God saves Christians by His grace so that we might live new and holy lives for Him. This is why the apostle Paul, after spending Romans 1-11 laboring to explain the awfulness of our sin problem and our desperate need for God’s forgiveness through Christ, now begs us in Romans 12:1-2 to respond to God’s grace by living differently than we did before our conversion. Through Paul, God “beseech[es]” or urgently pleads with Christians to remember the incredible mercy that God has shown us by covering over all of our wicked words, actions, thoughts, and desires with the blood of His own Son Jesus (Romans 12:1a). As we meditate each day on how much we have been forgiven of through Jesus, we should then want to live new, changed lives that are “holy” or pure and thus “acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1b). Christians do not strive to avoid and repent of sin in order to earn God’s love and grace, but out of gratitude or thankfulness for already having received it. To a truly saved person, the call to be holy and serve the Lord is not strange at all, but is only logical or “reasonable” considering how good they know that God has been to them.
To live a holy life for Jesus, Christians must be willing to reject the ideas and ways of this sinful and fallen world and instead let God change them from the inside out to think and act like Jesus. To follow Christ, we cannot be “conformed” or made into the likeness of the evil world system and culture that surrounds us (Romans 12:2a). As the apostle John tells us elsewhere in Scripture, Christians should not “love the world” because “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). No, we cannot pattern or copy our lives after our unbelieving, sinful culture. Instead, we must “be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2b). This means soaking our minds with biblical truth through reading our Bibles, listening to sound biblical teaching and preaching, and ingesting Christian music, movies, and other media. We have to be reminded of God’s truth every day, taking it in through our eyes and ears and then focusing our thoughts upon Jesus and His Word. And when we do this, our transformed and renewed minds will then lead to transformed and renewed words and deeds. We will find ourselves knowing and doing the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God” that please the Lord and invites His favor into our lives (Romans 12:2c).
So what will it be for you? Will you live for sin and self, or for Jesus? Will you be conformed into the image of the world, or transformed into the image of Jesus? Think carefully about how you respond to these questions. In the long run, how you live will reveal your true response to the gospel.
The Text (Romans 12:1-2)
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.
Questions to Think About
- Why do you think that Paul spent so much of Romans (Chapters 1-11) explaining the gospel concepts of sin, grace, faith, and salvation before he finally began in Romans 12 to tell Christians how they should live?
- When did you begin to see your life as belonging to God? In what ways has your life become a “living sacrifice” for Jesus?
- In what ways has your life been “transformed” and your mind “renewed” by God’s truth this school year?
- In what ways are you still struggling to not be “conformed to this world” in how you think and act?