Updated: Sep 15
Offering your bodies as living sacrifices Holy and Pleasing to God
Rom. 12:1 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.
These two verses are central to our pursuit of ‘knowing God’s will.’
Living Sacrifices: Living as disciples of Jesus often means living sacrificial lives. Jesus said, ‘take up your cross and follow me’ (Matt 16:24). Sacrificial living is costly and means preferring others more than we prefer ourselves (Rom 12:10).
Sacrificial living is not easy, we often feel unappreciated and misunderstood.
Holy: Peter says, ‘But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy (1 Peter 1:15:16).” God’s will be that we live holy lives (1 Thes 4:3). Consequently, living a life that is contrary to God’s standard is going to seriously impair our ability to actually hear God when he does reveal his will.
Pleasing: The whole purpose of finding and doing the will of God is to please him (Col 1:10). All too often people want to know God’s will so that they will be happy themselves. Even Jesus surrendered his own pleasure in order to please his Father.
Rom. 15:1-3 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbour for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
Conformity: The world is in darkness. When we refuse to conform, we reveal God’s light and expose their darkness (John 3:19-21). When we come to Christ we are to live with a new standard of purity and obedience (1 Peter 1:14).
Transformation: ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Cor 5:17), we are to ‘put on the new self created to be like God in righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:23).’ We are to no longer live the way that we used to before coming to Christ; we are to be different – we are to be like Christ.
Renewed Minds: Whatever is true, lovely, praiseworthy… (Phil 4:9) we are to think on those things instead. We are to set our minds on God (Col 3:2) and not on earthly things. Real change can only happen if we change our thinking, that is why we need to address this vital area of our lives.
Once we have fulfilled these conditions then we will be able to test and approve what the will of God is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
The Permissible Will of God
1 Cor. 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” — but I will not be mastered by anything.
There are many things that are permissible for Christians, but some things are better left alone. Paul mentions two areas in the Christian life that can easily entangle the believer: food and sex. These two areas can be used for good or for ill. Paul is saying that in his pursuit of God’s will he is not prepared to be mastered by anything – for Christ has set him free. There are things in life we are free to use at our discretion. What to wear, what to eat, what kind of music we prefer, films to watch at the cinema etc. If we do these things with thanksgiving, God will bless them. These are permissible choices. However, in our choice we must ask ourselves are they constructive for godliness. Clothes, music, media, and the arts can all master us unless we use them wisely. With choice comes responsibility before God.
1 Cor. 10:23 “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is constructive.
Paul uses introduces another factor in helping us make good choices – the ‘weaker brother’. In 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 Paul says that even if something is perfectly acceptable, if it causes someone else to stumble in their faith, then we should be prepared to forfeit that for their sake.
1 Cor. 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
In Part 7 we consider how we cant test the will of God.