There are some verses in the Bible that are enriched when we read them in other translations. Romans 12:2 is one of them. In the New International Version the first part of Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world." This verse has two key words: "world," which is actually "age" (the Greek word ain, meaning, "this present age" in contrast to "the age to come"), and "conform," which is a compound having at its root the word "scheme." So the verse means, do not let the age in which you live force you into its scheme of thinking and behaving.

In the final analysis, only that which is spiritual will last. Everything else, everything we see and touch and handle and sometimes even covet here, will pass away. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away" (Matt. 24:35). If that is true of the heavens and the earth, it is certainly true of the small perishable things you and I give so much of our lives for. On the other hand, although "the world and its desires pass away," we are also told that the one who "does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:17). And so do his works!

Today I want to continue to list answers to yesterday's question: Why is it reasonable to serve God sacrificially? It is reasonable because such service is God's will for us, and his is a good, pleasing, and perfect will. Christians often get greatly hung up on the idea of discovering "what God's specific will is" for their lives. In my judgment, there clearly are specific plans for our lives that God has determined in advance, because he has predetermined all things. The difficulty is that he has not revealed these to us. But although these specific details are not made known, general but very important things are, and the most important of these general things is that God wants us to be like Jesus Christ.

Yesterday I mentioned the night the angel came and wrestled with Jacob to bring him to the point of personal submission. But let's not wait for the angel to wrestle with us. Let's deal with this matter of sacrificial service to God now. Why is such demanding service so reasonable?

To understand this verse well, we must understand the kind of service that is required. We have already spent a good bit of time exploring what this kind of service is about. It concerns what Paul calls "sacrifice." When we were looking at it in detail earlier, we saw that it involves three things.