A Living Sacrifice

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (v. 1)  

- Romans 12:1–2

Some of the most important words in Scripture are those that can be most frequently overlooked. Consider the term therefore, a word that can be easily passed by without thinking of the transition that it signals. In today’s passage the word therefore (12:1) alerts us to the start of a new section in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, a section that is the consequence of all he has said previously. After laying out many of the essential doctrines of Christianity in chapters 1–11, the apostle in chapter 12 begins to unfold the way we must live in light of these truths. The reality of divine grace, justification, the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and God’s plan to save Jew and Gentile alike cannot be embraced without producing a new way of life in the believer. Those who do not live as Paul prescribes in Romans 12–16 have never truly accepted his teaching in chapters 1–11.

Paul sums up the entirety of the Christian life in 12:1 in his admonition that we present our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” This is our “spiritual worship,” and understanding Paul’s point requires us to consider briefly one of the purposes of the old covenant sacrificial system. Our Creator, of course, did not need the animals and grains offered up to Him before the coming of Christ. What He was most concerned with was the attitude of the worshiper and the heart of the person offering the sacrifice. Cain and Abel both gave offerings to God, but only Abel’s was received because only he desired to honor the Lord and devote everything that he had to Him (Gen. 4:1–5; Heb. 11:4).

Full devotion of ourselves to God is the logical response to all that He has done for us, for nothing less than our time, talents, desires, and possessions could even begin to show our appreciation for His willingness to purchase us from the wrath we deserve for sinning against Him (1 Thess. 1:9–10). Such devotion means that we think God’s thoughts after Him, refusing to be conformed to the patterns of this fallen world, for if we love what the world loves, we cannot love what our Father loves. And the chief way we learn to deny the world’s ways and embrace the Lord’s will is through the renewal of our minds, which occurs as we study and meditate upon God’s Word (Rom. 12:2; Heb. 4:12).

Coram Deo

Most of us are accustomed to the reading of sacred Scripture, but how many of us take the time to meditate on it, to take a passage and spend some time mulling it over, considering what it teaches and how it applies to our life? Take some time today to meditate on one of the passages suggested today for further study. Ask the Lord to show you how you may live in line with what it teaches and to use it to transform your mind that you may conform to His will.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 77:11–15
Ephesians 4:17–24

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