Making God’s Will Your Will

There are three major sections in Paul’s letter to the Romans.  The first eight chapters consist of the revelation of the righteousness of God.  Chapters 9 – 11 contain the vindication of the righteousness of God.  The third and final section is the application of the righteousness of God (Romans 12 – 16).  The end of Romans 8 emphasizes the people of God.  The end of Romans 11 emphasizes the plan of God:

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39)

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33–36)

Both these passages flow into Romans 12 seamlessly.   Paul’s focus is no longer on his ethnic countrymen (Romans 9-11).  He now addresses his brethren in Rome.  He is speaking to Christians.  Considering the people of God and the plan of God and by the mercies of God, he earnestly appeals to the children of God.  He urges us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.

Romans 9 – 11 is necessary because we might be tempted to think that God did not fulfill His promises toward Israel; therefore, He might not do so when it comes to Christians.  Romans 9 – 11 outlines the plan of God for Israel.  The fact that God will keep His promises toward Israel vindicates Him and removes all doubt about the promises He has made to us as Christians.  Romans 8 ends with God’s sure and inseparable love for us as sons and daughters.  We are now thoroughly prepared for His commands.  We are children.  It is time that we act like it.

Another way to look at the whole of Romans is to understand God’s salvation (Romans 1-5), sanctification (Romans 6-8), and sovereignty (Romans 9-11).  This leads to our service in Romans 12-16.  Broadly speaking, Romans 1-11 contain doctrine and Romans 12-16 contain application.  While there is application all throughout Romans, it is extensive in this section.

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)

What does it mean to present your body as a living sacrifice?

We might be tempted to think that we make this presentation at a point in time.  But our sacrifice in this verse is not our death.  The OT sacrifices died after their blood was shed.  We are living sacrifices.  This means that we present ourselves to God as alive from the dead.  We are constantly putting to death the flesh so that the Holy Spirit might produce fruit in us unto eternal life.  This is reasonable service.  Anyone who really thinks through the obligation to make this presentation, will see it as not only a necessary way to live, but the preferred way to live.  Anything less than a totally dedicated life to Christ is unreasonable when you consider all that He has done for us.

“If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8.13).  A holy life is a set-apart life.  It is also acceptable to God.  Animal sacrifices are not God’s desire.  A body was prepared for Jesus so that He might be the only sacrifice for sin.  Now we present our bodies not as sacrifices for sin, but as sacrifices for ongoing, living service.  This is acceptable to God.  All of this is possible by the new, day-by-day mercies of God.

How do you present your body as a living sacrifice?

There are two commands in Romans 12.2.  We should obey them.  The first is negative and the second positive.

  1. Do not become conformed to this world.
  2. Be transformed.

The question is simple:  Will you undergo conformation to the world or transformation to Christlikeness?


To be conformed to this world literally means to form or mold your behavior in accordance with this age in which we live …this culture.  The word for world is not kosmos but aion.  Peter uses the same verb conforming in his first letter.  It reinforces Paul’s argument here:

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,” (1 Peter 1:13–15)

We are prone to conformity to this age because of our former lusts, our ignorance, and our lackluster effort in pursuing holiness in ALL of our conduct.


Instead we must be transformed.  Our English word metamorphosis comes from the Greek word in this command.  When we are transformed, a change takes place in our essential nature.  We are made new creations.  We should become a completely different person or a new “me”.  

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

If we are passive in our approach to Christianity, then we will be conformed by the world and age in which we live.  Passive Christians are indistinguishable from people in the world.  They blend in and don’t stand out.  They are carnal.  Instead, we must be transformed.  But how?  It must be done by the renewing of your mind.

Renewing the Mind

Your mind is the control center for not only your thoughts, but your feelings, attitudes, and decisions.  It is imperative “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” (Ephesians 4:22–23)  The inward man can be renewed daily and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.  But this is not automatic.  You must put yourself in a place of renewal.  

