The Epistle to the Romans
Lesson Number 37
LIVING SACRIFICES TO GOD
12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies
of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable
service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that
you may prove what is that good and acceptable and
perfect will of God.
The chief benefit gained by the truth is salvation - "salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Tim
2:10). We receive "the love of the truth" that we might "be saved" (2 Thess 2:10). Salvation begins with extrication
from sin, and will be brought to its culmination when Jesus returns and we are gathered to Him.
No aspect of spiritual life is divorced from salvation. To put it another way, there is no such thing as moving on
to higher things after we have been saved. If something is separate from salvation, we must be delivered from it. God
has nothing good to give us that is not integral to His great salvation. This consideration is fundamental to sound
In salvation we are delivered from both the guilt and power of sin. We are freed from the penalty of sin and
released from the wicked one who promotes it. We are moved from the "power of darkness" into the marvelous
"kingdom" of God's "dear Son" (Col 1:13).
All of this relates to "the righteousness of God" that is announced in the Gospel, and "imputed" to us by faith
(Rom 1:17; 4:22-24). As you know, this righteousness has been the matter of exposition from the first chapter of
Romans through the eleventh chapter. A brief recap of the relevance of this righteousness will serve to set the
background for our text.
1:16-17, A righteousness from God The Gospel reveals a righteousness that comes from God
1:18-3:18, A righteousness that is needed. Both Jew and Gentile stand in unquestionable and consistent need
of this righteousness.
3:19-20, The need confirmed. The Law was given to confirm man was totally unrighteous.
3:21, Without the Law. The righteousness of God is now revealed without the law, although it was witnessed
to by both the Law and the Prophets.
3:22-23, By faith, for all. This righteousness is realized by faith for all who believe.
3:24-25, Justification. Justification, which is the Divine act whereby men are made righteousness, comes freely
by God's grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
3:26-26, Just and Justifier. Because of Christ's propitiatory death, God is both just and the Justifier of the one
believing in Jesus. That is, He Himself is righteous in pronouncing men righteous.
3:27-31,Apart from the Law. Justification comes independently of the Law.
4:1-5, The example of Abraham. Abraham is the initial and premier example of God justifying men by faith.
4:6-8, Confirmed by David. David confirms that God imputes righteousness to men independently of their
4:9-25, Imputed righteousness. The imputation of righteousness to Abraham shows that righteousness comes
before acceptable works, and not because of them.
5:1-11, Spiritual life. The realization of this righteousness from God introduces spiritual life, which is sustained
by our relationship to Him through faith.
5:12-21, Only two men. Both sin and righteousness are ultimately traced to one man: sin to Adam, and
righteousness to Christ.
6:1-5, Baptism into Christ. In our baptism, we are united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
6:6-23, Presentation required. This unity with Christ demands the presentation of our whole persons to God.
7:1-25, Inner warfare. Justification, or being made righteous by God, has created a fierce inner conflict in the
believer. The flesh wars against the spirit, and the old man against the new man.
8:1-4, Justification confirmed. The inner warfare confirms that we have been justified by faith, and are not
8:5-8, The liability of flesh. Our condition demands that we refuse to listen to the flesh, or old man, for his
dominance over us will condemn us.
8:9-27, The ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to assist us in subordinating the flesh. He
does this by leading us in the fight, and by interceding for us when the infirmity of ignorance plagues us.
8:28-39, The overall purpose. The entirety of salvation is of God, who purposed it, implements it, and will bring
it to a glorious consummation.
9:1-11:36, The example of Israel. Israel is given as an example of the total working of the Lord. In them,
salvation is seen to be of the Lord, yet involve the participation of those who are saved. In them we see that "of
Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever."
AN UNDENIABLE EMPHASIS
In chapters one through eleven there has been an undeniable emphasis upon Deity. God is seen as the one who
has purposed salvation in all of its aspects. Jesus is declared as the One through whom that purpose is being
implemented. His atoning death satisfactorily and justly addressed all of the liabilities inducted by sin. His present
ministry ensures that our faith is not in vain, and that the purpose of God will be brought to its intended conclusion.
The Holy Spirit works with the believers, directing, interceding, and empowering them to live in harmony with
God's purpose and for His glory.
The work of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are central in all of these considerations. In view of
these things, to point the hearts and minds of men toward the capabilities and contributions of men becomes an utter
absurdity. The absolute impotence of men is what necessitated the total involvement of Deity in their salvation. This
was satisfactorily demonstrated in four thousand years of human history. Two thousand five hundred years without
Divine direction confirmed the Gentiles were incapable of correcting their condition. One thousand five hundred years
with Divine direction corroborated the Jews were equally incapable of correcting their condition.
It is, therefore, a sin of the greatest magnitude to rely upon human wisdom or power to initiate or
maintain spiritual life.
THE MATTER OF FREEDOM
There is also the matter of the freedom which is experienced when we "know the truth." As our blessed Lord said,
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). That freedom involves freedom from
sin, delusion, and Satan's power. It involves ultimate deliverance from corruption, the grave, and the wrath of God.
To put it another way, we do not need the world's input to sustain spiritual life. In fact, it cannot be sustained by that
means. We have been liberated from the dominance of the temporal order because it consistently tends to death, not
Whatever was impotent to bring you to Christ, is equally powerless to keep you in Christ. The order from which
we have been liberated can in no way promote life in the "heavenly places," to which we have been raised and in which
we have been placed (Eph 1:3; 2:6).
Although this is not its greatest advantage, sound doctrine is practical. It interfaces with every aspect of life.
There is no facet of life that is not impacted by the salvation of God. It empowers and moves the saints to separate
themselves from defilements. It also constrains them to appropriate all things pertaining to life and godliness, given
to them by the Lord. This great salvation impacts upon private, domestic, and social life - to say nothing of spiritual
The Devil's Strategy
One of the most effective strategies employed by the "old serpent" involves the undue exaltation of academics .
In this approach philosophy, speculation, and formalism spring forth and demand dominancy. All of them are offered
as adequate guides for "practical" matters, which appear to be the stress of the contemporary church. Faith is thus
relegated to the background, and profession is equated with possession.
Under this arrangement, reconciliation to God is taken for granted, and the wisdom of men is employed for the
correction or improvement of personal, domestic, and social aspects of life. The preacher or teacher who deals with the
practical aspect of life in Christ is thus thought to be the most profitable. Conversely, the preacher or teacher who deals with
justification, sanctification, reconciliation, etc., is considered to be impractical - a sort of theological oddity that is beyond the
capacity of the masses. There is hardly a place in the Western world where this imagination is not prominent.
Few professed Christians challenge this approach to life because of its remarkable popularity. Problem solvers and
counselors have been added to church staffs, and even exalted to places of prominence, often supplanting those who
preach and teach the Word of God. Religious organizations are filled with frolicking youth and spiritually indifferent
adults, nearly all of whom are abysmally ignorant of both the Person and ways of God. Such people have been brought
into the "church" by entertainment programs, shallow teaching, athletics, and self-help programs.
The number of religious organizations that are contributing to this situation is staggering. They include music,
publishing, career development, motivational direction, education, and a staggering array of entertainment specialists.
The number of Christian businesses operating for profit boggles the mind.
All of this may appear quite innocent, and those who raise questions about it are often viewed as negative, and
even cultist, in their objections. After all, it appears as though these thrusts have been highly successful. Who would
dare to question them. However, hardly any of them could exist in a strong godly environment. They would soon die
out were the people of God conversant with Divine manners, intent on laying hold of eternal life, and determined to
abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul.
A sterile spiritual environment has enabled such groups
to surface and appear successful.
THE TEXT BEFORE US
Our text, verses one and two of the twelfth chapter, are not the thrust of this book. Nor, indeed, is it the loftiest
doctrine. It is not the heart of the Gospel, or where we are to place our emphasis. Here is where the human spirit
intersects with the purpose of God. It is where faith is revealed and eternal life made known.
If we have ingested
what the Spirit has said in the first eleven chapters, it will be evident to our hearts that this text is the
only proper conclusion, and the only appropriate response.
This is an exhortation that is based upon the solid foundation that has been put in place. That foundation is, from
one view, the Person of Christ (1 Cor 3:11; Acts 4:12). It consists of His accomplishments and present ministry. From
another point of view, that foundation is the fact that we have been "made righteous" by the God of heaven, because
we have believed the record He has given of His Son.
As individuals who are in Christ, we ourselves are the "workmanship" of God (Eph 2:10). The exhortation that
follows is a summons to bring our lives into conformity with that work. The Spirit has informed us that we have been
brought into Christ, and that our "members," or human capacities, are to be presented to God (Chapter 6). He has
already dealt with the fierce inward struggle that has been induced by faith (Chapter 7). He has further shown us that
men cannot be made acceptable to God by their own independent efforts. They must hear and embrace the Gospel
Now the Spirit will admonish us to formally and determinedly present our bodies to God. This is not an option,
but is necessitated by the very nature of salvation. The text will further confirm to our hearts that unless this
is done, the will of the Lord cannot be known.
God will not bring us to glory while we allow our bodies to dictate the manner in which we live. Such a stance
contradicts both the nature and power of salvation. It denies the effectiveness of salvation, and reveals that sin yet
dominates the individual. This is a most sobering passage.
