Romans 12:1 begins, “Therefore” (KJV) “And so” (NLT) – and ‘so what’ you ask? That is a very good question! To understand this passage, we first have to back up into the books of Romans….
After Paul’s salutation in his great treatise to the church in Rome he shows clearly that the whole world stands guilty before a Holy and Righteous God, there is no one who is good, only God! (Luke 18:19) Before Him all humanity stands condemned with nothing to say.
An idiom of speech is to be ‘gob smacked’ – literally with one’s hand over one’s mouth and dumbstruck. (3:11-12 ) The reality of our sin is shocking and overwhelming. Yes, we all fall seriously short of God’s perfect standard (23) we are sinners under condemnation.
But this is not the end of the story…’yet God’ – don’t you just love the ‘But God’ verses of the Bible! 3:24-25 “Yet now God (or BUT GOD) in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.”
On the foundation of our salvation by grace alone through faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ alone Romans 4-8 develops this further with our Sanctification. Romans 9-11 expands on God’s Sovereignty to Jews and Gentiles ending with the wonderful benediction of verses 33-36.
Now we can understand the context of Romans 12. “AND SO!” Because of God’s great mercy towards us, the withholding of what is due by His grace, kindness and compassion, Paul pleads with us to offer or present our bodies to God as a LIVING SACRIFICE. Now here is a beautiful picture from ancient times when a bride was presented to her husband. The father places her hand into the hand of his son to be his wife.
And so – we have the practical application chapters of Service, first to GOD and then in like manner to His body – ONE ANOTHER. Mark 12:30-31. We love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and one another! One pastor took an epilogue on Romans 12:1-2 and said, “I’ll tell you exactly what that means, “If God calls you to go to darkest Africa tomorrow, you go!” Guess where we ended up! Are we willing to say, wherever, whatever the cost…?
We give him our bodies (12:1 ), our minds and will (12:2). So instead of being molded into the pattern of the world’s thinking (watch any TV commercial) our minds will be ‘metamorphosed’ = to be transformed and renewed in our thinking to do what is pleasing to our Lord and Savior. Gosh just like a caterpillar into a butterfly so God will transform our minds and renew them beautifully to be as His! Then…having a right estimation of ourselves with our identity in Christ (3) we will function in our God given gifts of His grace (4-8) (1Cor. 12:12-18).
However the verses that really grabbed my attention this time were verses 9–18. Seriously, are we devoted to one another? Is our love genuine? Do we honor one another? Are we lazy or zealous? How about our prayer life? When did you last pray for me or I pray for you? Hosting and Hospitality – when did you last invite someone outside of your circle of friends in for a meal or give them a bed? One of our pastors was great at doing both for us, right here in Lebanon. Do we empathize with one another? Are we happy for them and do we cry with them?
Lots of questions we could and should be asking ourselves – me too! Just scratching the tip of an iceberg.
(see also life in Col. 3:3, Gal. 2:20 and love in 1 John 4:10-11)