Transformation, in it’s most dramatic form, occurs from the inside out. It is that proverbial caterpillar turning into a butterfly type metamorphose. A person who has transformed changes so dramatically that they can often be unrecognizable, either in their appearance or their character. We all understand the dramatic shift in appearance the caterpillar makes as she emerges from her chrysalis, but what about a person?
Romans 12 is packed full of living language speaking to the great love and mercy God pours upon His children. Confusion often creeps in when reading the passage about presenting “your bodies as a living sacrifice” and again when confronted with “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” What on earth is the scripture talking about? What is this living sacrifice and this renewal of the mind that someone transforms me? To best understand what Paul is writing about, we need to look at the entirety of Romans 12:1-2.
“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.” Romans 12:1-2 (English Standard Version)
Do you see the “therefore”? Let’s take a moment to answer the question, “What’s the, therefore, therefore?” The answer is found in Romans 11:36. Scripture tells us that all things are from, through, and to God. It is for this reason that Paul begins Romans 12 with an appeal to the church. So, because of the reality that all things are from, through, and to God; and because God has lavished His great mercies upon His children, we are commanded to present our bodies (these vessels) as a holy sacrifice to God.
The idea of presenting our bodies as sacrifice means that we make every part and every action of our daily life an offering to God. We should be so focused on Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross, that every day, we submit our lives and our actions to God; this is the act of lifting our living sacrifice to God.
Now we move on to the transformation. Paul is writing that when we live holy lives and present them to God each day, it is a form of worship. We should be so committed to living a holy life, and walking in continual worship that we have no desire to fit into the worldly culture around us. Instead, we allow our minds to be consumed by God, His will, and what He tells us is good, acceptable and perfect. And, when our minds are filled with a focus on holiness, we will be radically changed from the inside out. Changed in a manner that the world sees as different, and a way that God sees as good and holy.
Yes, in this world, it is incredibly difficult to remain focused on the ways of God and not the culture around. But when we do, we live not only an acceptable sacrifice to God but also as a visible representation of Christ for the world to see. It is through us and seeing radically changed lives living focused on the holiness of God, that people in the world will witness the gospel in action. In our transformation, our great desire should be that they too seek out God because they desire to live like Jesus, and not like the world.
Will you allow yourself to be radically transformed by the mercy of God?