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This sacrifice is, further, to be acceptable to God. This can only be the case as it is offered up through faith in Christ, in reliance upon His merits, who ever liveth to make intercession for us. As St. Peter says, we are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. This living, holy, acceptable sacrifice, is demanded of us as our reasonable service. It is what He who calls for it has a right to require, and what it becomes us as reasonable creatures to render. Those persons act a most irrational part who do not comply with this most reasonable exhortation of the apostle.
This reasonable service is to be rendered to God day by day all the days of our lives. Such is the idea conveyed by the word present. It denotes a continual presentation, or that it is to continue throughout the whole existence of the bodies which are to be presented to Him, at all times, in all places, on all occasions. Not only on one day of the week, although that day should be kept holy in a peculiar manner; not only in the house of God, although we ought to pay special reverence to His sanctuary; not only at particular seasons, although these should not be disregarded; but we are to present our bodies continually as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. As long as we are in the body, all the days of our life, we are to be presenting ourselves as an offering to Him who giveth to all life and breath and all
things," and whose tender mercies are over all His works. Blessed will they be, both in time and in eternity, who are enabled by Divine grace to comply with this reasonable demand of their Maker and Benefactor.
But the apostle goes on to specify some particulars respecting the sacrifice which, as reasonable creatures, who are thankful for the mercies which we have received, we are to present to God; or what is to be the consequence of this surrender of ourselves to Him. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. What is meant by not being conformed to this world, we learn from a similar exhortation of St. John, to which an explanation is added. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof.45 Conformity to the world, then, is living in sin, in disobedience to the commandments of God, and in the pursuit of the transitory pleasures of this life, which perish in the using. Christians are therefore exhorted to put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according
44 Acts xvii. 25.
45 1 John ii. 15-17.
to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. This means the same as being transformed by the renewing of your mind. To those who profess to be Christians, and yet are conformed to this world, and solicitous only to fulfil the desires of the flesh and of the mind,46 who, though they pray to God, ask amiss that they may consume it upon their lusts, or pleasures; the apostle James says, Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship, or love, of the world is enmity with God, whosoever therefore will be a friend, or lover, of the world is the enemy of God.1 Instead of being conformed to this world in its wickedness, in its pleasures, in its pride, in its forgetfulness of God, and its disregard of His authority and of His laws, the Christian is to seek conformity to the image of his Lord and Saviour, by the operation of the Holy Spirit upon his soul; to be transformed by the renewing of his mind. And the end proposed by this is, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God; or that, fulfilling the good and perfect will of God, as He has commanded, we may be acceptable to Him, by doing that which is well pleasing in His sight. But this is to be pursued with humility, not setting up ourselves,
46 Ephesians iv. 22—24, ii. 2.
47 James iv. 3, 4.
as if we were more worthy than others, on account of abstaining from those evils which others practise.
Against this the apostle thinks it needful to guard. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. We are very apt to think ourselves better than others, if we do not approve of their evil practices, and do not adopt or follow them. We should beware of giving way to pride in assuming an appearance of singularity. People may be as proud of singularity as of fashion. The renewing of the mind should be that in which the great difference should exist between the Christian and the worldling. Where this has taken place, humility will be its fruit, true humility of heart. We shall think soberly respecting ourselves; and shall ascribe every advantage we enjoy above others to the goodness and mercy of God, and not to our own desert. If we have faith in Christ, it is the gift of God, which He has bestowed upon us of His grace; and its possession is itself a proof of our demerit. For had we not forfeited every blessing by sin, we should have no need that the merits of another should be imputed to us for our justification before God. And notwithstanding this
benefit has been vouchsafed to us, we are still unprofitable servants, who are prone to fail in our duty towards God, and fall very far short of what we ought to be.
And further, there are many others who, through the goodness of God, are partakers of the same gift of His bounty; as the apostle proceeds to observe, For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. We have reason to bless God that this is the case; and to cultivate union and fellowship with those who are of the mystical body of Christ; thanking our heavenly Father, that through His goodness and mercy towards us, we have been called to the fellowship of His Son, and numbered among those who believe in His name.
The apostle goes on to state what are the duties of the members of His mystical body towards each other, and towards all men, in the remainder of this chapter from which the Epistles for the two next Sundays are taken, and to which, therefore, our attention will then be directed, should it please God to spare us, and to permit us then to meet together. The particular object of the Epistle for this day is to impress our minds with a sense of our obligations to Almighty God for
48 1 Corinthians i. 9.