1. A LIVING SACRIFICE
a. What solemn appeal is presented to each one of us? Romans 12:1.
“God expressly directed that every offering presented for the service of the sanctuary should be ‘without blemish.’ Exodus 12:5. The priests were to examine all animals brought as a sacrifice, and were to reject every one in which a defect was discovered. Only an offering ‘without blemish’ could be a symbol of His perfect purity who was to offer Himself as ‘a lamb without blemish and without spot.’ 1 Peter 1:19. The apostle Paul points to these sacrifices as an illustration of what the followers of Christ are to become.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 352.
b. Where does true transformation occur? Romans 12:2.
“Christ demands all. If He required less, His sacrifice was too dear, too great to make to bring us up to such a level. Our holy faith cries out, Separation. We should not be conformed to the world, or to dead, heartless professors. ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ This is a self-denying way.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 240.
2. BECOMING POOR IN SPIRIT
a. As believers, what are each of us warned about ourselves? Romans 12:3; Ecclesiastes 7:16.
“There is among us an evil that needs to be corrected. Brethren feel free to look at, and speak of, the supposed defects of others, when that very liberty reveals a decided defect in themselves. They make it manifest that they are wise in their own conceits; and God cannot give them His special blessing, for they would exalt themselves and hurt the precious cause of truth. When the world was destitute of the knowledge of God, Jesus came to impart this inestimable blessing—a knowledge of the paternal character of our heavenly Father.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 193.
b. What appeals does Christ make to all of us, erring sinners as we are? Matthew 5:3, 5; 11:28–30.
“[Matthew 11:30 quoted.] We are to enter the school of Christ, to learn from Him meekness and lowliness. Redemption is that process by which the soul is trained for heaven. This training means a knowledge of Christ. It means emancipation from ideas, habits, and practices that have been gained in the school of the prince of darkness. The soul must be delivered from all that is opposed to loyalty to God.
“It is the love of self that brings unrest. When we are born from above, the same mind will be in us that was in Jesus, the mind that led Him to humble Himself that we might be saved. Then we shall not be seeking the highest place. We shall desire to sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn of Him. We shall understand that the value of our work does not consist in making a show and noise in the world, and in being active and zealous in our own strength. The value of our work is in proportion to the impartation of the Holy Spirit. Trust in God brings holier qualities of mind, so that in patience we may possess our souls.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 330, 331.
“None but God can subdue the pride of man’s heart. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot regenerate ourselves. In the heavenly courts there will be no song sung, To me that loved myself, and washed myself, redeemed myself, unto me be glory and honor, blessing and praise. But this is the keynote of the song that is sung by many here in this world. They do not know what it means to be meek and lowly in heart; and they do not mean to know this, if they can avoid it. The whole gospel is comprised in learning of Christ, His meekness and lowliness.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 456.
3. IN THE CIRCLE OF CHRISTIANS
a. How does Paul illustrate the work of the church? Romans 12:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 12:12–23.
“By a comparison of the church with the human body, the apostle aptly illustrated the close and harmonious relationship that should exist among all members of the church of Christ.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 317.
b. What does God expect from all members of His church? Ephesians 4:1–3, 12, 13.
“I point you to the words of the apostle Paul in the fourth chapter of Ephesians. This whole chapter is a lesson that God desires us to learn and practice.
“In the fourth chapter of Ephesians the plan of God is so plainly and simply revealed that all His children may lay hold upon the truth. Here the means which He has appointed to keep unity in His church, that its members may reveal to the world a healthy religious experience, is plainly declared.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1117.
c. Explain the keys to sweet harmony in the church. Romans 12:9.
“Divine love makes its most touching appeals to the heart when it calls upon us to manifest the same tender compassion that Christ manifested. That man only who has unselfish love for his brother has true love for God. The true Christian will not willingly permit the soul in peril and need to go unwarned, uncared for. He will not hold himself aloof from the erring, leaving them to plunge farther into unhappiness and discouragement or to fall on Satan’s battleground.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 550.
