Romans 12 Paul pulls no punches here when he tells us how to live with this salvation we have been given. There is so much in it that it’s difficult to know where to start and I recommend you spend quality time reading, praying, meditating on the verses. Ask God to reveal Himself through it. He will because He is good.
Paul begins the chapter with a huge command: sacrifice ourselves as an offering that brings God pleasure. He moves on straight away to answer the protest that rises up within us – the one that says ‘but I don’t want to’.
12 Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. 2 Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.
God wants our worship. He always has. Worship means giving God the worth He is due. The recognition that He is worthy of our honour, respect, love, obedience and trust. In the Old Testament, God laid out rules for worship that involved sacrifice; burnt offerings that would cover sin and also give Him glory. Paul has spent chapters explaining that we now have One sacrifice for sin, Jesus. The other sacrificial offering, the one that gives God glory and our honour and respect, is no longer to be things like incense or flour but is to be our lives.
We are to be a living and holy sacrifice, a sacred offering. We use the term sacrifice for things that cost, some of which even cost lives. A firefighter sacrificing their life for someone in danger, a mother sacrificing her food to feed her child, a couple sacrificing their nights out to buy a new car. They put a value on something to such an extent that they sacrifice to attain it.
Our lives are to be devoted to God. We have to value the holiness and righteousness He has given us to such an extent that we will give up things that would interfere with it. Paul knows that doing that will feel like a sacrifice because we have such a wrong view of things.
That’s where verse 2 comes in. Our flesh, minds and will shout out “I’m not going to give that up. I’m going to do things MY way. That hurts too much. It’s ok, everyone does it.” as a response to holiness. At least mine does…
Paul says stop being like the world.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.
Then, in the rest of the chapter, he tells us how to do it. The answer is ‘love’ which is unsurprising as God IS love.
Read it again; take the time to let the Word soak in. Be transformed as your mind is renewed!