I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
As our world grows continually darker, it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish between Christians and non-believers. Surely one can find “Christians” in church, but how about outside the walls of the church? Can you spot them? Very often, no clear distinction exists. Christians, by and large, behave much like unbelievers and often one will find non-believers doing “Christian” good deeds.
Vladimir Putin mounted his righteous steed and recently criticized the “west” – mainly the United States – for the immorality it was exporting to the rest of the world: homosexuality, pedophilia, pornography, gender dysphoria, abortion, etc. These sins provoke his hatred for the west, and he wants to protect Russia from such evil. His strong talk makes one think Putin is a righteous man and perhaps a strong Christian. His speech really puts us to shame. However, do not let his righteous blather fool you. Putin is a cold-blooded killer who has no regard for human life and has no problem killing innocent people.
One cannot judge the condition of a man’s heart by the words that exit his lips. On the other hand, one cannot necessarily judge a man’s heart by his “good” deeds “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Yet, for the Christian, God has a standard of conduct that He expects from His children. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9, emphasis mine). Royalty carries with it certain expectations. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [i.e., “life conduct”]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16, emphasis mine). To be “holy” simply means to be set apart from the world; to be “consecrated,” i.e., set aside for the service of God.
So, there should be a clear distinction between a Christian and a non-believer. We may dress like the world – hopefully in modesty and not in a way to call attention to ourselves. However, the likeness should stop there. A Christian should not exhibit fear because of world conditions knowing that our Lord and our Redemption is very near; that should be a cause for joy, not dread. Our faces should express deep joy and peace. Our speech should be pure and free of profanity. “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful [i.e., “full of pit/compassion”], be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9). More could be added to the list, but this should make the point.
How does one accomplish such a feat? Certainly not in our own strength or by our own efforts. Paul gives us the simple formula in our starting verses (Romans 12:1-2). Paul says to “present” your bodies. The word in the Greek means “to place a person or thing at one’s disposal.” Your body is that thing that transports your soul from place to place and is often the thing that carries you into sin by “the lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:16). We need to place our bodies at God’s disposal.
Your body needs to be a “living sacrifice.” Normally, a sacrifice must die. Paul says, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20, emphasis mine). We are dead to sin and the law, but we are alive through faith in Christ who died for us. Hence, our sacrifice is a “living” one, and a “holy” one that is set apart for God.
Understanding what Jesus did on our behalf, it is logical (“reasonable”) that we should render our service or “worship” to God, and this is a pleasing and “acceptable” sacrifice or offering to Him.
In order to offer God an “acceptable” sacrifice, we must not “conform” or take the shape of this world. “World” translates the Greek word aiōn, meaning “an age.” “The word used here properly denotes an age, or generation of people.” Do not allow this age, this world in which we live, to mold you into its form. Rather, be “transformed,” (i.e., metamorphosed) by the renewing of your mind. There is a new adage for the computer age that says “garbage in, garbage out.” What you put into your mind affects much of what you think and do. So, the opposite is also true: good things in/ good things out. That comes through the constant feeding on God’s Word and prayer. When you do this, you will “prove” (i.e., “test”) “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”
What is the “will of God”? “For whom [God] did foreknow [i.e., “His children], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29, emphasis mine). Do you want to know what God’s will is for your life? There it is! His will is that you be “conformed,” not to this world, but to the “image of His Son.”
What shape have you taken on, that of the world or that of Christ? Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and make sure you are in the right shape.
 “Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible”