The Characteristics of Biblical Commitment in Relationships
Brody Holloway : Romans 12 : Pure and Holy Conference
We must be careful with what we allow to shape our thinking on things such as: who we are, who God is, relationships, dating, marriage, and sexuality. What we surround ourselves with will mold and influence our patterns of thinking and doing.
The Bible teaches us that we must commit ourselves and our lives to Jesus first, and only then can we commit to other things, other relationships, and other people. We are to be transformed by having our minds renewed daily. This comes from spending time in God’s Word and from setting our affections and our hearts on things of God. Commitment to Christ followed out in this way will lead to understanding God’s will for us and the ability to have wisdom and discernment.
What Does Biblical Commitment to Jesus Look like?
Open your Bibles to Romans chapter 12. Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you.” So appeal means I urge. So any time you see a word like “I urge you” or “I entreat you”, think about somebody who commits murder and get sentenced to death. In most states, if not all States, there’s an automatic appeal process. What does that appeal mean? It means they’re going to a higher court and urging them, begging them not to put them to death.
So when in Romans 12:1, when it says, “I appeal to you,” it’s I urge you, I beg you.
Just recently, we were working with two different moms whose daughters had fallen into sexual relationships. They were younger girls, manipulated by older boys, and were working through this thing with some moms here at camp saying, “I don’t know what to do.” And these moms, both of them that we worked through this with had experiences when they were teenagers, they had gone down a path of sexual promiscuity, and so they know the pain and the damage that it causes to your soul and your heart. So now these ladies are in their, I don’t know, 30s, 40s maybe, and their daughters are going on that same path, and they’re scared to death, ’cause they know the pain and the suffering that it causes long-term, and so they’re appealing, they’re begging their daughters.
They’ve gone past like commanding them not to do this, they’ve gone past like enforcing the rules or the laws of the house and there’s a point where they’re saying, “Please don’t do this. It will cause pain in the long run. You’ll be dealing with the repercussions of this when you’re 30 and 40 and 50.” And last night we looked at the beauty of God’s grace and forgiveness, and He takes your shame, He takes your guilt, but man, you still… You’re always gotta wrestle and fight through that, fight through that. So I appeal to you, Paul appeals to you this morning to do this God’s way. It’s an appeal, it’s an urging, it’s a begging, it’s a pleading.
Many of you have gone down on that path, and I want to tell you that God will fill your soul with renewal. He’ll heal your heart, He’ll give you a new mind, He’ll give you a new focus.Brody Holloway
That’s what we’re talking about.
So I appeal to you, I urge you. Paul urges us. God through His Word, urges us. So I want you to listen, this is gonna be a very encouraging thing to hear this morning. “I appeal to you, therefore… ” Okay, so in the Bible, when we see the word therefore, it’s connecting to something that we’ve already talked about, so it’s like saying “So based on what we just talked about, let me now appeal to you.” Well, what we just talked about is 11 chapters of the richest, deepest, widest, tallest, strongest, most powerful 11 chapters of Scripture you could imagine reading. It’s not like one part of the Bible is stronger than another part it’s just all strong, but it is powerful, powerful Scripture that basically tells us all that we need to know about who God is, all that we need to know about salvation and the Christian life. So based on all of that, based on who we know God to be, He’s just, He’s righteous, but He’s merciful and He’s loving. And based on everything we know about Him, in fact, listen to how the previous three verses go. So he says, “Therefore, I appeal to you therefore… ” Therefore, what?
Let’s just look at the last three verses.
Last four verses rather of chapter 11, verse 33, “O, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments, how inscrutable His ways. For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him, and to Him are all things, to Him be glory forever. Amen.” So he’s saying based on the richness of what God’s done, based on the depth of God’s love, all that God’s done for us based on all those things, I wanna now make an appeal to you based on the fact that God loves you and that there’s riches to that love. Sometimes we view riches or value in different ways. When I was… So I’m the oldest of eight kids, and there was five in my mom’s first marriage. And then three, my mom and my step-dad.
Zach is married to one of my sisters from my mom’s second marriage, so anybody from a blended kind of weird family, like it’s confusing just to show up at a cookout. So anyway, so when I went off to college, when I was 18 years old, I left home and I never went back home. And that sister was, she’s 10 years younger than me, so she was like second, third grade, something like that, in second grade, and she sent me in the mail a dollar, okay? One dollar, alright, and I took that dollar.
Well, guess what? I didn’t spend that dollar.
I put that dollar in my Bible and it meant a lot to me for years and years, and years and years. And when she got married. So that would have been like in 1990. She got married in 2003, and on her wedding day, I wrote her a letter and gave her that dollar. Well, that dollar is only worth a dollar at the store.
