Meditations on Christian Devotedness

Romans 12:2  •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Verse 2. "And he not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye man prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." the connection between the first and second verses is manifest and beautiful. We have the body in the one and the mind in the other; the whole man is brought in. we are also reminded thereby, that mere bodily exercise, though consisting in the diligent observance of rites and ceremonies, would profit nothing without the renewal of the mind. The inner as well as the outer man must be formed morally for god, and his service. Hence the one grand end for the christian to gain is the discernment of the will of god; and the highest expression of christian life in this world, is the life that is most perfectly subject to the divine will. We have to prove—though we may be long in doing so -that this and this only is good, acceptable, perfect, and well pleasing in his sight
This then is thy life lesson, O my soul; and thou wilt do well to study these two verses carefully and together. Meditate deeply on each member of each verse, they are peculiarly full of the most practical truth for the Christian. Obedience, devotedness, subjection to the Master's will, are the truest features of the life of Christ in thee. This is to be thy one grand object—thy constant care—to be like Him! Lord grant a growing trans formation to Thine own image both within and without! And now, observe, that the first thing thou hast to learn is how to guard against the evil course of this world.
"And be not conformed to this world," This is a hard lesson to learn. To be personally in a place where the habits and opinions of men rule, and yet to be outside of it morally—in heart and spirit—where the will of God rules, is thy lesson. Nothing but the grace of God and a close walk with Him could make thee triumph here. Imagine for a moment, a young Christian fresh in his first love and in the bloom of his new eternal life, actively engaged from morning till night in the city of Loudon, where gold is worshipped, and where everything, else is sacrificed to the idol. Nevertheless, non-conformity to the spirits around him must be maintained.; and when the hour of closing comes, non-conformity to their ways. Evenings reveal whose we are and whom we love and serve. The happy Christian is ready, with all his heart, for the prayer, the worship, or the instruction meeting. And many such there are, the Lord be praised.
The secret of their strength is the knowledge of Christ and the heart's occupation with Him. We learn to say in such circumstances, Christ is this to me, Christ is that to me, Christ is everything to me, thus it is all and only Christ. And no better school can there be to teach us watchfulness and dependence on him. The experience is good, we learn our own weakness and folly in the midst of those who would rejoice in the smallest compromise, and become more and more cast upon Christ, and learn more and more of the depths of his grace, the value of His word, and the glory of His Person. Or, as the Apostle John puts it, " I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one." 1 John 2:1414I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. (1 John 2:14).
There are some Christians who think it very humble to be doubting at times their own salvation; but such are always weak Christians, and constantly in danger of being conformed to the spirit, the conduct, and the customs of this present evil age. So long as there is uncertainty as to our own salvation, there will be occupation with self in place of Christ. This is ruinous as to testimony and consistency. When we are looking to ourselves—our feelings, doings, experience—the old nature is active. When we are looking to Christ—His love, His finished work, His place in the glory—the new nature is active. And this makes all the difference between the two Christians. The former is fighting with his own heart that loves the things he is to strive against, but his difficulties increase, and because there is no joy, there is no strength. The latter being set free from self, and looking to Jesus, finds in Him a positive power for conflict and service. When the eye is fixed on Him all other objects are shut out. The new nature and the new object acting thus upon each other, our joy abounds, our strength increases; all useless weights are laid aside and the sin that easily besets us, and we run with patience the race that is set before us. This is the only true principle of the transformation here spoken of.
" But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect wilt of God." We have briefly glanced at the negative side of the second verse—non-conformity to the world, separateness from its maxims and its ways.
We now come to the positive side—the renewing of the mind. This is all-important. It is the renewal of the whole inner man; the deep springs of the heart which only the eye of God can see. He looks for the renewal of the understanding, affections, and will. Our old ideas which ruled the mind before we knew God and His Christ must all be given up, and new thoughts, new motives, new objects, new feelings, new intentions, as springing from our one new object—Christ in the glory- must have full sway over all the faculties of the mind, as well as over all the members of the body. There must be a complete transformation within and without, by the renewing of the mind. The Christian is a new man in Christ, " which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." Col. 1:1010That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:10).
