It’s good, pleasing and perfect!
Transformation is a powerful reality. Transformation changes everything! The scripture we are looking at is Romans 12:1–2. Remember that Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome. This is a letter to Christians — to those who have faith in God. Transformation is for people who have faith in God!
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.
With the “therefore” Paul transitions to a new angle in his writing. This word looks back at all he has already written. He has, in the previous 11 chapters, provided comprehensive theological discussions on:
All of these things have clearly demonstrated that it is God who provides any hope of any future. We are entirely dependent on God.
I urge you, brothers (and sisters),
Now, with these words, he will apply the previously explained doctrines practically.
This is a call to response and action. Paul says literally, ‘I beg of you, please.’
in view of God’s mercy,
Paul’s long argument about God’s great mercy is the reason for action. If we clearly see the love of God, the awesome mercy and grace, the patience and kindness of God, as well as His absolute holiness and justice, we ought to be moved to do something! God’s mercy calls for a certain response.
What follows is what Paul considers an appropriate response:
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
We so often think of giving our hearts or our lives to Jesus, so it seems out of place to offer our bodies as a sacrifice — this sacrifice is one of putting our bodies at the disposal of another, in this case, at the disposal of God. Our bodies encompass all of who we are. In our bodies are our minds and spirits. When we offer our bodies, we give God all of us.
This offering is not a dead sacrifice but a living sacrifice. It is an act of consecration. This offering is the offering spoken of in Romans 6:19. This is the offering that leads to holiness or sanctification. The NRSV reads: “present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.”
The tense of the word ‘offer’ both in 12:1 as well as in chapter 6 suggests a one-time offering, not a continual offering. It means that we give God all of ourselves, once for all time. This enters us into a different state — that of being wholly devoted, wholly surrendered to God. In reality, that state can be entered only as a one-time offering. Once that surrender has been made, we follow God so completely that the one-time offering need never be made again.
This does not mean that we do not remain in a state of sacrifice to God. Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily — our one-time sacrifice becomes a continual lifestyle. So, we can read that from this one-time offering, through this one act of consecration, we are sanctified. Although we continually grow in faith and spiritual maturity, although we are slowly transformed into the likeness of Jesus, our consecration and sanctification appear to be more sudden — a crisis experience.
holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
Here is further amplification on the sacrifice:
First, it is holy — that is — we have set it apart for God’s use. We have given our bodies, our lives, our selves, over for His pleasure. This offering, when wholly given to God, is holy. It is also holy in the sense that when our bodies are sacrificed to God they are used by God for His holy purposes.
Second, it is pleasing to God. God’s will for us is to be holy, just as He is. Therefore, it follows, that when we offer our bodies to Him as a holy sacrifice, for our sanctification, it is pleasing to Him! It exactly fulfills His expectation for our lives.
Third, it is our spiritual (literally — reasonable or more properly rational) act of worship. It is the worship Jesus talked about — in spirit and in truth. It is our highest act of consecration and a true response to God’s awesome mercy, grace and love! Considering the reason for our worship — God’s mercy and the degree of our response — a living sacrifice — this rational act becomes spiritual. Notice that this worship has a rational appeal — not just emotional. It is a decision of the mind as well as the heart.
Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world,
The Greek text starts this verse with the word kai — a linking word — “and this means.” — Continuing with the thought of this consecration, we are urged not to conform to this world. This would be the opposite of this living sacrifice to God.
J.B. Phillips translation of this phrase reads: “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.” Conforming is a slow process that alters our values and behavior.
The pattern of this world involves living for ourselves and our goals, rather than for God’s. The pattern of this world is one of self-centeredness. This pattern is destructive and is at odds with the holy lifestyle God calls us to. He calls us to a lifestyle of God-centeredness. Satan has established the pattern of this world!
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
This transformation is literally a metamorphosis — a radical change, a whole new being!
This is no less than a change from a life of fleshly living to a life of spiritual living. We are living in the power of the Spirit. This transformation is the result of our consecration. It is a change from within.
It is what we call being sanctified wholly. The sanctification through and through is what Paul prayed that the Thessalonian church would experience (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This transformation is also a continual process. We must be continually transformed into the whole measure of the fullness of Christ! (Eph. 4:13)
This holy lifestyle includes the renewing of our whole mind: our outlook, our view of the world. Once again, this is not just a new heart but a new mind as well — reason and emotion!
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is
The result of this renewing is the ability to discern God’s will! When we have been renewed, when we have been transformed, when we have been sanctified, we see the world differently.
Transformation means you begin to gain God’s view of the world and are able to see His will more clearly. You discern His working and comprehend that what we want is not necessarily what God wants!
When you experience transformation, you are able to see that the work God does in the world frequently does not match what we would do but what He does in the world is done for His glory! When we are aligned with God in this way, we certainly take a different view on His will. There is now an approval — or an agreement — our spirit with His Spirit!
his good, pleasing and perfect will.
God’s will is:
good — the decision that he provides, the direction he gives is always good
pleasing — in that it pleases God and brings glory to God
perfect — God’s plans and desires are never anything less than perfect. This perfection is the same as Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:48 — a perfect and complete result; exactly what the desired outcome would always be. He cannot do anything but the perfect because of His character, His power and His perspective.
This passage is a call to respond with a promise — that transformation is a reality for those who dare to make this radical commitment.
Surrender your life.
– give all you have to God
– hold nothing back
– you must surrender every new day and event in your life
God transforms your life and gives you everything new:
– depth in your relationship with him
– understanding of his will
Remember that he is faithful and he will do it!
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