I BESEECH YOU THEREFORE . . .
" 12:1a I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God . . . "
Here is an impassioned plea - an exhortation - that is spiritually logical. It is in the nature of a conclusion to the
doctrines that have been affirmed, namely those related to the appropriation of the righteousness of God. This means
that the matters unveiled in the previous chapters are, in fact, designed to bring us to this conclusion. Sound
exhortations must be based upon the truth of God, not upon human reasoning or raw emotion. When that truth is
seen, the heart will be powerfully motivated to yield a response that will bring glory to God.
In this regard, the New Covenant differs significantly from the Old Covenant, which was founded upon Law. Under
the Old Covenant, the word "beseech" most often is used of men speaking to God. Frequently men pled with God to
spare them, preserve them, hear their prayers, and a few times for God to reveal Himself (Ex 33:18; Num 12:13;
14:17,19; 1 Sam 23:11; 2 Sam 24:10; 2 Kgs 19:19; 20:3; 1 Chron 21:8; 2 Chron 6:40; Neh 1:5,8,11; Psa 80:14; 116:4;
118:25; 119:108; Isa 38:3; 64:9; Dan 9:16; Amos 7:2,5; Jonah 1:14; 4:3; Mal 1:9).
Under the First Covenant, "beseech" is rarely used to urge people to walk acceptably with God. Through Moses
and Joshua God did urge His people to "choose life" (Deut 30:19), and whom they would serve (Josh 24:15). Once God
spoke of the eunuchs who did "choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant" (Isa 56:4).
You will search in vain for repeated admonitions of choice under the Law. They simply are not there.
Things are quite different in redemption. A change has been wrought in those who are in Christ Jesus, so that they
may now be exhorted to give themselves more fully to the Lord. Fourteen times the Epistles use the words "I beseech
thee," or, "I beseech you" (Rom 12:1; 15:30; 16:17; 1 Cor 1:10; 4:16; 16:15; 2 Cor 2:8; 10:2; Gal 4:12; Heb 13:19,22;
1 Pet 2:11; Phile 10; 2 John 5).
In Christ, it is reasonable to urge believers to become active in the will of the Lord. They have received the capacity
to do so, and their reconciliation to God demands that they do so.
God and All Things
In this particular text, ponder the statement that immediately precedes the exhortation. "For of Him, and through
Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (11:36). Faith can take hold of that word, being
convinced of both its truth and relevance. When that is done, an immediate and favorable response will take place.
Fulfilling the word is thus seen as possible as well as necessary.
Also consider the things the Spirit has unveiled to us. Some of Israel were blinded and cast away because of their
unbelief (11:20). What is more, we Gentiles will also be cut off if we are guilty of unbelief (11:22)). When men cease
to theorize about those statements, choosing to embrace them, they will enter into the activity toward which we are
Contemplate the many preceding references to God's foreknowledge, predestination, and election.
"Whom He did foreknow" (8:29a).
"He also did predestinate" (8:29b).
"He did predestinate" (8:30).
"God's elect" (8:33).
"The purpose of God according to election" (9:11).
"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy" (9:13).
"I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (9:15).
"It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (9:16).
"For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my
power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth" (9:17).
"Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth" (9:18).
"Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" (9:19).
"Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto
"Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha"
"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (11:6).
"God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;)
unto this day" (11:8).
"As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the
fathers' sakes" (11:28).
"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (11:29).
"For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all" (11:32).
"For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (11:36).
These are unquestionably powerful statements. Some have taken them and formed a rigid theology that has
neither heart nor sense. They imagine such words mean those in Christ cannot possible lose their status. Others are
convinced human responsibility is totally unreasonable - that God will do what He has determined without any regard
whatsoever for those with whom He deals.
This is certainly not the place to deal with such absurdities. It is enough to note the nature of the exhortation
before us, and to acknowledge it is given against the backdrop of the above declarations. Among other things, that
means Divine foreknowledge, predestination, election, and purpose do not exclude the fact that there
are things for which we are responsible. It means that it is not only in order, but it imperative, that we plead
with the people of God to engage in such holy activities as God requires.
All of this is in the word "therefore." This means that failing to do what is said is totally unreasonable - it is a
form of spiritual insanity. The lack of response to this exhortation reveals a corrupt heart, the presence of unbelief,
and imminent danger.
This is not an exhortation for sinners, but for saints. It is a word to those who have been justified, and have
peace with God (5:1). It is addressed to those who are dead to sin and alive unto God (6:11). This is a word to those
who are not condemned and are in Christ Jesus (8:1). Those who imagine that those in Christ Jesus can be ignored
are in serious error. When no words of comfort are addressed to the saints, and no words of exhortations given to
them, they are harmed, not helped.
Many a local congregation rarely hears a word of admonition to the believers. Sermons are prepared for those who
are alienated, and appeals are made to those who are at a distance from the Lord. From whence does such a
propensity come? Certainly not from Scripture. The words before us are addressed to people whose faith had been
spoken of "throughout the whole world" (1:5). They form a reasonable transition from the doctrinal to the practical.
They are a spiritually natural conclusion to what has been said.
"I beseech you . . . " Other versions read, "I urge you," NASB/NIV "I appeal to you," NRSV "I call upon you," YLT and
"I plead with you," NLT
Beseeching assumes reconciliation to God, and a sensitivity to His will. It does not mean that what is urged will
take place without further impetus. The perceptive minister knows God works in His people both to will and do of
His own good pleasure (Phil 2:13). He is confident that God will "perform" a good work in them "until the day of
Christ" (Phil 1:6). He also realizes the Lord does this, among other things, through admonitions, exhortations, and
There is a sense of urgency and immediacy in beseeching. This is not something to be put off, or thought upon for
a lengthy period while hesitating to do what is said. Beseeching, urging, or pleading, are presented in the contexts
of both danger and blessing. The danger is that the hearers will not engage in the action that is urged, thus putting
themselves in jeopardy. The blessing is that the intended activity will produce spiritual results that can be realized
in no other way.
BY THE MERCIES OF GOD
" . . . by the mercies of God." Other versions read, "in view of God's mercy," NIV and "by the compassions of
God." DARBY Some versions refer to the "mercies of God" in the singular: i.e., "in view of God's mercy." NIV The plural
form is, however, the correct one: [oivktirmw/n]"mercies." This word emphasizes the abundance of God's mercy, and
is used several times in Scripture. Jacob confessed to God, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all
the truth, which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant" (Gen 32:10). David declared "for His mercies are great" (2 Sam
24:14). Solomon prayed, "remember the mercies of David thy servant" (2 Chron 6:42). Nehemiah spoke of God's
"manifold mercies" (Neh 9:19), and the Lord's "abundant mercies" (Neh 9:27). There is also reference to the Lord's
"tender mercies" (Psa 25:6), "the mercies of the Lord" (Psa 89:1), "great mercies" (Isa 54:7), and "sure mercies" (Isa
55:3). Our great God is also referred to as "the Father of mercies" (2 Cor 1:3).
"The mercies of God" refer to the plentitude of God's mercy as well as its frequent expression. His tender
consideration and pity are neither sparse nor infrequent.
What Does This Mean?
What is the meaning of this expression? Is the exhortation given because of the mercies of God, as though Paul
said, "Because of God's mercies, I am pleading with you to . . . "? Has the mercy of God prompted the Apostle to plead
so strongly with the people? I do not doubt that the awareness of God's rich mercies constrained the Apostle to so
write. However, that is not the meaning of this passage.
The meaning is that the exhortation is to be carried out through "the mercies of God." That is, what believers are
asked to do, [i.e., present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God], is to be accomplished "in view of God's mercy." NIV
It is to be accomplished "through the compassions of God." YLT One version says to make the offering while
"remembering the mercies of God." NJB Still, the expression seems a bit vague to some.
The "mercies of God" have been declared in the previous chapters. They have to do with His gracious intentions
and activities toward us. They reveal His desire to bless us.
The saints are beloved of God (1:7a).
God called us to be saints (1:7b).
Grace and peace come to us from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1:8).
God has provided the Gospel as the power to accomplish salvation (1:16).
God's righteousness has been revealed (1:17).
God revealed Himself in His creation (1:19).
God is rich in goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, which lead men to repentance (2:4).
There is no respect of persons with God (2:11).
In spite of man's total unworthiness, the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law (3:21).
The righteousness of God is given to all who believe (3:22).
Justification is free to those who have sinned and come short of the glory of God (3:24).
God set Christ forth, evidently and effectively, as a propitiation for sin (3:25).
God is the God of the Gentiles as well as the Jews (3:29).
God imputes righteousness without works (4:6).
God quickens the dead (4:17).
The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (5:5).
God commended His love to us in Christ's death for us while we were yet sinners (5:8).
God reconciled us to Himself through Christ's death (5:10).
The gift and grace of God has abounded to many (5:15).
In Christ God condemned sin in the flesh (8:3).
God provides for our needs through the interceding Holy Spirit (8:26-27).
God works everything together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose
God has determined that all in Christ will be glorified (8:29-30).
God has provided a constant Intercessor for us in heaven (8:34).
God shows mercy (9:16).
God makes vessels for honor (9:20).
God endured with much longsuffering vessels suited for destruction (9:22).
