Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) 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.
In our last post we focused on the fact that it is the Supernatural Word of God that enables us to change how we are “minded.” When the Word of God is allowed to work in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will change from being carnally minded to spiritually minded. It will be a natural transition that can and will revolutionize our lives.
In Roman’s 12:1-2, Paul makes some statements that seem simple on the surface, but they are revolutionary if they are understood. He begins by “beseeching” the Roman Christians to present their bodies a “living sacrifice.” This sacrifice is holy and acceptable to God. It is also their reasonable service. Let us look a little more closely at these things.
The word beseech means to plead. Paul is pleading with the Roman church. This is very important to him. He points to the mercies of God. God’s mercy is why salvation is available. We do not deserve salvation, but God gave it in Christ anyway. By speaking of God’s mercy, he wants the Romans to remember that they are saved by what Jesus has done for them. The fact that he asks them to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice has to be speaking of how they live. Among other things, it must involve their behavior.
Paul wants them to live right, but how are they to do that. How can they offer up this holy and acceptable sacrifice? Should they under go some suffering? Should they lock themselves away until they purge the “unholy” urges from their body? Should they go to the Levitical law and begin keeping every law and command listed there? He does not ask them to do any of those things. Verse 1 is what he is pleading for them to do. Verse 2 is how they are to do it. They are to allow the Holy Spirit to transform them.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 is one of the most important passages in the New Testament. I truly believe if we understand these verses we begin to understand what Christianity is.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18a (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God.
The new birth is not a change of philosophy or religion. It is the recreation of the human spirit by the power of God. The fall caused man to die spiritually. This means we were separated from God. This led to man’s eventual death physically. The new birth is the restoration of that connection, but it is more than that. The fall caused the spirit of man to become corrupt. Death, or the nature of Satan, took over the part of man that God had made like himself (Eph. 2:3.) The new birth undoes that as well.
A supernatural change occurs that kills the old spirit. It is then “born again” as if sin had never occurred. Our connection to God is reestablished. Every sin we committed up to that time is wiped away. In Paul’s words, “all things become new and all things are of God.” Why then, does Paul say the Romans still need transformation? He says it because the new birth affects the spirit of man. Although it affects the mind in some ways it does not completely change it. It does nothing at all to the body.
Without the new birth it is impossible to walk in complete harmony with Gods will or his ways. That must come first because the power is in the spirit of man. However, if we do not have clear path for the power of the new birth to work in the rest of our being, the power in the new birth cannot get past our mind to affect our body. We will be a spiritually pure being stuck in a carnally minded soul and a body controlled by the flesh. In Romans 7 Paul calls this condition “wretched.”
Here we see Paul telling the Roman church that they need to be “transformed.” The new birth would have done that if the spirit did not require a soul and body to communicate with the outward world. However, that is how God designed man to begin with. The word transformation means to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of something. Although there has been more than a change inwardly, transformation implies an outward effect.
The Greek word is where we get our word metamorphosis. This is what happens when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The butterfly does not become a different creature. The caterpillar is the butterfly. It is the same DNA. It is just that the butterfly cannot be seen because it is encased in the caterpillar. The metamorphosis simply allows what is already in the caterpillar to be released. That is exactly what we are talking about.
We are born again if we have received Jesus as Lord. In our spirit we are perfectly in tune with God. Sin is not an issue because it is no longer our nature in the spirit. Salvation is an accomplished fact. However, the butterfly which is the Christian life is encased in a caterpillar of a carnal mind. What will produce the needed metamorphosis? We need to renew the mind! That is the cocoon for the Christian.
Part of presenting our bodies is to accept that the Word of God is truth. That all other thoughts must be subject to the Word. We may not understand what the bible is saying. God wants us to understand and will help us to, but first we must accept that his Word is the highest truth. If our natural minds rebel against something in the Bible, we must choose the Bible and ask for understanding. If we try and fit the Bible into our understanding, we will never allow the transformation to take place. This acceptance of the supreme truth and authority of the Word of God is the cocoon.
We must also understand that renewing our mind means that we are changing how we think. The caterpillar must stay in the cocoon until the transformation is complete. Our transformation will take our whole physical life. We must continue in the Word daily. As we do we see progressive transformation. We begin to think more and more like God. We begin to see sins that were once a struggle fall off completely. Faith becomes the natural state instead of something that we struggle to attain. However, this requires that we stay in the Word. Look at the example of Joshua.
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
This is a picture of someone with the Word of God firmly planted in every part of their being. It is in their mouth, in their mind and in their actions. This is the most important point in Joshua’s life. Moses was a hard act to follow, but God assures Joshua that if he does what this verse says, he will have good success.
Christian, there has been something beautiful created inside you. It is locked within a mind and body that has been programed by the world, the flesh and the devil. That is not to say that there are not good things in your mind. There certainly are, but you and I were programed to be carnally minded. This process will reveal the spiritual mind that came into you at the new birth. The life God promised to the spiritually minded will become the dominant force in all you do and all you are. The result will be the release of the person that was born again for the world to see.