But to me and to my sister, that dollar is worth much more than $1.00.
It showed back up to me at Christmas not long ago, and then we’ll cycle that. So there’s meaning, there’s a story to that. Do you see what I’m saying? So the way the world value something is different than the way you might value something.
Based on the riches of God and His mercy, Paul is going to appeal to us what you know to be true about Jesus should be the most valuable thing you could ever imagine even though the world may not understand the value in it. They don’t get it. The world doesn’t understand it, they don’t understand what we value.
But that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing that God’s done.
Okay, so he says, “I appeal to you.” Therefore, based on what we know to be true. “Therefore, brothers.” So he’s talking to Christians, he’s talking to believers, brothers and sisters:
“By the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
So we’re gonna break this down into four ideas, okay? These four ideas help us understand commitment. “Therefore, I’m appealing to you to present yourselves.” What’s that mean? To commit yourselves, commit yourself to the Lord, commit your sexuality to Jesus, commit your relationships to Jesus, commit what you watch and what you listen to and what you see, commit it to the Lord.
So we’re going to talk about basis of commitment.
To do that, we first need to understand the world has sort of a skewed or perverted view that it projects on to what God has done, and it starts early. You’ve got this pressure to be in a relationship. You’ve got this pressure to experience certain things.
My little boy is Moses, and I call him Mo. I got a picture of Mo this morning, I wanna tell you a quick story. Mo is in kindergarten. We were going to the Christmas Eve service at my church. I went dressed about like I am right now, that’s how we dress at my church. Mo was like, “No, no, no.” Mo is a man of silk.
And so that’s how Mo shows up, and so this guy, he’s a little bit crazy, and he’s in kindergarten, and there’s this little girl in his class named Hadley, and her dad is a good friend of mine, and she is a fireplug. I’ve never met a six-year-old kid that’s as crazy wild like… She’s a hoot. Just one of those kids. You just want to watch her.
Well, she and Moses have pledged their undying lifelong love to each other.
Well, we don’t really allow that at age six, we’re not gonna do a wedding next weekend and have bridesmaids like, “Okay.” So it’s cute. It’s funny, whatever. So we’re at a basketball game for my oldest boy at the high school and Hadley and her parents are always there. Hadley’s got an older sister named Reagan. And Reagan is always putting pressure on Moses to put the moves on Hadley. And so, at a recent basketball game, Reagan convinced Moses he need to kiss Hadley on the ear.
On the ear.
So word gets back to mama, to Little. Driving home from the game while Moses has just kissed a girl on the ear, Mo’s feeling pretty confident in his game. He kissed her right, high jaw low ear lobe. He nailed it. It was good stuff. And so he’s feeling confident. He’s a man with swagger anyway, as you can see, and so he’s sitting in the car in something like this position, hands behind the head, feet propped on the seat in front of him, looking out the window.
Little said, “Hey Mo.” She’s driving with several other kids in the car, he’s right here, she looks in the mirror and she says, “I heard that you kissed Hadley on the ear at the game. Is that true?” And he’s looking out the window and he says, “Well mama, sometimes you got a girlfriend and sometimes you do.” I got my hands full, because we have a really high view of relationships and dating. I’ve told it a million times and it makes me laugh, but the reality is at a very young age in our culture, there’s this pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t there?
It’s almost like something is wrong with you if you’re not in a relationship.
It’s crazy pressure. Be with somebody, be in a relationship, have a relationship, but here’s what you learn in those types of relationships, you learn a really low-level view of commitment, ’cause those relationships, people just get out of them all the time. In a relationship, out of relationship, in a relationship, out of relationship.
That’s not how commitment works.
I told my wife, “You will never get rid of me. If you leave me, I will follow you. You cannot keep me away, I’m committed and I’ll take commitment serious.” 25 years ago, we got married I said, “Not only am I committing my life to you, if you ever leave, I’m going with you.” That defeats the purpose of leaving, exactly, and proves the point of commitment, right? I’m committed. And so we live in a world that cultivates these relationships, we’re committed for a day, uncommitted. Jesus tells us to commit to something that is bigger than you—commit to something that will outlast this season of your life.
That’s what Romans 12 is about. And so. I want to give you four characteristics of commitment we see in this text.
4 Characteristics of Biblical Commitment in Romans 12
1. The Foundation of Our Commitment is Jesus.
The Bible teaches us that when we commit ourselves and our life to Jesus first, then we can commit to other things, other relationships, other people. The basis of commitment, or the foundation of commitment in this verse, in these two verses is, that it is not your determination. Think about this, the basis of your commitment to purity, for instance, is not your determination. In other words, you can’t build, you don’t commit to Jesus, you don’t commit to purity, and build that commitment on the foundation of your ability and determination to make sure it happens. Listen what the verse says, the foundation of your commitment is, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God.”