God has not cast away Israel (11:1-2).
God concluded all in unbelief and disobedience that He might have mercy on all (11:32).
All of these are evidences of Divine mercy. From His longsuffering toward Israel to the conferment of
righteousness upon Gentiles who did not seek it, He has made Himself known. He has extended Himself to redeem
humanity, sending His Son to do what Adam's offspring could not do. He empowers and sustains His people through
the Holy Spirit. He provides for their protection and sustenance in the interceding Savior.
As we consider these great proclamations, we derive strength and encouragement from them. God has shown us
He consistently honors faith. Those who are willing to trust Him will be helped by Him. That includes Abraham in
a spiritually primitive day, and Paul responding to His call while in a nation that had rejected Christ Jesus.
There is no word in Scripture that would lead us to believe the Living God is not kindly disposed
toward those who earnestly seek to do His will. Anywhere and everywhere men have chosen to seek the Lord
and obey His will, God has undergirded their efforts. Wherever faith is found, Divine favor will be
experienced. Further, hearts convinced that God is merciful will be disposed to trust Him. Those who consider that
God "is good," and that "His mercy endures forever" (1 Chron16:34; Psa 136:1), will be encouraged and empowered
to do His will. While they live within the influence of that dominant consideration, Divine exhortations make perfect
sense. To fulfill them becomes the preference of those who have no doubt of the reality and accessibility of "the
mercies of God."
Wrath and Beginnings
The wrath of God and the imminence of the day of judgment can also have a powerful constraining force upon the
heart. However, they are not intended to be a permanent constraining factor. The soul cannot advance toward
glory by being surrounded by "fiery indignation, which "shall devour the adversaries" (Heb 10:27). That
often induces a beginning, but brings precious few, if any, souls into glory.
A Prevailing Consideration
At some point, the soul must be brought under the prevailing contemplation of the "mercies of God."
It is only through them that we will be able to fulfill exhortations, such as the one we will now consider. If God is not
good to us, we will not be able to make this presentation. If He does not pity our frail frame, we will not be able to
make a "living sacrifice." If His favor is not upon us, and His grace does not sustain us, we will prove too weak for
this challenge. It is "by the mercies of God" that this will be accomplished, or it will not be accomplished
A FINAL OBSERVATION
I cannot leave this section without making one additional observation. Where the people of God are not constantly
reminded of the "mercies of God," it is not likely that "living sacrifices" will be made. Constant diets of Law,
external disciplines, entertainment, and social and domestic issues, and the like, will not produce a
God-glorifying harvest. When the church becomes the focus, sacrifices are diminished. When the family becomes
the center of attention, sacrifices to God are no longer the issue.
When Law is the thrust, what is given to God
is rarely seen in a personal way.
The people of God must wisely and consistently be given a regular diet of grace and mercy. The Gospel of Christ,
which is the supreme carrier of these Divine bestowments, must be at the heart of preaching and teaching. Nothing
should be allowed to move us at such a distance from the Gospel we are no longer inclined to declare it. No matter
how deplorable the condition into which professed believers have fallen, even if they have left their first love like
Ephesus, room must be made to declare, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the
midst of the paradise of God" (Rev 2:7). Even if a church is lukewarm and repulsive like Laodicea, after the rebukes
have been issued, the incentives of grace must be held before them. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with
me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev 2:21). Do not
underestimate the power of "the mercies of God!" They will accomplish in people what no moral code, however lofty,
THE PRESENTATION OF YOUR BODIES
" 1b . . . that you present your bodies a living sacrifice . . . " It is interesting to speculate what practical
application of the truths expounded in this book would be made by our religious peers. What kind of admonition would
come to their mind when hearing of a Sovereign God who loves Jacob and hates Esau? What sort of reactions would
be expected when hearing of God raising up Pharaoh, cutting some branches off of the tree of Israel, and grafting in
some branches from a wild olive tree? How would men be expected to respond to the promise that God would turn
away ungodliness from Jacob, or that He was able to graft them in again? What are believers expected to do when they
hear about righteousness being imputed, or faith being the basis of acceptance, or God working all things together
for their good?
I do not doubt that some imagine no response is necessary at all. Some simply thrust all of these things from their
mind, perceiving them as too deep for them, and thus proceed with their own private agenda. The mind-set of the
average Christian is far removed from making any association between the profound declarations of the Lord and the
response of His people to them. However, God does require a response from us, and will exhort us to see
to it that it is accomplished.
f we do not approach this text with that in mind, it will
appear to be a mere option - something we may or may not do. It may even be
perceived as something that separates advanced believers from juvenile ones, or
leaders from followers. Although quite common, such conclusions are all
delusions, bringing death to the soul and separating the individual from the
Lord. No one can afford to embrace them.
The fact that this exhortation is to be fulfilled "by the mercies of God" accentuates its indispensability. The appeal
to God's mercy does not suggest He will be tolerant of a refusal to do what He says. It does not indicate what is
admonished is really not necessary, or that He is willing to remain and work with the deluded soul who ignores this
requirement. Rather, "the mercies of God" confirm that He will work with us in this area. And will do so because of
its absolute necessity. Neither the Law, its ceremonies, nor grace, remotely suggest that God will ever
receive what is not presented to Him. His "mercies" provoke and enable that presentation to be made. This
confirms how necessary the presentation is, else God would not underwrite it with His own nature and gifts.
"THAT YOU" - IT IS PERSONAL!
A legalistic religion tends to emphasize what is required in others. It moves those who are unaware that a log is
protruding from their own eye, to seek to remove a small sliver from the eye of a brother. However, when the grace
of God consciously surrounds the heart, one's religion becomes intensely personal. When the exhortation "that you
present" is read or heard, the sensitive soul immediately translates it into "that I present."
The "you," a supplied pronoun, is the "brethren" in the first clause. It is "beloved of God" and "the called of Jesus
Christ" 1:7. It is those who are "justified" in 5:1, and those who "are not under the law, but under grace" of 6:14.
Responsibility Does Not End at the Beginning of Spiritual Life
As elementary as it may seem, our responsibility toward the Lord does not end when at the beginning of newness
of life. Although it is not fashionable speak in this manner, God is calling His people to higher ground. Our text is an
excellent example of this. In view of many religious emphases, it is interesting to consider what the text does not say.
Remember, this is the beginning of a new section of the book, and it is the very first exhortation constrained by the
lofty truths we have contemplated.
Depending on the church environment to which you have been subjected, you may very well have heard one or
more of the following priorities. "Begin witnessing to everyone," "Get the baptism of the Holy Ghost," "Assume the
proper role in your home," "Get involved in politics," or some similar emphasis. Whatever place may be assigned to
these things, it is not one of priority.
"PRESENT YOUR BODIES"
" . . . present your bodies . . . " Other versions read "offer your bodies," NIV and "give your bodies." BBE/NLT The
Amplified Bible reads, "make a full decisive dedication of your bodies - presenting all of your members and faculties."
The word "present," or "offer," means to place beside or near, to place something at the disposal of another. It
involves the invitation for another to examine as well as accept what is offered.
Presentation, or offering does not assume acceptance by God, but earnestly seeks it. When something
is offered to God, an appeal is made for it to be received. This reception is not assumed. In such presentations God
looks upon the heart and the thrust of the person's life, as well as the conformity of the offering to His requirements.
There have been things offered to God that were not accepted.
Cain's offering was not accepted (Gen 4:5).
King Saul's sacrifices were not acceptable (1 Sam 15:22).
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God (Prov 21:27).
Israel's sacrifices became an abomination to God (Isa 1:11-14; Jer 6:20; 14:12; Amos 5:22).
Under the Law, for example, there were certain requirements for offering of an animal to God.
It had be at least eight days old (Lev 22:27).
It has to be offered with salt (Lev 2:13).
A male without blemish (Lev 22:19).
In the days of Malachi God upbraided the priests for offering unacceptable things to Him. This included "polluted
bread" and "blind," "lame," and "sick" animals (Mal 1:7). Thus the quality of the sacrifice as well as the one making
the sacrifice was judged.
This reasoning is to be applied to the offering now before us, for they were written for our learning. Those ancient
sacrifices, and the rules pertaining to them, revealed the mind of the Lord concerning better sacrifices. He
meticulously fulfilled them in the offering of His only begotten Son. We do well not to ignore them in the presentation
of our bodies to God.
What the Spirit Says of Our Bodies
A novice might imagine that God would ask us to offer our hearts, or our minds, or our wills to Him. Instead, He
asks us to present our bodies! Here is the weakest part of our beings, the most culpable member of our makeup. He
does not ask us to ignore our bodies, but to present them to God! He knows they are, from one perspective, "vile
bodies" (Phil 3:21). That, of course, is precisely why they are to be "presented" or "offered" to Him. It is in prospect
of this presentation that the following is said of our bodies.
The Spirit quickens our "mortal bodies" (Rom 8:11).
Our bodies are "the members of Christ" (1 Cor 6:15).
In baptism, they have been "washed with pure waters," thus dedicating them to the Lord (Heb 10:22).
The body is "for the Lord" (1 Cor 6:13).
The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).
God is to be glorified in our body (1 Cor 6:20).
