Meditations on Christian Devotedness

Romans 12  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
" That ye present your bodies a sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is yogi. reasonable service." The apostle leaves no room here for the liberty of the flesh, or for going back to the law as a rule of life. The believer is to be formed morally by the knowledge of God, and consecrated to Him as his reasonable service. It is of the body, or outer man, that the apostle expressly speaks. " That ye present your bodies. The body is here viewed as the sacrifice, and the believer as presenting it; so that the whole man is to be yielded up as an offering to the Lord.
But if thou wouldst well understand this character of devotedness, thou must study and master chapter vi. There we learn that Christians are, first of all, to reckon themselves dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. They are brought into this position by death and resurrection, as set forth in baptism, in virtue of the finished work of Christ. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism unto death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Baptism is the symbol of Christians having part with Christ in death. He died for sin, they died to sin in His death. This is the grand fundamental truth of entire devotedness and practical holiness. " How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Such is the reasoning of the Spirit of God. All true Christians believe that Christ died for our sins, but comparatively few believe or enter into the truth that we died to sin in His death.
But the consequences of not apprehending this plain truth, which the youngest confessor of Christ is supposed by the apostle to know, are immense and innumerable. From the first struggles with self in the newly awakened soul, to the highest efforts of the priests and the mystics, the root is the same; it is occupation with self in all. Whether it be the young believer longing after peace with God, or the advanced believer straining after holiness and perfection, they are looking for it within. The eye is turned inwardly in search after feelings, or a consciousness of having arrived at a higher state of christian life. But this is not all. When death to sin is not seen, there can be no real separation from the world, especially what is called the religious world. Hence we may often be surprised to see godly men mixing with the world and helping on its plans and improvements. But the whole system of self occupation, of seeking to improve the first Adam condition of man, of seeking to attain to complete sanctification in the flesh, is judged by the simple truth, that the Christian died to sin in Christ's death, and that in his baptism he owns this, and is bound to walk as one already and always dead to sin. In a tone of disappointment the apostle appeals to his brethren at Rome, and asks the question, " Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized unto Jesus Christ were baptized unto his death?" As much as to say, Have you forgotten the meaning of your baptism, are you ignorant of so elementary a truth? *
(*For a fuller unfolding of this weighty truth, see Synopsis, col. 4, p, 145-151; Lectures on Romans,. W. K., p. 83-91)
In the latter part of the chapter we have this great principle applied in detail, which shows that the body and every member of the body is to be employed in the service of God. It is not enough to say of any one, He is very true at heart, but fails in his personal attendance at the various meetings of his brethren, and otherwise in using his tongue, his hands, or his feet, in the Lord's service, and thinks he may be excused because of circumstances.' Many too are ready to say, who have found a reason for remaining at home, I was with you in spirit, I was helping by prayer.' While this may be true and good in some cases, in others, we fear, it might be self-delusion. The service of the body is as fairly required of the Lord as the prayer of the heart. It is well to know the Lord's claims on the body—on our personal service and presence. " Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments unto God." The idea of a sacrifice is surely that of entire consecration—of body, soul, and spirit. The devoted victim under the law was slain and laid on God's altar. The act was complete—a complete surrender. Christians are to present their own " bodies" as a " living sacrifice," in contrast with the sacrifices of the law which were put to death. It is a self-sacrifice; but " with such sacrifices God is well pleased;" and the only sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to Him now. All others are profane. The sacrifice of the mass, so-called, and the whole system of Ritualism, are a practical denial of the finished work of Christ, and most offensive in the sight of God. " It is finished," was the shout of victory, all was accomplished. " For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." Heb. 10:1414For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14).
Since the one sacrifice of Christ was offered, sacrificial and ceremonial worship, with the long ritual of the Jews' religion, have passed away. These were types and shadows which came to their end by the coming of the Messiah. " The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." God looks for intelligence in His servants according to the true light. The sacrifices of old had no conscience, no intelligence, no self-judgment, but the " living sacrifice" of Christians is called—" your reasonable service."
But some may still be ready to inquire, " In what sense can it be said that we died to sin in Christ's death, for I feel that sin is as really in me now as it was before my conversion?" Most surely it is there, and seeks to rule as formerly; this is just what the apostle refers to and warns against. " Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." So long as we are in the " mortal body," sin will be there and will seek to reign, but we are to reject its claims and refuse obedience to its desires. Our new place of blessing in Him who died and rose again, takes us far beyond its dominion. "For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God." Now mark what follows; all believe this verse to be quite true of the blessed Lord. None believe that He died to the love or the practice of sin, but to sin itself. But what does verse 11 say? " Likewise reckon," not, observe, realize, that we could never do, but, "reckon" - account, " ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Surely nothing could possibly be plainer than this in the reckoning of faith. "Likewise"- in like manner, plainly means, that the believer is to reckon himself dead to sin and alive unto God in the same sense that Christ is. He who denies this, does violence to the word, casts an indignity on the work of Christ, and reaps, as the fruit of his unbelief, a harvest of doubts and fears.
