Robert Jeffress - What To Do When You Feel The Squeeze - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Good works won't get us into heaven, but God still calls his children to be holy and to obey him. In a world that's full of distractions, in a world that's opposed to Christian values, that seems like an impossible goal. Today, we're going to learn what it means to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. My message is titled "What To Do When You Feel the Squeeze" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
Now, remember the Old Testament animal sacrifices? They were to be without spot or blemish. They were to be perfect because they represented Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice who is to be perfect. But what does that mean for us? We're never going to be perfect. "Are you saying I can only be used by God if I'm perfect"? Of course not. But that word holy literally means to separate. It means a cut above. The idea here is God wants from you and me our very best. Remember in Malachi 1, we looked at a few weeks ago, the Israelites when they were backslidden? One of the things they did was they would offer the most sickly, weakest animal they had as a sacrifice to God and they would keep the good animals for themselves. They offered the worst they had to God. God said, "You wouldn't even offer this to pay your taxes. Why would you think I would be pleased with this kind of sacrifice"?
In the same way, God wants not what's left over. He wants our best. He doesn't want your leftover time. He doesn't want your leftover energy. He doesn't want your leftover money 'cause there's usually no leftover money. He wants the very best that you and I have to offer him. Our sacrifice is to be holy. And the third word he uses is acceptable. A living and holy sacrifice which is acceptable to God. You know what the word acceptable means? Literally it means pleasing. In fact, some translations say that, which is pleasing to God. Now listen to me. If you're not a Christian, there is nothing you can offer God or do for God that is going to please God. Doesn't matter how many hours you spend working in hospice. Doesn't matter how many homes you hammer out for Habitat for Humanity. Doesn't matter how much you do for the church or give to the church. If you're not a Christian, nothing you do pleases God.
Isaiah the prophet said the best we can do is like a filthy rag to God. Our righteousness is like a filthy rag to God. But after you become a Christian, after you're in a right relationship with God, there are many things you and I can do to be pleasing to God. And what he's saying here is your body offering it to God for his use, that pleases God. That brings a smile to God's face when you offer yourself to him. And then notice he adds a phrase here. He says which is your spiritual service of worship. Offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. I've read that verse for years and never really understood what it means.
Do you know what it means, your spiritual service of worship? The word spiritual there is a Greek word from which we get our word logical, logical. In other words, what Paul says is offer your bodies to God because your bodies are your logical way to worship God. You know, today there's a lot of talk about worship. Most of us have no idea what real worship is. We equate worship with music. When we talk about the worship in our church, we talk about the first 30 minutes before the pastor preaches. We talk about it. We use it that way. In our conversation with other people, somebody will say, "How was worship today"? And somebody say, "Oh, worship was just awesome. It was just awesome". And what they usually mean is, "They sang the songs I like, and they sang them the way I like them. So worship was awesome. I got goosebumps. It was just so awesome, you know".
That's what we think of as worship. That has nothing to do with worship. Worship is not a synonym for music, okay? Now, music can be a means to worship, preaching can be a means to worship, but ultimately worship has nothing to do with music or preaching. The word worship means to ascribe worth to God. When we worship God, we are acknowledging who God really is, who we really are and responding accordingly. When we worship God, we are saying, "God, you are the creator, I am the creature, and I in recognition of that am totally surrendering myself to you". That is what worship is, and that's why he says your bodies are your logical means of worshiping God.
Isn't that what the prophet Samuel said, remember, in 1 Samuel 15:22? "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice". That's what Paul is saying. Yes, God wants you to worship him, but what Paul is really saying is, okay, put your bodies where your worship is. Talk is cheap, singing is cheap, but if you're really going to worship God put your body where your worship is. Yes, God wants our praise. He wants your worship, but more than anything he wants you. That's what Paul is saying here. You are to present your bodies as a living, a holy sacrifice pleasing to God. Your body is your logical way of truly worshiping him. Okay, we've talked about the command for our sanctification.
Now notice the test for our sanctification. How do we know if we're really succeeding in being that living, holy, pleasing sacrifice to God? He says the test of our sanctification is the transformation of our lives. Look at verse 2. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect". That word conform, don't be conformed to this world, is a word literally that means to pattern after, to mold after.
I love the way J.B. Phillips paraphrases this verse. He says don't allow the world to squeeze you into its mold. That's what he's talking about. Don't allow the world to shape you with its values. And when Paul talks about the world he's not talking about planet Earth; he's talking about the world system, the world values that are completely antithetical, opposite of God's values. Don't allow living in this world to mold you into this world's value system. What is he exactly talking about? The late author and pastor, James Boice, suggest four isms that are constantly shaping us and molding us into the world's value system. I'd like to expand on these four for just a moment. The first value system is secularism, secularism. Sometimes it's called naturalism. Secularism says the only thing that is real in the universe is that which I can see, touch, and measure. That's secularism.
