I received the following question:

Do any of your precepts explain Romans 12 especially verses 1 & 2?
Thank you,

Thanks for the good question. No, I do not have Precepts written on this passage yet. I will give you a brief explanation of my thoughts on the passage, however.

First, let me give these verses in The Resultant Version translation.

1. I am entreating you, brethren, by the pities of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God for that is your logical service.

2. And be not conformed to this eon, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Paul here is urging his Roman readers by the pities of God. This word means pity, compassion, or mercy. It is the great compassion and mercy of God upon us for which Paul entreats us. This is ever the entreaty of grace: that we upon whom God has bestowed so much love and grace might respond to that love by living the kind of life that would please Him. This life Paul sums up here as presenting your body as a living sacrifice.

The sacrifice is a victim, the sacrifice is given over completely to God and dies. Yet we are to be living sacrifices. Like a sacrifice, we are to give up ourselves completely. Like a sacrifice, we are to hold nothing back. Like a sacrifice, we are to put to death all thought of personal benefit, either in the short or long term, and give ourselves totally over to the One to Whom we are presenting ourselves. Such a sacrifice is holy, meaning set apart. If we are a living sacrifice, then we are not like the people around us. We are devoted and set apart to God in a special way.

“Acceptable” is what is well-pleasing. This is the goal of being a living sacrifice: to be well-pleasing to God. This is the service we ought to perform. And this is the service we logically should perform. What else can we do, considering that it is God we are dealing with, and considering His great grace toward us, even to the point of dying in our place? There is really nothing else we can rightfully and logically do but dedicate ourselves, our lives, our very bodies to His service.

This is the opposite of being conformed to this eon. Those who conform themselves to the flow of the world around them are common and surround us on every side. Yet this eon we live in is wicked and godless, and to conform to it is to conform to what is contrary to God. We cannot be just like those around us. We need to be different. Being different is difficult, however. The natural thing to do is to be like the world around us. Therefore there needs to be power behind such a change. The power comes from a transformation, a transformation that results in the renewing of the mind. Therefore the transformation begins inside the person and then results in a change of behavior on the outside.

How, then, are we to renew our minds? Changing one’s entire way of thinking is not easy, but it can be done. First of all, we need to conform the renewed mind to a new standard. That standard is the Word of God. God’s way of thinking is entirely different from the world’s way of thinking, and probably very different from the way we would think naturally as people living in our society and culture, and even different from the way we grew up. Therefore, our minds need to be changed to think and assess and react according to God’s standards rather than those of the world.

Secondly, we need the power to change our minds and conform them to this new standard. It is impossible for us to conform to God’s way of thinking in the power of the flesh. We need God’s power to be transformed God’s way, and that power comes by the Holy Spirit active in our lives. When we believe we receive the Holy Spirit as a seal, showing in God’s sight that we belong to Him. The Holy Spirit is then available to us to give us power to live a changed life.

The material the Spirit uses to build that life, however, is the Word of God. We need to be in the Word, learning and growing from it so that the Spirit can put it to use in renewing our minds, our thoughts, our opinions, our way of assessing the world, and so forth. A complete transformation or renewal of the mind is down along the lines of Scripture, and without that standard brought daily into our minds and hearts, and instead with a lot of worldly ideas from our television sets, our computers, our coworkers, and so forth, it is very unlikely to ever happen. We need both the Spirit and the Word for a transformation to happen, like an explosion needs both the gunpowder and the spark. With both of these, God can and will start to work to renew our minds.

Once our minds are renewed according to the righteous standards of God’s Word, we will start to be able to see and to approve things that are good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Many people pray and beg God to show them His will for their lives, and yet what they do not seem to understand is that they have no ability to even recognize the will of God since they know so little of the Word of God. How am I supposed to be able to grasp God’s will for my life if I do not even know God’s will for everyone today? How can I know the person God would want me to be in a relationship with, for example, if I do not even know what a Godly relationship looks like? The will of God is not grasped magically. Such knowledge comes from getting to know God’s way of thinking, and that knowledge comes from knowing His Word. Then, once our minds are renewed according to His standard, we are capable of grasping and approving, both in our lives and others, what to Him is good, what to Him is acceptable, and what to Him is perfect.

Thanks for the great question, and I pray this helps you understand it.

Keep studying the Word!

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