Accepted—And Learning to Live Acceptably

| Mon, Jan 31, 2011 | Set 1 Week 5

Share | 0 Comments

Christians are people who have been accepted and are learning to live acceptably.

Throughout the first 11 chapters of Romans, Paul calls this “acceptance” justification. We have been accepted fully by God, through faith alone, not through anything we’ve done to earn it, and because of Jesus—and what he did to win God’s full acceptance for us.

Pause for a second, and give amazement a chance. That the God who made you, and everything in the universe, fully accepts us rebellious sinners because of Jesus is almost too good to be true. And that God’s full acceptance is not based on our doing—whether past, present, or future—but on Jesus’ perfect doing, and comes to us through believing in Jesus, is the best possible news anywhere.

But how does God’s total acceptance relate to Romans 12:1-2? It’s anchored to that little word therefore—maybe one of the most important therefores ever written. It sits here as a reminder of the massive reality of God’s mercy that Paul has moved us through for 11 chapters. He has told us about what terrible sinners we all are, and then what astounding mercy God has shown us in Jesus’ life and death and resurrection for us.

And now in chapter 12, having heard of God’s acceptance, we begin learning what it means to live acceptably to God. First we are accepted fully, then we learn to live acceptably.

To give us a picture of such acceptable living, Paul draws in the image of Old Testament animal sacrifices and talks about us Christians presenting our own bodies—our own selves—as living sacrifices. Jesus sacrificed himself all the way to death for us, and as our minds and hearts are shaped more and more by the magnitude of God’s mercy toward us in him, so our lives become a kind of acceptable living sacrifice to God. Jesus’ perfectly acceptable sacrifice for us grows our lives into acceptable sacrifices as we learn to walk by faith in him.

In verse 2, we learn more about how this happens in our everyday lives: not by being conformed to the world in which we daily live, but being changed from within. And how are we so changed? By our minds being renewed by the God of mercy, and by the mercy of this God.

So, for the Christian, living an everyday life of worship is not mainly about getting ourselves in line with external standards—following rules, keeping lists, checking boxes, behavior-modification. Rather, the mercy of God in the gospel works on us everyday to grow us into a certain kind of person. Through his mercy in Jesus, God writes his own heart on our hearts so that his will becomes more of a part of who we are on the inside, not merely an external standard we conform our actions to while our hearts go in different directions.

As the amazing mercy of God in the gospel—that he has already fully accepted us—begins to deeply adjust our hearts and mold our minds, we learn to make daily decisions and exercise everyday wisdom that honors God. We grow in living out his will not through mere external conformity but in and through our hearts, and so live lives increasing acceptable to him.

Leave a Reply