In order for us to make a new beginning with God where how we do more consistently matches what we say, we need to present our bodies as living sacrifices; sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to the Lord (cf. Rom. 12:1-2). And let’s be honest about it, often when we hear that kind of exhortation we say to ourselves, “Will I forever be this loser that I am,” because the problem with a living sacrifice is that it can wiggle off the altar!
When I think about all the sermons, chapel devotions, and bible studies I’ve heard over the years, and probably like you I’ve hear quite a few; the ones that were most memorable, the ones that had the greatest impact, were those in which my vision of the triune God was truly expanded and enlarged. With those messages, instead of walking away saying to myself, “Well, I guess I’m just going to have to suck it up and try harder,” I came away with a fresh head/heart conception of the Divine who has no equal. I caught a brief glimpse, and had a little taste, of the excelliencies of God’s person, and the blessedness of walking in His ways.
One particular verse that’s been useful in cultivating this kind of expanded more passionate conception of God is Messiah’s Declaration of Dependence in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me–and I in him–bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.”
Here’s the deal: If we fail or neglect to maintain unhindered fellowship with the vine by not allowing the vine to have His way us, resisting the Holy Spirit’s work by neglecting and disobeying God, we’re not just handicapped, we’re not just at a disadvantage, we’re powerless, completely unable to produce anything of any genuine or lasting spiritual value. Conversely, cultivating continual intimacy through love motivated grace-driven obedience, enables us to generate much that is authentically spiritually positive and significant. And you know what, if there’s little or no appearance of such “fruit,” that’s not necessarily an indication that a person may not possess salvation; but rather, it’s often reflective of the fact that one is no longer moving forward by growing in Messiah; becoming more like Him in character and conduct. And so being spiritually stuck in this sense, may very well be symptomatic of being spiritually sick; and until spiritually well, incapable of realizing and enjoying true spiritual success.
In order for us to make a new beginning with God, one that’s going to last beyond the next 10 to 15 minutes, we’re best served by embracing and cooperating with Messiah’s Declaration of Dependence; presenting our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to the Lord as we relationally remain in Him. I’m preaching to myself more than I’m preaching to you. Stay dependent my friend.