Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, 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.”
These are some of the most important and strategic words ever penned in human history.
They serve as a halftime address—a coach’s “chalk talk.” Paul’s words in Romans 12:1-2are capable of leading God’s people to victory. But please don’t let your familiarity with these verses lead to passivity. Let’s Study them anew and afresh. If you do, God will transform you from the inside out.
After devoting eleven chapters to heavy-duty theology, Paul transitions in chapter 12 from doctrine to duty, from creed to conduct, and from belief to behavior.
He says, “In light of what God has done, here is how we should live.”
To put it another way, the apostle encourages us to turn our theology into “walkology.”
In other words, we are to live out our beliefs. Paul uses the imperative thirteen times in the first eleven chapters of Romans; he uses it eleven times in chapter 12 alone!
In fact, this chapter has more commands in it than any other chapter of the New Testament. It is a chapter of action! Paul’s thesis is: Beliefs should impact behavior.
Present Your Body (12:1) I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship
This verse is one of the most important in the entire Bible and contains more key theological terms and truths for its size than perhaps any other verse of Scripture.
Verse 1 gives the “what” that we are to do in response to God. Paul opens this new unit with the word “Therefore” (oun).
What is the word “therefore” there for? “Therefore” looks back to all the doctrine that Paul has covered in chapters 1-11.
Paul believes that you haven’t really learned the Word until you live the Word.
How well have you learned the Word? Have you been applying the truths of Romans? When you study the Bible on your own, do you bring it to bear on your life? Are you just a hearer of the Word or are you a doer of the Word?
Only when you become a doer of the Word, have you truly learned the Word.
Paul writes, “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God.” Instead of a command or a demand, Paul urges, or better yet, exhorts his readers
Paul functions as a Christian coach who challenges and encourages us to reach a particular goal. Paul speaks as a Christian brother to other Christian brothers and sisters.
This is a family affair! The apostle exhorts us to respond to “the mercies of God.”
Paul informs us that God’s love for His people is unconditional. Is God merciful? You better believe it!
God chose us, called us, saved us, released us, and will one day take us home to heaven. Indeed, God’s mercies are past finding out!
That is why I’m convinced that the best motivation to live for Christ is a good memory of all the mercies He has blessed us with.
Long-lasting change only occurs when gratitude for God’s mercies is the chief motivation. The Bible’s way of preaching holiness begins by reminding Christians who they are, what they are, and what they have.
Who are we? We are the children of God with all of the power of God working on our behalf?
Where are we? We are in the kingdom of God and have died to the dominion of sin.
What do we have? We have the Holy Spirit, we have Jesus’ intercession working for us, and we have the power of God ready to come to our aid.
The best way to motivate people is to show them what God has done for them and let them rise to the challenge of responding to that love appropriately.
In response to God’s mercies, Paul challenges us “to present” our bodies.
Please note that Paul does not say “yield” or “surrender” your bodies but “present” them. Yield and surrender are biblical terms, but they imply a measure of reluctance or hesitancy.
Present, on the other hand, implies a glad, happy, willing offering of oneself. If I yield or surrender a gift to my wife, she will not be impressed by my efforts. I mean, who does that?
Our presentation of our bodies to God as a sacrifice for His use, just like my presentation of a gift to my wife, is to be a joyous and spontaneous act.
God is not asking you to dedicate your gifts, abilities, money, time, ideas, creativity, or any such thing. He is asking you to sacrifice yourself.
Remember the clear words of our Lord in Matthew 16:24: 4 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
This is an appeal to those who have been set free by grace to live under grace by presenting all that they are to God.
Paul states that you are to present your body as a “living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.”
The words “living,” “holy,” and “acceptable” all follow the noun “sacrifice.”
There are three qualities of our sacrifice:
(1) Living: In the Old Testament believers were called to “make” a sacrifice from a dead sacrifice. In the New Testament believers are called to “be” a sacrifice from a living sacrifice. The point is: God wants you to live to die. Most believers could take a bullet for Christ in a moment of courage, but every believer struggles to die to self and live for Christ on a daily basis.
(2) Holy: We are to be wholly dedicated, “set apart” from the world and belonging to God. The term speaks of being fully abandoned to God. This means that as individual Christians and as a corporate church, we must do all that we can to ensure that holiness is promoted. That is why we must exercise church discipline. That is why we must speak the truth in love. That is why we must disciple new believers. We are commanded to be holy as God is holy.
(3) Acceptable: The term “acceptable” builds on the Old and New Testament concept of the sacrifice as pleasing God. When you present your body as a sacrifice that is living and holy God is pleased.
Paul states that when you present your body as a sacrifice you have fulfilled your “spiritual service of worship.”
The Greek adjective translated “spiritual” is logikos, from which we derive the English word “logical.”
Logikos pertains to reason or the mind, and therefore does not really mean “spiritual.” It is better translated “reasonable” or “rational”
I think what Paul is saying is: “If you consider all that God has done for you—a sinful being—the only reasonable response is to offer Him your life.”
After all, this is the only logical response! Why would freed slaves continue to serve their old master?
Presenting your body to serve the interests of your new Master, on the other hand, is completely logical—very much in keeping with good sense.
A response of sacrificial worship expresses a heart of gratitude. It puts feet to our faith.
Beliefs should impact behavior.
Renew Your Mind (12:2) 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c]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.[d]
The world’s philosophy is pretty simple: If you want something, go get it (partners, possessions, and power).
In the worlds eyes, people are important primarily because of what they can do for you. If they can’t do anything for you, don’t waste your time on them.
Nowadays the publics opinion defines the truth.
Popularity is more important than holiness.
Faith and everyday living are unrelated.
Live for the moment and don’t concern yourself with consequences….
You are the center of your universe; don’t let anyone push you around!
Our world also screams tolerance (religions are the same; accept and affirm same sex marriage) and truth is not absolute (what’s good for you is good for you).
Listen, you cannot not be shaped by these influences. You have to fight hard against the tide of sin, self, and Satan.
Ask yourself, How much television do you watch in the course of a week?
How many movies do you watch in the course of a year? What type of music do you listen to? What magazines, books, and websites do you read?
How much time are you devoting to social networking? Who are your friends? What type of influence do they have on you? What are your hobbies? How do you send your discretionary time?
Even though Paul is writing to the church, we are a group of individuals. These verses are speaking specifically to YOU.
Will one diseased fish affect the whole tank? Will one mad cow infect the whole herd?
Will one person conformed to the world have an effect on our church?
YES! BUT I dare you to be different. Stand up for Christ. Don’t go with the flow; go against the grain. Rebel against the status quo—become a disciple of Christ. Your life will be an adventure!
Turning from the negative to the positive, Paul goes on to say, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The term “transformed” is the Greek word metamorphoo, which forms the root for the English word “metamorphosis.”When a tadpole is changed into a frog or when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, we speak of it as a metamorphosis.
That is what God wants for each of His children. At what stage are you in this Christian transformation? Are you staying in the larva stage? Caterpillar? Baby butterfly? Full-grown butterfly? Where are you on the conformity to Christ growth chart?
Listen, Before you were saved, you were so accustomed to sin that you wore a groove into your heart and mind, like a river cutting a gorge through rock.
What you now need to do is make some new grooves. That’s why Paul says you must be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
God wants your body and your mind; He wants all of you. Is there anything or anyone that you are withholding from God? Is your marriage and family yielded to Him? Is your vocation His? What about your finances or hobbies? Will you present yourself to Him today and every day hereafter? If you will, your life will never be the same.
Walk out that robust theology you know oh so well.