Saturday, October 13, 2007

Romans 12:1

I enjoyed this sermon on Romans 12:1 ("I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." - ESV) from John Piper, broadcast this past week as Desiring God's radio podcast on Monday & Tuesday.

Piper caught my attention at a couple of points, which came across in the podcast, but not in the manuscript. First, in talking about our bodies, I'll start with text from the manuscript:
1. Bodies. "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

The point here is not to present to God your bodies and not your mind or heart or spirit. He is going to say very clearly in verse two: "Be transformed in the renewal of your mind." The point is to stress that your body counts. You belong to God soul and body, or you don't belong to him at all. Your body matters.


The offering of our bodies is not the offering of our bodily looks but our bodily behavior. In the Bible the body is not significant because of the way it looks, but because of the way it acts. The body is given to us to make visible the beauty of Christ. And Christ, at the hour of his greatest beauty, was repulsive to look at. Isaiah 53:2-3 describes him: "He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows,and acquainted with grief." The beauty of Christ is the beauty of love, not the beauty of looks. His beauty was the beauty of sacrifice, not skin.

God doesn't demand our bodies because he wants models for Mademoiselle or Planet Muscle. He demands our bodies because he wants models of mercy.

This is where I tried to get down what he said in the podcast, expounding on his manuscript:

We need to embed this biblical truth into the minds & hearts of our little ones, beginning at 2, 3. What kind of a bathing suit do you put your three year old in? You think you're going to change them at 13? Don't count on it.

We need to embed into our children this truth. My body means, before God, my behavior, not my looks. For the sake of anorexia, for the sake of bulimia ... because, in part, of a culture that is so unbelievingly relenting in the lies it tells about bodies. From the littlest girl and the littlest boy, lie after lie after lie is coming to them about what their body means. And I'm afraid many parents play right into it.

If we could just embed in our children the truth. God looks on the inward man and how it works itself out in mercy by the body. He does not look upon the body to see its muscles and curves and hair distribution and complexion. If only we could help them early on.


You have a body to give bodily evidence that Jesus is your treasure. ... And that will mainly show by your behavior, and not your looks.

Then, in talking about "holy." Again, I'll start with text from the manuscript:

3. Holy. "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

Probably the best explanation of holy bodies comes from Romans 6:13 where Paul said almost the very same thing he says here, using the very language of "presenting" our bodies to God, only he refers to our bodily "members" and not just our bodies. "Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life [i.e., a living sacrifice], and your members to God as instruments for righteousness."

And more "expounding" on his manuscript from the podcast:

Let these hands be for instruments of righteousness in the world. As they click on the keyboard or push the mouse and click, let every click be righteousness. Swear it! Nail it! "I will not make my index finger on the left key an instrument of unrighteousness." Swear it! Oh, brothers, draw a line in the sand, before you meet Jesus. and make these hands holy.

What does it say in 1 Timothy? "I beseech all men everywhere to lift holy hands in prayer." Are they dirty? What have you done with your hands in the last 24 hours? What keys have you punched? What have you touched? What magaziness have you opened? What channels have you turned to with these hands? You have defiled hands this morning, defiled eyes, defiled mind? I am so thankful for the blood of Jesus, are you not? It is only through Christ that these hands can be acceptable.

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