Romansby David Cook
Paul describes in verse 2 what it means to be a living sacrifice. He gives us the dos and don’ts. First, “do not conform to the pattern of this world”. Or, as Bible commentator J. B. Phillips puts it: “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould.”
The world judges the reasonable response of verse 1 as foolishness. It tells us that to offer ourselves as living sacrifices is being fanatical. Paul says we must not share the world’s assessment. Rather, we are to be transformed by the renewal of our mind.
In verse 1, we are told of the reasonable response to God’s mercy. Now, in verse 2, we are told that transformation comes via renewal of the mind. The world’s view of the self is that self is good. It is to be nurtured, polished, bragged about, and asserted. Paul makes it clear in Romans that we are to assert about ourselves what the gospel asserts about us. See his self-description in 1:1 and how he describes the believers in 1:6–7.
The first command in Romans comes in 6:11 and it is to do with the mind: “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”. Here, “count yourselves” is the verbal form of the “reasonable response” of 12:1. Paul’s line of thinking looks like this:
Renew the mind -> Think about self the way God does -> Transformed lifestyles as a result -> Your body as a living sacrifice to God.
In Romans 1:21 and 28, Paul says that a fruit of humanity’s lack of relationship with God is futile thinking and minds which are depraved or scrambled, unable to make proper moral judgments. That is the typical characteristic of the mind of a natural person. But in Romans 12:2 we see the reversal of that characteristic. The believer has a renewed mind, and that mind recognises and approves God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Christians are human beings who are human “becomings” in the process of change and on the way to perfection—our eternal state. This change comes via the renewal of the mind and in response to the mercies of God.
How are you living today? Are you living reasonably as a living sacrifice to God, or unreasonably as your own person, doing your own thing, by and for yourself? The world says that “living sacrifices” are fundamentalist freaks. But you know that being a “living sacrifice” is the only reasonable way to live for a person who is dead to sin but alive to God in Christ.
A servant is like an oxen waiting for his master’s direction. Will it be as a dead sacrifice on the altar, or as a living sacrifice pulling the plough?
What is foolish living? What is reasonable living? How are you living? How will you live reasonably today?