Rom 12:1-5 A Transformation into Sanity

Dec 20, 2020 // By:Dave // No Comment

We are entering a passage of scripture that runs topically from what is now divided between chapters 12 to chapter 15.

Paul is taking the overarching topic of the “Practice of God’s Righteousness”

i.e. The Righteousness of God in Daily Practice

  • He will run through our need to be transformed, not conformed 12:1-2
  • body of christ 12 3:21
  • subject to governing authorities 13:1-7
  • putting on christ 13:8-14
  • fellowship of weak and strong 14:1-23
  • following example of Christ 15:1-7

it is really great that Paul starts this section with the need to be transformed rather than conformed since all that follows in these four chapters is impossible without transformation.

in fact, it is the transformation referred to in verse 2 that creates everything we will read in these four chapters.

the living and holy sacrifice in verse 1, is our cooperation with the transformation in verse 2, which further empowers the christian to continue being his/her own sacrifice which further fuels the transformation , etc.

both “being a living and holy sacrifice” and “being transformed” are ongoing, meant to be ongoing, and must be ongoing for everything in chapters 12-15 to take place 

living in right relationship with God, (result of living sacrifice and transformation) fuels:

  • our right relationship with each other (Body of Christ)
  • our being subject to governing authorities 13:1-7
  • our putting on christ 13:8-14
  • our fellowship of weak and strong 14:1-23
  • our following example of Christ 15:1-7

 1 Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.


“living and holy sacrifice”  

what is holy ?  (set apart, different)

who is holy ? (God who calls us to join Him in differentness)

1 pet 1:16 “Be holy, for I am holy”

Peter is quoting Lev 11:44

holy (655x)  G0040 (247x)

[NIV Greek]

41   [40 & 39]   ἅγιος, hagios, . holy, consecrated (acceptable to God); holy person/people = saint(s), holy place = sanctuary

There is no contradiction between OT and NT concepts of holiness, but there is a change in emphasis on what holiness involves.

OT 1. The OT concept of holiness

2. Ritual holiness

– clean or unclean

– clean may not come in contact with unclean)

3. Moral holiness

– behavior / thinking)

NT 4. The NT concept of holiness

– Holy Spirit is the sanctifying agent, not ceremony, not law

5. The holy life

– we are declared a Holy being

– made into a holy being

– separation is not established by law, but by who we are (what the Holy Spirit does to us makes us Holy)

OT Holiness was established by ritual, ceremony, or adherence to law, requiring sacrifice for atonement for infractions 

(exterior rightness covering interior wrongness)

NT Holiness is preceded by the sacrifice of the Holy Son, opens the door for the indwelling of the Spirit of God which makes us Holy.

(interior rightness generating exterior rightness)

Imagine a house made of such wonderful wood, that it healed it’s own paint job as soon as it was faded, peeled, or damaged ?

(rather that always having to put flesh paint on dead and rotting wood)

Paul writes about not establishing Holiness through the law in Col

Col. 2:16 ¶ Therefore, no one is to act as your judge in regard to food and drink, or in respect to a festival or a new moon, or a Sabbath day—

Col. 2:17 things which are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Col. 2:18 Take care that no one keeps defrauding you of your prize by delighting in humility and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

Col. 2:19 and not holding firmly to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

Col. 2:20 ¶ If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,

Col. 2:21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!”

Col. 2:22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of man?

Col. 2:23 These are matters which do have the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and humility and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Col. 3:1 ¶ Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Col. 3:2 Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.

Col. 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Col. 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Col. 3:5 ¶ Therefore, treat the parts of your earthly body as dead to sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

Col. 3:6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

Col. 3:7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.

Col. 3:8 But now you also, rid yourselves of all of them: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene speech from your mouth.

Col. 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you stripped off the old self with its evil practices,

Col. 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created it—

Col. 3:11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, and free, but Christ is all, and in all.

Col. 3:12 ¶ So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience;

Col. 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also.

