Summary: God is calling each of us to do as the Roman believers: give ourselves completely to God.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Intro: Paul is writing to a church that is trying to find itself. The Jews are saying that following Jesus looks very Jewish while the Gentiles are saying, “He saved us without us having to become Jewish in name or practice.” There is no doubt a power struggle going on, and possibly a little “one upsmanship” as well. So Paul has responded in the first 11 chapters by saying that the gospel is the power of God that leads to salvation – both for Jews and for Gentiles. Then he paints a very vivid picture of how sinful human beings are – both Jews and Gentiles. In fact, last week we learned that God has bound every human being over to disobedience so He could have mercy on them all! He has told them over and over again that the only way to get right with God is to trust in Jesus and what He did on the cross – Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that He died and rose again and you will be saved! He continues to level the playing field. Nobody has a monopoly on God! We all come to Him humbly, believing on His Son. God is a merciful God who does not give us what we deserve! And now, in light of God’s mercy, what should be our response to God? Complete surrender! God doesn’t care how much we think we have to offer or how gifted or smart we are. If we are not surrendered to Him, then all the talent or charisma in the world will not help people come to know Him!
-So, maybe part of Paul’s message here could be, “Roman believers, Jews and Gentiles: Stop fighting against each other and demanding your own way! We’ve all blown it but have been included in God’s family because of what Jesus has done – not because of what we have done! Ours is to surrender completely to God, not demand our own way! So, forget about what you think you can do for God for a moment and make sure you are surrendered to Him! Service must flow out of surrender. If it doesn’t it can turn into manipulation or self-service. Therefore, give yourselves completely to God!”
-God is calling each of us to do the same: give ourselves completely to God. Paul will talk about our service to God in the verses that follow, but we’ll get to that another day. Let’s look a little deeper into the meaning and implications of these 2 verses.
I. Because of God’s Mercy…
-Based upon the entire argument in chapters 1-11, we should fully surrender our lives to Him. The immediate context is found in the words of praise at the end of chapter 11: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond finding out…for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory! Amen.”
-Based on all that God has done and the mercy He has offered freely, Paul says, “I urge you, brothers…” Even though Paul could have used a command here, he instead makes an appeal. He does a similar thing in Ephesians 4:1: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” This word means to “call near” or “to invite.” Notice that he refers to them as “brothers,” indicating his affection for them as members of God’s family. He’s begging believers, not unbelievers, to do something that has not yet been done.
-He makes this plea “in view of God’s mercy.” The original word used here for “mercy” is actually plural and refers to God’s multitude of mercies. He is not merciful just once but again and again. He is consistently and constantly full of mercy. God has demonstrated so much mercy to us that it should be the natural unrehearsed response of the Christian to fully surrender our lives to Him. But don’t get too hung up on it coming naturally. It didn’t seem to be coming naturally for the Roman Christians, and there’s a good chance it won’t seem to come naturally for many of us. We do struggle with the person we used to be who keeps wanting to take over. That doesn’t mean you’re schizophrenic, it just means you’re human and you are engaged in a battle that God wants to help you win!