It’s all about our learning to Surrender…
Romans chapter 12 starts out by answering the question: How should those who have been justified by grace respond in their everyday lives?
In Paul’s epistles we hear him talking about a broad range of subjects: our duties towards God, other believers, toward the community, toward our enemies, toward the government, and toward our weaker brothers.
However what Paul teaches in the first two verses of Romans chapter 12 is key to how God expects each one of us to walk out our faith in our everyday life.
(12:1-2) Sacrificing oneself to God is accomplished by applying a RENEWED MIND (a repentant mind) to the pursuit and achieving of the will of God.
12:1. This verse is one of the most important in all the Bible, and contains more key theological terms and truths for its size than perhaps any other verse of Scripture.
Having completed his explanation of sin, salvation, sanctification, and sovereignty, Paul now does to the Roman believers, in a manner of speaking, what the Holy Spirit does in our lives—he urges the Rome believers to act on the truth they have received.
I urge you is the translation of parakaleo (to urge, call, exhort, encourage), from which is derived the noun parakletos, or paraclete.
This is the term Jesus used to refer to the promised Holy Spirit who would come to the disciples after His ascension into heaven (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7).
Paraclete is translated as “Helper” in the NASB and NKJV, “Comforter” in the KJV, and “Counselor” in the NIV.
As is widely understood, the paraclete’s ministry is pictured from the formation of the word para (along, beside, together) and kaleo (to call).
Therefore, the paraclete is one called alongside to do that which the verb, parakaleo, suggests— exhort, urge, comfort, counsel.
It is striking how closely Paul fulfills the ministry of the Holy Spirit predicted by Jesus:
“But the Holy Spirit. . . will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Paul has certainly taught the Roman Christians “all things,” and is now about to remind them of the consequences and application of what he has taught them.
Paul is going to urge them to act on the truth they have received, letting that truth be the foundation of their Christian practice.
The key action verb in Paul’s urging is to offer. But before getting to that key action step, Paul justifies his exhortation.
He does not simply command them to offer themselves; he appeals to their reason (logikos).
In view of God’s mercy, Paul says, it is only reasonable that you offer yourselves to God.
The only thing that saves a human race lost in sin is the mercy of God.
In view of God’s mercy, Paul urges his readers (and us) to offer [their] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.
What would be a reasonable (logikos) response to the cancellation of judgment?
Offering oneself in gratitude for the grace that has been shown would not be unreasonable.
It is not by accident that in Greek one and the same noun (charis) does duty for both ‘grace’ and ‘gratitude.’” .
The reason that offering oneself to God is both reasonable and spiritual is based partly on the meaning of logikos and partly on Paul’s context.
Logikos derives from logos, the Greek term for word or reason.
But Paul is also drawing a contrast here between the physical sacrifices of the Old Testament and the spiritual sacrifice of the New Testament.
The spiritual act of worship which Paul is encouraging is one that springs from the inner man, the realm of the mind (see v. 2).
It is therefore a reasonable as well as spiritual form of worship.
Worship has always been accompanied by sacrifice, but the form of sacrifice has changed under the new covenant:
In the Old Testament, there were sacrifices for sin as well as sacrifices of gratitude and praise.
Christ has obviously fulfilled the sacrifice for sin once for all (Heb. 9:26; 10:10,12,14), and there is nothing that the believer can add to that sacrifice.
But living sacrifices of gratitude and praise are the appropriate (reasonable, spiritual) sacrifices to be made by those who live only by the mercy of God.
These sacrifices are as much the act of worship of the believer today as the sacrifices of dead animals were the act of worship of Old Testament Israelites.
Latreia is the word Paul used for the worship practices of Israel in Romans 9:4, so he obviously has the same concept in mind for New Testament believers.
The root of worship is latreuo, to serve.
God was served in the Old Testament by sacrifices of property owned by the believer, but He is served in the New Testament by the sacrifice of the believer himself or herself.
Paul does not tell believers to “make” a sacrifice, but to “be” a sacrifice.
The sacrifice we are to offer is our bodies, which recalls Paul’s earlier words in Romans 6:13:
“Do not offer the parts of your body to sin. . . but rather offer yourselves to God… as instruments of righteousness.”
God’s mercy resulted in our being bought out of the slave market of sin and adopted into the household of righteousness.
Therefore, our bodies are to become living sacrifices as we worship the One who redeemed us by His mercy.
It takes many times of hearing this truth for the contemporary believer to get it right.
God is not asking the believer to dedicate his gifts, abilities, money, time, ideas, creativity, or any such thing.
He is asking the believer to sacrifice himself or herself.
Oswald Chambers says,
“We have the idea that we can dedicate our gifts to God.
However, you cannot dedicate what is not yours.
There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself.
If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you— and His experiments always succeed.
The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ”
(My Utmost, June 13).
On a continual, daily basis, our attitude should be that of Theodore of Heraclea, a Christian martyr from Pontus who died around A.D. 306:
“I know not your gods. Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, is my God. Beat, tear or burn me, and if my words offend you, cut out my tongue; every part of my body is ready when God calls for it as a sacrifice” (Ward, p. 26).
God, through the apostle Paul, is calling for the body of every believer to be offered daily as a sacrifice in worship)—and if necessary, in death. 12:2a.
The person who has truly sacrificed himself or herself to God will be distinguished by one overriding characteristic that informs the rest of life.
That characteristic is the unwillingness to be conformed to the pattern of this world.
Or, as J. B. Phillips put it in his widely-known translation of this verse, “Don’t let the world. . . squeeze you into its mold.”
Paul gives the offensive key to this defensive posture— but first a closer look at that which the believer is committed to avoiding.
The NIV rendering of aion by world is not quite as telling as its primary translation, “age.”
The NIV’s pattern is not in the Greek text. It is an expansion of the verb suschematizo, to conform to.
Literally, the verse says: “Do not be conformed to this age.”
“Age” carries with it a sense of the beliefs, the philosophies, the methodologies, and the strategies of the fallen world in which we live.
It is not just the world and its people in their fallen state.
It is the worldviews and practices that derive from the fallen state that define the age in which humans live at any time in history.
RENEWING OF YOUR MIND
As we immerse ourselves in the Spirit, through our study of scripture and in prayer, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to rewrite the corrupt programming we all have received from the world.
We then develop a spiritual sensitivity and perception—as we learn to look at life on the basis of God’s view of reality.
Paul emphasizes the need to develop understanding of God’s ways.
Christians are called to a responsible freedom of choice and action based on the inner renewing work of the Holy Spirit.
Once we offer ourselves to God, our relationship to the world is altered.
Paul urges us not to be conformed to this age, meaning the world system that leaves God out, but to be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.
Notice that both commands are passive.
We aren’t conforming or transforming our minds.
Someone else is.
When God has all of us, and when the world has none of us, God does the work of renewing our confused minds.
He brings our thoughts in line with His own so that we think God’s thoughts after Him (see 1 Cor 2:16).
God has a goal in renewing our minds.
This renewal allows Him to merge His thoughts with our thoughts so that He can bring His plans into our lives.
He calls it the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
God has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives—one that finds us when we are fully surrendered.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Come join the Adventure!