In his letter to the Romans, Paul spent eleven chapters presenting Christian doctrine. It was pretty important to him that his parishioners learn the truth.
However, Paul’s intent was not to create “puffed up” theologians who would feel holy and accomplished because they could understand weighty concepts, quote big words, and dwarf less equipped opponents in theological debates.
Paul’s purpose in teaching was that his hearers may learn to sacrificially live. Hear Paul’s words:
I appeal to you brothers, based upon the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your logical worship. (Romans 12:1)
Why do we read? Why do we sit under sermons? Why do we attend classes and small groups? Why do we train and catechize our children? Friends, what is the goal of our Theological Education? The goal is sacrificial living.
Our learning of good doctrine should cause us to sacrifice our egos.
Our learning of good doctrine should result in our sacrificing right to justice or vengeance.
As doctrinally sharp believers, we should more and more sacrifice our privacy as we let people into our homes and lives.
Our accumulation of good doctrine should result in greater sacrifices of energy.
As good students and living sacrifices, we ought to offer up our money and possessions.
Then, as doctrinally instructed ambassadors of the King and his Gospel, we ought always be willing to sacrifice popularity and comfort by being faithful, loving evangelists.
Friends, to sum it up, as we become intoxicated with the “mercies of God,” we should find ourselves self-worshiping less and panting to look and live more like Jesus — our holy and acceptable Living Sacrifice.
However, this is nothing new to most of us. We have heard such sermons all our lives, and though we might live sacrificially from time to time, it is hardly our persistent manner of living. Therefore, what are we to do to change our affections and our actions? Paul helps us here as well:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind … (Romans 12:2)
We will find ourselves passively transformed as we turn from the world’s propaganda and regularly meditate upon the “mercies of God” or the Gospel. We are to be constantly learning the Gospel so that we may be more and more inclined to sacrificially live. This is how internal external transformation or metamorphosis occurs.
So what am I asking you to do? Pick up your books, sit under your instructors, and fill your minds with God’s good Law. But know that this will not transform you. You must first focus upon and be enthralled with the love of Christ shown to you. As you do focus on his “tender mercies” you will find yourself internally motivated to die to self and sacrificially live for God and man.
We read to learn his Law.
We read to learn his Mercies.
We read and find ourselves learning to love.