Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
This weeks passage is probably very familiar. Don’t let that stop you from mining it for riches that are waiting to be discovered as you ponder these verses and let God speak to you.
The book of Romans, from my perspective, is the most passionate letter that Paul wrote. You see his passion for the gospel. You see his passion that the Jews might be saved. You see his passion for worship. When you come to Romans 12:1-2 his passion is at fever pitch. Here’s my amplified translation of v.1 that attempts to capture this passion:
“Therefore, I urge you, I plead with with you, I beg you – in view of God’s mercy, in light of everything that He has done for you (rescuing you, redeeming you, reconciling you) – to willingly offer your bodies every day as living sacrifices. Sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God. Sacrifices that are not just out of your abundance but sacrifices that cost you something. Sacrifices that demonstrate to God that you are totally and irrevocably surrendered to Him. Why? Because this is the only reasonable thing for you to do. He created you. He loves you. He saved you. This is how you can worship God in real, practical, and tangible ways – as you give yourself to God. As you give your time, your talents, and your treasure to Him – not begrudgingly but because you are so overwhelmingly grateful for what he has done for you.”
So here are the questions that come to my mind as I ponder this passage:
Do I have an urgency similar to Paul’s when it comes to total surrender of my life to God?
Do I really understand God’s mercy – how He has not given me what I really deserve?
What parts of my body are as yet un-surrendered to God? My mind, my eyes, my tongue…?
To what extent is God pleased with my “offering”?
How am I conforming to the patterns of this world instead of to the Word of God?
What am I intentionally doing to renew my mind?
Am I being disobedient in any way to what God has revealed to me as His will?
Everyone of these questions demands an answer if I am going to really personalize this passage and get the most out of it. I am thinking on all these things. I will only answer one of these questions in this post but feel free to ask me any of these questions when you see me this week. So…
What am I intentionally doing to renew my mind? Admittedly, my mind needs a lot of renewing. So here are a few intentional things I will do this week as a beginning:
1) I will fast from all TV for one week beginning today (Thursday thru Wednesday). It is way too easy for me to turn on the tube and turn off my mind at the end of the day.
2) I will read one great book and blog about it in the coming week. This will give me something to do when I am not watching TV and help me to think God thoughts.
3) I will find 15 minutes each of these days to pray Scripture and ask God to renew my mind.
4) I will continue reviewing my memory verses from the past 4 weeks and make sure that I can still say them.
5) And I would like to ask you to take a minute right now and pray for me – asking God to transform me by the renewing of my mind.
Now a few thoughts about the difference in a living sacrifice and the sacrifices of the Older Testament:
1) OT sacrifices went to the altar not by choice. A lamb didn’t wake up one morning and say “Today I’m going give up my life and be a sacrifice.” – I, on the other hand, have a daily choice as to whether I want to present myself to God as a sacrifice.
2) OT sacrifices were dead not living. – They did not have the option of getting off the altar whenever things became uncomfortable for them. I, on the other hand, can live an “un-surrendered life” at any time that I want.
3) OT sacrifices were to be “unblemished.” I, on the other hand, come to the alter with all kinds of blemishes. It is the willing act of surrender that God uses to make me holy and pleasing in His sight. It is God’s doing, not mine.
And a few thoughts about knowing God’s will:
I hate to say this but I think most believers pretty much do what they want to. Me included. The whole idea of testing what we do to see if it lines up with God’s will is kind of foreign to us. We go about our business just sort of assuming that what we are doing is okay with God. And even expecting God to bless everything we do with a good ol’ “Attaboy!” We rarely stop to think and ask a few simple questions: 1) Why am I doing what I’m doing? Is it because it’s the way I’ve always done it or the way I’m expected by others to do it or the easiest way to do it? (These would fall under the category of “conforming to the world“) 2) Have I seriously thought this through? Have I sought counsel from people who love me – but even more than that, who love God with all their hearts. Have I spent time in God’s Word and prayed this through so that His peace reigns in my heart. (These would fall under the category of being “transformed by the renewing of your mind“)
Here’s what John Piper has to say about this: “Is it not plain therefore that there is one great task of the Christian life: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We need new hearts and new minds. Make the tree good and the fruit will be good (Matthew 12:33). That’s the great challenge. That is what God calls you to. You can’t do it on your own. You need Christ, who died for your sins. And you need the Holy Spirit to lead you into Christ-exalting truth and work in you truth-embracing humility. Give yourself to this. Immerse yourself in the written Word of God; saturate your mind with it. And pray that the Spirit of Christ would make you so new that the spillover would be good, acceptable, and perfect—the will of God.
I’d love to read how God has been speaking to you through these verses. You can leave a comment by clicking on the bubble at the top right of this post.
So next week is our “off ” week. Every four weeks we will take a break from pondering a new passage to review the four previous ones and solidify our memory verses. I’ve found one of the best ways to do this is to ask others how they are doing with their verses and then to ask them to listen to you say your verses and make sure they are right.
So next week look for my post on the book I’m reading as well as a “Special Edition” post that I hope will help you as we continue to move forward with pondering great passages from the New Testament. I will wait until next week to reveal the next passage so that you don’t try to get a head start. Grace and Peace to you!!!