Read Romans 12:1-2 again. I urge you, therefore, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to approve what is that good, pleasing and perfect will of God.
Comments on text: “reasonable service” is the best translation, rather than “spiritual form of worship.” The original language here is lost in the translation “spiritual” for the Greek word for “logical” or “reasonable.” While it is certainly a spiritual matter, the Greek word for “spiritual” is nowhere in the text. Also, “worship” is a possible rendering for the original word latreian, but this word is specifically about serving God. The normal word for “worship” is proskuneowhich means to bow in reverence.
But, lets reflect on the main background of this text: God’s mercies. This is a plural concept of all of God’s affection and action toward His faithful people.
God’s mercies are best seen in Christ, amen? Is Jesus Christ your life? It is because of God’s mercies! Is sharing Christ with others your mission? It is because we can share God’s mercies with others! God’s mercies are extremely precious. Notice the progression: God calls us. God chooses those who come. God grants His precious gifts of mercy on His chosen ones. And God expects His chosen ones to use those gifts to His glory and to one another’s good… Love God and love others. God’s mercies logically demands us to respond in sacrifice, change of mind and approval of God’s will.
Let me read that paragraph one more time…
Now, to make this point sink in, I want to illustrate it in a way I think you will remember. I want to call two of you to come stand here with me for this illustration. (Brisa Cortez, Aiden Harrison come forward to the pulpit with me).
You have both answered the call to come. I have chosen you and I want you to receive a gift that I hope you will use to God’s glory. (Give them each $100). This is a gift you have not earned but have been called and chosen to receive. Just as God calls you and you have come to Him, He chooses you and gives you gifts to use for His glory and your good and the good of others. You can go be seated now.
Let’s reflect on this: What do we have that we did not receive? God in His mercy has created us in His image, He has given us His word, He has redeemed us from our sins, He has sacrificed His only begotten Son for our salvation, He has sealed us with His Holy Spirit, making us His own sons and daughters, He has promised us an eternal glorious home where we will reign with Christ forever and ever. Talk about mercies! Talk about gifts!
What is the reasonable response to such divine treasures? Two things:
Listen carefully to God’s words here: 1. In view of God’s mercies, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. 2. Don’t conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
For you and I to accept God’s gifts, requires us to respond in God’s way. God did not tell us to have it your way. It was having it our way that cost the very body and blood of the Son of God to rescue us. God’s word says in Jeremiah 10:23 “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walks to direct his own steps.” Prov. 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. When we follow our hearts, we tear our lives apart! Jeremiah again: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can cure it?” We desperately need God’s mercy and guidance! To receive that, we must obey by offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God. We have to quit doing things our way, and seek His will and way. I need to sacrifice my body’s desires and quit listening to the world’s ways and patterns, and be transformed and renewed in mind and heart! David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Only when I give up doing it my way, can I be transformed and be able to test and approve God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.
What does all that look like? That’s the next part of this chapter! (Indeed, the rest of the book). Listen to it:
1. Vs. 3-5 Walk humbly and mercifully to stand and serve together in the body of Christ. Show love and respect to all. We are different! It’s by design!
2. Vs. 6-8 We need one another’s differences! Not for competition, but for completion. This is about practicing proper responses to God’s mercies, as we offer our bodies a living sacrifice. Such can get very difficult. As we see.
3. Vs. 9-13, This appears to be how to act among God’s people. But next what about those outside? That’s next.
4. Vs. 14-21, Does this not sound like Jesus? Think sermon on the mount first: You have heard it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” but I tell you, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. If anyone sues you to take your coat, give him your shirt as well! Give to anyone who asks of you and from any who would borrow, do not turn away. OUCH!!! But there’s more! You’ve heard it said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy? But I tell you, “Love your enemy. Bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you. Then you will be sons of your Father who is in heaven!”
Did Jesus Himself not practice this? On the cross what was his prayer? Father, forgive them, they know not what they do!” And Stephen in Acts 7 when they were stoning him to death, prayed, Lord, do not hold this sin against them.
How? How can we do this? We must present our bodies as living sacrifices. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We must remember God’s mercies and keep them in view. Keep my mind on His mercies, not on myself!
God is calling you. He will choose you if you will come to Him His way. He will gift you with all you need to be all He wants you to be.