We cannot, therefore, be indifferent about our bodies. If they are "the members of Christ" and are "for the Lord,"
who will dare to treat them with indifference. They are to be "presented" or "offered" to our God.
What Is Our "Body"?
Our body involves more than the skeleton and flesh in which we live. Earlier, the Spirit spoke of our bodies in a
broader sense, setting the stage for this commission. The sixth chapter declared we were not to allow sin to "reign"
in our mortal bodies (6:12). That is the opposite of presenting our bodies to God.
In delineating this aspect of spiritual life, the Spirit continued, "yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive
from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God . . . even so now yield your members
servants to righteousness unto holiness" (6:13,19). Our "instruments" are all of our capacities of expression. These
were formerly devoted to sin. This is described as the "throat," "tongues," "lips," "mouth," and "feet," being given
over to iniquity. Whatever is employed to think, speak, and do iniquity is now to be presented to God!
The Body Belongs to God, Yet Is Yours
Strictly speaking, the body belongs to God, both by creation and redemption. He "formed" the body "in the womb"
(Isa 44:2), and purchased it in redemption (1 Cor 6:19-20). Yet, the body is also "your body."
It is "your body" by stewardship, not by ownership. The advocates of abortion are completely wrong in affirming
the woman has rights over her own body. It is not her body, but belongs to the One who formed and purchased it.
No person is except from the declaration, "and you are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify
God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
Those who take this text and apply it to dietary practices and other aspects of health are in serious error. They
detract us from the truth. Such people would never advocate fasting from both food and water for forty days - but Moses
did (Ex 34:28; Deut 9:9). Jesus also "fasted forty days and forty nights" (Matt 4:2). In both cases, the body was offered
to the Lord.
Some also criticize believers who are tireless in their labors for the Lord, saying they are "burning the candle at
both ends." Whatever element of wisdom may be found in that saying, it is not worthy of extensive pursuit.
Epaphroditus, for example, wearied himself "for the work of Christ," nearly to the point of death. It is said of him,
"for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life" (Phil 2:30). Paul referred to this type of
attitude as being glad to "spend and be spent" for the souls of men (2 Cor 12:15).
While these examples are extraordinary, they reveal the extent to which the body can be presented to the Lord.
Such noble souls are acutely aware that their bodies have been purchased by the Lord and belong to Him. There
certainly is room for decided improvement in this area among believers.
Armed with an awareness of, and sensitivity to, these realities, our bodies are to be "presented" to God. There is
an element of formality in this presentation, although that does not exhaust the meaning. This is not merely an
attitude, although that is involved. The presentation is something like the response of Isaiah when He "heard the
voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Having been purged of his iniquity, he
immediately responded, "Here am I; send me" (Isa 6:8). He presented his body for Divine employment! When Jesus
revealed Himself to Saul of Tarsus, "putting" him "into the ministry" (1 Tim 1:12), his response was immediate. He
set about to conform his life to the calling he had received. Of this Paul said, "immediately I conferred not with flesh
and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and
returned again unto Damascus" (Gal 1:16-17). He presented his body to God that Christ might "be magnified" in his
body (Phil 1:20). God received it, and he was blessed.
The Western world has been plagued with a spirit of casualness - an attitude of simplicity and informality that
requires little focus or rigor of mind and body. It is reflected in how people regard the work of the Lord, the fellowship
of the saints, and personal holiness. It is seen in the way they speak, how they dress, and where their prime energies
are spent. There needs to be a revival of presenting the body to God.
It is quite true that we are to give our hearts and minds to the Lord, our thoughts and our wills. It is also true that
we are to "present" our bodies to God. After all, they are only a stewardship to be occupied for a short season. They
are also the weakest and most vulnerable part of our constitution, all the more requiring that they be presented to
God. Our bodies are to be placed at God's disposal, ready for His employment. It appears to me that this
requires a certain aggressiveness that will separate the individual from the religious masses.
This presentation involves a persuasion of the reality of God and the supremacy of His will and work. This is not
a matter of mere discipline, but of insightful commitment. The Spirit is not calling us to a routine, but to
personal involvement with God. Philip had to marshal the energies of his body to join himself to the chariot of the
Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:29). I suggest that may have appeared far too challenging to a casual disciple (if there is
such a thing). After all, the chariot was apparently moving, and it was in a desert. The man in it was also a stranger
to Philip. Philip was not told what to say, or how to join himself to the chariot. However, having presented his body
to God, he "ran" to the person in the chariot, "heard" this government official reading, and asked him if he
understood what he was reading (Acts 8:30). His body had been presented to the Lord.
But the presentation of our bodies to God is not always attended by such favorable circumstances. The bodies of
Peter and John were "beaten" because of their presentation. However, they did not complain about the difficulty and
pain related with that beating. They had presented their bodies to God. Thus, "they departed from the presence of
the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in
every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:41-42). They knew why they
suffered. They also knew the ultimate outcome of that suffering - reigning with Christ (2 Tim 2:12).
"A LIVING SACRIFICE"
" . . . present your bodies a living sacrifice." Every major version, and all more liberal translations and
paraphrases, read the same way.
Most of the sacrifices under the Law were killed. The offering of animal life generally involved its termination.
But this is not the type of sacrifice we are to make. Our bodies are to be "a living sacrifice." That is, the body is to be
used in service to God, and as a means of bringing honor to Christ.
The heathen offered the bodies of their children to idols by causing them to "pass through the fire," thereby being
consumed. God forbade such sacrifices to be made by His people (Lev 16:21). When their sacrifices required the
taking of life, it was animal life, not life that was in the image of God. Even then, they were to be totally consumed,
with nothing left for any other purpose (Heb 13:11). However, our text does not say we are to offer our bodies a "burnt
offering," but as a "living sacrifice." The consumption of our bodies is not the objective, but their profitable
employment for the glory of God.
Foreshadowed in the Levitical Priesthood
This type of sacrifice - "a living sacrifice" - was foreshadowed in the Levitical priesthood. They were not given an
inheritance in the promised land. They were devoted exclusively to the Lord - living sacrifices. As it is written, "But
the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a
statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance" (Num
18:23). The tithes of the people were given to the Levites for this reason, because they had "no inheritance" among
the people (Num 18:24). Even then, they were required to give a "tenth part of the tithe" back to God, for they spent
their lives in exclusive service to Him (Num 18:26). Like Aaron the high priest, they were to "have no inheritance in
their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them." God Himself was their inheritance: "I am thy part and
thine inheritance among the children of Israel" (Num 18:20). How strongly the words come through, "Therefore shall
they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance" (Deut 18:2). They were living
sacrifices, totally devoted to the Lord.
Depicted in the Live Goat and the Living Bird
The sacrifices made under the Law prefigured the thoroughness of Christ's sacrifice. They introduced us to
salvation by both the death and life of Jesus. After all, "if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the
death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom 5:10). This twofold aspect of
salvation is seen in two different sacrifices.
The goats. The day of atonement included the presentation of two goats. One was for the Lord, to be offered on
the altar of burnt offerings. The other was a scapegoat, eventually to be released in an uninhabited place, removed
from the flock and mundane use. In the case of the Lord's goat, the life was forfeited. In the case of the scapegoat that
life was preserved, but separated from all other uses (Lev 16:5-10).
Thus we have a picture of the nature of spiritual life. First, the "old man" is to be put off, mortified, and not
allowed to express himself. Second, remaining life is to be removed from commitment to other uses - a
The birds. In the cleansing of leprosy, whether in man or a house, two clean and living birds were to be taken. One
of the birds was killed over running water. The living bird was then dipped in the blood of the other bird, and the blood
sprinkled on the leprous person or house. The living bird was then to be loosed "into an open field," where it could fly free
(Lev 14:1-7; 35-53).
Once again, the Spirit has provided a depiction of a "living sacrifice." This is nothing less than the offering of life
itself, with all of its expressions, to the Living God. How appropriate for the mighty God to be given a
A Continual Sacrifice
A "living sacrifice" is a continual one. It is not occasional, like those offered under the Law. Spiritual life is
consistent, not cyclical. When the soul is erratic, and commitment to God uneven and sporadic, the individual is
not helped and God is not glorified. Faith cannot operate on an emergency basis alone, and spiritual life cannot be
lived occasionally. If the offering of our body to God is not continual, it will not be received. Such a sacrifice is
inconsistent with both the nature and the purpose of God.
A Conscious Sacrifice
A "living sacrifice" cannot be offered unconsciously, or without an acute awareness that it is being done. It cannot
be offered accidentally or inadvertently. It is not the result of happenstance. To offer a "willing sacrifice," you must
be both willing and deliberate.
A genuine commitment of the body is made to the Lord in a full and dominating persuasion "that He is able to
keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" NKJV (2 Tim 1:12). Such a commitment exerts a great power upon
PRESENTED TO GOD
" 1c . . . holy, acceptable to God . . . " Other versions read, "holy sacrifice, acceptable to God," NASB "holy and pleasing
to God," NIV "sanctified, acceptable to God," YLT "holy sacrifice-- the kind He will accept," NLT and "dedicated and acceptable to
As I have already indicated, all sacrifices are not acceptable to God. Both the nature of the sacrifice and the heart
of the one making it can disqualify the offering. For example, under the Law, the "hire of a harlot and the price of
a dog," could not be offered to the Lord (Deut 23:18). Also, the blood of the sacrifice could not offered "with leaven,"
or yeast (Ex 34:15). The sacrifice had to be proper, else it would not be accepted. Sacrifices offered under the Law were
separated from common use. They were devoted to God, and were not to have the least spot upon them, or deficiency
within them. They could not be blemished or diseased, sick or lame. These requirements foreshadowed the type of
sacrifice Jesus made, and the type we are to make.
