“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The twelfth chapter of Romans begins a long section of the letter in which the Apostle Paul applies the doctrinal message which he has been exploring in the first eleven chapters of the letter. What this tells us is that practical Christian living is always the result of correctly understanding and incorporating Biblical Christian doctrine into our lives. The doctrine describes the fundamental way in which we come to abide in the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian is a person who by faith abides in Christ. It is not a philosophy or a lifestyle, it is not even membership in a Church, it is a relationship which is characterized by a trusting commitment to the Son of God. The Apostle Paul outlines this in the first eleven chapters of the letter. Then he begins to apply these truths to the life we live. He starts with a very interesting statement in the first two verses of chapter twelve.
This is that our response to God’s mercy which has been revealed in the Gospel must be to surrender ourselves to God. In verse one Paul uses the word “offer” or “present” here. Back in chapter six verses 13, 16, and 19 he uses the same word which is always translated as “offer”. The word refers to the offering of a sacrificial animal on the altar. The animal so offered was considered to be fully and unconditionally devoted to God. The Apostle Paul is stating here that the consequence of God’s grace revealed in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is that we surrender every part of our lives unconditionally to God in Christ. Such surrender is not partial or conditional. It is total and complete. John Miller in Outgrowing the Ingrown Church describes it in this way in regard to his own life. He says that when he came to terms with his own unbelief which resulted in ingrownness in his life he recognised that the way out was through first of all giving himself unconditionally to God. Then he began to courageously obey God in every area of his life. The ability or power to do this came, he recognised, not from himself, but from God’s Spirit.
This is what the Apostle Paul is writing about as he applies God’s truth to our lives. It requires courage to obey God in this. It also requires a growing faith. This is the test, do we truly believe that God will keep the promises that He has made to us in His Word? When we truly do believe it then the results are life transforming. It all begins with a living sacrifice.