Dissecting Romans 12:1 (Blog circa 2011)
“I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
The twelfth chapter of Romans starts with the powerful words “I beseech you therefore”, where – as defined in hyperdictionary.com – “therefore” would be ‘used to introduce a logical conclusion’. Romans chapter twelve, in a sense, is a logical conclusion from its preceding verses. The what? Yep, this is not highfaluting jurisprudence or a highly volatile philosophical or scientific statement beloved. This is simple logic. We will be senseless, if we go on reading Romans 12 without the concrete knowledge of the passages before it. Romans 1-11 paints a picture of God and His holy wrath against sin and His ultimate solution to it: salvation through Christ, sanctification by grace through faith and sovereignty of God. Death, according to the book of Romans, is the righteous demand of God for sinners. But He, in “His mercies” provided a substitute for us, in Jesus. Or as we have tackled last time, On the altar required of God, Jesus did what we could not do; He became for us what we could not become for God. Simply put, what God demanded from us, He provided for us. Talk about fundamental theology here.
The fundamental theology however, is not merely a doctrine to be memorized but a reality to be recognized in our lives before we can move on to feeding on the truths in Romans 12. For in this passage we point our focus to “the mercies of God”. Because of God’s mercies, as seen in Romans 1-11, our ‘logical’ response is total surrender. It is powerful to know the very verb used by Paul as he addressed the Christians: “beseech”. Well, this is another nose-bleed word maybe dating from the stone-age or the dark ages. Beseech (first known use: 12th century. Hello!). What is it? I like how Merriam-Webster coins the word: “to beg for urgently or anxiously.” (Gk. Parakaleo: to exhort, beg, encourage) Paul‘s statement is not merely his own words, but God’s very own heart etched in papyrus. I love how John Philips commented on this one: “God does not compel and coerce the believer into presenting his body. He does not corral him and bridle him like a horse and force him to obey. He beseeches him. He wants an unbridled sacrifice. He makes it clear that to present the body to God is, for the believer, the proper thing to do.” Or in Vernon McGee’s – ” ‘I beg of you’ is the language of grace, not law.” Welcome to the kingdom of God’s grace and mercy dear beloved!
God beseeches us to surrender. To worship. Us, who have been recipients of His eternal mercies in Christ Jesus. In fact, for those who are in Jesus Christ, no beseeching or ‘even a command from Him’ is harsh or compulsory, because in the first place – it is now in our new nature to love God because He first loved us. And in loving God, surrender flows naturally.