The verse before us emphasizes the nature of the sacrifice -
the presentation or offering of our bodies to God. It deals with a
responsibility we have - a responsibility that involves the preparation of the
sacrifice. Under the Law, extensive preparations were made before the sacrifice
was offered. A drink offering was prepared to be presented with the burnt
offering (Num 15:5). Wood was to be laid in an orderly manner on the altar (Lev
1:7-8). The priest who made the offering has to wash himself (Ex 30:20). The
burnt offering was to be flayed, the head and the fat laid upon the altar, and
the inwards and legs washed with water and laid upon the altar (Lev 1:6-9)
All of this prefigured the manner in which Jesus prepared Himself to be offered, and the manner in which we are
to prepare to present our bodies to God. Sacrifices are not to be offered on the spur of the moment or with no thought
and preparation. This is one of the manners of the Kingdom.
Holiness is a quality "without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). "Holy" means blameless and
dedicated. It involves being pure and consecrated.
Bodies presented as a living sacrifice to God must be "holy," dedicated to Him and separated from the world. Those
who labor for the Lord must themselves be clean. The words of the prophet Isaiah are appropriate here. "Depart ye,
depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the
vessels of the LORD" (Isa 52:11).
This very point is powerfully made in Second Timothy. "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be
a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2:21). The
particular purging involved in this text is separation from false teachers (vs 16-18). The principle, however, applies
to all forms of iniquity, particularly sins of immorality and bodily defilement. Human theology may allow for defiled
individuals to engage in the work of the Lord, but God will not.
Our bodies are to be holy as well as our souls! How poignantly the Spirit states the case: "therefore glorify
God in your body" (1 Cor 6:20). They are "the members of Christ" and are not to be given to uncleanness (1 Cor 6:13).
A body that is "holy" is an "instrument of righteousness unto God" (Rom 6:13). They are bodies devoted to "holiness"
Those who have given their bodies to sin are not to be received by the church. As it is written, "if any man that
is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such
an one no not to eat" (1 Cor 5:11). These are matters that disqualify a person from Divine acceptance. "Know ye not
that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor
revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10).
There is a noticeable lack of holiness in the professed church, and it is a most serious condition. The irony of the
situation is that "praise and worship" is being emphasized by some of the very people who have little apparent regard
for holiness. Above the noise sand clamor of the religious world the Spirit shouts out, "But as He which hath called
you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Pet 1:15-16).
The truth of the matter is that a holy God cannot walk with an unholy people.
A holy work cannot be
fulfilled in an unholy body! When, therefore, we are called to present our bodies to God, it is understood that they are
to be holy, devoted to Him, and uncontaminated with the manners and fashion of this world. Lips that speak guile
and profanity ought not to seek to speak truth. Eyes filled with covetousness will not be able to see the things of God.
Hands that fashion sinful things cannot minister in Jesus' name. Feet that run in the way of transgressors cannot
carry the Gospel of peace.
Let no one entertain the notion that God will receive the presentation of an unholy body. Nor, indeed, are we to
imagine that God will receive us if we do not present our bodies to Him. Although these thoughts are revolutionary
in some circles, they are very fundamental.
"ACCEPTABLE TO GOD"
" . . . acceptable to God." Other versions read "pleasing to God," NIV and "the kind He will accept." NLT The idea
of "acceptable" is WELL pleasing, or especially satisfying. This is not an alternative "pleasing," as though God will
accept sacrifices from men with which He is not pleased.
You may remember there were some Israelites with whom God was "not well pleased." It is said of them, "they
were overthrown in the wilderness" (1 Cor 10:5). On the other hand, those who present their bodies a living sacrifice
to God will enjoy Divine acceptance.
The idea here is that what God receives He uses in Divine employments. Bodies that are appropriately presented
to Him are "sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" NKJV (2 Tim 2:21). Again it is written,
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I
will receive you" (2 Cor 6:17). Those so characterized can enter into the "good works"
for which they have been created in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:10)
By its very nature, the presentation of our bodies to the Lord is not a casual matter. They cannot be given to sin
and presented to God. Our "members," which include our bodies, cannot be yielded simultaneously "as instruments
of unrighteousness unto sin," and as "instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom 6:13). Only one master can be
served at a time, whether we speak of the mind, the soul, or the body.
Make it your aim to present your body to God, and for that presentation to be acceptable to Him. If sin
necessitated the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son, you may be sure no place will be made for it to continue in the
Personal and resolute war must be declared against all forms of sin in the individual before our bodies are
presented to the Lord. We must, at all costs, kewep under our body. Once that is done, the presentation will be
accepted, and overcoming grace will be experienced.
IT IS ONLY REASONABLE
1d . . . which is your reasonable service." It is my understanding that a comparison is here made with the
Jewish ceremonies of the Law, and idolatrous practices of the Gentiles. This statement is also to be compared with
our former manner of life, when we were "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1-3), "foolish, disobedient, deceived,
serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another" (Tit 3:3). The Spirit
will now show us that what is required of us is not an impossible yoke or burden. Nor, indeed, is it to be considered
unreasonable, or something impossible to comprehend or do.
IT IS ONLY REASONABLE
Some versions use the word "spiritual" in the place of "reasonable" (NASB/NIV/NRSV). The difference between
the two words is not as large as at first appears. Although it is a bit technical, a brief explanation is in order.
The word "reasonable" comes from the Greek word logikh.n [logikan], from which the word "logic" is derived.
Lexically, the word means "rational," or "spiritual," or "belonging to the real nature of something."
The meaning here is that what is asked of us conforms to the real nature of life in Christ Jesus. Or,
to view it from the opposite side, to fail to present our bodies to God in the manner prescribed is contradictory of
spiritual life. In other words, it is spiritually insane to fail to present our bodies to God. There is a form of reasoning
that belongs to the Holy Spirit. It is called "the mind of the Spirit" (Rom 8:27). In the sense of our text, anything that
conforms to that mind set, "the mind of the spirit," is "reasonable." Anything that does not is unreasonable.
From this perspective, true spirituality does not consist of certain forms of human conduct. Rather, it is a condition
where the individual is brought into accord with the mind of the Lord. This we read, "For to be carnally minded is death;
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom 8:6). This may be thought to be too shallow, giving license to imagine
a person can think in harmony with the Spirit, but live in contradiction of the truth. If we are tempted to think in this
manner, it is well to remember the words of Solomon. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov 23:7). Jesus
confirmed this was the case by declaring "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,
thefts, false witness, blasphemies; the are the things which defile a man" (Matt 15:19). Again He said, "out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good
things" (Matt 11:34-35). Again it is written, "with the mind I myself serve the law of God" (Rom 7:25 ).
Thus, the word "reasonable" emphasizes how this presentation makes perfect sense to faith. The word "spiritual"
underscores how it perfectly blends with the nature of life in Christ Jesus. There is nothing about the presentation of
a holy body to God that conflicts with sound thought. There is also nothing about it that interferes with spiritual life,
or retards our response to God.
Sacrifices Under the Law
The sacrifices imposed under the Law were not intended to conform to either human nature or the nature of
spiritual life. They were appointed shadows and prefigurements, designed to point us to ultimate sacrifice that would
precisely conform to Divine purpose.
Sacrifices made under the Law "could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience"
(Heb 9:9), and were never intended to do so. Neither, indeed, could those sacrifices "make the comers thereunto
perfect" or purge the conscience of the "worshipers" (Heb 10:1-2). Also, "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and
of goats should take away sins" (Heb 10:4). From this point of view, they were not reasonable.
I am careful to say that from the standpoint of obedience, those sacrifices were reasonable. It would have been
the epitome of ignorance to refuse to offer them unto God. Yet, there was a certain abrasiveness about them, for they
did not accomplish what God desired. Rather, they were preparatory in both substance and nature.
It was "necessary" that required cleansing be accomplished "with better sacrifices than these" (Heb 9:23). To
confirm what I have just described is the case, it is written, "In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had
no pleasure" (Heb 10:6; Psa 40:6). They were unreasonable as final sacrifices, and as a means of procuring a cleansed
conscience. They were reasonable from the standpoint of foreshadowing the greater and effective sacrifice of Christ.
Sacrifices under the Law were, in a sense, impersonal. Although animals were taken from one's own flock, yet the
personal life of the sacrificer was not offered to God. From the standpoint of routine, a technically qualified sacrifice
could be offered while the heart remained aloof from God. Further, following the sacrifice, made in strict accord with
revealed procedures, the conscience remained contaminated by sin, forbidding the individual to enter into the
presence of the Almighty.
In this regard, the sacrifices, and other aspects of the ceremonial Law, were "weak and beggarly elements" (Gal
4:9). They were in order until Jesus came, but are totally unacceptable in this day of salvation.
