THE SECRET OF HOLY LIVING
Intro: Chapters 9-11 formed a break in Paul's letter to
the Romans. In that passage, Paul's focus was on
salvation and the Jew. Paul wanted to show them that
God was not neglecting them in this present age, but
that they could be saved by calling on the name of the
Lord. Now, Paul returns to the main idea of his letter.
He has spent considerable time telling us how we are
saved, what we are saved from and what salvation has
done for us. In this last section of the book, Paul's
focus shifts to some very practical matters. He will
discuss many aspects of everyday living in this world.
I am thankful that I have a home waiting on me in
Heaven. I am glad that I will live in a perfect mansion
some day in the very presence of the Lord God.
However, right now, I am a pilgrim and a stranger living
on foreign soil. Heaven is a blessing, but I need
practical help for my day to day walk with God. These
first two verses of Chapter 12, give us some insight into
an area of our walk with God that we must never over
look. These two verses tell us the secret of holy living.
Paul tells us what God expects from us and how we are
to achieve His goals for our lives. He tells us that holy
living revolves around our surrender to three powerful
concerns. Let's see just what they are and what they
demand as we consider the thought: The Secret Of
I. V. 1 THE WORSHIP OF GOD
(Ill. Notice the wording of verse one. Paul tells us
that yielding of our bodies to the Lord is our
"reasonable service." The word "reasonable"
comes from the same word from which we get our
word "logic". So, first we see that yielding our
bodies to the Lord is logical. Then, the word
"service" comes from a word which means "to
perform sacred service." It has reference to the
function the Levites performed in the Tabernacle
and Temple. It is connected to the idea of worship.
Therefore, that phrase means that yielding our
bodies to the Lord is our "logical service of worship
before the Lord." In other words, when we are
totally yielded to Him, it is the highest form of
worship that we can render! Nothing says "I love
you" to the Lord like a consecrated, dedicated, holy
life, John 14:15; 21. With that in mind, let's look at
this first verse and see what Paul means when he
calls on us to yield up our bodies.)
A. The Challenge - We are called upon to "present
your bodies." This has reference to the flash
that you and I wear around. I personally believe
that we are being commanded to yield up to God
our bodies, along with our sinful natures. God is
calling on us to present all that we have, are and
ever will be to Him for His glory and for His use.
The word "present" means to "place at one's
disposal." It means that we are no longer
holding anything back from God, but we have
placed our all on His altar and we are His
(Ill. The idea here is of total surrender to God.
Far too many people want to be saved, but they
are not willing to lay everything on the altar.
They are guilty of holding back areas of their
lives that are precious to them. God wants it all!
Another thing to notice is that the word "present"
is in a tense that suggests a one time for all time
action. We should not present our bodies to
God, then take it back and use it for ourselves
again. When we have given it to Him, it is His
B. The Cause - Notice the phrase "therefore by
the mercies of God." That phrase carries our
minds back to what the Apostle has been talking
about. He has been talking about the fact that
he redeemed are redeemed only because of the
pure grace of God. We may ask why God would
think that He can control every aspect of our
lives. The reason is simply because He bought
us at Calvary and we belong to Him, 1 Cor.
6:20; 7:23. Since that is true, we have no rights!
We are supposed to be subject to His
commands, regardless of what they are! May
we never forget that we were headed to Hell
when He found us. We didn't care a thing about
God, but He loved us. He died to save us. He
convicted us and called us. He gave us the faith
to believe and He saved us by His grace. It
seems to me that we owe Him everything! May
we, like Paul, ever be aware of the fact that "But
by the grace of God I am what I am", 1 Cor.
15:10. May that teach us why God has the right
to issue any command to us that He may wish
to. And, may it also teach us that we do not
have the right to say anything but "Yes, Lord.
Here am I, send me!"
C. The Consecration - We are told that these
bodies are to be presented "a living sacrifice".
