According to Romans 12:1,2 - Christians are transformed (changed) by renewing their minds (cf. Eph. 4:23). To live differently, we have to think differently.
The first principle is the Principle of Dedication: Commit your body to God. Any change in any area of your life begins with your physical body. Why? Because your body affects your behavior, and every change in your life requires energy. The reason most people never change is that they are too tired to change.
If you want to change, you have to make the choice. That is why the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 to “offer your bodies.” It has to be your choice. If you don’t choose to change, you are not going to change.
Paul then says we need to offer our bodies as a “spiritual act of worship.” Here are three practical ways to offer your body to God as an act of worship:
- Cleanse your body. I’m not talking about taking a bath. I’m talking about detoxing it. “Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates the body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV).
The way you contaminate your body is by what you eat or drink, and the way you contaminate your spirit is by what your see or hear.
- Care for your body. “No one hates his own body, but lovingly cares for it just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church” (Ephesians 5:29 LB). God expects you to take care of your body by keeping it in good shape, getting enough rest, and eating the right foods for good nutrition.
- Control your body. “Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable” (1 Thessalonians 4:4 NIV). This means you tell your body what to do; it doesn’t tell you what to do. Controlling your body also means keeping it in good shape: “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should do” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
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So how can you present your body as a sacrifice?
- Resolve to make worship a priority. Worship is a Monday through Saturday lifestyle that doesn’t have to end on Sunday afternoon. Throughout the week you should worship the Lord and have your own private worship services. Determine today to present yourself as a sacrifice. Don’t put off this logical decision. Every morning declare, “Dear God, because of Jesus, I am Yours.”
- Seek out ministry opportunities. Do some chores, run an errand, lend a hand. Take the extra time to make a visit. Pick up the phone and check on someone who is going through a struggle. Volunteer to help on a project that will show God’s grace to someone else. Look for ways to demonstrate your love for the Lord in practical ways. Why? Martin Luther once said, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” The busier you are, the less likely you will be to give into your illegitimate bodily urges.
- Commit yourself to physical exercise. Discipleship demands discipline. If you want to “present” your body, you need to subdue it. Most godly people who I respect are committed to physical exercise (e.g., walking, hiking, weightlifting, athletics). God wants all of you! This shouldn’t scare you because if you let God have your life He can do more with it than you can.
So how can you renew your mind?
- Saturate yourself in godly thinking. Read God’s Word. But it is really more than just reading. It is a matter of absorbing and interacting with God's Word. When we read the Bible we must constantly be asking ourselves, “What does this mean for my daily life.” Saturating ourselves in godly thinking also means exposing ourselves to godly writers, teachers, and influences. We need to meet regularly with friends who share our commitment to Christ. We must work to expand our thinking so that we are not just one-dimensional believers.
- Memorize Scripture. But you may object, “Memorization has never come easily for me.” “I’m too old; my mind left me a long time.” For what it’s worth, you can memorize Scripture. The great men and women I know who have been successful at this discipline have merely read various sections of Scripture over and over and the memorization took care of itself. You don’t need a Navigator’s Scripture Memory System. Just read and meditate on Scripture and watch how God hides it in your heart.
- Slow down. It has been said that Americans have three idols: Size, Noise, and Speed! Worship runs in the opposite direction. It reminds us of our littleness. It reminds us to be still, and know that He is God (Ps 46:10 ESV). It reminds us that we need to wait upon the Lord. Today would you begin the discipline of renewing your mind by getting away from the hustle, bustle, and distraction of life? Turn off the TV, turn off the radio, turn off your cell phone, shut down your computer, and hear from God.