Paul gives us a springboard for the Christian life in the simple phrase: “Therefore…in view of God’s mercy.” And then he urges us to do two things which are central to following Jesus.
#1) (vs. 1) In view of God’s mercy…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. This is temple terminology. The confusion is that there were several different kinds of offerings.
- Sin offering: But Jesus is our sin offering.
- whole burnt offering: It had to be without defect (holy and without blemish). Why? Such an animal was expensive. It showed that all you had was at God’s disposal, not leftovers. To be a “living sacrifice” is to be fully at God’s disposal.
In mentioning our physical bodies Paul is saying that God does not want a purely inward and abstract worship, but a practical and total one. He wants us to give him everything we do.
#2) (vs. 2) In view of God’s mercy…Renew your mind. That’s how the Christian life occurs. It is the way we are to be transformed into Christ-likeness. He doesn’t define this but probably means more than just thinking true thoughts, but that the governing influence of our mind is reoriented. We could say that our imagination is captured by Christ. Who he is and what he did fires the imagination and controls our minds.