This sounds dreadfully painful to us because we
know that a sacrifice, in Bible times, was an
animal that belonged to the person offering it and
that the animal was put to death, its blood was
shed and its flesh was burned on an altar. That
does not sound like something I want to be
involved in. The difference between what the
Lord is calling us to do and what He called those
people in the Old Testament to do is this: Their
sacrifice was to die, our sacrifice is to live! While
that is true, there are also some similarities
between our sacrifice and their's. Now, just as
then, the sacrifice the Lord is commanding each
of us to make is costly, painful, difficult,
personal and necessary. Basically, God is
commanding every one of His people to lay the
totality of their persons on the altar of sacrifice.
But, at the same time, this sacrifice must
continue to function in the world around it. This
is confusing, but I think that four ideas are in
view right here:
1. A living sacrifice means that we are to be
on the altar wherever we are. Regardless
of the geographical surroundings, we are to
remember that this body and all it is belongs
to God. There is never an instant in life when
we are out of His view or free to live as we
2. A living sacrifice means a constant,
continuous sacrifice. This is not something
we do from time to time. But we are to offer
this body up to the Lord and never ask for it
3. A living sacrifice means that the body
sacrifices its own desires for those of
God. To be a living sacrifice will require that
the body does not live for the world, the flesh
or the devil, but that everything the body
does is held to the guidelines of the Word of
4. A living sacrifice means that the body is
devoted to the task of serving God. This
means that we are to lay down the ambitions
and desires of the body and commit
ourselves to doing nothing but that which
God bids us to do! We are to be His vessels
through which He can live and work in this
(Ill. The bottom line of all this is that the
sacrificing of the body is not something on does
in the church only. But, it implies that every
action and activity that the body engages in is an
activity to glorifies and honors God. The
sacrificed body sees itself as the Temple of God.
It realizes that God must be in absolute control
of the will, the emotions, the passions, the deeds
and the thoughts of the body. All rights are
released and the body is delivered to God to do
with it as it pleases Him!)
D. The Conditions - Paul tells us how these bodies
are to be sacrificed. He gives us two conditions
that this sacrifice must meet.
1. An Awful Sacrifice - The word "holy" means
"something consecrated and set apart".
It has reference to that which inspires
religious awe in the sight of an observer.
Imagine how awe inspiring it would have
been to have stood with Elijah on Mount
Carmel as God sent the fire down from
Heaven on that altar. What would it have
been like to have stood beside Moses as he
conversed with that burning bush? Imagine
how it would have felt to have been with
Solomon at the dedication of the Temple
when the fire of God fell. Those were holy
times. They inspires awe in those who
The idea here is that when a life is totally
sold out, separated and sacrificed to God the
Father, it will be an awe inspiring thing! It will
demonstrate the power of God like nothing
else! I am convinced that God could do more
in a church with one properly sacrificed life
than He could with 1,000 who were half-heartedly playing the church game! I wonder
how much awe our lives inspire?
2. An Acceptable Sacrifice - The word
"acceptable" means "well-pleasing,
satisfying". God is pleased when a life is
sacrificed on the altar of His service for His
glory. It honors Him like nothing else can. It
proves His power. It shows His glory. It tells
a lost world that God makes a difference in
the lives He touches by His power.
The sad truth of the matter is this: we are
either pleasing God or hurting Him by the
way we use our bodies. If was want to be
pleasing to the Lord, then our bodies must be
placed on His altar, without reservation or
(Ill. By the way, note the words "brethren" and "ye".
This command to sacrifice all on the altar of
consecration is not just for a select few super saints.
It is a command that is given to every member of the
family of God. Not a single saved person has the
right to deny God the pleasure of our bodies
sacrificed on His altar!)
I. Revolves Around The Worship Of God
II. V. 2a THE WISDOM OF GOD
(Ill. Paul moves from dealing with the body to
dealing with the mind. Here is the root of all our
problems anyway. When we can get the mind to
think as it should, then the body will obediently
follow along. In this matter of conquering the mind,
there are two steps that must be taken.)
