To you, what is the meaning of the word "sacrifice"? How do your mother and father define "sacrifice"? How do your grandparents define it? How did your great-grandparents define it? How did family members in the World Wars, the Korean Conflict, or the Vietnam War define it?
If you lived in circumstances that provided no TV, no microwave, no "fast food," no washing machine, no vacuum cleaner, no telephone access, and no computer access, would you sacrifice? Did your grandparents consider those circumstances to be a sacrifice?
If you lived in circumstances that provided one means of transportation [that the husband used in his work], no electricity, and no running water in the house, would that be a sacrifice? Did your great-grandparents consider those circumstances to be a sacrifice?
If you lived in circumstances that required "hand-carried" water to the house, a wood-burning stove for meal preparation, and an "outhouse" for a toilet, would that be a sacrifice? Did relatives living in the late 1800s consider those circumstances to be a sacrifice?
Each age changes the human concept of sacrifice. Time reshapes the human concept. God is ageless. Time does not reshape His concept. Human material and technological progress never alter God's concept of sacrifice. Changes in human lifestyles alter the way people make sacrifices. However, those changes never alter God's concept.
Paul wrote the letter we call Romans to Christians who did not understand God's actions. Obviously, their concept of God was flawed. That is understandable. The religious background of most first century Christians was Judaism or idolatry. In both Judaism and idolatry, similar animal sacrifices were offered in similar ceremonies. Both had sacrificial altars, a temple or temples, priests, and concepts of "acceptable worship." Both tended to regard God or the gods as "procedure centered" [observing the proper sacrificial process was the key to making God or the gods happy]. Following the correct procedures and knowing the proper system made deity content. God or the gods were seen as inflexible, distant, and demanding, but not as kind and benevolent.
The first eleven chapters of Romans dealt with basic concepts, concepts that were strange to most converts. Romans 1:16,17: God provides salvation to the person who places his or her confidence in the "good news" about God's forgiveness in Jesus Christ. The foundation of righteousness is not correct acts that follow proper procedure. Righteousness results from trusting God.
Romans 1:18-2:29: Every person needs a way to be saved that is based on trust rather than human achievement. Human failure condemns every person including the godless and the expert.
Romans 3:1-18: The Jew's advantage is not found in a special relationship with God. The Jew's advantage is the result of his awareness that God was and is at work.
Romans 3:21-31: Through Jesus' death, God made it possible for every person to be righteous before God by placing his or her confidence in Jesus who is the Christ.
Romans 4: Abraham is the proof that God always used faith [trust, confidence] to provide salvation.
Romans 5: Justification [a forgiven person standing before God as if he or she was sinless] is the result of faith in Jesus, and the combination of justification and faith produces personal peace.
Romans 6: God's goodness allows us to be justified by placing our confidence in Jesus. The Christian who understands God's goodness refuses to abuse it. He or she became a Christian to destroy evil within self, not to excuse his or her evil. He or she refuses to allow evil to rule himself or herself. He or she allows God to rule by obeying God.
Romans 7: Law condemns ungodly behavior. My determination combined with my will power cannot end my ungodly behavior. When I of myself seek to defeat my inner evil, I confirm the power of evil.
Romans 8: There is no condemnation in Christ because there is perfect forgiveness in Christ. In every way the rule of Christ and the indwelling Spirit is superior to the control of law.
Romans 9 and 10: Paul: "With all my being, I wish everyone in Israel understood God's accomplishments in Jesus."
Romans 11: By making reconciliation possible between Himself and believing people who were not Jews, God did not reject Israel. Instead, God challenged Israel to recognize and accept His perfect reconciliation through Jesus.
In chapters 12 through 15, Paul emphasized the relationship between an understanding of these concepts and the Christian's daily behavior. Romans 12:1,2 is full of significance.
Worship is not a "once a week" activity. It is daily godly behavior. Worship's roots are daily behavior. "The body's" collective praise of God on Sunday is meaningful when Christian individuals give their bodies in sacrifice to God all week long. Christians cannot confine worship to an event. Worship is a combination of Sunday praise and daily behavior. Neither godly behavior without praise or praise without godly behavior is worship.
Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 3, Lesson 6
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