Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
We know that Paul is begging us, not by appealing to the judgment or wrath of God, but by His mercies that we present our bodies a living sacrifice unto Him. In other words, it isn’t the fear of His wrath whereby He coerces us into being a living sacrifice, but it is His mercies that allure us. The Psalmist writes that the mercies of the Lord endure forever and based on what we now know (thus far in the book of Romans), believers have a great opportunity to be a living sacrifice unto God. Note, this isn’t a sacrifice FOR God, whereby we think we are trying to appease His judicial decree – but rather this is a sacrifice UNTO God, whereby the believer lives in accordance with the eternally-pleasing condition that God has made him to be. It is in this that we are holy and acceptable unto God because our sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice of dead works, from the flesh, but is of His works (which are holy/separate).
The living sacrifice is not concerned with putting on his “church face” or making sure that others think he is up to snuff with whatever subjective/religious standards his group associates with. The living sacrifice recognizes that he is a sacrifice unto God. When folks attempt to appease the eyes of man by their sacrifice, they are doing nothing more than dragging a dead and decaying corpse and throwing it before God. Being sacrificial in life is yielding your existence to His Life.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Conformation is the act of taking on the shape of something (like water being poured into a glass). Part of this living sacrifice idea is that our “shape”, if you will, shouldn’t be molded by the world, but rather is molded by a transformed mind. One of the very first steps in having a transformed mind is to recognize that you have already been conformed to an image – the image of Christ.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Our mind’s renewal is the product of the knowledge of Him having its way in the corridors of our thinking. If we recognize we are already conformed to His image, then perhaps we’ll cease trying to conform ourselves? It is in this understanding, which renews and transforms our thinking, that we prove the will of God, that it is good, acceptable and perfect. A mind that is conformed to the world and its philosophies is a mind drunk, whereas, the mind that is transformed by the Spirit of God is a sober mind.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Grace teaches Paul humility and rightful purpose. Because grace has been bestowed upon all believers, no believer should ever think more highly of himself than he ought to think. No believer is “more” in grace than another. What then should be the extent of how we think about ourselves? It is natural for believers to think that they need to be self-deprecating because there is a tendency to conflate humility with being damaging to one’s personal value. But, recall that God so loved the world that He WANTED to give His Son for you and I. You were of immense value to God – in fact, you were so expensive in the universe’s market that it took the death of the Son of God to purchase you.
The believer should never think of themselves as deserving of grace nor that they accomplished any great task(s) to earn it. However, the believer, as the verse says, has been dealt THE measure of faith – which is Jesus Christ. Every believer has that measure of grace – the One whom John records is FULL of grace and truth. That is the height of how we should think of ourselves – once held captive by Sin and Death, now rescued and exalted with Christ, simply because God wanted to.
Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
This is going to be very important. We all have the same measure of faith – Jesus Christ and we have all been joined together in one body. But, as Paul states, not all members in the body have the same purpose. This is where we will pick up next time – a thorough examining of this body and its varying purposes/functions that we fulfill.
Our story continues…