Summary: The Apostle Paul gives us six truths that are vital for living the Christian life.
Let’s continue our study in Paul’s letter to the Romans. We are in Romans 12. Paul is now going to make a grand declaration about the first principles of Christians living. He’s going to issue a Christian manifesto on living the Christian life.
You can’t get more practical—or theological—than Paul is here. For Paul, Christian living is a theological matter. If you don’t understand the truth of grace, then you’re not able to live the life of grace, because the life of grace is grounded in the truth of grace.
So, Paul, having told us so much about the truth of God’s grace, the sovereignty of his grace, the mercy of God, and so many other of these grand truths in Romans 1-11, now comes to Romans 12 and begins to flesh out for us grace in the Christian life.
For much of the rest of the letter, he’s going to be showing us what grace produces in the Christian life. Let’s turn our attention then to God’s word in Romans 12:1-2.
Let’s read Romans 12:1-2:
1I 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. 2Do 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. (Romans 12:1-2)
Romans 12:1-2 are two small but hugely important verses in which Paul lays down the first principles of Christian living.
He states in these two little verses at least six truths that are vital for the living of the Christian life. Let’s study these six truths.
I. The Foundation of Christian Living is God’s Mercy (12:1a)
First, the foundation of Christian living is God’s mercy. We see that in verse 1a, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God. . . .”
The starting point of the Christian’s life is God’s mercy. The basis of the Christian holiness that God is calling us to, in the last part of this book, is God’s mercy.
Paul is calling us to live for God, to love God, to obey God, to delight in God’s word, to delight in God’s will, to delight in God’s law, to live it out because of the mercies of God toward us.
Christian living, Paul says, is grounded on our having received mercy and on our understanding of God’s mercy in our lives. Paul is exhorting us to obedience to God because of what God has done for us. He says, in light of God’s mercy, you do this: you be a living sacrifice, you give yourself as a sacrifice for God in view of the mercy of God.
This is vital for us to understand at the outset. The Christian life is not God saying to us, “Do this and live.” It is rather, “I have given you life. Now, do this!”
So, doing is transformed. Doing is not something whereby we purchase acceptability with God. Doing is that whereby we express our gratitude for the mercy of God, as well as manifest what God’s mercy is designed to accomplish in us.
God’s mercy not only has the goal of seeing us justified before him and accepted and accounted as righteous, it has the goal of making us to be righteous.