Most mysterious, but blessed indeed is the Christian's position as here viewed! He must live, and think, and judge, in his new nature, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. At the same time he knows that the old nature is encompassing the new on every side, and which, though dead in the reckoning of faith, and according to the judgment of God on the cross, is still alive in fact, and will never fail to strive for its old seat of government in the mind and ways of the believer. This keeps him on his watch tower; from thence he discovers the movements of his enemies, and the mode of their attack. But he remembers the word, " Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." He is no longer in the flesh—though the flesh be in him -but in Christ as risen and exalted, and he knows it. This is the strong tower into which the righteous run and are safe. Thy strength, remember, O my soul, lies not in the number of thy privileges and blessings, but in the Person of thy Lord. Could the enemy beguile thee to count up thy many blessings as a believer, and meditate on these as thy riches apart from the Person of Christ, thou wouldst be little better than David when he numbered his men; or like John and James who were thinking about a good place in the kingdom. Paul desired Christ—" That I may win him." Oh! think of Himself—the blessed Lord! think of the place he has in the favor of God; oh! think with what perfect complacency the Father's eye rests on His well-beloved! and then think of thy place in Him, thy acceptance in Him, thy home, thy rest, thy peace, thy happy welcome in Him, forever and forever. This sums up all blessedness and sets the heart at rest forever—oneness with Christ.
"Jesus, my all in all Thou art,
My rest in toil, my case in pain;
The medicine of my broken heart;
'Mid storms, my peace; in loss, my gain;
My smile beneath the tyrant's frown;
In shame, my glory and my crown."
We must now return for a moment to the practical working of this great principle in every-day life. Without the inward renewal which the apostle here insists upon, there could be no discernment of the mind of God, and no real separation from the world. The outward difference between the believer and the man of' the world, must flow from the condition of the mind as renewed and strengthened by grace. Otherwise, it would be the merest formality. The path of separation is too narrow for the natural eye to discern. No broad lines are laid down in the word of God to mark the Christian's way through this world; the spiritual eye alone can see the way out of it. " There is a path," says Job, " which no fowl knoweth, and which no vulture's eye hath seen." Chapter 28:7.
The calling and responsibility of the Christian, then, is to " prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." This is to be his one grand object as to the whole path of his service in this world. But how, it may be asked, is this end to be gained? The truest answer would be—like-mindedness to Christ. " Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." And again, " Lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God." Paul says positively, " But we have the mind of Christ." And if we arc to walk so as to please God, we must walk even as Christ walked. And this, according to John, is what we ought to do. " He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." Phil. 2:55Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5); Heb. 10:66In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. (Hebrews 10:6); 1 Cor. 2:1616For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) John 2:66And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. (John 2:6).
The measure of the soul's obedience to the will of God is Christ; He must be the alone object before the mind. But to prove that will practically, we must be whole-hearted for Him, and be strengthened by the power of His grace acting on the renewed mind. The Holy Spirit, who only can show us the mind of God, must be ungrieved. We must be continually on the watch against the inroads of the world—the spirit of the age—and gradually growing in grace and in the knowledge of the divine will in all things.
Christian devotedness is thus complete in truth; the whole man is consecrated to the Lord, and laid upon His altar. The body is yielded up, the mind is transformed, and the will of God discerned; the man as a whole is devoted to God. Elsewhere the apostle prays for the complete sanctification of the entire man, which we must just glance at in passing. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." In this remarkable passage, it is the expressed will of God, that those who have been saved through grace, and brought into relationship with Himself, should be entirely consecrated to Him. This, surely, is devotedness without limit. It is the will of our God, that the Christian, in every part of his being, should be wholly sanctified, or consecrated, to Himself as " the very God of peace. What grace, what love, what goodness, thou mayest well exclaim, O my soul! It is overwhelming! As water rises to its level, so God would have thee, in every thought of thy mind, in every part of thy being, rise to Himself as thy proper object, resource, and rest.