All of the sacrifices made by the Gentiles are covered in the phrase, "worshiped and served the creature more than
the Creator" (Rom 1:25). That is surely the epitome of unreasonableness! Elsewhere, the Spirit is even more precise
on this matter: "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God" (1 Cor 10:20; Deu
32:17). Their sacrifices, therefore, were fundamentally and totally unreasonable.
It Makes Sense!
But, what of the sacrifice that is urged in our text? How reasonable is it to present your body to God, holy and
completely? To those who live by faith (Heb 10:39) and walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), this presentation makes perfect
sense. To those who are in fellowship with God's Son (1 Cor 1:9) and are walking in the light as He is in the light (1
John 1:7), it is totally unreasonable not to present their bodies in a state of holiness to God. To put it another way,
halfheartedness, under whatever guise it may be presented, is totally unacceptable to God. It is also completely
"Which is your reasonable service." Other versions say, "which is your spiritual service of worship," NASB "this is
your spiritual act of worship," NIV "which is your spiritual worship," NRSV "which is the worship it is right for you to
give Him," BBE and "that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people." NJB
The word "service" comes from the Greek word latrei,an, which means "religious service based in worship of God,
divine service, worship." Thayer's Greek lexicon defines the word as "the service and worship of God according to the
requirements of the Levitical law," and "to perform sacred services, to offer gifts, to worship God in the observance
of the rites instituted for His worship."
This precise word, in both English and Greek, was used in the ninth chapter, and will serve to more precisely
define its use here. In the itemization of the advantages given to the Jews, the Spirit mentioned "the service of God"
(9:4). Other versions read, "the temple service," NASB and "the temple worship." NIV
The "First Covenant," we are told, "had also ordinances of divine service (latrei,aj), and a worldly sanctuary" (Heb
9:1). This service was not accomplished by the people in general, but by the priests, who "went always into the first
tabernacle, accomplishing the service (latrei,aj) of God" (Heb 9:6).
In this case, "service," or "worship," related to approaching the Lord. The approach was summarized into four
Offering appropriate sacrifices. The various sacrifices, and the procedures related to them, are defined in the book
of Leviticus (Lev 1:9,13,17; 5:8; 14:12; 17:5).
Receiving guidance. Special knowledge for judgment was appropriated by the use of the Urim and Thummim, two
stones that were placed in the breastplate (Ex 28:30; Lev 8:8; Num 27:21; 1 Sam 28:6).
Regular ministry in the Lord's presence, the holy place (Ex 28:43). The priests were to keep twelve cakes of bread
upon the table of showbread (Num 4:7-8). The candlestick in the holy place was to be kept burning (Ex 27:20;
35:14). Incense was also to be kept burning upon the altar of incense (Ex 30:7-8).
Unleavened bread and the flesh of the sacrifices that were given to the priests were also to be eaten "in the holy
place," the place of regular priestly activity (Lev 6:16,26; 7:6; 10:13; 24:9).
These procedures were "the service" given to the children of Israel. They were merely external because the people
did not have new hearts or spirits. They were fundamentally alienated from God, their hearts being "far from Him" (Isa
29:13). In fact, they did not have a heart to do what the Lord required of them, even though they said they would. Thus
God Himself lamented, "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my
commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!" (Deut 5:29).
A Different Kind of Reasonableness
Under the Law, the reasonableness of the "service," or "worship," was of a different order. The fact that God
required it was what made it reasonable. In the minds of the people, nothing else made the service "reasonable."
Neither the priests nor the people knew they were dealing with shadows and prefigurements. That was not spelled
out to the people. The coming Savior, His sacrifice, and the justification that would come from it, were, at the very
best, hazy and without spiritual substance to them.
The primary motivation for following the procedures of Law was not the reasonableness of the deed. Rather, it
was "that he die not." When Aaron went about to minister, he was told to wear the priestly vestments "that he die
not" (Ex 28:35). Aaron was not go within the veil at unappointed times, "that he die not" (Lev 16:2). On the day of
atonement, incense was to be appropriately burned, with the fragrance covering the mercy seat, "that he die not" (Lev
16:13). Aaron and his sons were to wash their hands and their feet before entering the tabernacle "that they die not"
(Ex 30:20-21). It is no marvel that it is written of those under the Law, "those who through fear of death were all their
lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb 2:15). Under the Law, "reason" was of a different order than it is in Christ!
A Stark Contrast
What a remarkable contrast there is in "reason" under grace and "reason" under the Law. The scope of God's
purpose is more clearly seen, thereby compelling the insightful person to enter more heartily into the service of God.
Now, it is "the love of Christ" that "constrains" us, rather than the fear of death. It makes perfect sense to faith to
cease to live for self and to live wholly for the Lord, presenting our bodies to Him. As it is written, "For the love of
Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who
live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" NKJV (2 Cor 5:14-15).
Our service to, or worship of, God, then, is a matter of personal judgment. That does not mean it is optional, or
that we may choose to ignore God with impunity. Those with a propensity to Law have great difficulty understanding
this. They cannot conceive of a person preferring to serve the Lord without the constraint of Law. But God will have
none of their foolish reasoning. A person knowingly reconciled to God does not think like one who is not. They have
received a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek 36:26). God has written His laws into their minds, and put them into their
hearts (Heb 10:16). To such people, it is perfectly reasonable to present their bodies, in a state of holiness, to God.
It is also refreshing and satisfying.
"Reasonable service," or "spiritual worship" is the same as worshiping "God in the Spirit" (Phil 3:3).In fact, the
word "worship," in the Philippians text, is precisely the same root word translated "service" in Romans 12:1
The point of our text, is that the presentation of our bodies to God is not a mere ritual. It is one
attended by spiritual insight and deep devotion. We do not serve God by rote, or empty routine. Our whole persons
are involved, spirit, soul, and body. All of them were purchased, and all of them are given to the Lord. Salvation
involves all of them, and all of them to be offered in service.
Real worship consists of living for the Lord, wholly committed to Him. It is taking what we have, what we are
stewards of, and presenting it to God. It is living in concert with heaven, and in harmony with the Divine agenda.
What is more, it is doing this willingly, insightfully, and with great joy. To put it in words that the Holy Spirit teaches,
"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence
in the flesh" (Phil 3:3).
Ponder the Blessings
In view of what God has accomplished for us in Christ Jesus, it is totally irrational not to give ourselves to the Lord
without reservation. The Son has made us "free indeed" (John 8:36), and we are no longer debtors to the flesh, to live
after the flesh (Rom 8:12). Our enemy has been cast down, and is thus no longer able to hold us captive (Heb 2:14;
Col; 2:15). Our nature has been changed (2 Cor 5:17). We have become heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ as
well (Rom 8:17). We are partakers of Christ and of the Divine nature (Heb 3:14; 2 Pet 1:4). We have been "made the
righteousness of God" in Jesus (2 Cor 5:21; Rom 5:19). Our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20; Heb 12:23).
An eternal inheritance is reserved for us in heaven (1 Pet 1:4). We are presently kept by the power of God through
faith (1 Pet 1:5). Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb 7:25). Because we are sons, God has sent the Spirit
of His Son into our hearts (Gal 4:6).
In view of these things, and more, what possible reason can be adduced for failing to present our bodies as a living
sacrifice to God? This is our "reasonable service," or "spiritual worship."
The presentation of our bodies to God ought to be as direct and formal as the presentation of the Gospel of Christ
to us. The Gospel left nothing to conjecture, but told us precisely what Jesus had accomplished. When we present our
bodies to God, we should avoid generalities and ambiguities. It should be clear that we intend to live for the Christ
and be willingly and insightfully employed in the execution of His will.
That is what is involved in presenting our bodies a living sacrifice - or a sacrifice of life - to God. It is a resolute
THE CONFORMITY THAT IS CONDEMNED
" 2 And do not be conformed to this world . . . " Here is a Divine requirement of which we hear very little in this
day. What does it mean? Other versions read, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world," NIV "be not
fashioned according to this world," ASV "let not your behavior be like that of this world," BBE "Don't copy the behavior and
customs of this world," NLT "Do not model your behavior on the contemporary world." NJB
AND . . .
The requirement stated in this verse is one of the implications of presenting our bodies a living sacrifice to God.
By that I mean the presentation of our bodies requires this determination. To put another way, to become like
the world voids any commitment to the Lord.
THERE ARE MATTERS TO BE AVOIDED
Just as surely as there are things to be done, there are things that are not to be done. There are benefits to be
appropriated, and curses to be shunned. Just as surely as we are to love God, we are not to love the world (1 John
2:15). Not only are we to place our affections on things above, we are not to place them upon the earth (Col 3:1-2).
We are to not only love the Lord, but hate iniquity (Psa 97:10). This is an aspect of spiritual life that is not popular,
but it is absolutely essential if we are to please God.
"CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD"
'This world" is a "present evil world" from which Jesus has delivered us (Gal 1:4). Because "the world is passing
away, and the lust of it" (1 John 2:17), its present "fashion," with all of its associations, is also "passing away" (1 Cor
7:31). "This world" is the realm of temporality, and it has been infected by sin and cursed by God. The cares and
concerns of "this world" actually choke out the Word of God (Matt 13:22; Mk 4:19). Satan is the "prince of this world"
(John 12:31; 14:30), and thus presides over its manners. Christ said His kingdom is "not of this world" (John 18:36).
