Formación Espiritual

A Living Sacrifice: Denying Self

"The commitment comes first; then comes the revelation of God’s will and the opportunity to test it out—by following it." by Alan J. Gonzalez

Jesus taught His disciples to pray to the Father, “Your will be done.” The Apostle Paul’s wrote:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

(Romans 12:1–2)

Believers often say, “I want to know the will of God,” and they may spend a lot of time in prayer asking God to reveal it. But God’s will is not a mystery. He has revealed it openly in simple terms. God’s will is His Word, which is readily available to us in written form: the Bible. God’s will is also revealed in what He gives us and what He denies us. And God speaks by the Holy Spirit and through brothers and sisters in Christ to reveal His will in specific situations. 

Obeying God’s will is harder than determining God’s will. It’s so difficult for us to accept the idea of someone else’s will being imposed on us! When I was 9 years old, I went to live with my Aunt Mystic. She was a good woman, but she was also very strict. She did not like to say things twice; if she had to repeat an order, some kind of punishment was sure to follow. They were simple commands such as “make your bed,” “clean up the yard and water the plants,” “don’t go any farther than the corner,” “come straight home after school,” and so on. Still … I always disobeyed.

The Lord Jesus often challenged His disciples as to the degree of their commitment. He confronted them straight out:“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). After a particularly difficult teaching, when many of His followers deserted Him, Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you also wish to go away” (John 6:67 NRSV)?

Jesus makes the same demand of us and asks the same question. One day, everyone will have to appear before God, and the judgment we are subject to will be based on what we have done—the decisions we have made with respect to the will of God. 

In addition to urging his brothers and sisters to “offer[their] bodies as a living sacrifice,” the Apostle Paul said, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1, 2). When our minds are renewed, we adopt new ideas and new ways of seeing our relationships with God and with our neighbors. Ways of thinking and acting that don’t conform to the will of God are replaced with those He has set out in His word.

Only God, by His Spirit, can renew the mind. But for that to happen, we must repent; repent literally means “to change one’s mind.” If God is to renew our minds, we must first change our minds; we must decide to obey His will, to go His way rather than our own. Only those who have offered their bodies to God as a living sacrifice and allowed Him to renew their minds are in a position to “test and approve what God’s will is” (Romans 12:2). People often try to determine the will of God so they can decide whether they want to obey it. But it doesn’t work that way. We can’t test God’s will without being ready to submit to it. The commitment comes first; then comes the revelation of God’s will and the opportunity to test it out—by following it.

Read the Spanish version.

Alan J. Gonzalez’ Spanish Colum for the War Cry (Excerpted from The Lord’s Prayerby Captain Alan J. Gonzalez. First Published by the US Southern Territory, Atlanta, GA, 2017. Available in