There is a song written in 1955 by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, and originally recorded by Frank Sinatra titled, “Love and Marriage.” The first lines go, “Love and marriage, love and marriage, Go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell ya, brother, you can’t have one without the other.” Perhaps you can think of other pairings that fit together like that; things that just don’t work well on their own. Things so inseparable, you wouldn’t want to have one without the other.
In the book of Romans, we have two verses where two distinct, but related doctrines go together like love and marriage, yet are often divorced in our thinking, thus eliminating the important comradery of the partners. The doctrines of consecration and sanctification go together in a significant way.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (NASB).
When we are justified by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus, there is a sense in which God sets us aside for service. Thus, He consecrates us, calling us a holy thing unto Himself. However, in Romans 12:1, the Apostle Paul is asking us for a free will living sacrifice of ourselves, an ethical response based on the mercies of God he presented in earlier chapters. In consecration we give back to God in worship that which God purchased and paid for in full by the blood of Jesus. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1Co 6:19-20 NASB). The Holy Spirit consecrates to God that which man offers.
As in consecration, when we are justified God names us sanctified, holy, mature. We then begin the process of becoming what God has already said we are. In Romans 12:2, Paul calls us into a deeper sense of that progress, that road to holiness. The good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is that we do not submit to the molding influence of the world but submit ourselves to the sanctifying work of the Spirit, by which we are conformed to the image and likeness of God’s dear Son. For this transformation to happen, our minds must be changed, our thinking renewed. And Paul says we are to prove that renewal in everyday living. Not in the contrived way of behavioral modification, but the natural outflow of a mind and heart that have been renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In closing, I offer verses 1 and 3 of the Wesley hymn, O God, What Offering Shall I Give:
O God, what offering shall I give To Thee, the Lord of earth and skies? My spirit, soul, and flesh receive, A holy, living sacrifice. Small as it is, ‘tis all my store: More should’st Thou have, if I had more. Thou hast my flesh, Thy hallowed shrine, Devoted solely to Thy will: Here let Thy light forever shine, This house still let Thy presence fill: O Source of Life, live, dwell, and move In me, till all my life be love.
Originally written for the National Association of Wesleyan Evangelicals newsletter. February 2022 Issue.
I hope you will join me on Tuesday 2/1/22 for the Pursuing Holiness Wholeheartedly Podcast. We will be discussing “Rethinking Consecration and Sanctification in Light of Disturbing Trends“