Holy Vessels, Spiritual/Reasonable Worship, and Three-Fold Description of God’s Will, September 2023

Romans 12:1-2 has such a deep and detailed point to make about our lives that I want to return to it in my article this month. Some of its parts, which I did not include in my sermon on Sunday, include being holy vessels, spiritual/reasonable worship, and the three-fold description of God’s will at the very end. These also are so valuable to our understanding of salvation that I would like to dive into them here.

Starting here, Paul says that our bodies are part of this salvation and mercy. God is not just concerned about our minds or thoughts or souls, but he is concerned about the whole of us, our bodies too. Specifically, our bodies are sacrifices which we offer up to the Lord as worship. Just as error, doubt, fear, and lies of the enemy can bog down a mind and make it unsuitable for approving God’s will, so a body can do the same. Moral corruption pollutes a body. Like a well is polluted by salt, bacteria, or chemicals, so also immorality is a pollutant to our bodies. What we do with our mouth, eyes, feet, hands, and every other part matters. Hebrew’s author insists we keep away from sin that so easily entangles us and holds us back from pursuing a wonderful and blessed life. (Heb. 12:1) And so Paul
says, our bodies (ourselves) are something we offer to the Lord in worship, so let us make them holy and pleasing to him.

Next, Paul speaks of the kind of worship The Lord wants. The word “spiritual” can also be translated “reasonable” or “rational” and so putting it into English is a struggle. The idea of mind and soul are mingled in this word, but it’s purpose is to amplify the importance of having holy bodies. Living a righteous life is a form of worship and we cannot say that what we do in the body is unimportant – what we do with our bodies is a fully-integrated part of ourselves and cannot be overlooked, disregarded, or rationalized away. Therefore, a holy life (body) is indeed spiritual and rational worship. Where our seat is on Sunday Mornings matters. Where our eyes hover over and lock onto matters. What our lips say matters in our relationship with God. The bodies are one of the most important things we offer to God as worship – let us give him ones that are unpolluted by the world.

Finally, we come to the last five words of the section… “good, pleasing, and perfect will.” I have heard this explained as three different wills. In that description, each is accomplishing slightly different things and sometimes in conflict with another of the wills of God. Though that view has some benefits, I suspect Paul is not describing three wills of God, but three outcomes of the singular will of the Lord. When all is said and one and the will of God is fully in force – not mitigated by sin, free will of sinful man, nor hidden from our knowledge – we will be able to look at all of God’s choices and see that it was good, pleasing, and perfect. But for now it will simply be enough to renew our minds with God’s Word and by our lives prove that God, who cannot be seen, exists and his will, which cannot be known by a fallen world, is active.

Remember to participate in our Sunday School Rally – if you are new to church or thinking about getting involved in a group (Sunday School or Small Group), this would be a great way to check it all out.

Thanks and May God Bless You and Yours,
Pastor Dave