We move forward today into . When the first-century readers would have thought this as revolutionary in the face of the current culture. That there is no sacrifice you can bring physically. That the only sacrifice was ourselves by the means of faith and trust in Jesus. This would have been seen as both simpler and more complicated. It was simple in its message, but it required us to evaluate ourselves and our hearts. He also speaks of this in .
The culture is ever changing. And a culture devoid or uninfluenced by God’s principles will come in conflict with the church. So first we are called to give ourselves as a sacrifice. This means that God and His principles dictate our lives in every aspect. This then leads us to ask what happens when conflict occurs. Paul reminds us to not conform to the pattern of the world (culture.) But what if Paul lived today? Would he be convinced by those who try to tell him that the world has changed and the church needs to accommodate that cultural change? I think it is safe to say that Paul would have doubled-down on his statement.
Instead of conforming, Paul tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This word “transform” can be related to the word “metamorphosis”. That we enter this relationship with God as a caterpillar, but then we enter into transformation. Just as the caterpillar, this is isn’t always easy. Through weather, pressure, and time, the caterpillar emerges as a butterfly. In the same way, we are to go through relationship weather, hardship, and time our minds go through metamorphosis. God is shaping and transforming our minds to emerge in the image of Christ.
Researchers have been studying how our minds work during sleep. What they are finding is that the mind regenerates at night. Even more, they are finding that when those being studies took the time right before going to sleep to focus on reading or writing for a short period, it has dramatic effects on habits, addictions, and emotional control during the day. This reflects the words of Paul. What would happen if we read, wrote, and spoke short scripture right before bed? We open our minds to allow the Holy Spirit to shape our minds. We can allow our minds to slow our emotions. When you find that you are awake at night, unable to sleep, this is your emotions running faster than your mind. And our emotions are always running faster than our minds. But we can slow our minds before sleep and in turn, this will slow our emotions.
So why should we allow our minds to be transformed? Because as the culture changes, we need to be able to know what things are in line with God’s will. When we run into a situation that is so different from what we have seen before, we can find the will of God in those situations. He will use that transformation to equip us to discern what is good, acceptable, and perfect.
12:1 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.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV)
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, (ESV)
12:1 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. (ESV)