A few days ago, we observed that the appropriate response to doctrine is doxology. That is, in light of God’s beauty, we should be filled with fear and adoration and praise. We should revere the Lord and love Him all the more. That is a proper response to doctrine, but not the only proper response. Paul shows us another:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. – Romans 12:1
Notice, first, the therefore. It’s helpful, first, to try to identify Paul’s intended structure. It seems that in chapters 1-11, Paul outlines salvation for us. Then, he writes a doxology. Not only is that doxology an appropriate response to the truths of chapters 1-11, but it’s also a marker of the end of that section and the beginning of this new one. The rest of the book is going to be devoted to holy living.
In light of the structure, the therefore in this verse seems to be referring to not just the immediately preceding verses, but all of chapters 1-11. In other words, in light of everything Paul has just written, the Christian is called to a certain way of life.
Paul appeals to this by the mercies of God. Perhaps he’s referring to the fact that we can’t live for Christ without His mercy. More likely, he’s appealing to the mercies of God that he’s just expounded. In light of those mercies, we ought to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. In the Old Testament, some sacrifices were for atonement and others simply for thanksgiving. We no longer need atoning sacrifices–Christ was the ultimate atoning Sacrifice–so our sacrifice is one of gratefulness.
And it’s not something we bring physically. It’s our whole selves. We are to strive to be holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship. The way we worship God by offering ourselves as living sacrifices is to be holy and acceptable. That’s by grateful obedience to Christ’s law. That’s by conforming to the likeness of God’s Son.
In light of God’s grace, we ought to give Him our all. This is the second appropriate response to doctrine: that not only would our hearts be changed, but our actions would follow.
Brothers and sisters, it can be so easy to idolize doctrine. There are many who, when they learn something new, love to flaunt it in front of people and get angry with others when they can’t see it. That’s an improper response to doctrine. Have you been guilty of that, Sheep?
No, our response to doctrine should be that of humility before an awesome God, a humility that leads to a life of love. As you continue to seek God, by His grace, always check your heart.