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.”
Paul is urging the believers in Rome to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, “holy” and “acceptable” to God and saying, this is your spiritual act of worship. What is a living sacrifice? Often when we think of a sacrifice, we relate it to an act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity. The Oxford dictionary also gives another definition of sacrifice as “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important and worthy:”
As a believer in Jesus Christ, how do we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God? In the Old Testament, God accepted and required the sacrifice of animals for the remission of sins. These sacrifices were put in place as a foreshadow of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Once Jesus came to this world, he became the everlasting sacrifice by dying on the cross. And by doing this, the Old Testament sacrifices were no longer of any effect and remission of sins is only possible through the acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 9:11-12 “But Christ came as the High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Now that we are in Christ through faith, the only acceptable worship is to offer ourselves completely to the Lord. Romans 6:12-13 says “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and to offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.”
Paul through his letter to the Romans has shown what our spiritual act of worship is, and that is by offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Lord. Romans 12:2 show us how we can apply this to our lives today.
1. DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD (Romans 12:2).
The Bible clearly defines what it means by the “World” and re-iterates the importance of not being conformed to this world in 1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever”
Through this verse we can break down what the world has to offer to 3 things:
1. Lust of the flesh:
The lust of the flesh includes everything that appeals to our appetites and involves excessive desires for food, drink, sex and anything else that satisfies our physical needs.
Lust has as its focus pleasing oneself, and it often leads to unwholesome actions to fulfill ones desires with no regard to the consequences. Lust is about possession and greed, but the Christian faith is about selflessness and is marked by holy living. The goal of each person who has put his/her faith in Jesus is to become more and more like him each day. This means to put off the old way of life of which sin was in control, and conforming one’s thoughts and actions to the standard put forth in scripture. It is important to remember that no one is perfect but it is a goal we should strive for daily.
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”
2. Lust of the eyes:
The lust of the eyes is the desire to possess what we see or to have those things which have visual appeal. Coveting of money, possessions or other physical things that are from the world around us. John emphasizes that these physical things do not last; they will pass away. In contrast the child of God is guaranteed eternity.
Exodus 20:17 commands, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Coveting includes a desire to have people, possessions and status.
Satan uses the lust of the eyes as an avenue of temptation. Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes…”, this show us that the fruit was pleasing to the eyes. Satan tried the same tactic against Jesus in the desert. In Matthew 4:8 “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” But Jesus resisted the devil and we too must follow his example, and in the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the lust of the eyes.
3. Pride of life:
The pride of life can be defined as anything that is of this “world”. That is anything that leads to arrogance, ostentation, pride in self, presumption and boasting. The pride of life comes from the love of this world. Again Jesus was tempted in a similar fashion, in Matthew 4:5-6 “Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give his angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'””. The devil was daring Jesus to cast himself from the roof of the Temple in order to prove he was the Messiah by display of power.
Jesus resisted the devil and used the Word of God to ensure victory over him.
Hebrews 4:15 ” For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus was able to experience and overcome all of the things we go through daily, and we have a God who understands and know our situation. He is able to provide a way through the help of the Holy Spirit so that we too can live a holy and pleasing life for Christ.
2. BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND
The mind is the key to the Christian life. The reason why non-Christians do not respond to Christian truth is that they cannot discern spiritual truth.
1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
The gospel is a call for the unbeliever to repent of his sin and embrace Christ by faith. We are transformed from our old self and seek the things of righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Out thinking must change from old ungodly ways of thinking into new, godly ways of thinking. The only way to replace the our worldly minds is by replacing it with God’s truth, the Word of God. The only infallible source of God’s truth is his revealed Word, the Bible. We must fill our minds with God’s Word.
John 17:7 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
We also need the help of the Holy Spirit to renew our mind. Titus 3:5-6 says “he saves us, not because of our works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,”.
Paul here is saying God saved us, not because of our works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit renews our mind. It is first and decisively his work. We are totally dependent on him and our efforts follow his initiatives and enabling.
The Holy Spirit also enables us to renew our minds by enabling us to “behold the glory of the Lord”. 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is Spirit.” In order for the Holy Spirit do this, he must do 2 things:
1. Work from the outside in:
The Holy Spirit must work from the outside in, by exposing the mind to Christ. That is, he must lead us to hear the gospel, to read the Bible and to meditate on the perfections of Christ. This is exactly what the enemy does not want us to do according to 2 Corinthians 4:4 “In their case the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the eyes of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
By the Holy Spirit’s help to, help us truly see the light of the gospel is what will renew our minds and transform the life and produce unending worship.
2. Work from inside out:
The Holy Spirit must work inside out by breaking the hard hearts that blinds and corrupts the mind. The Spirit must work from the outside in, through Christ exalting truth and from the inside out, through truth-embracing humility.
If the only work from the outside in presenting Christ exalting truth to our minds but not breaking the hard heart and making it humble, then the truth would be despised and rejected. And if he only humbled the heart, but put no Christ -exalting truth before the mind, there would be no Christ to embrace and no worship would happen.
So by the help of the Holy Spirit we must pursue Christ exalting truth and pray for truth embracing humility.
In this way we will be able to follow what Romans 12:1-2 has commanded us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
This must be our spiritual act of worship, holy and pleasing to the Lord. By not conforming to this world and being transformed by the renewal of our mind.