Your commitment to holiness, your commitment to purity, your commitment to Jesus, your commitment to your future spouse—are all built on the foundation of the mercy that God has given you. In other words, because God’s been so gracious, because Jesus died for you, because the things we looked at last night, because you’ve been bought with the price, because Jesus loves you enough to leave heaven, come to this world, die in your place, because Jesus is big enough to heal your brokenness, because Jesus is big enough to give you a new heart, because Jesus is powerful enough to cleanse you from unrighteousness, to give you a relationship with God the Father, to be your mediator, to be your advocate, to go before you, to come behind you, to encompass your life, Jesus, because He’s all those things because of that, you can commit to Him. It’s ’cause of His strength and not yours.
So the basis of your commitment to Jesus, the basis of your commitment to purity, the basis of my commitment to be faithful to my wife, to not look at pornography, to be faithful to my children, the basis of my commitment to not commit adultery, the basis of your commitment to not commit anything outside of the Biblical context of sexual experience in marriage is not because you can be determined. I’m determined not to do it, I’m gonna win today, I’m gonna be pure, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna commit. It’s not that, it’s based on what Jesus has already done, what Jesus has the power to do in your life, that’s the basis. That’s beautiful.
2. The Character of Our Commitment to Jesus is Total and Logical.
Second, we see the character of commitment.
What is character? It’s the characteristics, or the fiber—what it’s made up of. And that is two-fold. It is both total and it is logical.
We’re a living sacrifice.
Let me explain it. He says, he uses the word, as a living sacrifice. Before Jesus came into the world, they would put something on the altar, they would light it on fire, and they would burn it until it was completely gone. And the idea was that sacrifice would be completely consumed in an offering to God. God would consume the sacrifice completely. So there’ll be nothing left of it. It’s the idea that “I completely commit my life to Jesus.”
You cannot halfway commit to Jesus. It’s a total commitment.
It only makes sense that if you’re gonna commit to Jesus, you do it 100%. There’s this wrong idea in the American church sometimes where people are like, “Yeah, I’m committed to Jesus. I’m stepping into this thing called Christianity.” But they also then live sort of over here in the world. Was talking about this last night.
It’s a total commitment. There’s no half-hearted commitment. Nowhere in the Bible is the Scripture gonna say, “You should commit to Jesus a little bit at a time. You should commit to Jesus some parts of your life.” Just like a living sacrifice, God consumes every part of you with His Holiness, He consumes every part of you.
As a sacrificial offering, you lay your life at the feet of Jesus. Total, total commitment.
This is our rational service.
The second characteristic of commitment is that it’s logical. In the ESV translation, it says, “Which is your spiritual worship?” But there’s a footnote at the bottom of the page that says, “Or your rational service.” But the word literally means it’s what’s logical. It’s the word we get the word logical from.
So if we go back to this ancient writing that was not in English, what it would have said is it would say, “Commit your life and total sacrifice to God as a living sacrifice, because this is what’s logical.” This is what makes sense.
Jesus gave himself for you. It’s only logical that you would then totally commit to him.Brody Holloway
It’s kind of in a marriage relationship. If two people come together and I’m doing a wedding, and I’m gonna do premarital counseling. We’re gonna sit down and talk through these things. I love to do weddings. Most preachers and pastors will say, “I dread weddings.” But I love them. I love weddings because of what they represent.
And on that day or any other wedding day, what if, it’s time for the vows, and the wife waxes eloquent, and she says her vows and they’ve decided not to do traditional vows, they’re gonna write their own vows. And the wife says, “I commit my life to you, my heart, my life, my soul, my future, my past, all of my love, all of my affection, all of my will. I wanna be one with you. I will be with you to death.” And it’s a beautiful expression of vows. And she puts the ring on his finger, and then it’s his turn, and he… Which usually guy goes first, but anyway, just stay with me in this story, okay? Don’t judge. Alright, so the dude’s like, “I’m gonna give you this ring. And I’m gonna be faithful to you most of the time.”
Okay, first off as a preacher, I promise you I would choke slam that sucker in church.
I’m not even exaggerating. And I can do it. Until I become old and decrepit, and I’m getting there, but I still got it in me, and I think there’ll be some Holy Spirit adrenaline. Bam! “What did you say? I ain’t no normal preacher now. We’re committing to something here. There ain’t gonna be no most of the time.”
