“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
A Living Sacrifice
God tells us in Romans 12:1-2, that we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. It goes on to say we are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
How, then, are we to present our bodies as a living sacrifice? One of the definitions of the word sacrifice that is found in Webster’s Dictionary is “something given up or lost.” Using this definition, we are to give ourselves over to God for His purposes and to lose the plans we have made for ourselves. This may seem like God requires a lot of us, but it’s actually a very small price considering what Jesus gave up when He died on the cross for our sins.
How Can We Renew Our Minds?
The question follows, then: how do we renew our minds to keep them from being conformed to the world? The Bible is the resource for understanding better the phrase “renewing our minds.” Psalm 119 is an excellent example. The entire psalm is teaching about the Word and what it does for us.
Verses 9-16 are particularly pertinent: all about living according to God’s Word, meditating on it, delighting in it and never forgetting what it says. In this way, a person will keep his ways pure. Then Paul gives us Jesus’s view on what the Word does in Ephesians 5:25c, “He gave up His life for her (the Church) to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” In other words, God’s Word cleanses our minds. It renews our minds.
We also find in Hebrews 4:12 (NLT): “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” When we read and study God’s word, it exposes any unhealthy, worldly thoughts that might be lurking in our hearts. Once exposed, we confess, repent and are forgiven. Freed of sin, our minds are renewed, made clean and holy.
It is true that the Word gives us all we need to renew our minds. But the question remains, are we willing to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice? Will we give the time it takes to renew our minds by reading and studying His word? Will we stop conforming to the desires of the world? God makes it abundantly clear in I Peter 1:24 when He says, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” We must offer our bodies as a sacrifice today and renew our mind through the daily reading of His Word.