Monday, May 9, 2011

Week 5: Romans 12:1,2

Romans 12:1,2:  “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  1. In light of the previous verses, that everything is from, through, and to God, Paul urges the recipients of this letter to present their bodies to God.  Why?  Because it is the ultimate act of worshiping to completely surrender to the Creator.
    1. living sacrifice is an interesting choice of words.  It seems oxymoronic, but considering Jesus’s command to “take up the cross and follow Him,” it makes sense.  He was the final sacrifice to atone for our sins, appeasing God’s wrath.  We’re called to emulate Jesus and thus live sacrificially, willing to give up everything God asks of us, completely submitting our being to Him.
    2. spiritual worship also is intriguing.  I don’t understand how there could be any other type of worship other than spiritual.  Physical worship makes sense, with raising hands and singing songs, but I would call this an act born from spiritual worship.  I suppose some can “physically worship” without “spiritually worshiping” as hypocrites.
    3. Is using “by the mercies of God” the same as Paul saying, “for the love of God, do this!  It’s serious!”?  Perhaps.  If so, and I suspect it is, then I find this funny.  It brings a smile to my face when I read Scripture and I bust out laughing (cf Leviticus 13:41).
  2. Do not be conformed to this world.  We’re to be in the world but not of the world.  We’re to love others, but we’re citizens of a different kingdom, where God reigns.  Also, this world implies that there is another world or home, which will be the New Heaven and New Earth created in the future.
  3. Being transformed by the renewal of your mind is such an important part of walking with Jesus.  We cannot serve two masters, and if we’re not completely submitted to a master’s rule then we’re serving with less than full commitment.  Jesus wants us to completely surrender to Him, forsaking our loyalty to ourselves and our pride.  Doing this, keeping our eyes on Him, is how we renew our minds.
    1. Why?  So we can know the will of God and how to act.  If our minds are renewed and transformed, they will be set on God, and if they’re set on Him, then the Spirit within us is obvious, and our actions and thoughts will be guided by Him.
      1. Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    2. How?  Complete and utter surrender.  We have to wholly submit ourselves to God, shirking our identities and becoming new in Jesus.  Practically, emulate Jesus as best as possible, praying for mercy & guidance; read the bible to ingest God’s Word; pray to God to speak to the Father.
These two verses, along with the previous week's memory verses, are ones I constantly go back to.  It's not a daily thing to have transformation, but it's a moment-by-moment, thought-by-thought thing.  A paradigm shift, if you will.  I pray often for my mind to transform and conform to the image of Jesus, that I may be more and more like Him.

I also love the sacrificial language of these verses.  The entire OT is littered with it, as the Israelites had to sacrifice in order to have forgiveness.  Interestingly, God didn't abolish the sacrificial system completely (though, thankfully He did get rid of what we typically think of as a sacrifice), but He switched from using animals and grains to His People.  We are now living sacrifices to God Almighty, not for forgiveness of sin (that was Jesus Christ's sacrifice), but as an act of worship.  And that's awesome.

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