1 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.
2 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.
Why are we called “living sacrifices”? Living sacrifices, as opposed to dead sacrifices, always seem to want to get off the altar. That’s why the priests killed their sacrifices. To put a stop to the rebellious nature. This is why David cried out for God to tie him to the altar, because he knew, the first chance he go, he would jump off and run away (Ps. 118. 27).
Why doesn’t God demand a dead sacrifice? Because the process of killing the flesh takes a lifetime. Because His desire to purge us and cleanse us of our sinful nature takes time, process, humility and work.
If God killed the sinful nature right off the bat, we would also be dead, because the sinful nature is inexorably tied to our bodies and minds. The two cannot be separated. The only way to separate the sinful man with the body and mind, is to kill the body and release the soul back to God.
Therefore, the process of starving the sinful man takes time. Remember the old adage, “Feed a fever, starve a cold”?
The same can be said of the sinful man. Feed the soul and starve the sin. Or a better way of putting it is this: That which you starve, dies, that which you feed, thrives.
If you starve your lusts, they will die. If you feed your lusts, they get stronger.
This is the secret, if you will, to mortifying the flesh. Starve its desires. Of course, someone will say, ‘You mean I have to go on a fast?’
No…what I mean is this: When you have a desire to look upon something lustful, violent, ungodly, unpleasing–say no. If you are going to spend time with God, and your mind wants to browse Facebook instead, say no. If you are online and the thought comes to you to look something up that you know full well is unpleasing, say no. This is what starving the flesh means. Neglect it the power it needs to survive.
Just like a plant or any living thing. If you feed it, it grows and thrives. If you withhold it food and sustenance, it will die.
There is also another thought concerning this: In gardening, many gardeners will allow their plants to grow, then they will cut off a bunch of the green, leaving some behind. The plant (God’s designing), realizes its in danger and will kick its growth into high gear and next thing you know it will have some amazing growth happening. Sometimes, plants, just like any living thing, gets into a routine, and slow down and need a kick to get going again. This dramatic action will make a plant grow like crazy. Such is the flesh man.
There may be a time where you are starving the flesh and everything seems to be going great, when you suddenly allow yourself to see or hear something, and the next thing you know, you have fallen back further than you ever were before.
Cigarette smokers know this all too well. Jim hasn’t had a smoke in months, and everything seems to be pointing to him kicking this nasty habit, when he walks past someone who is smoking and inadvertently inhales some of that smoke. Next thing he knows, he’s shaking and going through the most terrible time because his body remembers those “good ol’ days”, and the habit has been revived.
Such is the flesh man. It’s a rough cycle and we all go through it. This horrible habit will continue to haunt us right to the grave. Why? Because, as I said, the flesh man, the sin in our lives, is forever linked to the body and mind. They are inseparable.
This is why we are called to submit ourselves to God as living sacrifices. It’s an ongoing process, not a one time affair.
Notice also in verse 2. We have the process laid out to how we are supposed to present ourselves a living sacrifice. Because, in and of ourselves, we can’t do this without God doing it through us.
“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.”
How do we stay in the posture of “living sacrifice”?
Be not conformed to this world. What does this mean? It means to not think, act, talk or live like the world. It means as water conforms to the container it’s poured into, so does the Christian conform to the world, if he “allows himself to be poured into it”.
This is why we are told to be separate from the world. Get out of the world. Don’t allow yourself to be pressed into the mold of the world.
Be conformed to the image of Christ. Submit to God and He will press you into the mold He desires.
This will keep a whole lot of that desire for sin away, if you keep yourself away from the world and it’s desires, delicacies and philosophies. You can’t desire something unless you are exposed to it. Have you ever gone on one of those sites that publish recipes for certain foods? And you see hundreds of these amazing dishes, and your mouth starts watering. Next thing you know, your body says, ‘Hey, I’m hungry!”
I am a push-over for good sushi. I know a lot of people don’t like sushi, but I love it. All I need to hear is the word ‘sushi’ and my mouth starts watering…(like right now).
Anyway, our bodies are very quick to respond to outside stimuli, and if given a chance, it will run us ragged with its whims.
If we pro-actively force ourselves to stay away from the world and its allure, we will find our bodies will have much less power over our lives.
The second step is: be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The mind is a powerful tool and can be used for much good. No computer on earth can touch its power or speed. God had it all together 6000 years ago, man is still crawling like a snail in comparison.
