SURELY A MOST PERTINENT QUESTION and one that gives continual challenge to the thought and affection of every believer, whether newly come to the faith or of long-standing experience of the wondrous grace of God. And we would remark here that the enquiry finds special emphasis in the circumstances of the present day, for the general trend of thought, as far as unregenerate men arc concerned, seems to be expressed in the words of Ps. 12. 4, ‘Our lips arc our own: who is Lord over us?’
But with the believer it is, or should be, a vastly different matter. Since the wonder-working grace of God has reached us, and we have come to know the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, the great purposes of our being and doing arc to be governed by their relation to Him, and we should give glad and ready acceptance to the witness of the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor. 6. 19,20, ‘What ? know ye not … ye are not your own ? For ye are bought with a price:’ while seeking grace from on high to give practical recognition to the exhortation attaching thereto, ‘Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which arc God’s’. It is just here that we are likely to fail, for while every believer doubtless feels the urge towards such
the practical out-working of these Spirit-begotten desires calls for an intelligent understanding of what our God expects from us, otherwise our testimony will be wrecked upon the rocks of a sentimental, if not spurious, spirituality. To know and own the claims of God is doubtless the first step in a life of holy abandonment to His will, and it is equally true that such knowledge can only come to us by Spirit-given under¬standing of the teachings of Holy Writ.
The question with which this article deals seems to be very fully and clearly answered in the Epistle to the Romans, for the believer is there regarded as having passed out of the servitude of sin and Satan into the blessed bond-service of another, even our Lord Jesus Christ. What a deliverance! Out of thraldom into freedom.
Moreover, this freedom find its fullest expression and highest delight in willing-hearted service. Seeming paradox, yet blessedly true in the experience of all who would own Christ as ‘Master and Lord’, John 13. 13.
A glance at Romans 6 will help us here, for the careful reader will note that verse 16 seems to indicate that every man must be a bond-servant, either of ‘sin unto death’, or of ‘obedience unto righteousness’, while the section from verse 15 to verse 23 may be summarized thus -
Two masters – sin or righteousness, verse 16.
Two ways of service – unto iniquity or unto holiness, verse 19.
Two results of service – shame and death, verse 21, holiness and life, verse 22.
Surely the reading of these verses reminds us of the words of our Lord in Matt. 6. 24,
‘NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS'
and we do well to heed the exhortation of verse 19, ‘Yield your members (bond) servants to righteousness’ – these very same members which, as seen in graphic outline in Romans 3. 10-18, were engaged in unregenerate days in the service of sin and uncleanness ; days and ways of which we may well be heartily ‘ashamed’.
And now, as we turn to chapter 12, we note that in verse 1 the apostle seems to cast a reflective glance over the first eight chapters of the epistle, and gathering there from the wondrous unfoldings of the grace of God, he uses these signal and distinguishing mercies of our God as a basis of entreaty to beseech us to present (or ‘yield’, same word in original) our bodies as a living sacrifice unto our God.
Surely this must be regarded as our ‘reasonable service’, and it should be a matter of deep exercise to both the writer and reader alike as to how far we have responded to the call of God in this matter. It is so easy to fall into a mode of think¬ing in which the body becomes of first importance, and we spend our lives over questions as to what we shall put into it, or upon it, or over it in the way of shelter, losing sight of the fact that
THE BODY SHOULD BE YIELDED
in holy surrender to God as the vehicle to express our allegiance to the will of God, and through which He works in the doing of ‘His good pleasure’. And we judge that the greatest incentive of such a life of self-renunciation will be an appropriation and appreciation of the ‘mercies of God’, or, as the apostle writes elsewhere, the constraint of the ‘love of Christ’ enfolding us in its warm embrace, and thus giving irresistible impulse to live ‘UNTO HIM’, 2 Cor. 5. 14,15.
The first two verses of Romans 12 seem to suggest the following analysis -
‘Present your bodies’ – Dedication. ‘Be not conformed’ – Separation. ‘Be ye transformed’ – Transformation.
The remainder of the chapter gives the application of such truths to the believer’s life and conduct; a well-balanced life in which the spirit of true devotion finds full expression to the glory of God, and in good-will to man.
Ere we lay down our pen, we urge upon all young believers a very careful and prayerful consideration of the weighty theme with which we have attempted to deal in this article. ‘To whom belongest thou’, indeed ? Who holds the title deeds of your life, and who has the right to the control of your every faculty, and all your latent powers? Surely He who has purchased you ‘with His own blood’, and to whom we should adoringly sing -
‘I love to own, Lord Jesus,
Thy claims o'er me divine;
Bought with Thy blood most precious,
Whose can I be but Thine ?’