Today there is a growing interest in our country in the study of cosmology. Not cosmetology, but cosmology; the study of the universe, the origin of the universe. Have you noticed how many movies and how many books are coming out about the origins of the universe? I was reading the cover story of "Time" magazine a couple of weeks ago and the cover story had to do with this phenomenon of interesting cosmology in light of this new movie that has just come out, "Interstellar".
If you've got three hours you want to waste, go see that movie. A personal testimony here. But it's about, you know, the study and the origin of the universe, and I want you to listen to what "Time" magazine, this isn't "Christianity Today," this is "Time" magazine says about our obsession with cosmology. Quote, "Cosmology has become our secular religion, a church even atheists can join. It addresses many of the same questions religion does. Why are we here? How did it all begin? What comes next? And like religion cosmology has its own high priests, Einstein and Hawking, people who, like Muhammad and Jesus, don't even need second names".
One of those high priests of cosmology was the late Carl Sagan, who probably summarized better than anyone the basic tenet of the religion of secularism. Sagan said the cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. This universe that we see, it's all that ever existed, it is all that is, it is all that ever will be. No, says the Word of God. In the beginning was God. God came before this universe was ever created. He will exist long after this present universe is destroyed by fire and replaced by a new one. Secularism is totally against God's value system. A second ism that wars against God's value is humanism. Humanism says man is the measure of all things. This entire world, this entire universe revolves around us. It revolves around man. No, the Word of God says in Colossians 1:16, "For by Him," Jesus Christ, "all things were created in heaven and on earth".
All things were created by him and for him. It is not all about us, it is all about him. The third ism, relativism. Relativism says there is no such thing as an absolute truth. In fact, the only moral absolute truth is that there are no moral absolute truths, but Jesus said in John 14 that's not right. He said, "I am the truth, the way, and the life". Jesus said, "I am the measure of everything that is true and false in this universe". The fourth ism that wars against this wars against God's value system is materialism, materialism. The late corporate raider Carl Icahn once said famously, "Money is the best way to keep score in life". The best way to know how you're doing in life, how much do you have, how much have you accumulated. Money is the best way to keep score. "No," Jesus said. "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul"?
One day we're going to be separated from everything that we have and everything that we own. When Paul says don't be conformed to this world, he's saying don't let secularism and humanism and relativism and materialism, don't let that be what controls your life. Instead, he says be transformed. That word transformed is the Greek word metamorphosis. It means to be changed. Be changed how? How can I keep from being squeezed into the world's mold? By the renewing of your mind. Proverbs 23:7, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he". That means, ladies and gentlemen, we are living in a world that is so saturated with false thinking, like I just mentioned, that we have to completely deprogram our minds and reprogram it with God's values, and the way we do that is through Scripture.
That is why it is so imperative that you and I have a regular time that we are in God's Word learning what he says is truth. It's why it's imperative that at least one hour a week we're gathered together here in worship, hearing the Word of God taught that is completely antithetical to the world's value systems. This world's systems are totally opposite those of God's.
Haddon Robinson, former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, talks about a time that he spent one Saturday working on his garage door opener, and in order to do the repair work he needed to unscrew a screw. So took a screwdriver and he started turning it counterclockwise, but the more he turned the tighter the screw became. He couldn't figure out what was going on until a neighbor came by and saw what was going on. He said, "Oh, Haddon, that's a left-threaded screw. It's a reverse screw. It works just the opposite of normal screws". Haddon said, "I've spent 50 years learning how a screw works and now somebody changes the rules".
You know, the Bible is like a reverse screw. It goes completely opposite to our natural worldly inclinations. The Bible says you want to be wealthy, the way to acquire true wealth, spiritual wealth is to first of all acknowledge your spiritual poverty. You want to be great? You want to be recognized by other people? The way to rule is to serve other people. You want to live, really live? The way to live is by dying to self. How do you know if you're really sanctified, set apart for God's use? The test is you have rejected the world's value systems and are living by God's value systems. Now, Paul has talked about the command for sanctification, the test of sanctification.
