Hearts Strengthened by Grace (Part Four)- Romans 12:1-2

We have seen that our hearts are stabilized by grace, that our mind and emotions are gradually stabilized by an ever-growing intimate relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. A growing knowledge (the knowledge of an intimate personal relationship) of Jesus Christ increasingly stabilizes our emotions, desires and thinking, and an inevitable outcome of having these aspects of our hearts stabilized is the stabilization of the other dimension of our hearts, our will or behavior (what we choose to do). In Romans 12:1-2, Paul tells us “in view of God’s mercies”, to “offer your bodies a living sacrifice”. The word mercy here is oiktirmos, pity or compassion. God took pity on us and in His compassion came and rescued us when we were helpless and hopeless. When we were lost in sin and unable to save ourselves, God Himself came and did for us what we could not do to freely give us what we could not earn and did not deserve, and the only proper response to this is to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices”. To offer here means to “put at His disposal”. We live through our bodies, and we are told here to put them at His disposal to let Him live through them instead, to be living sacrifices. A sacrifice is laid upon the altar, it is offered up to God, and Paul tells us here to continually place our bodies “upon the altar”, offered up to God to do as he see fit with them. We are then told, in verse 2, to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind”. As believers, we are all to be in a continual process of transformation, being transformed from our old ways of feeling, thinking and behaving, and conformed to the image of Christ, and this process takes place only as we offer our bodies as living sacrifices. We also find here that the method which God uses to bring about this transformation is through the renewing of our minds, which had been conformed to the “pattern of this world”. We used to think the way the world thinks, see things the way the world does, and we are not to do so any longer, but to transformed from the world’s way of thinking and conformed to the biblical way of thinking. We find here that transformation always begins in the mind, and as our minds are transformed, we will find our will and emotions transformed as well. As our minds are renewed, as our thinking is transformed, we will then be able to “test and approve what God’s will is”. It is presupposed here that a Christian will want his will to line up with God’s, that he will want what God wants, for he is a new creation with a new heart and a new spirit, and it is natural for him to seek to do God’s will in his life. The issue then becomes not wanting to do God’s will, but knowing exactly what His will is in all situations, and we do this by “testing and approving”, the Greek word dokimazo here. This may be best understood here by the use of the phrase “grow to know”, for the “knowing” here is not primarily head knowledge but heart knowledge. God is a person, and as we grow to know Him (an ever-growing intimate personal relationship) we grow to know His heart and mind, grow to know how He thinks and what He wants, we grow to know what pleases Him and begin to “see” what His will is in the situations we encounter as we walk through life with Him, our bodies offered as living sacrifices, our minds transformed and conformed to His, and our behavior lining up more and more with His will for our lives. As we walk in intimate fellowship with God, as we stay focused upon Him with his Word “hidden in our hearts”, we grow to see things the way He does, to feel what He feels, to think how he thinks, and we will naturally grow to more and more do what He would do, we grow to look more and more like Jesus, who always knew and did the will of the Father, having our hearts strengthened by grace and our mind, will and emotions “stabilized” through an ever more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, who is grace personified.

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