A. Shunning The Mold - We are commanded "be
not conformed to this world." The word
"conformed" means "to fashion, or to shape."
It literally means "to mold". We are not to allow
this world to squeeze us into its mold. We are
not to allow the world to make us like it is! You
see the world, and those who are controlled by
its influence, are vastly different from that which
God intends men to be. This is made clear by a
list of some of the works of the flesh as listed in
Gal. 5:19-21. There are many other concepts
that could be added to that list, but those are
sufficient to see that the world is diametrically
opposed to God. We are to avoid being
squeezed into the world's mold! We must be
different and remain different!
B. Shaping The Mind - Then we are commanded
to be "transformed by the renewing of your
mind." The word "transformed" gives us our
English word "metamorphosis". It describes the
transformation a caterpillar goes through to
become a butterfly. Did you know that the
caterpillar and the butterfly are the same
creature? What happens when the caterpillar
enters the cocoon and later emerges is that the
part of the insect that resides on the inside is
allowed to be manifested on the outside.
That is the change God wants to effect in
each of His children! You see, He moved into
our hearts when He saved us. He transformed
our spirit and changed us into His child. Now,
He wants to transform the mind (the soulish part
of man) so that the flesh might be changed.
What we must remember is that this flesh will do
what the mind tells it to do. It is only when the
mind is changed and brought under the power of
God that the flesh can be brought under control.
How is this accomplished? By surrendering
the will to God. By filling the mind with the Word
of God. By ordering one's life after the teachings
and commands of God. By cutting oneself off
from the influences of the world and by allowing
the Spirit of God to control the mind.
(Ill. There are basically three types of people in
the church. These types are distinguished by
the way their minds operate. Let me share these
three types with you and let's se which category
you fall into.
1. The Sensual - This kind of individual is ruled
by the physical world around them. They live
by their senses. Everything comes down to
how they feel, what they see, how they are
affected, what they want, what they hear, etc.
They may be saved, but they are living far
below their potential!
2. The Soulish - These people are those who
are ruled by their intellect, their will and their
emotions. These folks are harder to spot
than the sensual. In fact, there is a very fine
line between the soulish person and the truly
spiritual person. To be intellectual, emotional
or to possess a strong will is not necessarily
to be spiritual! Let me illustrate:
a. The Intellect - A person may know the
Bible forward and backwards and be a
walking concordance, but that does not
mean that they are a spiritual person.
Knowing the letter of the Word is far
different from living out the spirit of the
b. The Emotions - A man may shout and
cry in the services. He may lift his hands
to praise the Lord. These things are not
wrong, but neither are they always
spiritual in nature! Too often they are
merely actions of the emotions. The sane
person who shouts on Sunday may be in
the valley on Wednesday. If he were
genuinely spiritual, he could shout in
c. The Will - A person may, when he gets
saved, decide to stop smoking. He may
be able to throw down the tobacco and
walk away from it. That is a good thing,
but it is not necessarily a spiritual victory.
It may just be the exercise of a very
3. The Spiritual - This kind of individual is very
rare in the church. These are people who
are under the control of the Holy Spirit. He
controls their thinking, their actions, their
speech. He rules their lives. They have
given over total control to Him and they have
no life but that which He gives them! This is
God's will for every believer - Eph. 5:18.)
(Ill. How can we know the difference? Well, the
sensual person is not hard to spot. They stand
out because they are so selfish and carnal in the
way they live. However, the line between the
soulish and the spiritual person is so fine that
there is just one indicator in the universe that
can tell the difference. That instrument is the
Ord of God, Heb. 4:12. It is the only thing that
can teach us the difference between the soulish
and the spiritual. That verse says that it is the
"discerner" of our thoughts and our motives.
That word comes from the same word that gives
us the word "critic." The Word of God is able to
teach us the difference between that which is of
us and that which is from God. The Word of God
is the one thing that can tell us whether we are
pleasing the Lord or living for ourselves!