Why? Because we expect total commitment by both people. It’s only logical that on the wedding day when the commitment’s happening, it’s a wholehearted commitment by both people—not by one and not the other. That’s why it rips our hearts out when we hear of someone being unfaithful to their spouse. That’s what devastated my view of marriage when my parents split up because of infidelity. It’s logical. The basis of commitment is that, it’s about the mercies of God and the characteristics of commitment, or that it’s literally total commitment, and it’s only logical that it be that way. Does that make sense? It’s only logical then, let’s step out of the marriage thing. It’s only logical that that’s how we commit our lives to God.
Did Jesus 100% commit himself to us in going to the cross and dying for us?
There wasn’t a point where Jesus was like, “Oh, man, it’s getting late. I think I’m gonna bail on this cross deal. I’ve done the miracles, I did a whole baby in a manger bit, I was growing as a kid and I endured temptation, me and Satan banged it out in the wilderness and I smoked that sucker out, I throttled him over that whole temptation thing. It’s been a good day. I don’t think I’m doing the cross thing. I’m not going through with this.”
That’ll be like 80% fulfillment of prophecy. But that last 20% is a pretty big deal. Like, 100%, that’s what Jesus gave. 100% that’s what I commit on my wedding day. 100% is what we commit to Jesus, total. And that’s the only thing that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense to live halfway.
If you’re gonna live half-hearted Christianity get out now.
Get out, go do something else. Go serve your own flesh. Go serve, go be a chump, punk, slave to the world and its demands, and watch it ravage and pillage your life over the next four decades. ‘Cause that’s what it’ll do. But Jesus will give you completion and wholeness, and purpose, and don’t think that the decisions you make as a 14, 15, 16 year old won’t have an impact on you for the rest of your life. They will.
So, submit and commit to Jesus — 100%.
3. There are Demands of My Commitment to Jesus.
When I commit to Jesus, God will make certain demands on my life. He tells me certain things that he expects from me.
Don’t conform to the world.
He says we are not to conform to the world, and its demands.
He commands, “Don’t do what the world tells you to do, you’re bigger than that, you got Jesus in you.” This means I need to be careful about what is shaping the way I view things. Who I am, who God is, relationships, dating, marriage, sexuality, and what I’m pursuing with all my heart, all those things are shaped by outside influence. So what you watch, what you listen to, who you’re daily surrounded by, your conversations, your social media, whose stories you follow on Instagram, who you communicate with through Snapchat, all of those things contribute to what shapes the way that you see all of this and you conform to that which shapes you, conform to.
Remember when you were a little kid and you play with playdough and you’d get those little kits, those little things where you could make little figurines and different things out of playdough? What do you do? You stick that playdough in that little plastic thing and you squeeze it together and you tear away all of the excesses. Remember what I’m talking about? When you open it up, it’s whatever that thing is. Why?
Because you conformed it to that thing.
Don’t press your mind into the world and let it cramp down and conform the way you think to the way it thinks. Don’t do that. What you see, what you watch what you do, what you think, who you’re surrounded with. So that’s the first. The first command is, “Don’t conform to the world’s way of doing things.”
Be transformed by renewing your mind.
And the second one is, “To be transformed instead by the renewing of my mind.” This is the more powerful thing, ’cause what the world does, is sort of conforms you to itself, but He’s saying now, this word transform, the transformative process is something that’s ongoing. In other words, every day God’s renewing your mind, like giving you a fresh perspective.
This is where I’ve gotten to experience now because I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years. I’ve been a Christian for about 26 years, so I get to experience that, “Man, 26 years into my Christian walk, God’s still giving me renewed thoughts and teaching me new things, and I read the Scripture and get excited about something I read, or get blown away.” I’m so thankful to the Lord that there’s a depth to what he does in renewing us. God will renew the way you see things.
If you’ve seen sexuality and relationship one way up until this point, God can renew that and change it, and give you a new perspective, a fresh perspective, renew your mind.
So how does that happen? It comes from spending time in God’s word, and from setting my affection and my heart on the things of God. Jesus says in John 8, “If I abide in His Word, I’m His disciple, and He’ll set me free through that.” And we need to be set free from the way the world thinks.
And so number three is that there are demands to this life in committing ourselves to Jesus. And that’s that we are not conformed to the world, but that we are transformed by having our minds renewed every day. Every day spend time in the word. Get to a point where if you miss that time in the Word, you feel like something is lacking, and not that it devastates and changes your life and ruins you, but you’re like, “Man, I’m… ” That’s like missing a meal when I’m really hungry, you know, “I need that, I need that, I need that Word.”
