Lesson 41


The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

12:1 Therefore I beg you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 12:2 Donít be fashioned according to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 12:3 For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.


Today's Lesson 

With Today's Scripture, Paul begins a new section of the Epistle to the Romans. Paul has dealt with the foundation for the righteousness that God offers to all people that is based on faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. He has dealt with the believer's relationship to the law and our relationship with God. In the upcoming chapters, he will deal predominately with our relationship with one another.

 

Paul's habit is to build from one teaching to the next. In this section we can see him returning to the believer's relationship and responsibilities to God as the basis of our obligations to each other. So he begins by telling his readers, "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service." So much has been written about this admonition of Paul's. In most cases, the words "living sacrifice" would be considered an oxymoron, completely contradictory statements. But Paul has laid a precedent for this statement that explains exactly what he meant us to do.

 

Jesus Christ lived His life as a "living sacrifice." Jesus set aside privilege and authority and offered His life as a sacrifice for others. He placed Himself at the disposal of the Father and did only that which God directed Him to do. He is our example of what a "living sacrifice" should be.

 

Paul goes on to say that we should not allow ourselves to be fashioned, or conformed, to the image of this world but to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind." The Christian life is lived in the mind. Each moment is a struggle to submit our thoughts to the authority of God. It is with our minds that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. And our minds must be renewed through the work of the Spirit in our lives. It is the role of the Spirit of God to lead us into all truth, in other words, to renew our minds. As we submit to His work, our thoughts are transformed from the patterns of the world into the patterns of the mind of Christ.

 

Paul has presented us with the most difficult of challenges. We may, for a moment in time, conform our outward actions to a model of propriety. Most of us were taught at an early age to act appropriately when others were watching us. But few people have ever mastered the discipline of focusing and controlling our thoughts. Our minds tend to wander from moment to moment. Paul is calling us to conform our thoughts to those of God's. God is with us. He is in our hearts and in our minds.

 

God has given each of us a measure of faith. That faith begins in our minds. God wants us to include Him in our minds and our thoughts at all times so that He might have an impact on our lives. It is harder to ask God to control our thoughts than it is to ask Him to control our feet. We can easily say, Lord lead me in the direction you want me to go. It seems harder to ask, Lord, help me to think the thoughts you want me to think.

 

Are you willing to present your body as a living sacrifice to God? Are you willing to allow God to renew your mind? This is your spiritual service. Are you willing to serve?

 

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