Romans 12:1–2; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 13b–20
Pure Standards (Rom. 12:1–2)
The Christian’s pure standards start with a life totally committed to God. God wants our entire being to be devoted to Him.
Paul exhorts us to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice. The verb “to present” is a technical word used for the ritual presentation of sacrifice. But unlike the animal sacrifices, we are not to be dead sacrifices but living sacrifices. During Paul’s time, some were saying that it doesn’t matter what you do with your body as long as you serve God with your mind.
Paul counteracts this false teaching by emphasizing that total commitment to God must involve our bodies. The phrase “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” shows that a total commitment must also involve our minds. Conformity is a danger in any age and any society. Eugene Peterson in “The Message” puts it like this, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.” The word translated transformed is the word metamorphosis, the change from one form to another.
The same word is used in the Gospels to describe Christ’s transfiguration, thus we can see that this transformation is a radical one. The expression “be transformed” is in the passive imperative, which means that someone else makes the change from the outside, namely, God through the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t want halfway commitment from us.
He wants us to give Him 100 percent. A missionary society wrote to David Livingstone and asked, “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.” Livingstone wrote back, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”
Pure Change (1 Cor. 6:9–11)
The slogan “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven” is many times used for people to defend a sinful lifestyle.
However, the Bible teaches that when one becomes a Christian, a radical change happens.
Bartimeus would tell you: “I was blind, but now I see.” Levi and Zaccheus would tell you: “We were corrupt, but we don’t cheat people anymore.” Listen to the woman caught in adultery: “I was a prostitute, but now I don’t sell my body anymore.” Listen to the Roman centurion at the cross: “I was a skeptic and a barbarian, but now I believe.” Listen to Paul: “I was a persecutor of the church, but now I am the preacher of the gospel.” And God can change anyone.
Look at Paul’s list, “fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, swindlers.” There is no sin that God cannot forgive, and there is no person God cannot change. But for the change to occur, one must repent of his/her sin and accept Christ’s salvation and Lordship.
Pure Ownership (1 Cor. 6:13b–20)
The exhortation “feel immorality” in verse 18 points to the importance of our total commitment. The fact that our bodies are important is linked to the idea that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.
If we think like the pagans who say, “My body is my body, and I do what I want with it,” then we can reason all types of sins done in the body. But if we see our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, then what we do with our bodies is important. Paul here talks about sexual sin and because sexual sin can bring anyone’s demise, we must flee it.
While we like to glorify God with our voices, our thoughts and our minds, Paul exhorts us to glorify God in our bodies, because we are not our own. We have been purchased with a price, and that price was the blood of our sinless Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(Editor’s Note: Dr. Tiberius Rata is professor of Old Testament Studies and chair of the Department of Biblical Studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Ind. This article first appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org) and is used with permission.)