Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We have made our way through Romans chapters 1 through 11 and have come to the practical application of all we have learned. We have the responsibility to present our bodies to God. We can offer ourselves to God but only God can renew our minds! There is a process that leads to a renewed mind. Paul begins with our offering up our bodies as a living sacrifice. He then goes on to avoid being conformed to the spirit of the age we live in. This is not something we can sit back and watch happen it requires active participation on our part.
We are saved by grace through faith. That faith is a gift of God and cannot be earned by any good works that we have done. Since it cannot be earned we are required to trust God for our spiritual health, or sanctification. When we overemphasize the role of the Spirit it becomes easy to follow a path of “let go and let God”. We do have the responsibility, by the Spirit, to put to death the personal activities that are in opposition to spiritual growth. We are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to grow in grace. Paul urges us to take responsibility for our spiritual growth.
Romans 12 begins with…
Paul’s appeal. Let’s look at Ephesians 4:1-3. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
As a part of his appeal to present our bodies as a living sacrifice he urges the Ephesians to live a life that is worthy of our calling and do it with humility.
We are to be gentle and patient. We are to “bear with one another” by tolerating our differences. We need to exercise love in such a way as to maintain unity and peace in the body of Christ. The world outside should not be able to charge us with any obvious failures of character. The life that we live on a day-to-day basis should honor our Lord. The Lord Jesus is jealous for his own honor and if the church fails to maintain proper direction the Spirit of God will discipline us. Remember his promise to the churches of Pergamum and Thyatira? Jesus said he would come and “war against” them with his sword. I take that to be the word of God — the sword of the Spirit. We are blessed to have a Lord who understands our weaknesses and treats us with…
The mercies of God. Let’s turn to Philippians 2:12-13. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
The mercies of God allow us to participate in our spiritual growth. Here, Paul tells us we are to “work out our own salvation” and to do it with “fear and trembling”! This passage is often misused to present some kind of works salvation. After much thoughtful prayer and research, I discovered that this is not our works earning us a place but instead our responsibility to allow salvation to permeate our entire life. Let me give you a simple example. I realize fewer and fewer people are making things from scratch anymore. You will just have to take my word for it I guess. When the ingredients for bread are mixed together some kind of leavening agent is added. The most common leavening agents are yeast, baking powder or baking soda. When the leaven is added it must be “worked out”! Otherwise it would cause the bread to be puffed up in only one spot. The yeast, or powder, needs to be spread throughout the loaf. That’s what all the kneading and pounding is about. If done properly the bread will expand and become soft and porous. And, by the way, it will smell wonderful! In the same way our salvation should permeate all of our spiritual life.
Oh yes, I believe our salvation should smell wonderful also. In the early days of my Christian life, I smoked cigarettes. One day I realized that I needed to stop. I was convicted, I believe by God, that I should not smell like the rest of the world. Now I had tried a number of times to quit smoking but as soon as I felt that conviction I had no problem putting aside the tobacco. I did experience one or two relapses but I never returned to the habit. We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice and that involves bringing our spiritual life under God’s control. We need to experience Transformational renewal. Let’s look back at Romans 6:12-14. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 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.
“Let” implies the ability to choose a direction for your life. We are not to let sin rule in our bodies. That little word speaks of having the ability to exercise royal authority. To rule like a king or governor. In other words, we have the authority to prevent sin from ruling in our bodies. No matter how we struggle with it we have the power. When a person comes to faith in Christ they are brought into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does not leave us! We are able to present our members to God to be used by him for righteousness. We have the authority — we need to exercise it!
For example. Imagine receiving a phone call or a text message saying that a large amount of money had been deposited in a checking account in your name! If you believe the message all you would have to do is write checks to extract money. However, in this world of scams, you might not believe the money was there. You might be unwilling to write that check! That would not reduce the amount of money in your account. And it will never benefit you. Verse 12 tells us we are not to let sin rule our bodies. Verse 14 adds God’s promise to it! “Sin will have no dominion over you, since you’re not under law but under grace.”
This is one of the greatest promises in Scripture! If you have trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior sin will not rule over you ever! Wait a minute! I am not saying that you will live a sinless life I’m saying that sin will not RULE over you! Remember the words of John the Apostle, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) The speaker in that quote is none other than the disciple whom Jesus loved. Still he uses the inclusive pronoun “we” implying that he also struggled with sin many, many years after he saw his Lord die on the cross, be buried, and then raised again to life eternal! Still he had to say “if we say we have no sin” rather than “if you say”. You see? John included himself!
Since sin will not have dominion over us we are able to be…
A living sacrifice. Let’s look at Romans 8:12-14. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
“By the Spirit” we are able to put to death the deeds of the body. It is not the Spirit’s job it is ours! The Spirit enables us to put sin to death. Remember, the yeast in the bread? We are to work out our own salvation. Salvation is to come out of our inner being and fill our entire being. Salvation is to be worked out into our hands and feet. Salvation is worked out so that our eyes want to look on godly things. Salvation is to be worked out so that our ears desire to hear things that glorify God and honor Christ. We become a living sacrifice in debt to the Spirit of God. We are bound to the word and strengthened by the Spirit. How do we know what we are to do? It is much easier than we think…
We will know the mind of God. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
The Corinthian church had many spiritual problems. Not unlike the church of today. I would say that the majority of Christians today live a hindered life surrounded by the world and its ways. The things of the Spirit of God are only understood by the Spirit that has come to live in us. We are able to judge right from wrong spiritually because of the existence, within our minds, of the mind of Christ! In 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 30, we are instructed “you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” The spiritual person understands spiritual truth because the mind of Christ lives in us. At the same time, the natural person has no ability to understand the thoughts of God.
I remember a question that was raised in my early years. “If you were arrested for being a Christian will there be enough evidence to convict you?” I put a lot of thought into that. Truth be told we cannot say that we do not have any sin. But, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We all are born separated from God and without a work of the Spirit of God in our life we are doomed to death and hell! Jesus is the propitiation of our sins. On the cross, Jesus turned aside the wrath of God! Otherwise we would have no hope in this world or the world to come.
If we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices we must be inhabited by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, our offering would be unacceptable to God. Be glad God does not operate the way he did in the wilderness. Moses told the story of Aaron’s sons. But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord (Numbers 26:61). Unlike them, we are to offer to God an acceptable sacrifice! That sacrifice is holy because of the presence of the Spirit of God in our life. We are free from condemnation because we are in Christ Jesus. If we have confessed with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and have believed in our heart that God raised him from the dead we are saved. The consequence of our confession of faith is…
The Spirit of God brings us into one body. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 12:13. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
The Holy Spirit works in us to bring us to Christ. When we believe on the Lord Jesus and call on the name of the Lord we will be saved. Not because we are good but because he is God! There is no work of righteousness we can do that makes us acceptable to God. The Bible is very clear, all who receive Christ, all who have believed in his name, he gives the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
Being known as a Christian involves more than an intellectual understanding. We are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds! The knowledge of God is going to continue to grow in the true believer. Peter encouraged us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We are to increasingly take every thought captive to obey Christ Jesus. As we do this we will find our thoughts are more and more thoughts that God himself imparts from the Word. As we grow in grace the fruit of the Spirit will be seen more and more in our lives. We will love less things of the world and love more the things of God and God’s people. We will put away negative feelings reducing the power of bitterness in our lives. Remember, what Paul told the Romans, “sin will have no dominion over you” (Romans 6:14) we can rejoice in that truth. Have you found peace in the Lord Jesus Christ? Today could be your day.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.