And that brings me thirdly to the outcome of his appeal. Supposing we do present our bodies to God, what will happen? The answer is in the remarkable contrast of the next verse, "Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." The basic contrast, I think you will agree, is absolutely clear. On the one hand is the fashion of the world which is superficial and changeable, and on the other is the will of God which is profound and unchangeable. So the contrast and the choice between all of this is on the one hand the world's way and on the other, God's way.
Now that option is before us daily. The world presses its claims upon us through the media: through television, through radio, through audio or video cassettes, through newspapers, through movies, through the theater. The world with all its standards and its value system is pressing upon us through the media every day.
But God presses his claims upon us through Christ and through the scriptures in which he has revealed his will, and we have to choose between the way of the world and the will of God.
The world says: get and grab what you can and live for yourself. God says: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
The world says: give as good as you get; return good for good and evil for evil and tit for tat. God says: "Do not repay evil for evil but overcome evil with good."
The world says: sex is for fun; it's enjoyment without commitment. God says: sex is for love; it's enjoyment within commitment.
The world says: go for the top and the end justifies the means. God says: "Whoever wants to be first among you, let him be the servant of all."
The world says: greatness is measured by achievement. God says: greatness is measured by service.
The world says: you're number one; so live for yourself and look out for yourself; nobody else is going to if you don't. God says: "Seek first my rule and my righteousness, and these things will be added to you."
The world says: stand up for yourself; fight for your rights. God says: "Blessed are the meek; they shall inherit the earth."
And so I could go on and point after point the way of the world and the way of God are at variance and in opposition to one another. My friends, there is no possibility of reaching a compromise, no possibility of negotiating a settlement, or of having the best of both worlds, we've got to choose either to conform to this world and its value system or to conform to the will of God and so become transformed into the image of Christ.
Now as I bring this to a conclusion, I want to urge you not to fudge this issue. Don't try to escape from this choice. Let me bring it to you in five simple steps:
First, thank God for his mercies. Read the scriptures that unfold the story of the mercies of God. Come to the Lord's Supper, if you are a Christian, which portrays and celebrates visibly the mercies of God. Meditate on the unutterable mercy of God who loved us when we deserved only his judgment, and has had mercy upon us. Remember his mercy and thank him.
Secondly, present your bodies to God in response to his mercy. Not your heart only, not your mind, not your life in some ethereal sense, but your body: your hands, eyes. I find it a lovely thing; in fact almost the first thing I do when I awake in the morning, when my alarm clock goes off - is that I swing my legs out of bed and sit on the side of my bed and present my body to God. And I sometimes go from limb to limb, the hands, the lips, the ears, the eyes, the feet, etc. and present my body to God afresh for that day as spiritual worship.
Then thirdly, don't let the world squeeze you into its mold. You probably know that that's the rather dramatic translation of "don't be conformed to this world" in J. B. Phillips' translation of the New Testament. Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold. Be on your guard. It's necessary to read the newspaper, but have you ever thought it's dangerous. It's necessary to watch television and go to the movies to understand what's going on in the world around us, but it's dangerous. Subtly, insidiously, the world can infiltrate into your life and squeeze you into its mold. So we need to be on our guard. The whole value system of the world can permeate our lives if we are not careful. Keep on your guard. Keep up your defenses. Maintain your critical faculties. Read the newspapers. Watch television, but do it critically.
Then fourthly, be transformed according to the will of God. Radically transformed by accepting the standards of God rather than the standards of the world. If you are a Christian, then you already have a renewed mind. That is to say that the Holy Spirit has given you the mind of Christ. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia which means a change of mind. Every Christian has been given a change of mind. The Holy Spirit has given you a new outlook, a new perspective. And with this new mind seek to understand God's will for your life in his word, not only in order that you may discern it, but in order that you may prove it, and endorse it and seek grace to do it.
And then fifthly, remember that God's will, which you will discover in his word, is good, acceptable and perfect. God is not a kind of' ogre who is determined to rob us of everything good in life and everything that makes life worth living. The very opposite is the case. "Christ came , " Paul said, "to give us life, and to give it more abundantly." God's will is not a burden. It is a pleasure. God's will is not alien to our human personality. It fits it perfectly. I venture to say from my own experience, as well as from the scriptures, that God's will is good, and acceptable and perfect. To rebel against the will of God is to rebel against your own highest welfare, whereas to endorse the will of God is to find personal human fulfillment.
So as I conclude, I appeal to you, my brothers and sisters, at the beginning of this new week, in view of the infinite mercies of God, "Come, present your bodies to him as your spiritual worship." Don't go on being conformed to the empty fashions of this world but allow yourself to be transformed as your renewed mind grasps the will of God and seeks to do it. And remember the will of God is good and acceptable and perfect.
So this appeal to present your bodies to God is an appeal that simply cannot be ignored.