In the verses preceding this chapter Paul describes the character of God. He has been talking about how God has dealt, and will deal, with Israel. Some of the things he says are quite difficult to understand and interpret, but he ends with these words:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of Yahweh? Or who has become His counsellor? … For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen (Verses 33 – 36).
In view of the greatness, wisdom and glory of God, Paul says “… Therefore …”! One great preacher used to say “Wherefore the therefore?” Whenever you see the word “therefore”, always ask yourself “what is the therefore there for?”
However, before we get to the “therefore” there are three words (at least, in my translation.) Paul says “I beseech you …” He does not say “I hope you …” or “I would like you …” or even “It would be nice if you would …” He does not even say “I command you …” His heart’s desire is that those he is writing to would do as he says, and he is pleading with them. The choice was theirs.
So what did Paul beseech them to do? He wanted them to present their bodies a living sacrifice. In the Old Testament sacrifices were usually killed when they were offered. But we are to be ‘living sacrifices.’ Although we are ‘crucified with Christ’ we are raised to newness of life in Christ. We are ‘holy’ in Christ and acceptable to God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This will be our reasonable (‘logical’ from the Greek) service.
Paul then goes on to give further warnings. These come more as commands.
• Do not be conformed to this world.
• Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
• Prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
It is so easy to think of things from a worldly point of view, particularly as we are bombarded by the media every day, and this could cause us to be conformed, moulded, or pressured, to the world’s scheme. To prevent this from happening, our minds should be renewed, or renovated. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, but He will be prevented from doing this work if we ignore His Word, the Bible, and spending time in fellowship and prayer. As our minds are renewed, we will experience God’s will for us in our lives.
In verses 3 to 8 Paul explains that we are all different, and we each have a job or a purpose which God gives us. We must not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Paul lists some of the gifts given to His people in the church:
• Being Merciful
In verses 9 to 21 Paul encourages us to behave in a way which is fitting for Christ’s people.
• Love without hypocrisy
• Hate evil, cling to what is good
• Be kind
• Give preference to one another
• Be fervent in Spirit
• Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation
• Continue steadfastly in prayer
• Be generous and hospitable
• Bless those who persecute you, do not curse
• Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
• Do not be wise in your own opinion
• Repay no one evil for evil
• Live peaceably with all men
• Do not avenge yourselves
• Provide for your enemy
Finally, Paul instructs “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Quite challenging, is it not!!