The soul is usually spoken of as the individual; as, " The souls that came with Jacob into Egypt." The body is the instrument of the soul's expression and action; and the spirit, of its capacity and power. John the Baptist came in " the spirit and power of Elias," not in the soul of Elias. Such is man in all the parts of his being; and the apostle prays that each part may'' be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." He does not say, observe, unto the day of death, but, " unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," This may show thee what an important place the coming of the Lord had in the mind of the apostle, or rather in the mind of the Holy Spirit, and what an important place it ought to have in the minds of all Christians. It is an essential, or at least, a most influential part of christian life. Its place in this passage is perfectly beautiful. The believer, who is now but in part sanctified, shall be wholly then, and in every part of his being—body, soul, and spirit. What a wonderful thought this gives us of what we may now call, poor humanity. Then it will be perfected in each part, ennobled by grace, conformed to the glorious image of Christ Himself, who is the Head and Source of this new life in the glory.
Who would not heave a sigh and drop a tear over the blind indifference of those who are pursuing a course that must lead to the utter ruin, and the eternal degradation of humanity in the depths of hell! How exalted in heaven, how lowered in hell! Stop, dear reader, stop, and think! Where wouldst thou be forever? Hurled down the deep descent into the fiery gulf of the burning lake, or carried on the wings of love to the bright regions of glory? It must be the one or the other. There is no middle path here, there is no middle place hereafter. What is thy governing object now? Christ or the world? This determines thy future state. If the world be chosen in place of Christ, and its pleasures preferred to Ills cross in following Him, thy condemnation will be just, and thy deep debasement but the natural consequence of thy inexcusable folly. But, oh, what a wreck! that fair and stately vessel—humanity—body, soul, and spirit, which might have entered the port of life under the banner of a Savior's love, and amidst the joyous welcomes of many a well-known voice on that shining shore, now lies a hapless wreck on that dark, distant, dreary shore, the lake of fire. Think, oh think, dear reader! Would tears of blood be too much to shed over such a melancholy wreck of our common humanity? But think also, I pray thee, of a resurrection body, characterized by four things—" incorruption, glory, power, spiritual." This is the noble vessel by which the saint in glory will express himself; the soul, the proper seat of affection, now purified and all its capacities enlarged, what love will it take in and give out! The mind, elevated and dignified by union with Christ, walks above the myriad hosts of shining ones who have never sinned, and in intelligent relationship with God, meditates on His glory. And what must the noble workings of that mind be, when moved, guided, and sustained by the Holy Spirit? This is the sure and happy portion of all who believe in Jesus now, and give their hearts to Him. Blessed privilege, precious opportunity; there is no time like the present! Let Him have thy heart now, my dear reader, thy whole heart, and forever!
Oh! happy Christian, thou mayest well give up the tinseled vanities of time for the glories of eternity But even now thou knowest thy place in the glory. Christ, in His Person, and in His present position in the presence of God, is the expression of thy place there. Every believer has his place before God in Christ, and in the righteousness of God, which He accomplished in Christ, having glorified Himself in that obedient, blessed One. And now, God would have all who are brought into this relationship with Himself, to have no object before their minds but Christ in the glory, so that we may do His will, and be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
" Oh! who upon earth can conceive
What in heaven we are called to share!
Or who this dark world would not leave,
And earnestly long to be there!
There Christ is the light and the sun,
His glories unhinderedly shine;
Already our joy is begun,
Our rest is the glory divine.
'Tis good, at His word, to be here,
Yet better by far to be gone,
And there in His presence appear,
And rest where He rests on the throne;
Yet, oh! it will triumph afford
When Him we shall see in the air:
When we enter the joy of the Lord,
Forever abide with him there."