v. 1 “Therefore,” establishes a connection with the previous chapters, especially parallel is 6:13, 19. The tone of Paul’s writing here is exhortation: “come on brothers and sisters” “work out your salvation.” In light of our “righteousness in Christ” what Paul is writing is “imperative” or synonyms:
(acute, burning, compulsory, critical, crucial, crying, essential, exigent, immediate, important, importunate, indispensable, inescapable, insistent, instant, no turning back, obligatory, pressing, urgent, vital)
We are being called to demonstrate our “in Christ” life. “I urge you…” The word “urge” is a word between command and beseech. An urgent request; an appeal.
Where are we in our own mindset/emotional/passion as we relate to ourselves and others?
“…in view of God’s mercy…” Our response to God’s mercy: we have been made alive: once dead in sin, now alive in Christ because of mercy!
Therefore, “…offer your bodies as living sacrifices…” Our lives, regardless of whatever vocation we are doing, are supernaturally directed as “a life of service to God.”
Does this “life of service” something we wait to happen or is it manifest through co-participation with our gracious and merciful God? What does a “life of service” look like for the transformed believer?
Harrison (1976) said, “Whereas the heathen are prone to sacrifice in order to obtain mercy, biblical faith teaches that the divine mercy provides the basis for sacrifice as the fitting response.”
“your bodies” cf. 6:13 where Paul says “your members” The emphasis is that our bodies are the vehicle or instrument through which desires and “choices” of the redeemed spirit is manifest.
Moreover, Harrison said, “It [ our body] is essential for making contact with the society in which the believer lives. Through the body we serve.”
How should we prepare to “offer [our] your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God”[?] cf. Psalm 51, James 5:16
Remember that the Levitical Priest had to consecrate himself and offer sacrifices that were unblemished. HOLY reminds us of the “awe” of God.
Harrison said, “Holy is a reminder of that necessity for the Christian, not in terms of rite or ritual but as renouncing the sins of the old life and being committed to a life of obedience to the divine will (cf. 6:19).”
Furthermore, as we “choose” to live a holy life of obedience and righteousness, God is pleased.
In Christ we know we are forgiven and declared righteous. However, do we as God’s vessels/instruments continue to struggle with expressing sin or righteousness? Is this an ongoing battle? Does the battle become easier?
Unlike the dead sacrifices of the Old Testament, we are “living” “made alive” through Christ. Therefore, if one is not “in Christ” is it possible they can present as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God? What about the “good person” who does many “good works?”
Is it possible that even our “sacrifice” to God may not be pleasing? How do we ensure God is pleased with us as “living sacrifices?” Are we supposed to find out what pleases the Lord? Cf. Eph. 5:8-21 (Obedience, yielding, resisting, running)
“this is your spiritual act of worship.” Harrison suggested that “spiritual” could portray the idea “that the sacrifice we render is intelligent and deliberate” in contrast to animals, they had no say in their sacrifice.
Thank you Lord for allowing us to reason together, for illuminating our minds to understand, and allowing us to firmly base our faith on what we have learned by your grace.
Furthermore, Paul equates “living sacrifice” with “spiritual worship.” (a better translation for worship, might be “service.” KJV). “Service is the proper sequel to worship.” (Harrison).
In 12:1 an urgent appeal is made, to which we must make a deliberate “choice” to be committed to a life determined by the gospel. And, I think it is safe to say that the redeemed do respond.
However, is our choice a one-time response or a lifelong process of responses? Is it an event and a process?
v. 2 reflects a deliberate maintenance of our supernatural commitment. Is our “in Christ” life a continual vigilance lest we become weak and falter at the hands of an enticing world?
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world…” Apparently the threat comes from “this world.” Cf. Gal 1:4 (evil age), 2 Cor 4:4 (god of this age), Heb 6:5 (live by the powers of age to come), 1 Cor 7:31 (we are here as witnesses, not conformity).
Essentially we maintain or commitment by refusing to be conformed into the mold of this world’s pattern. What are obvious patterns of this world that draw us away from a life devoted to Christ?
In addition to refusing, we maintain our Christ life by being “transformed.” Both the “refusal to conform” and the adhering to “being transformed” are two processes viewed as going on all the time.
Is this true for you in your everyday experience? Our pattern is Christ. He refused Satan’s solicitations when tempted. Moreover, He only did the Father’s will. So too, we strive to “test and approve what God’s will is.”
Harrison (1976) said, “Aiding this process is ‘the renewing of your mind,’ which seems to mean that the believer is to keep going back in his thought to the original commitment, reaffirming its necessity and legitimacy in the light of the grace of God extended to him.”
Moreover, we rely on, hence dependent upon God the Holy Spirit through this daily renewal process (Titus 3:3-8).
We are not ignorant of the will of God. However, we need to avoid “…blurring its outline by failure to renew the mind continually (cf. Eph 5:8-10).
Pett (online ref.) said, “Good, acceptable and complete.’ By their minds being transformed they will understand what is fully required by the will of God, thereby ‘proving’ in their hearts 1). what God will see as good, 2). what God will see as acceptable, 3). and what is perfectly in accord with God’s will.”
Help us Lord to engage and be transformed by the renewing of our minds every day, that we might walk humbly and please our God in all we do.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1976) F.E. Gaebelein (ed.)
NIV Study Bible (1984).