Have you ever heard the Bible study tip that suggests you slow down? Read small portions of Scripture and really zoom in? We will do that today.
What will we learn? You will walk away with a deep appreciation for each of God’s words through Paul, and you will be challenged to allow God to transform your mind so that you can commit to His will more fully.
Wednesday in the Word
Come with me as I walk through a passage of Scripture phrase by phrase, reviewing its context, interpreting, and offering an application. Some of us - including me - learn best by watching somebody else. That’s what I am inviting you to do today as I study through Romans 12:1-2:
“1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform 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.”
Have you ever seen two verses jam-packed with rich truth? Here is one example. It’s a good idea to really slow down and take a close look.
See, one of the steps I suggest in the FREE ebook, “10 Steps to Approaching the Bible with Confidence” is to study a verse or passage phrase by phrase. Let’s do that today.
If you are eager for more Bible study tips, request your FREE ebook copy below.
Let’s get started…
Yes, we are going to pause after just one word, because it begs the question, “What is the ‘Therefore’ there for?”
I’ve been studying Romans lately, and it is full of rich theology surrounding the gospel. In the first 11 chapters, Paul, the author of Romans, digs deep to explain that we are redeemed through faith, free not to sin though ever-struggling to obey, and saved from the eternal death we deserve.
Therefore… because Christ redeemed us, because freedom from sin is available in Christ, because we have been spared and made new…
Paul is about to make this theology lesson applicable and tell us how it should affect our lives.
He begins with this…
I urge you, brothers and sisters…
It’s not a vague suggestion or mini-tip. Paul is urging them. He is passionate about this.
Paul urges them humbly and as a peer, calling his fellow believers “brothers and sisters”. We all are spiritual siblings as children of God. We belong to the same family.
This is the kind of relationship we should have with one another - to encourage each other to follow the Lord.
… in view of God’s mercy…
Similar to starting this sentence with “therefore”, Paul connects his upcoming command with a reason, a motivation: God’s mercy.
Since God has been merciful to us, we in return should…
… to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…
That's some strong language. If you are very familiar with this verse, you may need to take a step back to see it.
We are to offer ourselves up to God as a sacrifice. Sacrifices made in Old Testament times were burned on the altar. We - in a sense- die and live for Christ.
We give up our very bodies to be a living sacrifice for Jesus - one that is holy and pleasing to God. Surely that entails following His commands and will.
… This is your true and proper worship.
Worship is not just what happens in sanctuaries across the globe on Sunday mornings. We worship God with our lives when we are committed to Him and His will.
Part of His will for you may be mundane things like taking care of your home. Yet, every toilet cleaning is an act of worship when it’s done with a spirit of servanthood.
Do not conform to the patterns of this world…
Much of the Bible's teaching stands in contrast to the patterns of this world that we live in. As we are constantly surrounded by the world's values and habits, we are called to be different.
How do we guard ourselves from conforming to this world?
… but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Paul told us what NOT to do (conform to the patterns of this world), and here is what we ought to do instead: be transformed.
In Jesus, our minds are actually renewed over time as we grow in our faith, and we undergo a transformation. Once we lived like the world but now we live for Christ as living and holy sacrifices.
Notice that while most of these verses are in an active voice, meaning you, the believer, are responsible, this phrase is in the passive voice, meaning this is something that happens to you.
God is the one who transforms you by renewing your mind when you do not conform to this world but give your life as a sacrifice to the Lord. You do not have to figure out how to transform yourself. That’s the power of Christ in you!
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…
You know what’s the best part of being transformed by the renewing of your mind?
You are able to:
- figure out what God’s will is.
- whole-heartedly agree with and commit to His will for you - yes, even when you don’t fully understand what He is doing.
How can that be?
His good, pleasing and perfect will.
As believers, we have a relational knowledge of God, and one thing we know is that His will is good, pleasing, and perfect.
It may not be the easiest route or the one we would have picked if we were in charge. But as believers, we live with the certainty that God’s will is better than ours. We rejoice that we are not in charge but rather the holy God of heaven and of earth.
Has this been your experience? Comment below and share a time that God led your life in a direction you would originally not have chosen but are now glad He did.
I trust that even if we never see His reasoning this side of heaven, we will always seek and trust His will above all.