Now look at the reward for sanctification. That's the realizations of God's purpose for our lives. Look again at verse 2. "That you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable, and perfect". When you offer your body as a living sacrifice, you've totally surrendered to God, you're not conformed to this world, you're transformed by the renewing of your mind, the Bible says you'll be able to prove what God's will is. Now, I've talked a lot in the past about God's will. How many of you today would say, "Pastor, I want to know God's will for my life"? How many are interested in knowing God's will? If you're a child of God, you naturally want to know what God's will is. "Whom should I marry? Where should I work? What school should I attend"? On and on these decisions come up.
What is the will of God for my life? Now, I'll tell you the way most people interpret this verse, the way I've preached it at times in the past; and that is if you really want to know what God's will and plan for your life is, you need to surrender yourself completely to God. And only when you climb up on that spiritual altar and offer everything to God, only then will he reveal to you what his will is. Now, I still believe that to a certain extent. I believe God gives more direction to those who are surrendered to him than to those who aren't surrendered to him, but I don't think that's what this verse is saying. When he talks about that you may prove what the will of God is; that word prove doesn't mean discover, it means experience. When you offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God, you will experience God's will or his purpose for your life.
And notice what he says about God's purpose for your life. He uses three words. God's plan for you is good, it's acceptable, and it's perfect. When you're totally surrendered to God, you've offered all of yourself to him, you will experience his plan for your life, which is good, acceptable, and perfect. Let's take each of those words for just a moment one by one. First of all, God's plan for your life is good. It's not bad. Did you know from the beginning of time since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, from that point on Satan has been trying to convince us that God's plan for us is really bad? That's the line he used with Eve.
"The reason God doesn't want you to eat of this tree is he's got an evil plan for you. He's a cosmic killjoy. He really doesn't want you to have anything good in life". Eve fell for that line, and we have ever since. We think God's will and plan for us is something bad. No. It's good. God's plan for your life is good. God said through Jeremiah the prophet in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare, not for calamity; plans that will give you a future and a hope". God's plan is good. Secondly, God's plan is perfect, is perfect. That word perfect in Greek is teleos. It means literally it is complete.
You know, again we have this fear if we surrender completely to God, some of you teenagers right now you're thinking, or single adults, "If I surrender myself completely to God, I'm going to spend the rest of my life single. I'll never find a mate". Or, "If I give myself completely to God, I'll never have the vocation I really want and dream of. If I give myself completely to God, God is going to keep me from experiencing something really good". No. No. God's plan for you is perfect. It's complete. It's not lacking.
Remember the words of Psalm 84, verse 11? "No good thing will God withhold from those who walk uprightly". If you are surrendered to God, he is not going to hold in his hand anything that's good for you. He's going to give it to you completely. God's plan for you is perfect. It's complete. And thirdly, he uses the word acceptable. God's will which is good, perfect, and acceptable. Pop quiz, you remember what the word acceptable means? We talked about it just a minute ago. Means pleasing. God's ultimate plan for your life is pleasing. It's not distasteful.
Now, that doesn't mean everything that happens to you is pleasurable. This isn't some Pollyanna statement here that everything that happens to a Christian is happy, is pleasurable. But what Paul was saying is when you look at the plan of God as a whole, when you reach the end of your life and one day you're with him in heaven and look back over the course of your life you'll be able to say God used all things, he worked together all things for good. And you'll be able to leave this earth like Abraham did, a person satisfied with life. That's what he's talking about here. The ultimate plan of God not just in any chapter or verse but the overall plan of God, it's good, it's perfect, it's acceptable.
A few years ago on April Fools' Day, a doctor in Joplin, Missouri named Gary Hamelin decided to become what he called a fool for Christ. Pretty fitting for April Fools' Day. And what he meant was he said, "For the first 40 years of my life I've lived completely for myself, what I get out of life following my plan, but I've decided from this point on I'm going to be a fool in the world's eyes and I'm going to live according to God's plan for my life". And he meant it. He ended up selling his medical practice and instead he opened up a clinic for battered women and children to minister to them. He opened up another medical clinic, but instead of charging people a set fee he just allowed them to pay whatever they could. If they couldn't pay anything, he treated them anyway. He started going on regular mission trips to Haiti.
And after a few years of living that way somebody asked him, "What effect has this new way of living had on your life"? And this is what Hamelin said. "Materialism has lost its value. Before I went to Haiti and started this new way of living, I carried a lot of fears in my life; the fear of dying, the fear of financial hardship. But after a while, the fears began to dissipate. God was weaning me from the world's attractions. He was showing me his vision for my life to be a fool for him every day and to realize how very rich I am". That's what Paul is saying here. When you completely surrender your life to God, you'll discover that his plan for your life is good. It's not bad, it's complete, it's not lacking in anything; and it's pleasurable, not distasteful.