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. Romans 12:1-2
God gives us the ability to know His will, but it requires a couple of on-going tests on our part. These aren’t complicated tests. But, they are challenging.
First, God wants us to be “living sacrifices” to Him. Years ago in Bible college, a chapel speaker made the statement that “It’s easier to die for Christ than to live for Him.” I suppose if you’re dead, then the struggle is over. You get your reward. You get to dwell with Jesus forever. But, to live for Christ, that is a whole other matter. But, this verse isn’t challenging us to pretend to be Jesus. The emphasis is on the sacrifice.
Imagine Abraham preparing his son, Isaac, under God’s direction, as a human sacrifice. Isaac didn’t have much say in the matter. Isaac didn’t need to prepare by reading “101 Keys to being a Good Sacrifice.” He was tied up and placed on the altar. His fate was entirely in the hands of his father and God. God provided another way for Abraham and Isaac that day. But, think about what it means to be a living sacrifice.
A sacrifice has completely surrendered their will. They don’t have grandiose plans for the future. Their future is in the hands of the One they’ve surrendered to. Personal ambition has been cast aside in hope that God will offer something greater. But, this isn’t martyrdom. This is a living sacrifice.
So, think for a minute: how do we go about our daily routine as a living sacrifice? How do we set aside our will and our personal ambition when it comes to our families, our jobs, and our leisure?
That was just step one. The second test is to forsake the opinion and views of this world in exchange for allowing God to renew our minds. We were born with a sinful nature into a sinful world. That’s two strikes against us. Sinful people fit well in a sinful world. But, godly people who are prone to sin have a tougher time.
We have to find ways of turning off the noise around us and allowing God’s thoughts to supersede ours. That’s not as complicated as it sounds.
The world indoctrinates us through media, through thoughts and attitudes, and through temptation. Every electronic device that delivers the world’s viewpoint has an off button. Now, I’m not saying trade in your car for a black buggy and travel back in time to 100 years ago. There was sin back then too.
What I am getting at is that you and I have the ability to control what influences us. We can choose to watch endless hours of TV. We can choose to read and study God’s Word. We can even choose to read inspirational blogs if we want too.
Our minds are renewed by the Word of God. Much of what God’s Word says is counter to what the world says. On some issues, this is a relief. On other issues, it’s a little harder to swallow. But, God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9).
When we surrender our ambitions and agendas and forsake the world’s way of thinking, then we can discern God’s will more clearly. We are no longer drawn toward possessions, pleasure or prestige to define who we are and what we are meant to do. We know that we belong to God and that trumps everything else.
How can you daily surrender yourself and all that you do to God? How can you immerse yourself in God’s Word and tune out the world?