Col. 3:14 In addition to all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Col. 3:15 Let the peace of Christ, to which you were indeed called in one body, rule in your hearts; and be thankful.

Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Col. 3:17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Col. 3:18 ¶ Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Col. 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not become bitter against them.

Col. 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.

Col. 3:21 Fathers, do not antagonize your children, so that they will not become discouraged.

Col. 3:22 ¶ Slaves, obey those who are your human masters in everything, not with eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

Col. 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people,

who we are makes us different, Holy, set apart

being set apart results in speaking and acting differently (or at least it should)

this last stage, exterior expression, is what is visible to others (what God uses to reach others)

John 15:18-19

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

John 17:16

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Philippians 3:20

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 11:13-16

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to more.

1 Peter 2:11

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

so now we have an idea of what holy is.


why do we have to be holy (and just be living) ?

Shema = Deut 6:4-5

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord alone is God. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Jesus quotes it in Mark 12:29-30

Why does is sound like God is on an ego trip when we establish that God wants all our attention, all our devotion, all of our everything ?

only He deserves to be adored, worshiped, served … to be loved

is it an odd thought that God loves Himself (as He ought to) ?

He seeks to establish His glory and honor

He only does what He thinks is good and right

in Rom 8:32 He gave His only Son to restore the relationship between us and Himself, so that we might know Him, worship Him, receive His love, and love Him back

back to Rom 12 …

at the beginning of this topic:

both “being a living and holy sacrifice” and “being transformed” are ongoing, meant to be ongoing, and must be ongoing for everything in chapters 12-15 to take place 

living in right relationship with God, (result of living sacrifice and transformation) fuels:

  • our right relationship with each other (Body of Christ)
  • our being subject to governing authorities 13:1-7
  • our putting on christ 13:8-14
  • our fellowship of weak and strong 14:1-23
  • our following example of Christ 15:1-7

I say  that there is a causal effect from 12:1-2 to the following four chapters because Paul connects 1-2 (living sacrifice and transformation) to the next sentence with the word “for”

meaning because of, or “here’s some instances or examples”

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

“think” actually shows up four times in this verse in the root word phroneō translated as “sound judgement”

[NIV Greek]

5672   [5252]   ὑπερφρονέω, hyperphroneō, v.  [5642 + 5856]. to think too highly of oneself

[NIV Greek]

5858   [5426]   φρονέω, phroneō, v.  [5856]. to think, regard, hold an opinion; to set one’s mind on; to have a (certain) attitude

[NIV Greek]

5404   [4993]   σωφρονέω, sōphroneō, v.  [root of: 5405, 5406, 5407, 5408, 5409; cf. 5856]. to be in a right state of mind, have sober judgment; to be self-controlled

the word sophos = wise, skilled, cultivated, learned

(every usage seems to carry with it the notion of having been trained/taught by another

Don’t estimate yourselves as to be more than you actually are in reality, but let your opinion of yourself be the result of a sound understand of reality, the facts.

as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

we do not bring goodness to God, God gives goodness to us.

(we are not the source of anything, including the gifts we are going to read about, God is the source)

often, inverting a verse helps to illustrate it’s point.

i.e. sanity is understanding our right relationship with God


having a false understanding of definition of our relationship with God is considered insanity.

what are some examples of insanity ?

elevating ourselves about our correct station with God is insanity

Sanity, a right understanding of our relationship with God, is foundational to our proper function, fitting in, to the Body of Christ.

Paul takes this idea of a sane understanding of who gave you what you have 

and connects it with another “for” to verse 4 with a metaphor of a human body … 

Here is a practical reason you have been given what you have, to be part of this…

 4 For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function,

 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.

God gave you everything you have to bless and benefit those others in the Body.

(see “individually parts of one another”)  1 Cor 12 is a wonderful expansion of this metaphor

thinking you can function as a loose cannon, detached from the Body of Christ, is an expression of insanity (a perception not grounded in reality and contradictory to reality)

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