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 (Romans 12:1–2).
In writing to the Romans, the Apostle Paul delivers a lot of theology in the first eleven chapters – salvation, justification, righteousness, freedom. Then he pens a big “therefore.” What does all of it mean? Listen up, he seems to say, this is how to live it out.
We think about his “therefore” this week as we consider the internal transformation of a pilgrim that results in changes to our behavior. Paul tells the Romans to start with offering their bodies to God. No longer do they make animal sacrifices, for the new covenant brought forth by Jesus supersedes that. Rather, now they give themselves as a living sacrifice. And God will not reject them as he would previously an imperfect dove or bull.
Then Paul says not to conform. Living in a caustic world, we can easily sink to the level of the prevailing culture as we give in to gossip, angry thoughts, bitter recriminations. But God through his indwelling Spirit can change the pattern of our thoughts as we submit to him. Perhaps we can call to mind that the Lord dwells within through a hourly alarm on our phone. Or each time we relieve ourselves. Or when we are about to blast out a series of unhelpful or hurtful words. For when we are transformed, then we will understand how God wants us to live. We’ll learn his “good, pleasing and perfect will.”
For reflection: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).