  • “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:23)
  • “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  • “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16)

We must seek to be influenced and changed by the Holy Spirit through unceasing prayer, continual feeding upon God’s Word (especially memorization and mediation), and assembling with other believers in order to be taught and to worship God.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” (Romans 8:5–7)

This transformation has a goal:  It is so that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  You are to prove God’s will.  It’s not enough to know God’s will.  You prove it in the sense that you test it by doing it.  We must do the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God in our lives.  Note these three characteristics of God’s will:

  1. God’s will is good.  This means that God’s will is beneficial.  Jesus said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent me.  If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7.16-17).  God’s will is good in that it provides us with clear authority that is indisputable.  We are easily deceived and blinded by what we want the Bible to say.  God’s will doesn’t seem good to us …it’s not beneficial.  We convince ourselves that our way is best.  Once we feel the cold, hard steel of the hook though, we’re sorry we ever bit on that line.  But God’s will is truly beautiful and beneficial.  It is excellence.  Isaiah said, “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever” (Isaiah 32.17).
  2. God’s will is acceptable.  It’s not acceptable to the world and our culture.  It’s too fanatical for most.  But once change occurs in the inner man, we see at once the error of a lackluster approach to Christianity.  The more clarity, the more love and devotion.  God’s will is a delight.  It is pleasing.  We are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably (with delight and pleasure) with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12.28).  God’s will is acceptable to God and it is acceptable to His followers.
  3. God’s will is perfect or complete.  Heavenly minded people are not weak or no earthy good.  They are not distracted.  They are actually thoroughly equipped for every good work.  It is not until we find the will of God in the Word of God that we are able to put down temptation.  God’s will completes us.  It enables us to conduct ourselves in such a way that we become consistent and conformed to Christ.

Why would God reveal His will to people not willing to do it?  People who do not find God’s will good, acceptable, or perfect shouldn’t expect to find God’s will.  Step one to finding the will of God is divesting yourself of your own will.  Step two is believing that God’s will is good, acceptable, and perfect. 

Turning Battles into Blessings

The fifth session at the Ironwood couples’ retreat this year dealt with spiritual battles we all face in marriage.  Our speakers were Dennis and Marilyn St. Lawrence.  Dennis is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Chariton, Iowa.  Ironwood provides access to the messages as well.  Go to  User name:  CRC2017 and the PW: Transformed.

1. Recognize the enemy:  Satan  (John 10.10).

John 10:10 (NKJV)

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

-Steal your joy, kill your relationship, destroy your home.

-As God’s children, we understand that this isn’t just between us.

1 John 4:4 (NKJV)

4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

2. Cry out to God (Psalm 127.1; Ephesians 6.12).

Psalm 127:1 (NKJV)

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,

They labor in vain who build it;

Unless the Lord guards the city,

The watchman stays awake in vain.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

-Prayer is our most vital and most neglected tool that we have.

-With all prayer.

-The prayer of the upright is the LORD’s delight (Proverbs 15).

-I may not know what to ask, but the Holy Spirit will pray for me (Romans 8).

-If you can’t go to God together, go as an individual.

3. Give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5.18; Ephesians 5.20).

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

18 …in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)

20 …giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Giving thanks is an act of the will and in spite of my emotions.

4. Realize the cause.

-Identify the problem.  Attack it and not the person.

5. Take personal responsibility.

-Be willing to bear more than you should.  We tend to overlook our part and magnify the part of our spouse.

-Move toward reconciliation.  Seek forgiveness.

-You cannot take the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit away from Him.

6. See this as a chance to die to self.

-An opportunity for humility.

-God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

7. Commit yourself to love (1 Corinthians 13).

1 Corinthians 13:4–8 (NKJV)

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Romans 12:21 (NKJV)

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV)

8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

8. Guard your thoughts (Philippians 4.8).

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

-Mentally going through this list removes all your excuses.

-Arrest negative thoughts about your wife.

-Ignore the flaws; admire the strengths.

9. Speak words that build up.

-Hostile comments behave as cancerous cells which multiply and destroy the relationship.

10. Rest in the sovereignty of God.

Romans 8:28–29 (NKJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NKJV)

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

10 Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

-Every burden is met with the grace of God.

-We must appropriate the grace of God.  Make sure it’s not given in vain.

-God gives you everything you need.  Believe it.

-Conquer your fear with faith by resting in the promises of God.

-You can be a marriage missionary.

-Don’t be weary in well-doing.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Have determination.

