Romans 12:1-2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 5, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“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)

Paul has spent the first eleven chapters of the letter to the Romans discussing theology, which is just the fancy word for studying God and the Christian faith. He’s laid down the groundwork for having faith in Christ Jesus and why it’s important, and he’s told us all about God and His master plan for humanity. So what next? Well, now that we the readers should have good grasp of the teachings of Christianity, we need to learn how to live out this faith.

The “therefore” at the beginning of this passage is a big one - it points back to the entire first eleven chapters! If all that stuff is true that Paul has been writing about for so long, what are we supposed to do about it? These two verses are like a headline for what Paul will be explaining in the following chapters, sort of a high level overview of what he’ll get into in more detail.

Paul has explained God’s mercy to his readers - how our loving God gives us the choice to follow Him and accept His salvation, even though we don’t deserve it - so because of that we are urged to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. But what does that mean? Way back in Romans 6:13-19, Paul urged his readers to offer ourselves as slaves to righteousness rather than as slaves to sin. Now he’s taking that one step further.

The idea of a living sacrifice is in contrast to a dead sacrifice. Throughout Old Testament times, the people of Israel were commanded by God to offer many ritual sacrifices, where they would kill an animal as an offering to God to pay for their sins. Now, Jesus has been the ultimate sacrifice, dying one death for all of mankind’s sins, so those animal sacrifices are no longer needed. Jesus didn’t stay dead, but he rose again - thus being a living sacrifice. We are called to be living sacrifices as well, in that we are to imitate Jesus Christ with our lives.

We are told by Paul that this is our “spiritual act of worship.” There is debate over specifically what that word “spiritual” means, but the idea is that we offer ourselves willingly, not like an animal that doesn’t know any better. We have the choice to live our lives as a living sacrifice in worship to God, or not.

But how do we do this? Fortunately, Paul tells us: we are to not be conformed to this world, but we are to be transformed. The world still has influence over us, but we should not be like it. We need to change to be something different, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and live our lives as He lived His. Both of these verbs (“be conformed” and “be transformed”) are passive, which means it’s not something we actively do, but something that is done to us - by God. Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit is the only way that we can turn away from the lure of this world and be transformed into something better. We cannot do it on our own. All we have to do is trust in God and His transforming power, and strive to live our lives like Jesus.

What are you doing in your life to show that you are a living sacrifice? Are you being conformed to this world, or transformed away from it?

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