But the mind can also be the playground of the devil and if allowed, he will control you night and day without even leaving your house.
You can take a baby and raise him in a cave somewhere, hundreds of miles away from any source of any allure, and he will still have sinful thoughts. How’s that possible?
Because the mind is wicked and demands sin as well. The flesh-man rules the mind just as much as he rules the body. And the devil reigns over the flesh-man. If you do not strain your thoughts and wishes through a sieve, you will give place to the devil and allow him to push you around.
What is this sieve? Philippians 4.8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
This is our filter as Christians. This is the tool given to us by God to filter out that which is harmful, and keep that which is good.
Do you, dear reader allow only that which is:
- good reports
These are the things that will starve the flesh and feed the soul. These characteristics will give the devil the boot and allow the Holy Spirit to reign.
What are the opposites to these requirements?
- unjust or crooked
- defiled or decadent
- bad reports
- unethical or wicked
Do you fill your day with the above list? This is the main problem with having the internet and TV at our disposal. Both tools are just full of death, calamity and worry. If you want to ruin your day, just browse the channels of your TV and you will see more murders, lying, pornography and that which starves the soul and feeds the flesh, than you can think of.
This is why we must stay away from this allure. This is why, if need be, we must throw out the TV, and disconnect our computers if we do not have the power to resist. This is why we are commanded to be not conformed to the world.
This is why we are told in 2 Cor. 10.5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
We are commanded by God to filter out our thoughts and that which we see and hear on a daily basis. It’s not a suggestion. It’s an order from headquarters.
You might say then, ‘How do we transform our minds?’ What does it mean to renew our minds? The Greek language gives us such a richer meaning than our English which has been so watered down.
The word TRANSFORMED means:
|Strong’s Number: 3339||Browse Lexicon|
Just like a butterfly. A caterpillar changes in to a butterfly through the process of metamorphosis. The insect undergoes a process that changes one insect into a completely different species. The two insects are completely different from each other.
This is what God demands. The person you were before you were saved is supposed to be a completely different person than you are now. This is why we are told that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. New creatures are different from old creatures. The connotation in the Greek points to a completely different species of human being. This is transformation.
BUT…we are talking about our minds, which haven’t been changed yet. We are to transform our minds into something different and new. Our thoughts, desires, wishes, philosophies, all have to be changed and renewed.
Ugh…I don’t like that word. It’s got as much power as a wet blanket. Let’s go to the Greek to see what God was actually saying before man got his hands on the Bible.
|Strong’s Number: 342||Browse Lexicon|
The word renew actually should be rendered renovation. What a difference! When I think about renewing something, I think about renewing my driver’s license or insurance or something. This leads one to think that it’s not getting rid of the old and getting new, but reviving the old and making it new again. This is wrong.
The word renovate means to tear out the old and get rid of it and replace it with new. When someone buys an old house for the reason of selling it for a profit, they have to go in and tear out the old floors, appliances, roof, insulation…in other words anything that is old and decaying and replace it with new and fresh and good.
We are told in likewise manner to tear out those old thoughts, philosophies and ways of conducting ourselves that line up with the world and replace them with new thoughts, new philosophies and thought processes that line up with Scripture. It’s a process that takes a lifetime and sometimes (most of the time, actually) it requires sacrifice and pain.
Friends won’t understand. Co-workers will get offended. Family members will disown you…but this is very much required to bring one to the place where he reflects Christ in the mirror instead of the world.
This is in essence what it means to present oneself a living sacrifice, because:
- It’s an ongoing, lifetime process
- It will take sacrifice and tribulation
- It will cost you that which you once held dear
- It might cost you your life
The process involves:
- Turning your back on the world and its ways
- Turning your back on old friends, co-workers and activities that have the capacity of lulling you back into your old ways
- Sacrificing sources of enjoyment and pleasure that have the capacity to revive the old-man and give the devil place in your life.
- Submitting to God, resisting the devil (and his devices) and doing that which you know is pleasing and honoring to God alone.
This isn’t a magic formula by any means, but a lifelong process by which God conforms you, stretches you, molds you and makes you into an exact copy of Christ Jesus. It’s a process that involves pain, trials, tests and tribulations and only the few, the brave, the broken and the humbled will survive to the end.