Summary: Exposition of Romans 12:1-2. What does it mean for us to be "living sacrifices" and how are our minds to be "transformed"?
What does being a Christian, being someone who has received God’s mercy, mean for the way we live our lives? How does being a Christian make a practical difference, day to day, for you and for me?
In my next few talks I am going to work through the answers that Paul gives to that question in Romans 12. Tonight we start with verses 1 and 2, which set the scene for the rest of what Paul has to say.
IN VIEW OF GOD’S MERCIES
In the first 11 chapters of Romans the apostle Paul provides a bold, clear and detailed outline of the gospel:
- the nature of our sin as rejection of God and our need, therefore, of God’s mercy
- His grace in sending Jesus to overcome sin, paying its penalty for us and bringing us into a right relationship with God through faith
- the power of God’s Holy Spirit in leading us into a deeper knowledge of God as Father and firmer trust in Christ as saviour
- the wonder of the reality of God’s eternal purposes being worked out in the proclamation of the gospel in all the world.
All of which means that being a Christian is the greatest privilege! What a wonderful gift it is to have received God’s grace and mercy! This gives us sufficient reason to live the life that Paul describes in the last 5 chapters of Romans.
Why should we love others? Because God has loved us!
Why should we serve others? Because God has been our servant!
Why should we forgive others, even our enemies? Because while we were God’s enemies, Christ died for us and God forgave us!
That is why Paul commences chapter 12 with the phrase, “in view of God’s mercies”. Living a Christian life is not about winning God’s favour, but is a response to the favour He already has shown us. Living a Christian life is not about earning our way into heaven, it is about walking towards heaven because we are already guaranteed a place there. Along with Paul, I urge you brothers and sisters to recognise the nature and significance of God’s mercies for the way you live your life.
A “sacrifice” is something that is offerred to God. Paul’s argument here is that the appropriate response for us to make to the sacrifice Christ has made on our behalf is to offer up our lives to God, by making Jesus not only our Saviour and Friend, but also our Lord and Master.
It is important that it says we are to offer a “living” sacrifice. Sacrifices are normally thought of as being offerred in death, like the bulls and goats of the Old Testament. But in our situation, the sacrifice of death has already been offerred by Jesus, who has given His life as an atoning sacrifice for us. He took the punishment that we deserve, to bring us into a new life, the abundant life that He came to bring us (John 10:10).
I used a technical word there – atonement. What does that mean? Putting it simply it means that are are now at one with God. Break the word up like this: at – one – ment.
This is the context of the offerring we make to God. It is not another offerring to pay for our sins, to bring us into God’s favour. Rather, because we are already at one with Him, it is only right that we offer the living sacrifice of the whole of our lives – our heart, mind, sould and strength – in worship and service.