Four Rules of Communication

The fourth session at the Ironwood couples’ retreat this year dealt with communication in marriage.  Our speakers were Dennis and Marilyn St. Lawrence.  Dennis is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Chariton, Iowa.  Good stuff!  Ironwood provides access to the messages as well.  Go to  User name:  CRC2017 and the PW: Transformed.

1. Be honest (v. 25).

Ephesians 4:25 (NKJV)

25 Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

-“Speak” – that is a command

-“Speak truth” – stop all lying, evading, and manipulating.

-“Speak truth” in love (cp. v. 15) – with the other person’s best interest in mind.

2. Keep current (vv. 26-27).

Ephesians 4:26–27 (NKJV)

26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.

-Settle today’s problems today.

-Failure to solve each day’s problems means we:


-Open the door for resentment and contempt

-Distort future problems.

-Endanger our physical relationship.

3.  Attack the problem, not the person (vv. 29-30).

Ephesians 4:29–30 (NKJV)

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

-Corrupt communication:

-Bypasses the conflict

-Zeros in on a person’s character

-Tears down and rips apart

-Grieves the Holy Spirit

-Edifying communication:

-Zeros in on conflict

-Centers on personal responsibility

-Expresses solutions

-Ministers grace (words that edify)

4.  Act!  Don’t React (vv. 31-32)!

Ephesians 4:31–32 (NKJV)

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

-We are naturally defensive, blame-shift and react.

-We must learn by God’s Spirit to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving.

-No matter how irresponsible the other person is we must act biblically.

Two golden expressions to preserve a marriage:

1. Will you forgive me?

2. I love you!

Good relations are built when two sinners submit to biblical principles.

Be honest.

Keep current.

Attack the problem and not the person.

Act!  Don’t react!

Make Her Glad She Married You!

The third session at the Ironwood couples’ retreat this year was a split session.  Our speakers were Dennis and Marilyn St. Lawrence.  Dennis is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Chariton, Iowa.  This message is for the men only (but you ladies feel free to keep us accountable).  I like this:  “Don’t depend on your wife to be your cheerleader.”  Ha!  Ironwood provides access to the messages as well.  Go to  User name:  CRC2017 and the PW: Transformed.

1. I need to be the spiritual leader in the home.

1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)

7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

-It’s not so much where you are at, but where you are going.  Why are we resisting?  Why are you doing what you’re doing?  Don’t depend upon your wife to be your cheerleader.

-If I am not the spiritual leader, my wife will be insecure, lack confidence, and look for leadership elsewhere.

2. Make my wife first place in my life and show it.

-It fosters insecurity in my wife when she is not first place.

-If I want my wife to love me, I must love her first …and keep on loving her.  Leave her notes and text her.  Make time for her.  Date.  Helping with the house.  Practice good manners.

3.  Value my wife’s opinion.

-What do you think of this?  If you don’t, she won’t respect or admire you.

4.  Show self-control and personal inner discipline.

-Anger destroys the spirit of oneness.  There is a connection between anger and moral impurity.

-You are married to meet your wife’s needs.  She’s not a prostitute to meet your needs.

5.  Speak to her in a gentle spirit.

-Be a gentleman.  No harsh words or tones.  Be a kind, loving leaders.  Look at Jesus as your example.

-Demonstrate a servant’s heart and a learner’s spirit.  Your wife is God’s daughter.

6.  Praise her and recognize her attempts to please you.

-Wives must feel needed and appreciated.  Praise her in front of others.  Life isn’t the same without her.

-Develop a premature nostalgia.  Think of what you will miss when she is gone.

-If you don’t, her heart will look for praise from others.

7.  Build and protect her.

-Remove fear and anxiety from her life.  Address them with the word of God.  Pray.  Ask what Sue fears.  Tell her to circle two of these items for you to work on.

-Value honest even if it hurts.

-Be a one-woman man.

8.  Provide time for intimate and personal conversation.

-Women talk by bonding and connecting.  Give her your undivided attention.

-Be all there.  She must know you are listening.

9.  Spend quality and creative time with children.

-Give them quality time.  Wives love to see husbands loving their children in practical ways.

-Organized sports ruin families.  Spend time with your kids.

