Hopefully John 8:31b-32 is all settled in and at home, so we’ll move on to a short section in Romans. This one is a little longer but just as impactful.
Romans 12:1-2: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Do you want to know God’s will is? Paul lays out the way to “prove what the will of God is”.
First off we need to understand the context. Paul has laid out his usual pattern of half doctrine and half practical theology. He has lead us through the Introduction (1:1-15), the Gospel (1:16-17), Condemnation (1:18-3:20), Justification (3:21-5:21), Sanctification (6:1-8:39) and Restoration (9:1-11:36) now starting chapter 12 he starts with the conjunction “Therefore”. His point is in light of everything He’s explained doctrinally, how do we live that out? How do we apply the gospel to the life of all believers, that as he points out by the power of the Gospel, are to live.
The word parakalō, “I urge,” which has a fairly wide range of meanings including “to call to one’s side,” “to exhort,” “to implore,” “to encourage.” as “C. E. B. Cranfield says that it is a technical term for Christian exhortation, what he defines as “the earnest appeal, based on the gospel, to those who are already believers to live consistently with the gospel they have received.” This is not an appeal to non-believers to clean up their lives, this is based on “the mercies of God”. The intention of the believers presenting their bodies as “living sacrifices” is revealing Paul’s intentions. This is not the sacrifice revealed in the Old Testament where one placed his animal on the alter but where the believer presents his OWN body, his life a living sacrifice. The appeal is for those who have received this gospel to live accordingly to it. Live up to what they have received. The living sacrifice means that a deliberate action of the will must be exercised. To make the analogy if we were in Old Testament times we would have, by a function of our will, placed an animal on the alter. Paul is contending that in light of the gospel we are deliberately, by a function of our will, giving our own lives as a sacrifice. This is NOT works salvation, but a life lived that is pleasing to God based on faith.
This physical life we are living is our “spiritual act of worship”. Paul made this same case about presenting our bodies back in Romans 6:13: “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”. How are we to do this? Paul explains after adding “do not be conformed to this world (more on this next week)” but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” How do we renew our minds…thru reading God’s Word. Relating this back to last weeks memory work Jesus said we would know the truth that sets us free. How does that happen? By abiding in His Word, by reading His word, by finding our sustenance in His Word, by obeying His Word which is ultimately revealed by believing His Word.
Do you want to know what the will of God is? Read His Word, believe His Word, Know His Word and meditate on His Word…just what you’re doing.