by Mike Ratliff
1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)
1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The vast majority of people in this age of Evangelical churches are by-and-large spiritually immature, Biblically ignorant, and self-centered, therefore, these people are also no threat to our enemy and his kingdom because they fall for every wind of doctrine, are prey to the wolves who have invaded the church at every level and they believe the lies such as, “God wants all of you to be rich and healthy and to have your best life now.” There are also the lies subverting the Gospel to make it into a social gospel all about “social justice” or making the world a better place. I could fill this post up with examples of these and countless other subversions that derail God’s people and move them to be focused on the temporal rather than on the eternal. Those who are suffering under these delusions are self-focused rather than God-focused.
Carefully read my translation of Romans 12:1-2 which I placed at the top of this post. You can also read it from your own Bible if you want. I memorized this passage well over 30 years ago and it has been used by God to move me steadily away from spiritual immaturity that was keeping me in defeat as a young Christian to one who is learning how to walk in victory more and more as a mature Christian. Let’s break it down.
If you have carefully read this passage then you know that it talks about making yourself into a living sacrifice. When I first learned this passage I was quite shocked, but the more I matured in Christ, the more I understood how this lined up with Christ’s commands to take up our crosses and follow Him (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27). Why is it important that we turn our lives over to the Lord like this instead of seeking our “Best Life Now”? The key to spiritual victory and true happiness is not in trying to get all we can from God but in giving all that we are and have to Him.
Now, I know what I just said goes counter to what untold numbers of church leaders are telling their people today, however, an unbiased and exegetical study of God’s Word bears out what I said and does not support anything counter to it. Now let’s look at the passage.
The first word is “therefore” which translates the Greek word, οὖν (oun), “so, therefore, now.” When we see “therefore” in the Bible we should always stop and attempt to understand why it is there. Paul is making a pause and conclusion. He is making a conclusion all of the theological points in made in Romans 1-11 and now he is saying “Because of that…” We should pay attention right here because this is important.
The next word is παρακαλῶ (parakalo) a verb in the first singular, present active indicative case of παρακαλέω (parakaleō), “urge, beg, appeal, encourage, comfort.” It has the basic meaning of coming alongside in order to help or give aid. Paul’s usage of this word in this form was a loving encouragement to them to fulfill what already was the true inner desire and bent of their new hearts, that is, to dedicate themselves without reservation to the Lord who had redeemed them.
Who can respond to this? Only Paul’s brethren and that would include all of us who are in Christ as well. How can we respond? I am no different than any other Christian. How can we deny our fleshly desires consistently and obey this? Paul tells us that we can do all that God is calling us to do through the compassions of God. These compassions or mercies of God include spiritual gifts and as we learn to deny ourselves and prayerfully walk before the Lord as living sacrifices then these gifts, these compassions or mercies of God empower us in our humility to be Christlike when we would formally respond in a fleshly way. We can turn the other cheek. We can be angry, but not sin. We can see our situation from an eternal perspective rather than what can we get from God here and now. When we walk like this we will find ourselves doing things that the Social Justice Warriors could only dream of, but we do it for God’s glory alone.
It as we walk like this more and more that our spiritual discernment becomes activated. Things we would allow ourselves to tolerate before we will no longer allow ourselves to read or watch or drink or even be associated with. God is in the business of cleansing His people of their fleshliness and making them holy as He is Holy and giving them a Christlike character and they will know what God’s will is because it will always line up with His revealed will in His Word. When we walk this way, we will become very different and separate from the majority of the visible church and then wonder how or why we ever stayed that long in the confusion.
Soli Deo Gloria