4. We Will Know the Perfect Will of God.
We see the effects of genuine commitment and what it’ll be. We see what the effects of genuine commitment will be. What’s that mean? It means because I’m a Christian, because I commit to Jesus and because the foundation of that commitment is His mercy to me and salvation and grace that comes to me, and because of that, and because it’s total commitment, and it’s logical to be all in, and because my mind is being renewed, and I’m not being conformed to the world because of all these things that are intact, that we’ve now talked about, the effects of commitment to Jesus will be this, this is really cool. So simple, but sometimes the most simple things are the most profound and powerful things.
Here’s the effect, “If I get these things right, here’s what will happen,” verse two, “That by testing,” second half of verse two:
“That by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
You know what? When it comes time for you to be in that relationship, that could potentially become, “The relationship,” you know what I’m saying? The one. The one. One ring to rule them all, is called the wedding ring, and you gonna be with a person. God ain’t gonna make you be with somebody you think is ugly, by the way.
“I feel like if I commit to this whole idea of Christian purity, God’s gonna curse me to be married to somebody that’s unattractive.” Whatever, he’s gonna get ugly anyway, eventually, no matter how attractive he is, the day y’all get hitched.
I saw a buddy of mine went to the college basketball team I played on, I don’t ever go to any of those. And Little played college basketball, we never go to any of the alumni stuff, hadn’t been in 20 years, but I got a buddy, he was a roommate of mine, big old 6’9″ power forward and he sends me, every year he goes to the alumni weekend and he sends me pictures of the team and every year… If you ever heard of The Prayer of Jabez. Prayer of Jabez is this thing that people used to pray, and it was like… It comes from a story in the Bible where this guy prayed that the Lord would enlarge his territory. And I feel like all the dudes that were on my team have been praying that prayer, ’cause God keeps enlarging their territory. [laughter] You know what I’m saying?
And I’m looking at these dudes, and there’s just one guy, I won’t say his name, but I remember he was a point guard, or a shooting guard and all the ladies thought he was like the ladies man. And every year that dude just kinda… He’s gotten fatter and his hairs receded further, and he’s gotten extra chins, and now he’s just kind of just portly frumpy dude that’s like a middle-aged chubby pasty guy who apparently spends a lot of time indoors. And I’m like, “This is really funny, man, I remember like all the ladies were like, after that dude,” He was the man.
The initial attraction will be there.
But there better be something deeper than physical attraction because everybody gets old. Most folks get chubby. Folks’ hair falls out, turns gray. I grow my beard out. I had it grown out, I grow my beard out about every month, and then I just cut it off Friday. It’s like Santa Claus, it used to be jet black. So the idea is that when it comes time to make that commitment, I’m not gonna just commit to somebody based on surface things. The effects of committing this thing, the way that this Scripture has laid it out for us are that in the end, “I will have an understanding of God’s will for my life.” And there’s a confidence that comes with that, that says, “This is not about how I’ve just only how I feel in a certain moment, or how I have a physical attraction. It’s much bigger, and deeper and wider. There’s depth to it, and I’ll know God’s will.”
The simple truth is, the effect in this life is that you will know the will of God for your life.
See it at the end of verse two, “You’ll discern the will of God, what’s good, and acceptable, and perfect.” The word “perfect” means complete, whole. It’s transformative, it changes you. God has a will and a purpose, and it’s perfect. God doesn’t make mistakes. And so what He wants for you in a relationship, that’s God’s deal, and it’s the right deal. But we need to be in tune with that and understand it, and this Scripture says, “If we give commitment this way, we will, we’ll understand it. We’ll link up with God’s plan, and God’s purpose, God’s will, we’ll understand it, we’ll get it.” And ultimately, we’ll live lives that are holy. Back there in the middle of verse one, it says, “Holy and acceptable to God.”
What is holiness?
It’s the constantly purifying effect of being in a relationship with Jesus. It means, “I’m un-stained and untainted by the world, and it’s sin. I’m un-stained and untainted by the sin I’ve committed in my own life, God cleanses me and separates me from that.” The purifying effect of the sun, think of that. Like if you’ve got something that stinks and smells really bad, you hang it out on the clothesline in the sun for about a week, and the sun has a purifying effect that even, like, laundry detergent can’t do. It’s like that energy, the purifying effect of the sun that gives us oxygen and life.
Jesus brings that to our life and purifies us, and that’s the way we get to live our lives. And we won’t be perfect in and of ourselves, but we’ll know the perfect will of God for our lives. So the challenge to you guys is to just commit, all in. It’s what makes sense. It’s good, good stuff from the Bible.
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