Know then, O my soul, and be well assured of this great truth;—that death is thy only deliverer from sin, rind resurrection thy only way to the new creation.
We die out of the old state in His death, and rise into the new in His resurrection. This is deliverance! True, happy, heavenly deliverance! Within the gates of glory, in the reckoning of faith, thou mayest breathe freely and sing thy song of victory. No enemy can ever cross the grave of Christ. It is the grand terminus of sin, Satan, death, judgment, the world and the flesh. " The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Oh, glorious liberty! Oh, blessed reality! To be within the gates of thy glorious land, O Emmanuel! To know that no enemy can ever invade thy peaceful borders; that no evil can ever enter there; that no serpent will ever lurk in thy Eden—the blooming paradise of God; that no tree of the knowledge of good and evil shall ever grow there; is our unmingled blessedness, our eternal security.
And there we stand with Thee, even now, by faith, O Jesus, Savior and Lord; we only await Thy coming to take us there actually. " A little while," and faith and hope must give place to the grand reality, the heavenly promise. " And they shall see his face." Faith's deepest hold of truth, and hope's highest expectations, are all fulfilled; we have seen His face. This will be thy heaven of heavens, 0 my soul; to see Him as He is. But what of thy faith and hope now, tell me? All is well-; all is well; every wish is met, every desire is satisfied. I stand with Him who is Head of the new creation. One with Him in whom I died as a child of Adam; one with Him who bore my sins that I might be forgiven and have peace with God. Yes, I say it in the integrity of faith, on the authority of the Lord's own word—" in Christ Jesus." And my place and portion there are measured and expressed by Him. This I know, that I am one with Him in life, righteousness, privilege, blessing, glory; and where He is, there I shall be; and what He is, that I shall be forever. John 14, 17; Rom. 8
Oh, happy soul, richly endowed and blessed, thou needest nothing more, only to feed on what thou hast and delight thyself in Him. But thinkest thou ever of those who have missed their way in this dark world, and know nothing of thy happiness? O seek to win such hapless souls to thy Savior. Every soul that thou winnest, will be as another precious stone in His diadem of glory. This is the happy work of the lover of souls- to gather precious stones from the rubbish of this world for His crown; they can be found nowhere else. And are there not many lost souls around thee to whom thou mayest speak, if thou canst not take a public place in testimony? Jesus says " Come," to the weary and heavy laden; and thou mayest say, " Come;" and even to the chief of sinners Jesus said, " Make haste, and Come." O wondrous words of purest grace, from the living lips of the blessed Jesus! " Make haste, and Come." This could not mean to-morrow, but just at once. A child knows what " make haste" means, and why should sinners doubt and linger?
Nearest thou these encouraging words, my dear reader? Wilt thou come—come just now? Happily for Zacchaeus, he made haste and came. And what did lie receive? Sal ration! But suppose for a moment he had lingered, doubted, reasoned, delayed, until it was too late, as many did then, and do now? What would the consequences have been? Salvation lost, the soul lost, Christ lost, heaven lost, and all the blessedness we have been describing. But what would be the sharpest sting of the undying worm?—self-reproach. The awful sentence would recall the past, justify the judge, and fill the condemned soul with speechless agony. " Because I have called, and ye refused: I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when darkness and anguish cometh upon you." Pro. 1:24-2724Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (Proverbs 1:24‑27).
Oh, then, my dear reader, as thou wouldst not have this fearful sentence read to thee, with heaven's gates closed and hell's gates open,—come now to Jesus, " make haste and come." Nothing could more express the Lord's earnestness with lost sinners; nothing could more ensure thy sweet welcome to Him: but alas, alas, nothing could more deepen thy agonies, nothing could inure fill thee with unmitigated misery, if thou refusest, than thy reflections on that gracious word, "make haste and conic." The work of redemption is finished, all is done, thou hast only to yield thy heart to His love, believe His word, and trust the blood that can make thee whiter than snow. But on no consideration delay. O haste thee, haste thee, while the door is open, to-morrow may be too late, the door may be shut, and thy precious soul lost, lost forever and forever. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:1717And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17).
Having so far cleared the ground, and shown the foundations of Christian devotedness in service, we will now go on with verse 2.