“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.” (Romans 12:1 KJV)
19th Century evangelist Dwight L. Moody is said to have remarked on this verse of Scripture, “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.” We have a choice of whether we will yield ourselves to God or yield ourselves to sin (Rom. 6:13). Will we live a righteous, holy life or will we continue to walk in the way of this world?
What a stark contrast we have here in the New Testament book of Romans compared with the Law of the Old Testament. The watchword of Deuteronomy is “command” as the Law of Moses is given to the Children of Israel. Here in Romans, we see the word “beseech” or “urge.” Where Moses commanded, Paul appeals. He appeals to our sense of the grace and mercy, the goodness, of God as the reason for our obedience. It is not the voice of thunder shaking Mt. Sinai but the still-small voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to the heart that our attention is called toward. Eleven chapters of Romans preceding this verse spell out what God has done for us and it is based on this that we are encouraged to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.
Closing the verse, we are told that such is our reasonable service. Within that word rendered “reasonable” is the root of our English word logical. It only makes sense for us to obey God and yield ourselves to Him in light of all He has done for us. May we stay upon the altar and yield our lives for His service. Though we can never repay God for all He has done for us, becoming a living sacrifice is acceptable and well-pleasing to the Lord.
“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.” (Romans 12:2)
There is for the Christian one important decision concerning how they will live their life: to be conformed to this world or to be transformed by the renewing of their mind. All other decisions are dependent upon this one. To be conformed to this world is by far the easier of the two, but it comes at a great cost. For the child of God will never experience the joy and peace that the Lord has provided if they continue to walk as the rest of the world does. Nor will they be able to fulfill God’s will for their life if they choose to remain conformed to the world.
To be transformed is a choice that we can make, otherwise the Scripture would not instruct us to do so. Yet transformation is not accomplished through our own willpower or good intentions, no, it can only be achieved as the Holy Spirit works in us, conforming us not to the world but to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). A renewed mind is a mind which sees things as God sees them and thinks thoughts in line with the way God thinks. It is the same washing and regeneration in the mind that was performed upon our spirits by the Holy Spirit when we first came to faith in Christ (cf. Titus 3:5).
Even so, this transformation is not the product of our simply waiting for God to change us. We participate in the process by spending time with the Lord in prayer and through the study of His Word. Ultimately, our mind is renewed as we delve into the Bible and let the Holy Spirit speak to us.
[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]