I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
Something I slowly figured out as I started to study scripture as a young believer is something I like to call the rule of opposites. I suppose it goes something like this; in the Christian life there is no middle ground, or gray areas where we can “negotiate” with God. Either we do as God desires, or we do the complete opposite. Now I suppose there are many examples in life we could use to illustrate this principle such as black and white, up and down, or simply good and evil. I think you begin to get the picture. Yet as a believer I find myself looking at things in what many might consider a rather simplistic sort of way. What way is that? Well, how about God's way or Satan's way?
Now I think it entirely possible that statement might offend some, yet if you think about it, isn't it a logical conclusion? The Bible tells us, and certainly illustrates by many examples, that God looks at our behavior in just this way. Either we do as He commands, or we follow “you know who”. Thinking that way kind of makes you wonder about that old classic song “I Did It My Way”. Guess what? It wasn't your way, it was Satan's way if it didn't follow God's way. I have always been troubled by believers who seem to think there is nothing wrong with ignoring God's commands if they can somehow “justify” their behavior in their own minds, as if it is possible to negotiate with God! Notice how your kids try to negotiate with you? Did it work? Ever try that with your own parents? How far did you get with that? Unfortunately, God has a message for those who think they can get Him to change His mind.
"For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
Malachi 3:6 NKJV
The above passage from Romans is one of my all time favorites because it seems to state plainly everything God expects from us as believers in just one verse. What I want to share with you today is what we can expect to find if someone who claims to be a believer choses to ignore what we are told in this verse, by applying the rule of opposites.
The first thing Paul tells us is that if we make a decision to follow Christ, it is "reasonable" to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Simply put, we begin to live God's way, and not the worlds' (Satan's) way. The word for reasonable in the Greek is "logikos", which not surprisingly is where we get the word logic. The definition is, "pertaining to the reason or logic; spiritual, pertaining to the soul; agreeable to reason, following reason, reasonable, logical". I would presume then that it seems pretty clear what God expects from those who say they are believers. It is "logical" to begin to live your life as He expects, and to follow His rules. Yet considering the rule of opposites, what would we expect to see if someone who claims to be a believer chooses not to do as God requests?
If you choose not to act "reasonably", your only choice is to be "unreasonable"
1. not reasonable or rational; acting at variance with or contrary to reason; not guided by reason or sound judgment; irrational: an unreasonable person.
2. not in accordance with practical realities, as attitude or behavior; inappropriate: His Bohemianism was an unreasonable way of life for one so rich.
3. excessive, immoderate, or exorbitant; unconscionable: an unreasonable price; unreasonable demands.
4. not having the faculty of reason.............Dictionary.com
Take note of some of the descriptions in that definition. Irrational, unreasonable and inappropriate attitudes, resulting in excessive and immoderate behavior. From that description, it would seem almost impossible for someone who claims to be a Christian to act in such a way, yet unfortunately, as we approach the return of Christ for His Church, it would appear this sort of behavior becomes common. How is this possible? Note what Paul says in verse two; "be not conformed to this world". The word conformed means to "fashion" oneself after another, so what Paul is saying is that believers have a choice to either "dress, look, act," acceptably to God, or the complete opposite.
How many people do you know claim to be believers yet are obviously "conformed" to this world? They hardly ever go to church, but rather spend their time enjoying what the world calls "fun". They talk and dress inappropriately, following the example of what the world considers acceptable, and unfortunately for those who might observe them, would never be confused as a Christian. This is the point Paul is trying to make here; it is "illogical", and "unreasonable" for someone to claim to be a Christian, yet be conformed to this world. Unfortunately though, we see these kind of believers all around us.
There is, however, one more unfortunate result of a believer unwilling to do the reasonable thing by sacrificing his or her life to God, and we find that in the book of Peter.
knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
2 Peter 3:3-6 NKJV
I personally find this to be one of the most depressing passages in the Bible. Why? Because if you study the context of the entire book, you find that Peter is describing the problems that will arise in the Church in the last days, and the "scoffers" he is talking about are believers! How is it possible that someone who says their hope is in God and claims to be a believer, could doubt the very promise we have been given concerning His return? For the very same reason Paul told us about in Romans. They choose to do the 'unreasonable" thing by letting their actions be controlled by "their own lusts", and as we know by now if your actions aren't controlled by God, they are obviously controlled by Satan. To some that might sound harsh, but the reality is that the rule of opposites applies. Either we put our lives under God's control as a "reasonable" (logical) decision, or we go the other way.
Peter also makes it clear that the unfortunate result for those who choose the wrong way is God's terrible judgment. God may delay, but He never changes His mind. Those who choose the wrong path will pay, and pay dearly. Peter makes that point by recalling the story of Noah and the flood, and reminding us of just how far God is willing to go in order to judge His creation. The single biggest mistake those who choose not to sacrifice their life to God make is believing they are going to get away with it. If there is one thing the Bible makes perfectly clear, it is that God will always judge disobedience.
Have you made the "logical" choice to present your body to Christ? Are you living your life according to His standards rather than Satan's? As Paul says, it's your "reasonable" service.
As we approach the anniversary of the flood, may we be reminded that God expects us to live for Him, and will judge those who don't. Please don't be unreasonable.
PS I will be traveling to North Carolina later today to visit my daughter and son in law for a week. Please pray for our safety as we travel, and hopefully I will not be too late with next weeks post. It might prove to be an eventful week. Keep watching.