The "wisdom of this world" has been totally repudiated by God (1 Cor 1:20) because it is "foolishness" to Him (1 Cor
When men do not believe the Gospel, it is because "the god of this world" has blinded their minds (2 Cor 4:4).
Walking, or living, according to "the course of this world" is what necessitated salvation. It constitutes alienation from
God and dominance by the devil (Eph 2:1-2). Satan's hierarchy includes personalities described as "the rulers of the
darkness of this world" (Eph 6:12).
To be "conformed to this world" is to absorb its manners. It is to adopt its way of thinking, and to see life from
its perspective. It is to be dominated by the seen, and be oblivious of the unseen. Being "conformed to this world"
means we live for the here and now, without regard to the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment, and our eternal
destiny. A person who is "conformed to this world" has its set of values, and lives according to its priorities. The
"wisdom of this world" ranks high with such people.
To be "conformed to this world" is to be assimilated by its culture - to become one with it, so that one is no longer
in fundamental variance with it. "Friendship" with the world constitutes enmity against God. Whoever, therefore,
"wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" NKJV (James 4:4). Such are people who "mind
earthly things," and for that very reason are "the enemies of the cross of Christ" (Phil 3:19).
If the grace of God teaches us to "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts" (Tit 2:12), those who are "not conformed"
to the world have been effectively taught by the grace of God. Those who are conformed to the world have spurned
that grace, seeking to turn it "into lasciviousness" (Jude 4).
It is written that "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). What folly, therefore, to
be conformed to it, thinking like it, and adopting its values! An order from which men must be delivered is certainly
unsuitable as a pattern for thinking and doing. A realm that is expressly said to be "evil," has nothing of value to give
to us, either for the mind or for the body. Its assessments are unworthy of our embrace. Its praise is not to be sought,
and its approval is to be seen as utterly worthless.
If the world loves someone, it is because that individual is conformed to the world. We know this is the case
because of the words of our blessed Lord. "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are
not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19).
A SERIOUS ADMONITION
I cannot overstate the seriousness of this exhortation. The Western world is plagued with a church that is
conformed to this world. It obtains its credentials from the world, and courts the world with its approach to the things
of God. The exaltation, for example, of academics over faith is nothing less that conformity to this world. An emphasis
upon worldly credentials is evidence of conformity to this world. Much of what is called "contemporary Christian
music" conforms to the world. The counseling thrust of the Christian community is the result of conformity to this
Conformity to this world puts one at variance with the world to come, and at war with God. The only way survive
the destruction of the world, which is an irreversible appointment (2 Pet 3:7), and dwell at last with the Lord, is to
energetically avoid conformity to it. The world does have a pattern of thought, and a way of doing things. As a person
in Christ Jesus, it is your business to NOT be conformed to the world.
THE REQUIRED TRANSFORMATION
" 2b . . . but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . . " More is involved in spiritual life than not
doing certain things. There is a fulness in spiritual life that causes one to leave one realm for another.
LEAVING AND OBTAINING
When we are admonished to shun some things, it is in order that we may take hold on other things. Abraham left
Ur of the Chaldees in order to go to a land God would show him (Gen 12:1-3). Israel left Egypt in order to go to
Canaan (Josh 5:9-10). Elisha left plowing with twelve of oxen in order to follow Elijah (1 Kgs 19:19-20). Peter,
Andrew, James, and John left their fishing trade in order follow Jesus (Matt 4:18-22).
This is the manner of the kingdom. There are things that cannot be appropriated until other things are forfeited.
There are lofty climes that cannot be entered until other ones are abandoned. Many a timorous soul has never gained
higher ground because of an unwillingness to abandon lower ground. The stunted growth of many professed believers
is directly traceable to their unwillingness to leave the realm of flesh for the realm of the Spirit.
Thus we leave the realm of the dead to live in the domain of the living. We "sin not" in order that we might do
righteousness. We cease to serve Satan that we may serve God. We leave the domain of darkness that we might walk
in the light as He is in the light.
In our text, we refuse to be conformed to this world, in order that we might be transformed. There will be no
genuine transformation until there is a determined and consistent refusal to be conformed to this world. And, let it
be clear, a change of the magnitude described in the word "transformation" must take place if we are to ever be with
TRANSFORMATION, THE MODE OF THE KINGDOM
God is not calling men to reformation: i.e., to simply change their habits. The summons is not simply to a different
way of doing things - a discipline of life, so to speak. In transformation the individual becomes different. It is more
than living by a routine, it is living with a different set of preferences, loves, and hates.
The word "transform" comes from a word that means to transfigure, or change. The Greek word is metamorfou/sqai
(metamorphose), from which we get the word "metamorphosis." The change described by this word is like that of a
lowly caterpillar into a lovely winged butterfly. It is a change like that of a legless tadpole into a leaping frog, or a
loathsome larvae into a flying noisy locust.
Here is a total change that God has imprinted in the natural creation. The similarities between a caterpillar and
a monarch butterfly can hardly be found. Neither, indeed, can we study a tadpole, deducing from its appearance that
it will someday leap from water lily to water lily, leaving the water and croaking loudly. There is nothing in the larvae
that suggests it will be a locust. These crawling creatures go into a cocoon and rot, only to emerge in another form.
Interestingly, the larvae cannot reproduce. That can only take place after the transformation to the winged creature
has taken place.
Here, however, is a most interesting observation. Those in Christ Jesus, already made "new creatures," are
admonished to "be ye transformed!" Our change, then, is not yet complete. While we are presently being "transformed
(same word) into the same image from one degree of glory to another" by the Holy Spirit NRSV (2 Cor 3:18), we do have
some responsibility in the matter. We must seek to free ourselves from simplistic views of the Kingdom that leave
us sitting in the easy chair of the flesh, expecting everything will turn out well for us with very little effort on our part.
Our text will allow no such conclusion. Solemnly we are admonished, "be transformed!"
An alternate word for "transformed" is "transfigured," which comes from the same word (metemorfw,qh). When
Jesus was transfigured, a significant change took place. His face "did shine as the sun" (Matt 17:2a). His clothes
"became white as light" (Matt 17:2b). As He prayed, "the fashion of His countenance was altered" (Lk 9:28). In effect,
His inner glory burst through His flesh and clothing, showing Him as He had never been seen by men before. In that
state, He blended so well with the eternal order that Moses and Elijah appeared with Him in glory, speaking with Him
"of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Lk 9:31). There you have a vivid picture of
"RENEWING OF YOUR MIND"
And how is it that we are to be transformed? Rest assured, you cannot go through a moral and spiritual
metamorphosis by simply changing your habits. This cannot be accomplished by rote - a heartless execution of some
mere routine. Nor, indeed, can it take place as long as one is conformed to this world.
Sin has taken such a toll on the mind, that even after we have been born again, it must be "renewed." The mind
is much like a sieve when it comes to the things of God. Without due attention, they are soon forgotten, and life is
viewed without a due regard for the truth. The renewing of the mind is a renovation project. It is like a dilapidated
structure that needs to be refurbished throughout.
The word "renew" means a complete change for the better. It speaks of a lifting of the mind into the domain of
the heavenlies. If this does not take place - if we are not transformed by the renewing of our minds - we will "faint"
in our minds (Heb 12:3). Through subtlety, Satan will corrupt the mind that is not renewed (2 Cor 11:3).
For those in Christ there is "the law of my mind" that must be strengthened and refurbished with the truth of
God (Rom 7:23). It is, after all, with the mind that we ourselves "serve the law of God" (Rom 7:25). No wonder we
are admonished, "be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph 4:23). Such a renewal results from girding up "the
loins" of your mind, and hoping "to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus
Christ" (1 Pet 1:13).
Thinking must not be the weak point of the believer. In fact, believing and thoughtlessness cannot mix
together. Those who "live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires" NIV (Rom 8:5).
They have a "sound mind" (2 Tim 1:7), and "think" upon pure and holy things (Phil 4:8). As their minds are wrapped
around the Word of God, pondering it and delighting in it, they begin to "live by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). They
are transformed by the renewing of their mind.
There is, in my judgment, far too little of this in the average church. There is little transformation because of
fundamental deficiencies in the mind. And, there are deficiencies in the mind because of conformity to the world. It
is time for this admonition to be sounded and heeded, spoken and received.
PROVING THE WILL OF GOD
" 2c . . . that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Just as we
refuse to be conformed to the world in order that we might be transformed by the renewing of our mind, we also are
transformed in order that we might comprehend the will of God. An unrenewed mind cannot discern the will of the
Lord, regardless of its seeming keenness. A wrong mind cannot take hold of right things. An unholy mind cannot
benefit from holy things. An ungodly mind cannot perceive what God desires or is doing.
A person has to cut loose from the world to know what God wills. There must be a renewing of the mind before
His purpose can be perceived.
PROVING, A HOLY ACTIVITY
" . . . that you may prove . . . " Other versions read, "Then you will be able to test and approve," NIV "so that you
may discern," NRSV "so that by experience you may have knowledge," BBE and "so that you may discern for yourselves."
