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Renewing Your Mind

We Are Beseeched

Romans 12:1
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?
NLT

The Christian must be purified and united with Christ. But, we still live in the world and must learn how to accomplish this purity and unity in an evil, sinful setting.

These comments all reflect the words of Jesus as recorded in John 17. There, Christ prays to the Father that the Disciples be protected, for they are in the world, but not of the world. Paul wants us to understand what this means in practical terms. “Therefore” since we have all of this doctrine Paul has laid before us in chapters 1-11, we need to understand there is a purpose for God revealing this matters to us. “Brethren” in this case refers to all who are saved, to all who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior by faith.

To “beseech” is a strong term meaning to urge, exhort, admonish. Paul wants to beat us over the head until the knowledge of doctrine has sunk into our thick skulls and settled into our brains. I think of the wonderful program of AWANA. We may complain that the children concentrate on learning verses so fast they cannot possibly remember them all six months later. And, to some extent that is probably true. But, allow your children to undertake the program in full for many years. Make them learn the verses, and the meanings, and the applications. A lot of it will “stick” even if they exact words cannot be recalled in a memory test. They will understand the application of Christian doctrine. Paul wants us all to be AWANA students!

The impact of Paul’s admonishment comes as a surprise. Paul is not big on priestly concepts. Clearly, Scripture teaches Jesus is our High Priest. There is no need for any other priest. Likewise, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is the final sacrifice required by God. Paul’s exhortation that we present ourselves as sacrifices comes as a major surprise!

We note that it is by God’s mercies that we should present ourselves as a sacrifice. Why this is should be obvious comes to us as we remember the nature of the Jewish sacrifices. One simple example will suffice. All of the sacrifices were to be “let him offer a male without blemish” (Lev 1:3). The point of all descriptions is that the offerings were to be without blemish. How can we present ourselves to God without blemish? Only by God’s mercy is this possible.

We need to keep in mind that a major theme of Romans is God’s grace – His unmerited gift to sinners who do not deserve His favor. This goodness is reflected in God’s mercy, that is, in the gift of grace given to those undeserving. This is an expression of divine pity and presupposes the existence of sin.

Paul writes to the Corinthians “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2). That’s us he is describing, the Church, the body of Christ! We are to be presented to God as virgins! Or, if you will, as unblemished. We all know we sin. And, we know that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This is the fashion for staying unblemished as we walk through the filth of the world. We stay unblemished by the mercy of God, so Paul can write of this in v1.

 

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September 23, 2017

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