We Live What We Believe.

We live in the most informed generation possibly of all time. We have an enormous amount of information available to us, whether it is legitimate or not. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "knowledge is power" in his letters at least four times, each time regarding the establishment of a state university in Virginia. He also believed in the power of knowledge to bring safety and happiness.

Despite the amount of knowledge acquired by all generations leading to ours, we still have not curbed societal ills of hatred, violence, immorality, and addiction. Knowledge cannot control our passions. It cannot change the human condition.

There is only one kind of knowledge that can permanently change a person. "Only intelligent commitment of a life in light of God's gift of salvation can curb the human condition" (Bennett). Only God receives the glory for changing a human being and sustaining that transformation (Romans 11:36). Sinful people need to hear of Christ and surrender their hearts to His authority.

This is the transition Paul makes in Romans 12:1: When doctrine is understood and embraced, it produces a transformed life in the power of God and not under the authority of sin. Our knowledge of the Bible becomes the foundation of practical living in our everyday experience.

When studying the Bible, we must give due attention to theological and practical sections in the same proportions that Scripture gives them. Many Christians overemphasize one against the other, but "such an attitude betrays a basic misunderstanding of theology and its significance. All theology is practical, and all practice if it is truly Christian is theological. Paul's Gospel is deeply theological, but it is also eminently practical. The good news of Jesus Christ is intended to transform a person's life. Until individual Christians own and live out the theology, the Gospel has not accomplished its purpose" (Douglas Moo).

Millions of people know the Gospel, but they have not been changed. A person has not been born again until their life changes. Being present at church and even able to explain the knowledge of the Gospel does not prove a person's salvation.

The word "therefore" in Romans 12:1 signals the third major transition of the book. Romans 5:1 transitioned from justification to our peace with God. Romans 8:1 transitioned from progressive sanctification to assurance of our relationship with God. Romans 12 turns from surveying the historic landscape of salvation to our practical walk with God.

A Decisive Commitment


Paul addresses his words to "brethren." This is an exclusive group who can live out the Gospel. Unsaved people and rules-based Christians don't respond to this language.

He "urges" them, but does not command. Healthy born-again Christians are not motivated by rules. Grace compels us to long to walk with God. Paul's words assume what Christians naturally do when they have considered God's grace in salvation. The word for God's "mercies" is equivalent to an Old Testament word meaning "great compassion." Our commitment is generated by divine energy.


The verb tense of "present" indicates a decisive, memorable time. This decision continues to affect the rest of your life (Romans 6:13, 16, 19). The word "bodies" in this context is not dualistic, as if we offer our bodies and not our minds or hearts; in the Jewish understanding, the body represents the whole person. Many translations reflect this meaning by using the word "yourselves."


The verb tenses after "present" indicate that these actions take place continually, every day. How do we live out our new lifestyle? We have become a "living and holy sacrifice." (See also Galatians 2:20.) Your life will increasingly display to everyone around you that someone has changed you, and it wasn't yourself! Old habits of your life before Christ have to die if you will live in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The word translated "spiritual" means that a changed lifestyle is logical and reasonable in light of God's saving grace. In a relationship-based context, a saint overwhelmed by grace and mercy will make an intelligent, deliberate act to live in a way that honors his or her Savior. "Worship" is not limited to one day a week at church services. Worship is presenting ourselves to God all the time we live.

A Discerning Lifestyle

We will continue to examine Romans 12:2 next week!

Application Points

  • Christian growth that is healthy is always motivated by relationships, not rules-based philosophy. What motivates you to obey? What do you use to try to motivate others? God's grace is sufficient to save you and to compel you to hear the Word of God and act accordingly.
  • Has your life been transformed by what you know from the Bible? Have you truly been born again?