I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. —Romans 12:1–2
I love what the Spirit inspired Paul to say here and how He had him say it: “Present your bodies . . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” In other words, Paul is urging us to be living proof of the will of God. He then states that the reasonable place to begin is with our bodies—our morality, if you will.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Paul lists a group of obvious sins of the body, or moral failures. Then, in verse 11, he says, “And such were some of you.” So Paul consistently communicated that the pattern of a life that is living proof begins by exercising moral self-control, and this self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23).
But in our passage in Romans 12, Paul addresses issues of the flesh more difficult to change: those of the mind, or attitudes. He challenges us to effect this change through the renewing of our minds. In this context, the word renew may also be translated “renovate.” In other words, our minds must be reworked so that the pressures of society and its flawed definition of success are replaced with God’s perspective of what is good, acceptable, and even perfect.
I have often thought it interesting that many Christians feel a sense of failure because of the fact that they still battle lusts or worldly desires. But the truth is, the flesh and the spirit are always warring against each other, no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, and this battle will rage until we “put on incorruptible immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). Victory always begins with the reasonable service of fighting the flesh by presenting our bodies, our moral character, to the Lord. It’s only when we stop fighting against the desires of the flesh that we have failed.
So don’t stop fighting, and don’t start flailing and listening to the enemy’s taunts. Remember instead to present your body as holy and acceptable (control your moral behavior) so that you will have hope for a renovated mind.
Excerpt from “Body Builders” now available on Amazon.