Hi friends, this is Rachal (again). Here’s a little sidebar about today’s text to start us off. When I was in high school my Sunday school teacher gave us a challenge. He said he’d pay each of us $20 if we could memorize all of Romans Chapter 12 within the month. Guess who took that challenge? And guess who received an extra $20 at the end of the month? Yep. I share this story not to encourage money as a way to incentivize memorizing scripture, but to testify that hiding those words in my heart has been so profitable for my own training in righteousness (II Tim 3:16). And, while I can’t pay you to memorize the weekly scripture verses in this study, I do 100% recommend it!
Now, let’s read (or recite) today’s passage, Romans 12:1-5 (CSB): Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.
There’s so much here that we could dig into. What did you highlight? I highlighted verse 2, which starts: Do not be conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We look at the word conformed - it means patterned - so don’t pattern your life after the ways of this age (the ways of those who don’t know and follow Jesus). But, be transformed, which means changed. And how? By the renewing of your mind. How do we renew our minds? By prayer, by reading and reflecting on God’s Word, by worship. These are actions we chose to do and it is through them that God transforms us. And then, there’s a “so that” - so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect.
The Message translation reads: Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
The author of Romans is the apostle Paul; let’s look briefly at the transformation in his life. Before he met Christ, Paul’s heart was hardened and he was self-righteous. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees (Acts 23:6), persecuting the followers of Jesus. Paul met Christ through a dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. His heart was transformed; he was forgiven of sin and filled with the Holy Spirit. And, we can see through his writings in the New Testament that his gratitude for the gift of salvation was pivotal to his whole life. He became one of the first missionaries, eager to bring the gospel to those far from God. In these verses in Romans, Paul, who has been transformed, is urging us to be changed as well.
What is our response? One application for me is to remember each day the saving work of Jesus. When I use the PRAY acronym, I can intentionally praise God for the gift of salvation, remembering I am saved by grace through faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9, CSB). A second application is that as I wrestle with current topics I will take them to God’s Word,, before I check the news, scroll Instagram or read blog posts. I want to train my mind to pray and seek God’s Word first, to grow in the discipline of renewing my mind so that I may be able to discern God’s good, perfect and perfect will.
Let’s pray: Gracious God, Holy Father, we are ever grateful for the perfect, sufficient sacrifice of Jesus; that we are saved by grace through faith. As we learn to live out our faith, may we not resort to self-help strategies or endless strivings, but instead resolutely fix our attention on You, as You change us from the inside out. Amen.