The victorious life of a believer can be summed up by answering one crucial question. Who is the owner? Who is the owner of your life? We can answer this question and live it out in a number of ways. We can be a “timeshare” Christian holding onto the ownership and let God have the façade of ownership without the deed to our life. We can be a “rental” Christian holding onto the ownership and allowing God to move into our life. God can change the rooms around and clean up, but only as the real owner, self, agrees to let Him. Certainly, any significant changes God must get approved. God can stay but does not hold the deed to our life. Neither of these choices is reasonable. For life to work, God has to be the owner. God must hold the deed. It is only when God is the owner that we can experience the victorious Christian life. This, after all, is the only reasonable response to God.
Paul speaks of ownership in Romans 11:33-12:2. In Romans 11:33-36, Paul leads us in worship of God for His wisdom. As Paul ended Romans 5-8 celebrating God’s unshakable love for His people, so he ends Romans 9-11 celebrating God’s marvelous plan for humankind. He ends his discussion by proclaiming God’s glory. In short, Romans 11:33-36 teaches us that we cannot penetrate the mind of God. He does not need to consult us before He decides what He is going to do. At a certain point, we must stop questioning and demanding answers and simply believe and worship. Romans 11:33-36 is a beautiful hymn of praise Paul shares with us. He proclaims the wisdom and mercy of God in saving both Jews and Gentiles (all peoples). This is a fitting way for Paul’s section on doctrine Romans 1:18-11:36 to end and what follows, Paul’s practical instructions, to begin. Christian doctrine must lead to Christian ethics. The transformation (metamorphosis) made by God in the believer’s spirit must be shown in our daily life.
We discover in Romans 12:1-2 the basic commitment required of the Believer in light of all that God has done. The rest of the section describes how this commitment is carried out in daily life’s changing situations. Paul writes: “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. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Paul writes of the “mercies” of God. The noun “mercy” occurs seven times in Romans 9-11; the verb occurs twice, and the synonym “compassion” appears twice in Rom 9:15. According to the hermeneutical principle of repetition (a principle used for studying and applying Scripture), it seems that this is God’s motivation in exercising His sovereignty. God is a merciful God. In fact, God’s mercies are written by Paul in the whole of Rom 1-11. The Gospel (Good News) is a message of God’s mercy on humanity.
How are believers to respond to God’s mercy? They are to dedicate themselves to God (v. 1). We are to “offer” or “present” ourselves to God. There must be a complete surrender of the person (body), the whole person, mind, and flesh, are to be given to God. Christians are no longer to see themselves as belonging to self, but as belonging to God. God is the owner! In fact, we are to “offer” ourselves to God as an act of “worship.” We respond to God’s mercy by dedicating ourselves to God. There is also another way believers are to respond to God’s mercy. Believers who are dedicated to God are to be consecrated (Rom 12:2).
We who are dedicated to God are to be consecrated. To be dedicated to God is to be separated to or belonging to God. Another word, consecration, is used to describe this offering of self to God. To be consecrated is to be set apart for the service of God. As a “living sacrifice,” we belong to God and are useful to Him and His divine purposes.
How are believers consecrated? They are not to “conform to this world” or, as the Phillip’s Translation puts it: “Do not let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” The transformed Christian has a posture of resistance to any values, goals, and activities contrary to God’s ways.
Believers are not to be molded by the world but are transformed by renewing their minds. “The word “transformed” comes from the Greek word metamorphosed. Meta means radical, and morph means change. Therefore, transformation means radical change. This radical change comes from God. Philip’s Translation reads: “Let God re-mold your minds from within.” The thoughts of a Believer’s mind are renewed.
This is a crucial idea in Paul’s conception of the Christian life (see: Rom 1:28-29). When we come to Christ, we are transformed into a new realm of righteousness and life (see: Rom 5-8). Nevertheless, our minds are not immediately changed; our thinking still tends to follow the well-worn ruts of the old way of life. Thus, we are called to engage in the lifelong process of changing the way we think. We change the way we live. Think of it this way, the believer is continually being molded from within by the power of God. This transformation occurs in the life of a believer to show (exemplify) the Christlike life!
What is the basic commitment required of the Believer in light of all God has done? In other words, how are Believers to respond to God’s mercy? Believers are to dedicate themselves to God. Believers are to be consecrated to God. How are believers to be consecrated? Believers are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world. Believers are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. Why are Believers transformed? A believer is transformed to show (exemplify) the Christlike life as they test and approve in practice God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Who is the owner of your life? Life only works when God is our owner. Won’t out give yourself to Him? Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!