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I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1-2).
Are You Committed to Doing God's Will?
Discovering God’s revealed will for your life isn’t difficult. It’s found in the Bible. But doing God’s will is more challenging. Paul urges his readers to “present [their] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (v. 1b).
We don’t offer literal sacrifices to God. Christ’s death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Christ has fulfilled and brought to an end the OT sacrificial system. But we do offer “spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:5). For example, Hebrews 13:15 tells us to "continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name" (cf. Rom. 15:16; Phil. 2:17; 4:18).
“Bodies” refers to the entire person. “It is not only what we can give that God demands; he demands the giver" (Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 750).
God’s will is that you give your life completely to God.
The sacrifice of our lives to God is described three ways.
- It is “living.” Christians “are a ‘living sacrifice,’ meaning that they are alive from the dead since they enjoy new life with Christ (6:4). ‘Living’ also means that they will not be put to death as OT sacrifices were…” (ESV Study Bible, p. 2178).
- It is “holy.” This means that “the person is wholly dedicated, ‘set apart’ from the world and belonging to God” (Grant R. Osbore, Romans, p. 319).
- It is “acceptable to God.” OT sacrifices were said to be “pleasing” to God (see Ex. 29:18, 25, 41).
The Way and How of Doing God's Will
Paul gives the why and the how of doing God’s will.
1. Doing God’s will is the right response to what God has done for you.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by [because of] the mercies of God” (v. 1a). “All that Paul has written thus far may be summed up under the heading of the mercy of God in action. Paul has just summarized that universal mercy of God (11:30-32) and expressed praise to God for it (11:33-36). Now he calls Christians to respond” (Moo, p. 749).
Offering your life as a sacrifice to God “is your spiritual worship” (v. 1c). The Greek word for “spiritual” (logikos) could mean either “reasonable” or “rational.” “If [‘reasonable’] is correct, then the offering of ourselves to God is seen as the only sensible, logical and appropriate response…. If ‘rational’ is correct, then it is ‘the worship offered by mind and heart’ (REB), spiritual as opposed to ceremonial, ‘an act of intelligent worship’ (JBP), in which our minds are fully engaged” (Stott, The Message of Romans, p. 321).
2. Doing God’s will requires a re-programming of your mind.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (v. 2a). “This is Paul’s version of the call to nonconformity and to holiness which is addressed to the people of God throughout Scripture” (Stott, p. 322).
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17; cf. James 4:4).
The Greek word for “transformed” (metamorphoomai) is used of Jesus’ transfiguration (see Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2; cf. 2 Cor. 3:18). It speaks of a complete change. The transformation takes place “by the renewal of your mind” (cf. Rom. 1:28). It’s an internal process.
Don't Be Afraid of God's Will
“By testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (v. 2b). God’s will is “good and acceptable and perfect.” “When [Paul] speaks of the good, well pleasing, and perfect, the focus is on what is true in God’s sight” (Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, p. 648).
If God has already given his Son for your salvation, you can expect that his will for your life will be perfect.
Since God loves us, what is “good and acceptable and perfect” to him will be the same to us.