10.  Acknowledge failures and seek forgiveness.

-Admit when you are wrong.  Don’t ever think that you’re never wrong.

-When has she heard, “I was wrong.”  God resists the proud; so does your wife.  Embrace humility – an ongoing process.

Finding the Foundation of a Fulfilled Marriage

The following notes are from the second session at the Ironwood couples’ retreat this year.  Our speakers were Dennis and Marilyn St. Lawrence.  Dennis is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Chariton, Iowa.  I liked how this message was geared to responding to God and then people.  Ironwood provides access to the messages as well.  Go to  User name:  CRC2017 and the PW: Transformed.

Everything rises or falls on our relationship to God!

Psalm 11:3 (NKJV)

3 If the foundations are destroyed,

What can the righteous do?

1 Corinthians 3:11 (NKJV)

11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Christ is not a means to an end (a better marriage); He is our life.  He is the goal.  The marriage is the means to an end:  Christ.

Marriage doesn’t create problems; it exposes them.

1 Timothy 1:19 (NKJV)

19 …having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.

Our foundation must be cleared of:

1. Sins of our youth.

-Response to God:

Psalm 25:7 (NKJV)

7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;

According to Your mercy remember me,

For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

-Response to spouse:  God is allowing me to see how my failure in my youth has damaged my ability to make our marriage what God intended.

2. Premarital relations

-Response to God:

Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

-Response to spouse:  I realize I have focused on getting rather than giving in our relationship.  I ask your forgiveness for the hardship my sin has caused.

3. Marriage against parents’ wishes

-Response to God:

Proverbs 1:8 (NKJV)

8 My son, hear the instruction of your father,

And do not forsake the law of your mother

Proverbs 5:12–13 (NKJV)

12 And say:

“How I have hated instruction,

And my heart despised correction!

13 I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers,

Nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!

-Response to disapproving parents:  I was wrong for marrying against your wishes.  Would you forgive me for the grief my disrespect has brought?

4. Inadequate preparation for marriage.

-Response to God:  O God, please forgive me for treating lightly what is sacred to You.

-Response to spouse:  I realize my lack of preparation has placed great pressure upon you.  As I now begin concentrating on my personal responsibilities, I ask for your forgiveness and prayers.

5. Wrong attitudes in marriage

Wrong attitudes are more deleterious to a marriage than wrong actions.

-Response to God:

Galatians 5:22–23 (NKJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

-Response to spouse:  Would you forgive me for failing to demonstrate godly character and for not giving you the love I owe you?

Great marriages are not chemistry and capability; they flow from great character.  Great character is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

6. Words that damage and defile

-Response to God:

Psalm 19:14 (NKJV)

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Your sight,

O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

-Response to spouse:  I realize the words I said to you were unkind and unloving, would you forgive me?

Why Marriage?

Had a great weekend with my wife at the Ironwood couples’ retreat this year.  Our speakers were Dennis and Marilyn St. Lawrence.  Dennis is the pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Chariton, Iowa.  I took notes because it’s how I listen best.  Ironwood provides access to the messages as well.  Go to  User name:  CRC2017 and the PW: Transformed.

What is the purpose of your marriage?

Having a God-centered home

1. Sets a standard:

-Will this glorify God?

Our marriage is to serve and glorify God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:23–24 (NKJV)

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Romans 15:6 (NKJV)

6 …that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NKJV)

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

2. Gives us a pattern.

-God designed marriage for:

-Companionship – “Leave and Cleave”

-Help – Not only she helping him; he is helping

-Protection – sacrificial love of a man

-Fruitfulness – children; righteous works

-Enjoyment – God designed as a source of joy

-Illustration – picture Christ’s love for the church

3. Brings oneness.  It conquers self.  God-centered.

4. Changes menial tasks into God-given missions.

5. Provides stability.  When can you quit doing what is right?  Keep doing what God wants you to do.  As to the Lord by His power.

6. Has God’s blessing.  God blesses marriages that serve and glorify Him.

7. Gives hope to future generations.  If your marriage turns out exactly like your parents, would you be happy with it.  Only happens when the marriage is built on Christ to honor Christ.

We are to be marriage missionaries.  As we do this, God gives grace to empower us.