The Easter-fied Life (Romans 12:1, 2)
The Easter-fied Life
Romans 12:1, 2
(One Truth: Walk in Truth)
April 16th, 2017
I. Its Lingering Effects
Has this holiday, has Easter, had any lingering effects in your life? A lingering effect of Thanksgiving is a full stomach, right? For some, a linger effect of Halloween might be cavities, right? For some, a lingering effect of New Year's Eve might be a hangover.
But what about Easter? Any common, any well-known lingering effects? It's a hard question, isn't it. A full stomach? Maybe. Cavities? Maybe. Travel fatigue? Maybe.
This morning I'd like to suggest, actually the Apostle Paul would like to suggest, three lingering effects in regard to Easter. Turn if you haven't already to Romans chapter 12.
II. The Passage: “Your Spiritual Worship” (12:1, 2)
Paul, one of the leaders of the early church, wrote this letter we call Romans in about 57 AD. He wrote to followers of Jesus who lived in the capital of the Empire, Rome. If we had time, I would love to walk step-by-step with you through this amazing letter. It is packed, it is crammed full of amazing truths about God, His love for us, and what He did through Jesus.
Let me share with you just one passage from earlier in this letter. I believe this passage is a good summary of what stands at the very center of everything Paul is teaching these Christians in Rome. Here is the passage: Romans 5:6-10.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Did you hear what was repeated over and over again in those verses? Several things were: first, Paul points to our condition apart from God: we are “weak” (v. 6), we are “sinners” (v. 8), and we are “enemies” of God (v. 10). Second, Christ died for His weak and sinful enemies (vs. 6, 8, 10). Third, the effects of Jesus' death are described: we have been “justified”, that is, acquitted by Jesus' death (v. 9), we have been “saved...from the wrath of God” (v.9) and we have been “reconciled” to God (v. 10).
But we also read about a result of, not the death of Jesus, but the resurrection of Jesus: in the end, we will be (v. 10) “saved by his life”.
Now there is a lot there, enough for ten more messages; ten more lessons. But one of the things I want you to see about that passage is that it's all about Good Friday and Easter. No, Paul does not have those holidays in mind in the same way we might think of those days. But the reason our culture celebrates those holidays is the same reality Paul is describing here.
On Good Friday we remember the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ; His death on the cross. On Easter Sunday, we remember the truth about His resurrection; His victory over death. Aren't those the very things Paul talks about here in Romans 5:6-10?
Now it's important to point out that even though Paul emphasizes the death of Jesus several times in our passage, Good Friday is meaningless without Easter Sunday. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Jesus would simply be another victim of death, not victor over it.
I point that out because I want you to see that when we look at the first eleven chapters of this letter, what happened on Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday (along with Good Friday), is the linchpin for everything Paul explains here.
Now keep that in mind and look with me at Romans 12:1, 2. Listen to the transition that Paul makes in what we could call a 'hinge' passage in the book. Listen to the pivot here:
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.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Did you see the transition there? This is the “so what” transition. Paul has painted this incredible masterpiece for them in chapter 1-11. But now, he is going to answer the question, “So what...what does this mean for my everyday life?” Paul has absolutely no interest in simply stuffing their heads with historical facts or interesting spiritual concepts. Neither is he interested in filling them with sentimental ideas that simply warm the corners of their hearts.
Paul knows the things he is teaching should radically affect us. Being told you have cancer radically affects your life. Being saved from a burning building radically affects your life. Being told you won the Power Ball lottery radically affects your life. But if those messages about earthly realities radically effect us, how much more should God's message about your spiritual sickness, your eternal salvation, and your heavenly riches affect the course of your life, here and now?
So based on what we said about the first eleven chapters of this book, and the transition here in 12:1, 2, I think we can say that what Paul is explaining for us here is what I'm going to call “The Easter-fied Life”. Just like words like modified, or terrified, or glorified, or vilified, or deified, to be “Easter-fied” is to be impacted and transformed by the reality of Easter. How do you know that you have responded rightly to the truth about Easter? Here it is.
If the reality of Jesus' death and resurrection has made an impact on your life, then you have been “Easter-fied”. And so, if I'm using that term in that way, “Easter-fied” is simply another terms for someone who is a genuine Christian; a genuine believer; a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. Does that make sense?
So as we sit here this morning, we sit in either one of two places: you are either “Easter-fied”, OR, you have the chance, this Easter, to be “Easter-fied”. Believing that Jesus really did rise from the dead should change everything. Since rising from the dead (never to die again), since that never happens, when someone does, it forces us to listen to them; to understand who they are and how that person beat the one enemy no one has ever beat. Do you believe Jesus dead on that Roman cross for our sins, and was raised to life on the third day?
If you do, then according to Paul, this is what the “Easter-fied Life” looks like.
1. The Easter-fied Life is a Surrendered Life
Did you hear what Paul said in Romans 12:1? Look at it again:
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.
Paul is saying, “If you understand the innumerable mercies of God that have been showered down on your life through Jesus, THEN, you should go the altar and make your sacrifice.” The language comes from the Old Testament system for sacrifices. But even Christians in Rome who were not Jewish, but came from pagan backgrounds, even they would understand the idea of offering up a sacrifice in a temple.
Many of the sacrifices prescribed in the OT were sacrifices of praise and thankfulness. They were responses to God's provision.