"Proving" is an aspect of judgment - of arriving at a proper conclusion, and being able to discern, or distinguish,
something. It is to be compared with rule keeping, where discerning is not the point, but merely adhering to a set of
regulations that are not understood - like a child obeying its parents. God is not honored by an inability to test and
validate what is right and wrong, good and evil, or acceptable and unacceptable.
A person who does not present their bodies a living sacrifice to God will not be able to renew their mind. The one
who does not renew his mind, will not be able to properly test, or examine what is set before him. Such a person
will not be able to arrive at a proper conclusion concerning critical things - things pertaining to life
and godliness. It does not appear as though this is generally known. Nevertheless, it is true, and there can be no
effective contradiction of it. A person cannot be spiritually discerning while their mind remains unrenewed, riveted
to the earth. Those who insist on leaving their minds in a state of spiritual stagnation are thereby confined to
ignorance concerning the will of God. There is no way to avoid this. It is foolish to attempt to do so.
WILL OF GOD
" . . . the will of God."
It is the will of God that is to be tested and proved. Thus I will address this first, while
touching upon the various attributes of that marvelous will, or purpose, later.
The point of this text is the establishment of "what the will of God IS." NASB It is not to determine if the will of God
is really good, or necessary, but what it really is. What does God want? What is God doing?
Immediately you see that what man wants is to be given the lower place. It is God's will that is to occupy our
attention. Further, knowing His will is not simply a matter of academic definition. The very fact that it is to be
discerned or comprehended confirms that it immediately related to us. The will is not impersonal, even though it does
not revolve around our persons. We profit from the will of God, but we ourselves are not the center of it. Therefore,
as soon as our own wills sit upon the throne of our mind, the will of God becomes obscure. The renewing of the mind,
in this case, involves the purging of purely selfish interests.
The truth of this text is stated by Jesus in yet another way. His words are most arresting, unveiling the reason
for the discernment of some and the ignorance of others. "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning
the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority" NKJV (John 7:17). That is yet another
way of saying men "prove what is . . . the will of God." Being willing to do God's will comes from the renewing of the
It is fashionable to hear this expression in certain circles: "the will of God for my life." I do not question that the
will of the Lord is intensely personal. However, that perspective can be carried too far, giving the individual greater
worth than the eternal purpose of God. God's will for your marriage, home, vocation, and the likes, is never the focus
of Scripture. Moses and the Prophets did not speak in this manner. John the Baptist avoided the snare of such
approaches to the will of God. Jesus certainly did not deliver the truth of God from that perspective, nor did the
This does not mean there is no Divine direction on a personal level. It does mean that is not the focus of God's will.
If God orchestrates the selection of a wife for Isaac, it is not merely for Isaac's sake, but for the larger matter of His
great salvation. Whether it is Joseph, David, or Daniel, the involvement of the Lord with them personally was never
just for their sakes. There was a larger context to His workings with them, as ought to be evident. Godly men always
spoke of their participation in the will of God that extended far beyond their persons.
In the case of Abraham, it was to bless "all families of the earth" (Gen 12:3). With Joseph, it was to "save much
people alive" (Gen 50:20). With John the Baptist it was to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Lk 1:17). In
the case of Paul, it was to "open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto
God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me"
The people of God must learn to think beyond the narrow perimeter of their own personal lives. The "will of God"
has infinitely larger boundaries than our lives. It is knowing that will that is the point of this text. Although this will
be greatly misunderstood, our assemblies must be noted for a proper emphasis. They should not make us more
familiar with one another than with God.
The fact that our minds must be renewed in order to recognize God's will proves how hostile they
are by nature. They must be refurbished by grace and truth in order to their proper and profitable use.
The will of God is basically "good." That goodness pervades every facet of His will. It is "good" by nature, not
merely by definition. There are poor souls who do not see God's "will" as good. Like Israel in the wilderness, they
murmur against their lot in life, unable to associate it with the good will of the Lord.
By saying the will of the Lord is "good," the Spirit means God's intentions are good. From the personal view, God
says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you
a future and a hope" NKJV (Jer 29:11). From a global point of view, God said to Abraham, "in thee shall all families
of the earth be blessed" (Gen 12:3). From the perspective of His intention in Christ Jesus, "God, having raised up his
Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:26).
What God wants is good. It is good for His glory. It is good for angelic hosts to behold. And, it is good for you. But
your mind must be renewed before this can be seen. And you must not be conformed to this world before your mind
can be renewed. And, your body must be presented to God before you can come away from the world.
God's will is not only "good," it is "acceptable." Other versions read "pleasing." NIV/BBE/NAB The word "acceptable"
means "well pleasing," "giving satisfaction," and "serving well." This is the sort of thing Jesus described to the
woman at the well of Samaria. "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John
4:14). He proclaimed the same thing to the multitudes he fed with a few loaves and fishes. "I am the bread of life: he
that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35).
There is a deep and abiding satisfaction in perceiving and embracing the will of the Lord. Jesus said who ever did
the will of God was His brother, sister, and mother (Mk 3:35). Those who realize that will surely do "the will of God
from the heart" (Eph 6:6), for they know God will do good to them. God's will is referred to as "the good pleasure of
His will" (Eph 1:5). If it brings pleasure to Him, it will surely to so to you!
It is not coincidence that "good and acceptable" are joined together (Rom 12:2; 1 Tim 2:3; 5:4). It is the goodness
of God's will that makes it "acceptable." It makes it pleasant and satisfying to the soul.
However, as apparent as that may seem to you now, if your mind is not "renewed," the goodness of God's will is
not apparent. His salvation will not appear to be preeminent. His blessing will not appear worth seeking. His Word
will not seem indispensable.
Thus, you will not be able to associate your life with what the Lord is doing. There will not seem to be a
connection with preparation for glory, refinement, and being changed from glory unto glory. O, there is a great and
dreadful penalty to not being transformed by the renewing of our mind. Further, it is totally unreasonable not to be.
" . . . perfect . . . " God's is also "perfect," and needs to be so seen. Although the word "perfect" comes from a
rather common Greek word (te,leion), it certainly does not have a common meaning here. Etymologically speaking,
the word can mean full grown or mature. That, however, seems to me to be a vulgar way of looking at God's will -
as though it developed over a long period of time, or was at some time immature, infantile, and undeveloped. We do
well not to drag Divine traits through the slime pit language. Too much of earth and the wisdom of men then cling
to these words.
The idea here is that the will of God is free from any defect - and has always been. It stands complete of itself, and
does not obtain power or effectiveness by being mixed with something else. Nothing about God's will is out of balance,
unjust, or incomplete - nor has it ever been so characterized. It is absolutely consistent, never varying, never being
updated, and never requiring adjustment.
Nothing can be added to the will of God, and nothing can be taken from it. It stands wholly sufficient of itself. It
only remains for it to be recognized and received for what it is. That requires revelation on God's part, and proving
on our part. He has already revealed His will in the "record of His Son" (1 John 5:10-11). Apart from Christ, His will
These short, yet pungent, verses are the spiritual conclusion to the first eleven chapters of Romans. They
represent the proper response to the things that have been revealed. The announcement of a righteousness from God
by faith, when seen, will provoke this reaction (chapter one). The fact that all have sinned, and can make no claim
of personal uprightness before God, will compel men to fulfill the admonition of our text (chapters two and three).
Once the imputed righteousness of God is received, the exhortation makes perfect sense (chapter four). The effective
nature of faith will confirm this to the heart (chapter five). When the realities accomplished in our baptism are
comprehended, we will enter joyfully into the fulfillment of this text (chapter six). The reality of the fierce inner
warfare between the flesh and the Spirit will confirm the necessity of this work (chapter seven). The fact that we are
justified by faith, are not condemned, and have been given the Holy Spirit will encourage us in this work (chapter
eight). The inscrutable working of God with the Jews and the Gentiles will assure us of the effectiveness of God's will
(chapters nine through eleven).
Does this not constrain you to see your body from a new point of view? Can you not present it to God in
expectation of good things to come? Your body is what will be employed to minister to God's people. It will be used
to glorify God by letting your light shine before men. Present it to God as a "living sacrifice," the offering up of your
life to the great God of heaven. When it comes to this world and the devil, be stingy with your body. Do not give it to
the world for its enjoyment and your condemnation. The world and the devil have had enough of your body. Give it
to them no more. Present your whole body to God, together with every form of expression of which you are capable.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind daily, even hourly. When you sense your mind gravitating to the
lower regions of the earth, renew it by the consideration of the things unseen. Thus you will be transformed,
gloriously changed to a new stage of glory. When you are taken up with cares of this world, renew your mind. Ponder
the promises and thus be transformed by the renewing of your mind. When you are tempted, drawn away of your own
lusts, renew your mind. Neutralize the temptation by pouring the Word into your mind and meditating upon its
implications. Thus you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
It will not be long until you will be able to test and prove the will of God. You will see how good it is, and how
accessible it is by faith. In the glow of that will, what the world offers will not appear good at all. The will of God, like
the sun in its zenith, will outshine all other wills, including your own. You will see how acceptable and pleasing the
will of God is. It will bring lasting satisfaction to your heart, thereby diminishing life's difficulties and challenges. You
will see the will of God as perfect, without any flaw. It will never bring a disadvantage to you, or hide anything good
from you. From every vantage point, it is good. In every experience of it, it is acceptable. Now, enter into the
fulfillment of the text.