Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God¾this is your spiritual act of worship.
Notes to the Leader: Do you know if your neighbor is a Christian? Better yet, does your neighbor know that you have placed your faith in Christ? Of course, we say, they see that each Sunday we leave for church and never miss. This study directly addresses what it means to accept the role and responsibilities claimed by the Christian faith. The study looks at the worship experience and provides a guideline for every Christian to use as a measuring stick.
Plan on leading a discussion beyond theology and into what a changed life looks like. Faith in Christ is not theoretical or historical. Faith in Christ is a changing life, a metamorphosis from the physical world to His world.
What is the goal of Christian faith?
- Many may say that it is to achieve eternal life, to be in heaven. However, Paul is trying to tell us that it is about our very existence and our daily struggles to work, raise our families and survive here on earth.
What do Christians talk about?
- It is rare to hear a conversation about heaven, what life will be like after death. Most conversation is focused on this world, the problems we have, the pain, the joy, the day-to-day existence of humanity.
If the goal of Christian faith is focused on the here and now and most Christians are, in turn, focused on the issues of daily living, What do you think our worship experience should be focused on?
- Real life. While tradition and structure are often comforting, our worship experience must be focused on the relevant side of life. We are gathered to communicate to God about this world here and now, not necessarily the matters of next world we are to receive later.
What is God’s goals in all of this complexity we call life and existence?
- “God intends to create a just, moral community, a people whose lives together will bear witness to His character as well as His grace.” (Richards, Background 251)
Section One: To Worship
What is the appropriate response to God’s love and mercy?
- Worship. The New Testament uses three different Greek words for worship. One means “to show reverence,” another “to bow down to.” The third, the one Paul uses here is latreia. The emphasis on this word is “service.” Originally, it meant to “work for pay.” Over time it became to mean ” to serve” but as a special designation — it meant service to which a person gives their entire life.
Read Romans 12:1 to your group.
Why do you think Paul would connect the act of service and sacrifice to worship?
- Paul used an adjective logoikos — “pertaining to the mind and soul.” Paul was describing the only thing that made sense in light of all God has done for us.
- What kind of worship was Paul describing?
- Our physical involvement through the making of our bodies as holy and pleasing to God.
What else can you conclude from this one verse of Romans about Paul’s instructions?
- “I urge you brother” – Paul is handing out a loving invitation, not a command.
- “in view of God’s mercy” – The reason to do this is because of God’s grace.
- “this is your spiritual act of worship.” – The appropriateness of our being a living sacrifice.
What is the significance of Paul’s statement with regard to the Christian community today?
- Many Christians believe that they can satisfy their requirements to worship through attending Sunday services, or being generous in the offering plate, or even volunteering for a few committees or church activities. Paul, however, sums it up. To satisfy our requirements, is to completely surrender to God, our bodies and the entirety of our beings.
How does the modern Christian separate their faith from their lives?
- Acts of faith, reliance on prayer and worship (as Paul defines it) rarely reach beyond Sunday.
As you peer out into your workplace or your neighborhood, Can you spot the Christians?
- This always represents one of the greatest arguments against the Christian faith. You find the world confused in that they cannot tell a Christian from an atheist except on Sunday morning.
How does Paul’s call for a sacrifice differ from the Levitical sacrifice of the Old Testament?
- Most were ceremonial and done at public religious festivals. They involved the sacrifice of something other than the individual. Paul calls for no special place or ceremony. It is day by day, moment by moment, situation by situation, and
- calls for the sacrifice of self.
Section Two: The Metamorphosis of Your Mind
Read Romans 12:2 to your group.
How does one begin to become a “Living Sacrifice?”
- Don’t let the world press you into its mold.
What, exactly is “the world” to which we are no longer to conform?
- The Greek word is kosmos. In ancient, classical Greek, the word implied two things:
- a harmonious order to arrangement; and
- an embellishment or adornment. In the Greek as it was used at the time of the New Testament, the word had come to convey three basic groups of meanings:
- the material universe, the planet, the earth (example: Acts 17:24)
- the inhabitants of the world (John 3:16) and accordingly, the whole race of human beings who are alienated from God and hostile to the cause of Christ (Heb. 11:38; John 14:17)
- worldly affairs, goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, and values which stir human desires and seduce people away from God (1 John 2:15; Matt. 16:26; 1 Cor. 2:12; 3:19; 7:31; Titus 2:12)
God did not intend to keep us from the beauty of the physical world. It is not the mountains and trees, flowers, animals, etc. that are condemned. It the part of the world dominated by Satan that we are not to conform to.
How is it that we “do not conform?”
- Our worldliness has to do with attitudes, loves and priorities.
- If we as Christians are to be non-conformists, misfits and alien to this world, How is it we can resist the pressure and keep our attitudes, loves and priorities in line with those pleasing to God?
- To “test and approve what God’s perfect will is.”
What does “test and approve” mean to you?
- We are called to prove God’s will out by trying it and judging it worth, to know by experience. Experience with the will of God demonstrates that God’s will is “good” (profitable, generous), “pleasing” (acceptable), and “perfect” (fulfills the purpose for which it is designed). We each do this by choosing to do God’s will instead of conforming to the world. We do this every day, moment by moment, situation by situation.
What does metamorphosis mean?
- To change form, structure, or substance.
How does this relate to Romans 12:2?
- Paul uses the Greek word, metamorphoo, and calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Why is the analogy of a butterfly and a cocoon so perfect for this verse?
- The worm, must begin the process by spinning a cocoon. Once it crawls inside, it waits while God’s mysteries take over, and Our Creator re-works the ugly worm into a beautiful butterfly.
How does spiritual metamorphosis occur?
- It is more than the change of someone’s mind. It is a change of form and nature. It is a work of God. The Bible calls it Sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a process.
Note: Relating the act of Sanctification to the metamorphosis of a butterfly, match the following:
- The worm — ourselves before fully turning ourselves over to God
- The cocoon — God’s grace, a wonderful safe place to be comforted while the metamorphosis takes place
- The butterfly — The Christian with attitudes, loves and priorities pleasing to God.
Bible Truth Being Taught
The grace of God and our justification by faith are not just for discussion or debate, but have practical implications for changing the lives of believers.
To see the Christian life and worship as more than theology and religion, but as real life to be lived in conformity with the Word of God.