We begin now to look at the second half of the book of Romans. In chapters 1-11 we studied the doctrinal section. Chapters 1-5 taught us about the great doctrine of justification by faith. In chapters 6-8 studied the doctrine of sanctification. In chapters 9-11 we looked at a defense of God’s righteousness in relation to His dealings with the nation of Israel. Now we come to the practical section of the book of Romans. The question to consider is simply, ‘now what’? Now that we have a good understanding of the great fundamental doctrines of the faith, how shall we live? How do we apply our doctrine to everyday living?
We will look at Romans 12 in three parts: Totally Committed, Teamwork, and Together. In Romans 12:1-2, we see how we are to be totally committed. Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Paul begins by appealing to believers in Christ based on the authority of the mercies of God. The term ‘beseech’ means ‘to beg.’ Paul is begging believers in Rome to live out what they believe. The term ‘therefore’ is also used. Anytime you see the word ‘therefore’ in scripture, you should always go back and see what it is there for. Paul is referring to everything that he taught up to this point. In light of the doctrine of justification, sanctification, and God’s righteousness; there is now a call placed on our lives to live a life in response to all that God has done for us. Since God has justified us and is now sanctifying us and one day will glorify us, there is a certain way we should live. There are four basic questions to consider as we study these verses.
What? Paul says that since God has done so much for us, we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. In other words, we are to surrender everything over to Him. We are to give Him our whole life. Notice; there are three parts or descriptions to this sacrifice or surrender that we must make. (1) A living sacrifice. As believers in Christ, we are to present our bodies as a ‘living sacrifice.’ To sacrifice something is to give something up. It is to surrender. Being a living sacrifice has to do with daily surrender. We are to surrender daily to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We are to give-up our lives every day. We are to die to ourselves and live for Jesus on a daily moment by moment basis.
Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” There are several things we see in this verse. One, we are to come after Jesus. We are to pursue a personal and intimate relationship with Christ. Are you pursuing Jesus? Do you seek after Him every day? Secondly, we are to deny ourselves. Following Jesus, being a living sacrifice, requires a denial of self. In other words, as a follower of Jesus, we are no longer in charge. When you gave your life to Christ, you relinquished control of your life. “For me to live is Christ.” “I am no longer living, but it is Christ that is living in me.” If you live your life for your gain or pleasure, then you are not living for Jesus. To be a living sacrifice, you must deny yourself. A third thing we see in this verse is that we are to take up our cross daily. This is where daily surrender comes in. To be a living sacrifice, I must die to myself on a daily basis. I must begin each day in total surrender to Jesus. This is His day. This is His life. I have no right to do whatever I want to do today. Everything I do must be for Jesus and His glory. Finally, we are to follow Him. Notice how coming after Jesus, denying ourselves, and taking up our cross; comes before we follow. There is an order here. You cannot truly follow Jesus if you do not do the other three things first. Once you have pursued Jesus, denied yourself, taken up your cross daily; then you can follow Jesus, then you can be a living sacrifice.
(2) A holy sacrifice. Not only are we to be a living sacrifice, but we are also to be a holy sacrifice. We know that Jesus was a holy sacrifice. He who knew no sin, willingly and obediently, laid down His life for you and me. He was perfect. There was no sin in Him. Yet, He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world and shed His blood so that we may have life. Just as Jesus was a holy sacrifice, we too are to be a holy sacrifice. We are to strive to be holy just as He is holy. Now, we know that we cannot be holy in our own efforts. It is through the power of God that we are made holy. The closer we are to Jesus, the more holy we become. The more we present ourselves as a living sacrifice, the more of a holy sacrifice we will be. Many Christians today struggle with living a holy life. They try so hard to do what is right, yet, sin so easily overtakes them. The reason for their struggle is the fact that they have not presented themselves as a living sacrifice. They cannot be holy because they refuse to deny themselves. They cannot be holy because they do not seek after Jesus. They cannot be holy because they refuse to take up their cross daily and follow Jesus. Holy living only comes through following Jesus. Going your own way and doing your own thing will always lead to sin. After all that Christ has done for us, we should be holy because He is holy.