“We are to seek the Lord in humility and contrition, confessing our own sins, and coming into close unity with one another. Brethren and sisters, pray, pray, for your own sakes, and for the sake of others.”—The Review and Herald, April 29, 1909.
4. THE REALITY OF HUMAN NATURE
a. Even if we have professed Christianity for years, what must we continually remember? Jeremiah 17:9; 1 Corinthians 8:1 (second half).
“The forms of unbelief are varied, for Satan watches every opportunity to crowd in some of his attributes. There is in the natural heart a tendency to be exalted or puffed up if success attends the efforts put forth. But self-exaltation can find no place in the work of God. Whatever your intelligence, however earnestly and zealously you may labor, unless you put away your own tendencies to pride, and submit to be guided by the Spirit of God, you will be on losing ground.
“Spiritual death in the soul is evidenced by spiritual pride and a crippled experience; those who have such an experience seldom make straight paths for their feet. If pride is nourished, the very qualities of the mind which grace, if received, would make a blessing, become contaminated. The very victories which would have been a savor of life unto life, if the glory had been given to God, become tarnished by self-glory. These may seem to be little things, unworthy of notice, but the seed thus scattered brings forth a sure harvest. It is these little sins, so common that they are often unnoticed, that Satan uses in his service.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1080.
b. What attitude, too often underestimated, is actually a supreme indication of genuine Christianity? Philippians 2:3; Romans 12:10.
“God requires more of His followers than many realize. . . . We shall have no excuse to offer in the day of God if we fail to reach the standard set before us in His word. . . .
“Paul would have us distinguish between the pure, unselfish love which is prompted by the spirit of Christ, and the unmeaning, deceitful pretense with which the world abounds. This base counterfeit has misled many souls. It would blot out the distinction between right and wrong, by agreeing with the transgressor instead of faithfully showing him his errors. Such a course never springs from real friendship. The spirit by which it is prompted dwells only in the carnal heart. While the Christian will be ever kind, compassionate, and forgiving, he can feel no harmony with sin. . . . The spirit of Christ will lead us to hate sin, while we are willing to make any sacrifice to save the sinner.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 171.
5. WEANING OURSELVES FROM WORLDLY FOCUS
a. Living as we do in a highly intensive age, what balanced admonitions are to be reflected in our lives? Romans 12:11; 1 John 2:15–17.
“Waiting, watching, and vigilant working are to be combined. Our life should not be all bustle and drive and planning about the things of the world, to the neglect of personal piety and of the service that God requires. While we should not be slothful in business, we should be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. The lamp of the soul must be trimmed, and we must have the oil of grace in our vessels with our lamps. Every precaution must be used to prevent spiritual declension, lest the day of the Lord overtake us as a thief. That day is not to be put far off; it is near, and no man should say, even in his heart, much less by his works, ‘My Lord delayeth His coming,’ lest for so doing his portion be appointed with hypocrites and unbelievers.
“I saw that God’s people are in great peril; many are dwellers upon the earth; their interest and affections are centered in the world. Their example is not right. The world is deceived by the course pursued by many who profess great and noble truths. . . .
“Brother A was presented before me to represent a class who are in a similar position. They have never been indifferent to the smallest worldly advantage. By diligent business tact and successful investments, by trading, not on pounds, but on pence and farthings, they have accumulated property. But in doing this they have educated faculties inconsistent with the development of Christian character. . . .
“All the abilities which men possess belong to God. Worldly conformity and attachments are emphatically forbidden in His word. When the power of the transforming grace of God is felt upon the heart, it will send a man, hitherto worldly, into every pathway of beneficence.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 276, 277.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How is my commitment to Christ to affect the way I think?
2. How do the meek shine in contrast to those with typical human nature?
3. In what ways can I be more proactive in fostering unity in my church?
4. How will truly thinking of my brethren better than myself benefit me?
5. From what aspects of the world do I need to wean myself?