An Appeal to You (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. 2 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. —Romans 12:1-2
Romans 12:1-2 opens a new section of the Apostle Paul’s letter. After explaining the Christian’s justification, sanctification, and glorification in chapters 1-11, he now turns to what would be the sacred response in the heart of a believer in Christ Jesus our Lord. You can hear Paul’s shepherding heart in the way he begins, “I appeal to you.” The Greek word for “appeal” is parakaleo. The word envisions one coming alongside you, putting their arm on your shoulder, earnestly saying “I beg you, please.” And this appeal comes with all the enabling power of the mercies of God explained in Romans 1-11.
“…to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” You may be asking how this can happen. For something to be sacrificed, doesn’t it require the death of the sacrifice? Jesus laid down His life for us that we might have life in Him. We are justified in Him, sanctified in Him, and glorified in Him. He sacrificed Himself that every believer would have the high position of “worshiper of God.” While here in our earthly bodies, we are to give ourselves as a living sacrifice worshiping God with all that we are—putting ourselves under His loving authority, at His disposal, rejecting the world’s system, set apart for Him, reflecting Him to a fallen world. This act of consecration, presenting our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, is a personal presentation to Him with ongoing effect.
“Do not be conformed to this world.” We are not to act as we once did before we by faith trusted Jesus. Conformity to the world does not reflect truthfully what God has done within us—the righteousness and holiness of God. So, let the watching world see in us an unveiled ambassador for Christ in what we say and do.
“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.” God’s mercies poured out on us in Christ create in us a longing for transformation. And as we yield to the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, our thoughts begin to reflect the new life we have in Christ. The Holy Spirit’s transforming work becomes evident as our minds are renewed through learning and treasuring God’s Word. We begin to realize in practical ways that we are no longer slaves to sin but set free to enjoy God and live for His glory no matter the cost. With the renewal of our minds, we grow in our ability to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. And by ‘the will of God’ here we are to understand this to be His revealed will concerning the believer’s duty, what the Lord our God requires of us” (Matthew Henry commentary on Romans). The truth and goodness of God’s commands begin to ring like a bell in our hearts when preached from the pulpit or read in the Bible or spoken by our fellow believers. Walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh is now a sanctifying reality for the believer. And this consecrated training in the will of God results in ongoing transformation that God promises to complete until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
Look at last week’s Fighter Verse passage of Romans 11:33-36. What phrase in this passage makes “presenting your body a living sacrifice to God” a reasonable thing to do?
In what ways should a believer’s outward behavior conform to the inward reality of new life in Christ Jesus?
Do you concentrate your thinking on things of the world or on the things of God? What must you do to renew your mind?
Can you think of other verses in the book of Romans that touch on the transforming work of God in the believer? (Look up key words such as “conform,” “sanctification,” and “transform” in a concordance and then look up the verses referenced to learn more about these principles.)