But the shocking thing in Romans 12:1 is that the sacrifice Paul calls for is not a sacrifice of grain or goats. It is the sacrifice of yourself. Now Paul is not calling for what some might call “human sacrifice”. That's why he describes this act as the presentation of a “living sacrifice”. It is presenting our bodies to God as an act of “spiritual worship”.
It is saying to God each day, “Here are my hands, how will you use them? Here are my feet, where will you lead me? Here are my eyes, where should they and where should they not look? Here is mouth, what would you have me say?”
If Jesus was raised to new life on Easter, then the 'Easter-fied' life is new life in the service of God. If apart from God I live for myself, if I am playing God over my own life, then being reconciled to God means honoring God as God. And if God is God, then He is in charge of the body he created for me. Is the risen Jesus Lord over your body, over what you do with your body?
But if we move into verse 2, we also learn that...
2. The Easter-fied Life is a Separated Life
Paul builds on what he told them in verse 1. As he moves into verse 2, he begins to describe what it looks like to offer your body to God each day as a “living sacrifice”. What will it require? Paul explains in verse 2...Do not be conformed to this world...
The compromised life cannot also be the surrendered life we're talking about. Why? Because compromising with the world means surrendering our lives to what this world system values, not what God values. God has clear, definitive things to say about things like money, power, and sex. But not surprisingly, what God says is very different from what the world says about money, power, and sex.
So if that's true, then you have to ask yourself, “To whom will I surrender?” Surrendering to the world's agenda is what Paul is speaking against here: “Do not be conformed to this world.” Do not follow their path, their pattern, their passions or priorities.
You see, if you have been 'Easter-fied', then conformity to the world is what characterized your old life. Earlier in Romans, chapter 6, verse 4, Paul wrote this:
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
By trusting in Christ, we can be “in Christ”. That means if He was raised, we have also been raised. And if you have been raised up with Christ, then you can also “walk in newness of life”. We do not have to be, we should not be, conformed any longer to the world's agenda and the world's values.
To be live a separated life is not a life of total physical separation or complete cultural disconnect. As the old saying goes, “We are in the world, but not of the world.”
Think for a minute. Are their areas of your life in which compromise and conformity are taking or have taken root? Do you hear what God is saying to you this morning: “do not be like the world”? The reality of Easter is that Christ has set us free from sin's power, but also, has empowered us to live a very new life. And that's where the rest of verse 2 goes...
3. The Easter-fied Life is a Scripture-Shaped Life
Look again at the entirety of Romans 12:2...
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Again, how do we offer our bodies up as living sacrifices each day? What does it entail? Well, not only are we to NOT be conformed, we are instead, called to be “transformed”. And what does Paul tell us here about being “transformed”? How can we be “transformed”? It is a direct result of your mind being renewed.
But that just leads us to another question, doesn't it? How can my mind be renewed? Well, remember where this verse is positioned: it is part of the introduction, not only of chapter 12, but really for the rest of the book. So if we were to keep reading, we would discover how Paul wants to renew their minds. Just listen to a few verses from this chapter that put verse 2 in practical terms, that is, not being “conformed to the world”, but being “transformed by the renewal of your mind”.
[verse 9] Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good...[verse 14] Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them...[verse 16] Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight... Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all...[verse 19] Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
How is Paul renewing their minds here? He is teaching them the word of God. You see, when Paul instructs us to “be transformed”, change is not something we can will into existence. It happens as our mind is renewed by God's word. It's like telling a sailor to “ride the wind”. That's not something he can do himself. But he can raise his sail and then let the wind do what it does best.
The same is true with God's word. The 'Easter-fied Life' is a life shaped by Scripture. The very Spirit of God works through this word to renew our minds. The world's agenda and our own false ideas are pushed out by the truth of God. Isn't that amazing! But it means consuming God's word on a regular basis, reading it, meditating on it, hearing it taught.
And as Paul explains in verse 2, when we step out in faith and 'test drive' God's wisdom, we will find that God's will is “good and acceptable and perfect”. What does that mean? It means that we will discover that, for example, it truly is better to let God be the judge rather than being consumed by revenge; that it truly is better to walk with the humble than strut with the arrogant. And when we discern the will of God in this way, we are truly transformed; conformed to Jesus, and not to the world.
III. Ask and You Shall Receive
Three lingering effects of Easter. Did you see them there in what Paul wrote? But also remembered what I said earlier: as we sit here this morning, we sit in either one of two places: you are either “Easter-fied”, OR, you have the chance, this Easter, to be “Easter-fied”.
Which are you? Where are you? Maybe this morning you are just hearing or grasping, for the first time, the true Easter message: that Jesus Christ has beaten death; He has paid a debt we could never pay, by dying in our place, and then risen from the dead, in order to secure for a life we do not deserve; a forever life for God and with God.
What does He call you to do? He calls you to turn from trying to play God over your own life and honor God as God; He calls you to receive a new heart and to follow Jesus through the forgiveness of the cross, by the power of the resurrection. And if you have already been 'Easter-fied', then God is calling you to be renewed in what it means to live your life in light of and by the power of the resurrection, power available through God's Holy Spirit. Let's end with words from Jesus that express so both beautifully both the Father's heart and invitation:
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13).
other sermons in this series