Therefore, it is Paul's statement that the mind
must be renewed and the only was this is
possible is by transforming it through the Word of
God! You see, just as the body of the caterpillar
hides the butterfly within, or flesh hides the
glorious, new man living in every redeemed
person this evening. The mind must be brought
under the control of the Lord so that the flesh
can be subdued and the new man, who is made
in the image of God can be set free! Basically,
what the Lord is attempting to do in each of our
lives is to get us to think like He does, Phil. 2:5.)
I. The Revolves Around The Worship Of God
II. The Revolves Around The Wisdom Of God
III. V. 2b THE WILL OF GOD
(Ill. Having told us that the secret to a holy life
revolves around worshiping God through the
sacrifice of our body and through developing the
mind of Christ in each of us, Paul moves on the tell
us that accomplishing these two things in our lives
will enable us to carry out God's will for our lives in
a way that honors Him. As we yield our bodies and
our minds to Him, His will becomes more clear and
more important to us.)
A. A Description Of God's Will - Paul uses three
identifying adjectives to describe the will of God.
1. It Is Precious - Regardless of what the Lord
may ask us to do, we will find in the end that
it is good. It is the devil and the flesh who tell
us that the Lord's ideas will bring hurt and
problems. However, God will never ask us to
do anything that is not for our eternal good,
Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17. (Ill. Joseph - Gen.
50:20) So, don't be afraid of the will of God
for your life because it is good!
2. It Is Pleasant - Pleasant in the sense that
when His will is revealed to us, it is
something that we are made willing to do. As
we move through this life, God is in the
business of maturing us. As we grow, His
demands on our life change. Through the
experiences of life God grows us and
matures us so that when His call comes and
His will is revealed, we are equipped and
ready for whatever He calls us to do. If His
will seems unacceptable, then we are
overlooking something that He is trying to
show us! He will never lead us to a place we
are not ready to go! (Ill. Abraham in Gen. 22;
Ill. Israel and their wilderness experience.
Only Caleb and Joshua seemed to have
learned the lessons well. All the people were
equipped, but only two were willing to follow.
When the nation refused to honor God by
doing His will, they faced judgment instead of
blessing!) When God reveals His will, it is
because He knows we are ready. When He
shows us it is time to march forward, without
question or reservation!
3. It Is Perfect - Nothing we could add to God's
plan would improve it. When He reveals His
will to us, we need to realize that God sees
the end of the matter before the matter
begins. He knows the path we will take and
He knows the obstacles and valleys we will
pass through as we go. He knows where the
provisions are that He has already placed
along the way. His plan cannot be improved
upon, but it must be followed for their to be
victory and blessing! We can be in no better
place that the perfect will of God for our lives!
B. A Demonstration Of God's Will - By yielding
our bodies and our minds to God, we will be able
to "prove" or "live out" God's will before a world
that is looking. When the world sees you and
me living lives that are absolutely spiritual, they
will know that we have been transformed by the
power of the Gospel of grace. As a result of our
getting where the Lord can bless and use our
lives, souls will be saved, God will be honored,
we will be an awe inspiring weapon, mighty in
the hand of our God. We will be proof positive to
a doubting world that God can take the worst
and make the best out of it. We will be the
evidence of His power to a perishing world and
we will finally be salt and light as we have been
commanded to be, Matt. 5:13-16.
Conc: So, the secret of living a holy life boils down to
God having control of our minds, our bodies and our
wills. Does that describe the life you are living this
evening? Is God is absolute control of all you have and
First, are you sure you are saved?
Second, is your mind being renewed by the
transforming power of the Word of God so that the new
man on the inside is being permitted to live on the
Third, have you discovered and surrendered to the
will of God for your life?
Are there needs this evening? I want to live a holy life.
What about you? Will you join me in this altar this
evening? Will you surrender all to Him? Will you get
serious about this thing of serving the Lord? Will you
allow the Lord to transform you and your life into an
awesome thing in His hand? Let's obey Him this