(3) An acceptable sacrifice. Paul tells us that we are to be an acceptable sacrifice to God. How can we be accepted by God? It is only by the blood of Jesus. He is that holy and perfect sacrifice that makes us acceptable to God. It is by total surrender that we become an acceptable sacrifice to God. F. F. Bruce comments that “the sacrifices of the new order do not consist in taking the lives of others, like the ancient animal sacrifices, but in giving one’s own.” The New American Commentary says, “Such sacrifices are “holy and pleasing to God.” They are worthy of his acceptance. The possibility of bringing pleasure to God provides a powerful motivation for complete surrender of self.” Examine yourself. Are you an acceptable sacrifice to God?
Why? The next question to consider is, why should I present myself as a living sacrifice? Why should I surrender my whole life completely to Christ? Paul says, this is your reasonable service. Some versions say this is your spiritual act of worship. I personally prefer the King James’ rendering of this phrase. It is our ‘reasonable service.’ In other words, why would you not be a living sacrifice? After all, it’s the least you could do. When you think of all that Jesus has done for you, the obvious thing would be to surrender to a life of complete obedience and pleasing to God. By the way, I believe that what Paul is really saying here is that if you are a true believer, you will live in such a way. Someone who has been transformed by the power of the Gospel will automatically present themselves as a living sacrifice. Gospel transformation always results in total commitment. If someone is truly saved, they will present themselves as a living sacrifice because it is the only logical thing to do. After all Jesus has done for you, why would you not be totally committed?
How? Now that we know what we are to do and why we should do it, we then must consider how we do it. How do we actually and literally present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God? The answers are found in verse 2. There two things we see here.
(1) Be not conformed to this world. In order to be totally committed to Jesus, we must not conform ourselves to the world. Paul is referring here to the world system or to a secular world view. When we conform ourselves to the views and ways of the world, we cannot possible live a life that is totally committed to Christ. A relationship with Jesus is everything that is opposite from the world. When you are transformed by the power of the Gospel, your attitude will change, your vision will change, your goals will change, your talk will change, your dress will change, your walk will change; everything will change. Too many Christians today live with one foot in the world and one foot inside the church. They want Jesus, but they do not want to change. They do not want to give up their worldly ways. I am afraid that too often we tend to sugar-coat our sin. We tend to look over sin and not take it seriously. However, it must be understood, that you and I cannot be an acceptable sacrifice to God if we are wrapped up in things of this world. We must be sold out to Jesus completely. Conforming to the world comes in all different ways.
(2) Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. In order to be a living sacrifice, you must not be conformed to the world; instead, we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Transformation occurs as our minds are renewed. Our minds are renewed as we daily feed on the Word. As humans, born in sin, we have a tendency toward sin and worldliness. Our minds are naturally sinful. Therefore, we cannot change our own minds. We cannot change ourselves. Only the transforming power of the Gospel can change us. Such transformation occurs on a daily basis as we take heed to God’s Word.
So? The final question to consider is simply, so? Now that we know what we are to do, why we are to do it, and how we are to do it, the questions at hand is, so what does all this mean? The last part of verse 2, we find that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice by not conforming to the world and by being transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. In other words, it all goes back to the glory of God. It is doxological. The perfect will of God for all believers in Christ is that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. It is God’s will that we live a life of total commitment to Him. By living such a life, we prove God’s will for us which brings Him ultimate glory.
After all that Jesus has done for you, it is God’s will that we live a life of total commitment to Him. Are you living such a life? Can you honestly say that you are totally committed? Does it show by the way you live? Think about it.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 12:1–2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Lk 9:23). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 F.F. Bruce. The Letter of Paul to the Romans
 Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, p. 231). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.