in the opposite direction.

How do we find ourselves not falling for the world’s schemes? By the renewing of our mind. How do we renew our mind? I think you know how. Reading the word, reading daily devotions, listening to good teaching and preaching, by soaking in worshipful songs or whatever kind of Gospel style you like. We need to renew not just our hearts, but also our minds.

I often reference how the World seems in such disarray. And I see so many people following the World’s pattern. And I’ve talked so much about how churches are following the World instead of Christ. I came across a video the other day. I’ve mentioned Mike Winger before, he’s a young pastor in California who has a Youtube channel. And he recently posted a video about a progressive, gay pastor who preached a sermon based on John 3:16 and completely butchered the entire concept.

Now, you’ve got to really try hard to butcher the meaning of John 3:16. I mean you have to make a concerted effort to do that. It’s the entire gospel wrapped up in one verse. It’s the entire Bible wrapped up in one verse. It’s the meaning of life wrapped up in one verse.

It’s so simple, yet profound. I remember memorizing and understanding its meaning when I was five years old.

Yet, this pastor completely turns its whole meaning around to something philosophical and metaphorical. You have to hear it in order to believe it. The only words I can describe for it are satanic and bizarre. He doesn’t believe Jesus is God in the flesh, but just a simple, ordinary human being like you and I. He believes that the word, “Christ” is a metaphor for some higher godliness that we all can obtain. And Jesus apparently obtained this, that’s why he’s called “Christ” according to this pastor’s teaching. And this concept is becoming popular among progressive Christians. Richard Rohr is the main proponent of this teaching. It mixes in New Age and Buddhism, in fact, this pastor references New Age teachers and Buddhism in his so-called sermon.

I’m not going to get distracted by what this so-called pastor had to say, I’ll put Mike Winger’s Youtube post on our Facebook page so you can see it for yourself if you want, but it represents a growing trend of people in the pulpit conforming to the world’s standards and not renewing their minds based on the truth of the gospel. If we don’t renew our minds based on the truth of God as revealed to us in His Word, then we conform to the pattern of the world, like so many people in pulpits and pews across the country are now doing.

It’s a disingenuous Christianity. They don’t really want to serve God, they want to make religious excuses to serve themselves. It is not true worship. We are living in a time when Paul says to Timothy that people will have a form of godliness but deny its power. The New Living Translation takes that verse in 2 Timothy and phrases it, “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.”

Then Paul says to Timothy to stay away from people like that. Certainly, we are going to come across people like that and we are to love them. But what Paul means by that is, we are not to be conformed to their religiosity but confirmed to the truth of the gospel. It takes being a living sacrifice in order to do that.

We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, and we do need help and guidance from The Holy Spirit in order to see things the way God sees them.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that, “14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” And then in verse 16, Paul finishes his thought with, “But we have the mind of Christ.”

Isn’t that amazing. God has given us not only his Spirit but his mind. Obviously not the all-powerful mind of God, but Godly wisdom and discernment. We understand what’s right in God’s eyes, not the world’s eyes. We can read the Bible and understand and accept what it says. We can read the same passage a dozen times and get something new out of it each time. Why? Because the Word of God becomes The Living Word when we allow ourselves to be transformed by Him. We can sense God’s spirit when we read His word. That’s why they call it, The Daily Bread. It’s nourishment for our heart, mind and soul., one of my favorite go-to’s for sermon prep, said this:

In the verses leading up to 1 Corinthians 2:16, we note some truths concerning the mind of Christ:

1) The mind of Christ stands in sharp contrast to the wisdom of man (verses 5-6).

2) The mind of Christ involves wisdom from God, once hidden but now revealed (verse 7).

3) The mind of Christ is given to believers through the Spirit of God (verses 10-12).

4) The mind of Christ cannot be understood by those without the Spirit (verse 14).

5) The mind of Christ gives believers discernment in spiritual matters (verse 15).

It goes on to say that: In order to have the mind of Christ, one must first have saving faith in Christ (John 1:12; 1 John 5:12). After salvation, the believer lives a life under God’s influence. The Holy Spirit indwells and enlightens the believer, infusing him with wisdom—the mind of Christ. The believer bears a responsibility to yield to the Spirit’s leading (Ephesians 4:30) and to allow the Spirit to transform and renew his mind (Romans 12:1-2).

Paul finishes Chapter 12, verse 2 with, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I think for all of us, we want to know what God’s will is. Because we instinctively know that God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect. We all need direction. We all need guidance. We all need to know which path to take and what in life to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to.

One week ago today, Rose “was popped” the question. And she said yes. Now, there’s no date set, they’ve agreed to wait a couple of years at least––until they’ve both finished schooling. But marrying someone is a big deal, in case you didn’t know. And knowing what God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is in that situation is important. It affects the rest of your life. Thankfully, her (can I bring myself to say it…?) fiance’ is a good man. I think this relationship is part of God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.

Going back to the beginning of this sermon, I talked a little bit about how Paul pleads with the Roman church. “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters…”

And remember when I said Paul’s intention here is a gracious request, not a command. God’s will for our lives––such as marriage––is also a request to do the right thing, not a command. It’s a request from God to do what He wants. He wants us to receive the best in every situation according to his perfect love for us. Of course, we have the ability to say no to God’s will, or simply not bother to seek God’s will and jump to doing our own will. We’re prone to do something off course once in a while simply because we’re human and we make those kinds of mistakes.

I’ve seen a meme that says, “When God put a calling on your life, he already factored in your stupidity. The most comforting thing I’ve heard all day.”

Going to the Greek again, the word ‘will’ in the Greek is thelema. When the word thelema denotes God’s will, it signifies His gracious disposition toward something. It’s used to designate what God Himself does of His own good pleasure, and therefore, would like for us to do.

This is a reference to God’s sovereignty again. God has a will of his own. And being an all-loving God, he wants the best for us. Having the mind of Christ allows us to understand and hear God’s voice within our spirit.

Putting this all together, we can see that our dedication to God leads to discernment for God’s will and God’s ways, which leads to delight. Dedication, discernment, and delight.

You can see why Paul would want to urge his listeners to follow these instructions. They’re simple, yet profound. Easy, yet hard. But if we could make a daily habit of just following these three next things every day, we would see a marked improvement in our spiritual lives.

  1. To offer ourselves as a holy sacrifice; which is worship in its truest form. Remember, Jesus said that there would come a day when his followers would worship him in spirit and in truth. This is what he is talking about. Our daily living sacrifice.
  2. How do we do that? By the transformation of our minds through the Word and the help of The Holy Spirit alive and active in us.
  3. Seek, know and pursue God’s good, pleasing and perfect will over your life.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that you would draw us to a closer and deeper relationship with you. Lord, in light of your mercies, may we, in turn, live according to your perfect will. May we have the boldness to turn from what the world pressures us to conform to. It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the will of the world. Lord, please give us the strength to turn from the pressure of conformity to this world and closer to you––your good, pleasing and perfect will for our lives; your holiness and your joy. In Jesus’ name, amen.



This is an updated edition of a post originally published on First Baptist Church of Watkins Glen

Featured Image by jplenio from Pixabay


The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author