Paul moves from the theological to the practical in this last section of Romans, laying the groundwork for believers in discipleship. Chapter 12 deals with commitment, spiritual gifts, and relationships.
Call to Commitment
What comes to mind when you think of worship? Many people—including myself—think of Sunday services and singing worship songs. You don’t have to dig deep into the Bible to realize that sincere praise through singing and music pleases God (Psalm 107-150). In fact, about 500 verses speak of worshiping God in this way. But Paul takes our Sunday worship one step further:
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.” – Romans 12:1
The word “therefore” directs us to make a connection between Paul’s previous section and his following advice.
3 Qualities of the Believer’s Sacrifice (Shepherd’s Notes):
- It is living. This concept may provide a contrast with the [Old Testament] dead bodies of animal sacrifices, or it could denote the new life that the believer possesses in Christ.
- It is holy. The Christian is set apart for and belongs to God [sanctification].
- It is pleasing. Sacrifices offered to God are not enough in themselves. The offerings must be acceptable to Him.
The greatest motivation for offering ourselves as living sacrifices stem from God’s mercy to us.
A Threat to the Believer
A great threat to the believer appears in verse 2: pressure to conform to this world.
The word “world” means “age”. As in Paul’s day, our present age opposes God’s coming world/values. Instead of settling for the world’s standards of living—behaviors and customs—we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds”. This goes beyond strict adherence to moral living. It begins by surrendering our thoughts and attitudes to God.
Believers become living sacrifices by daily setting aside selfish desires. God is pleased when we devote our time, energy, talents, and spiritual gifts to Him. We do this out of gratitude for His forgiveness and free gift of eternal life.
Like salmon swimming upstream, Christians must work hard to not drift (conform) with the world’s current of values and immorality. The Holy Spirit enables us to swim upstream against the corrupting current when we surrender our thoughts/attitudes to God. He is the One who transforms our lives and gives discernment for His perfect will.