When I was born again some 28 years ago I got introduced to Christian metal, I was into secular and satanic metal bands before I was saved, so to find out there was Christian metal was fantastic, the idea that I had to listen to Amy Grant or similar send chills down my spine, not that there is anything wrong with Amy Grant, just not my taste. one of the bands that I got into was a band called Living sacrifice, the first album was awesome, the second was terrible, the third was good and the other albums just got better and better. But why am I telling you about a Christian metal band I hear you ask? It’s because of the name, it brought to me to remember Romans 12:1-2, one of my favourite verses. 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. 2 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. But what does this mean? How can I be a sacrifice? How is this pleasing to God? How can I transform my mind? Why does this help me with discernment? Do I need to build an altar in my back yard and sacrifice myself? It uses imagery that to our post-modern minds seems strange, so let’s take a look together and see if we can figure out what Paul is saying.
The first thing we notice is that Paul appeals to us as believers in Christ to present ourselves, our bodies as a living sacrifice, so we don’t need to build that altar! our slay ourselves on it in a literal sense. But in a figurative sense we do slay ourselves. When we come to Christ we offer up all that we have, there is a cost involved in coming to the cross, the cost is the old self, the sinful life, the sinner that was the old you, But what about on this side of the cross? We need to supplant our desires for Gods desires, always mindful of the cost He paid and to be Christ like in all that we do and say, are we following Christ or are we playing at being Christ like? We are not called to be perfect, (we are perfect in Him and are being perfected as we grow in Him). We are a living sacrifice when we submit to Christ and be obedient to His call on our life, to make Him truly our Lord and Saviour.
When we do this God accepts this ‘sacrifice’ as holy and pleasing. Its Holy because we are holy. We are only made holy because Christs holiness was imputed to us when we accepted him as Lord and Saviour. It is pleasing to God because we have placed ourselves within Christ, we are hidden in Him, Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Because we are in Christ we are Holy, when we are obedient to Christ it is acceptable as a sacrifice to God. This is an act of worship, spiritual worship because we have handed ourselves over to His Lordship, we have let Him be the potter and us the clay.
Verse 2 mentions that we are not to be the same as the world, we are not to let the culture around us to influence us, we are of a different culture, we are citizens of heaven and our culture is that of Christ and His kingdom, if anything we should influence the culture. Sometimes we let the culture around us influences our theology, when really our theology should influence the culture around us. The old saying that we are in the world and not of it is true. But then the verse goes on to say that we should ‘be transformed by the renewal of your mind‘, How is our mind transformed, it is transformed by Christ, when we take captive of our desires and replace them with Christs, we start to cultivate the fruits of the spirit in our life this also renews our minds, makes our thought those of Christ rather than those from the old nature that was crucified with Christ. A more comprehensive answer to this is found in Epesians 4:22-32 ‘22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’
And finally we come to the last part of these 2 verses which tells us that by doing the above we can discern Gods will. To know His will is to know what God has called each of us to do, as individuals and as a body. When we let Christ be in charge we become what God has called us to become, an effective witness for Him so that others may come to know Him as their Lord and saviour. So keep being a living sacrifice, Let our Great God shape you into a vessel that will not only bring Him joy, but will bring others to the foot of the cross.
In Christ our redeemer Ps Jeff