Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2
Paul commonly used the indicative mode of speech to make statements about what God has for us before using the imperative mode to outline our proper response (e.g. Therefore…I urge you). The order of presentation is doctrine first, and then duty. Our true worship entails offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, which means dedication of the total person to living for God’s honor. Christians are to be different from non-Christian society. We should experience a progressive transformation of life by the renewing of our mind. The mind is changed by prayer, by reading and reflection on God’s Word, by worship, and by meditation on God’s acts as the Holy Spirit works in us.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Romans 12:1
Paul here is telling us that as Jesus’ followers we must possess a strong passion to honor him in every aspect of life. Out of gratitude to God for his mercy and salvation, we should be completely devoted to loving him, living by his standards and serving his purposes for our lives. Our goal should be to show God’s holiness (moral purity, spiritual wholeness, separation from evil and complete dedication to God) in all we do. This requires separation from the patterns and practices of the world so we can pursue a deeper relationship with God. As we consider his sacrifice for us, offering ourselves to him as “living sacrifices” is good and pleasing as our spiritual act of worship. We must offer our bodies to God as dead to sin and alive to God and as the temple of the Holy Spirit. We must realize that true godly worship involves a lifestyle that brings honor to Christ in words and actions. It is not necessarily a great sacrifice to voice our worship to God in a church service where people are gathered for that very purpose. Worship becomes a true sacrifice when we take it outside of the church by living in a way that truly honors, exalts and brings positive attention to God.
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
Paul brings out several things in this verse: (1) There is very real pressure to conform “to the pattern” of this world and be squeezed into its likeness on many different levels. Christians must firmly resist the temptation to accept and imitate the world’s ways of thinking and behaving. (2) The reason we must resist adopting the world’s way is because it is evil, it is under Satan’s rule, it is hostile to God and his people and it is built on human wisdom and values. The world holds a worldview that Christians cannot accept because it rejects God and his standards.
(3)Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. This world’s kingdom is full of spiritual darkness, deception and seduction. Christ’s followers are called to be a light in the midst of this darkness. Our lives should reflect a positive difference that those in the world cannot help but notice. This includes resisting the temptation to conform to the varied types of worldliness common in society, including greed, selfishness, humanistic thinking, a desire for power, envy, hate, revenge, filthy language, sexual lust and impurity, ungodly entertainment, fashions that are immodest and seductive, substance abuse, relationships that do not honor God and other such things that defy the standards of God’s Word.
(4) Instead of conforming to the world’s values and lifestyles, our minds must continually be renewed and transformed (changed) to God’s way of thinking. This can only happen as we spend time reading and meditating on his Word (pondering over and over what it means and how it applies to our lives). This will allow our visions, values, behaviors and plans to be directed by God’s eternal truth, rather than by the world’s temporary and deceptive pattern.
By having a spiritual renewed mind and a transformed life through a growing relationship with Christ, we are able to discern and follow God’s will-his desires, plans and intentions based on his character and purposes. This is his highest and best way of life for us (though not necessarily the easiest). Some mistakenly regard references to “good, pleasing and perfect” as three levels of God’s will, but this is really a single description of God’s ultimate purpose. God’s will is “good” because it leads to a Christian’s spiritual and moral growth. It is “pleasing” to God because it serves his purpose, even though we may not always understand it. It is “perfect” because we cannot improve on God’s will; it is absolutely what is best for us in our relation to fulfilling his purposes.