Romans 12:1-3 ( NKJV )
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.
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. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
In order to fulfill our call as Christians to walk by faith and not by sight, we must unlock the truths in Romans 12:1-3. So far we have come to understand that all God asks of us in these verses is a product of His mercy. Mercy provided salvation. Mercy also provides what we need to walk in the power of that salvation. God is not asking for sacrifice out of judgment and therefore punishment. He is not looking for some kind of payment for our wrong doing. He is revealing to us how to overcome in every situation. He is doing so because of His great mercy.
We have also come to understand that we must offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. Something given to God as a sacrifice is now His to do with as he pleases. Our bodies are designed to serve our spirit and soul. When the body finds something it likes it will crave that thing even to it’s own destruction. When it does not like something it will avoid it at all costs. We must offer our body to God so that it will serve Him and our spirit not limit both God and us. This is not unreasonable. It is not too hard. This is a reasonable thing God asks of us. It is important that we receive that truth or we will be unlikely to do what we should.
Today we will insert one more block from this verse. We must not be conformed to this world. This is not a suggestion. It is a commandment. Webster’s defines “conformed” this way; to give the same shape, outline, or contour to : bring into harmony or accord. Let’s look at each point.
We cannot take the same shape the world does. We cannot look like the world in any way. Of course as we live in a culture there will be aspects of that culture that will be part of us. That is unavoidable and not necessarily undesirable. However when we choose the look or the ways of the world over the ways of God, we have a problem. We need to make choices that are not based on what is acceptable to the world. We must first find out what is acceptable to God, conform to that and if we can enjoy some of what the world has to offer as well, that’s great. Whenever their is a conflict we must chose the Word of God without question.
Let’s look at dress for example. It is very common to use the term “sexy.” We all like to be “stylish.” We don’t want to look out of date or drab. That is not what God requires. However is it ever proper for a Christian to look “sexy” outside the marriage relationship. I don’t think it is. To look sexy is to dress and act in such a way as to cause arousal in the opposite sex. The bible teaches us that dress should be modest in nature. Therefore if we choose to dress “sexy” we are being conformed to the world. We can dress in a stylish manner without dressing to arouse. If we can’t then we will have to choose a different style. We cannot be conformed to the world.
The second part of this definition is to bring into harmony. We cannot be in harmony with the world at the expense of being in harmony with God. There are times when we can go a little ways in being in agreement with certain worldly things, but as soon as that takes us out of harmony with God, we must change our direction. We must choose harmony with God, His character and His Word. That is final.
Now, we see that all these things are before Paul talks about renewing the mind. Certainly these things become easier as we renew our mind, but it is clear that Paul expects us to begin to make the right choices as we enter this process, not after it is complete. If we don’,t we never will come to the point of a renewed mind. We must choose to believe that it is God’s mercy requesting certain things of us in order that we may be victorious. We must do our best to offer our bodies a living sacrifice and we must accept the fact that we simply cannot be conformed to this world. Once we accept that conformation to the world is unacceptable we must do our best to make the choices that keep us going in the right direction.
As we follow this path, the renewing of the mind becomes possible. The whole process gets easier with the doing. If we don’t cooperate and accept what God says as the truth we will never reap the benefits Paul is trying to reveal to us. If we do we will see real change and victory develop in our everyday living.