“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 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.” Rom 12:1-2
The chapter opens with a “therefore.” My pastor in Colorado always used to tell us, when you come across a “therefore,” you have to find out what it is there for, LOL. The chapter and verse divisions were not originally in Paul’s letter, and while they help us read a portion of Scripture every day in a neat little package, sometimes the chapter divisions interrupt the flow of a thought, so we have to read our single chapters with what has gone before in mind – sometimes with the entire book in mind.
At the end of chapter 11, Paul had just finished extolling the greatness of God’s mercy, wisdom, and judgment! God had consigned all men, Jew and Greek, under disobedience, so that He might have mercy on all. O how great is His mercy! How deep the riches of His wisdom and knowledge! How His judgments and His ways are past finding out! For all things are of Him, and through Him, and to Him, and to Him will be glory forever and ever! (Rom 11:32-36).
THEREFORE, because the God we serve is SO great, SO high, SO wonderful, SO deep, SO rich in mercy, SO mighty, SO past finding out, we ought to think about and do the things in Rom 12.
Because God is merciful and mighty, THEN let us present ourselves a living sacrifice of service, which is holy and acceptable to God. Why is our service “reasonable?” This word in Greek (Strong’s G3050) means, “rational,” “logical,” “pertaining to reason.” In other words, it is only rational and logical that we give our lives in service to such an awesome God. Not becoming a living sacrifice to such a great and merciful God as YHVH, is illogical.
The language of verse 1 is taken from the Hebrew recorded in Lev 1, the law concerning the whole burnt offering (Strong’s H5930, olah in Hebrew). The sacrifice is consumed entire on the altar, in fire. This offering can only be presented to God by one who is already cleansed from sin, righteous, and in right standing with God. The sinner cannot bring the whole burnt offering; he can only bring the sin offering. Remember the topic of this letter to the Romans – what makes us righteous before God? Now that Paul has established the fact of our righteousness, he is going on to describe, as a worshiper of YHVH Most High, what we now go on to do. What we now go on to do, is to lay ourselves down upon God’s altar, and allow His fire (Mat 3:11) to consume us entire, and we spend all that we are – spirit, soul, and body; and all that we have – time, talents, and possessions – in service to our great God. WOW!
How do we remain in holiness, acceptable to God? Do not conform ourselves to this world! But transform ourselves (by conforming to His kingdom instead is implied) – how? By renewing our minds. God by His Spirit makes our hearts new. When our hearts are made new, we become this creature kind of pulled between two worlds, as Paul describes in Rom 7. Our hearts want to serve God, our flesh wants to serve sin. Standing between the two, is our minds. Our unrenewed minds. Which way our minds go, will determine who wins out in our daily lives – our new hearts, or our old flesh. If we leave our minds unrenewed, our flesh will win out. But if we renew our minds, our hearts will win out.
That is a whole study in itself, how we renew our minds. Let me just say, the Word of God is key! The Word of God is not just ink on paper, it is words full of power and life, so much so that those words created the universe (Gen 1) and continue to uphold the universe even today (Heb 1:3). The Word of God has to be continually going into our minds, by our ears, by our eyes, and by our thoughts. If it is, it can change the way we think, which can then change the way we feel and act. The Word washes our minds (Eph 5:23). It washes the world out of our minds, and allows the kingdom of heaven to flourish there instead!
For further reading:
Romans 12, the gifts of the Spirit