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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 12:1-2 (ESV)

Posted on January 12, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 12:1-2 (ESV) - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Question to consider: What does Paul mean by a living sacrifice?

In this letter, Paul has established that all of us have failed to obtain the righteousness that comes from perfectly keeping the Law— even those who were a law unto themselves. He proved that the righteousness of Christ comes by way of faith and is believed and confessed, and he proved that God used the disobedience of both the Gentiles and the Jews to make His mercy known to people from every tribe and nation.

Through this mercy, God has given us His Holy Spirit who has sanctified us with the righteousness of Christ and made us holy and acceptable to God. In light of this, Paul challenged the reader to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. When we think of sacrifices, we think of the shedding of blood, but in truth, a sacrifice is more like a gift we offer to someone we love.

Sometimes we sacrifice our money to help out a close friend or family member. Sometimes we sacrifice our time to help someone complete a difficult task. In this case, God has declared us holy and acceptable so Paul encouraged his readers to give themselves by their own will to do the will of God. 

In this way, we can see God’s purpose in creation. God gave us a will to choose whether to love and obey Him knowing that we would instead rebel against Him. His response to our rebellion was to show mercy and provide a way for us to know His love and be reconciled to Him. Because of this, God has set apart a people for Himself who genuinely loves Him and desires to do His will.

Telling us not to mold ourselves by the world’s system but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind is similar to what Paul meant in his letter to the church in Colossae, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)

Back in chapter seven, Paul had already written about the war we have between our fleshly desires and the things we want to do in the spirit as children of God. Here Paul is saying that in light of God's mercy which has declared us holy, we should seek to discern God’s will in the way that we live. By this Paul means we discern what is good and acceptable and perfect through God’s word (not via signs and omens).


Dear heavenly Father, as we are faced with decisions in this world, please help us to know Your word well enough to discern which choices honor and bless Your name. May it be our strongest desire to represent Your kingdom well in this world. Amen.