October 27, 2022

What Does It Mean to Present Our Bodies as Living Sacrifices to God?

Nathan W. Bingham & Harry Reeder
What Does It Mean to Present Our Bodies as Living Sacrifices to God?

In Romans 12:1, Paul instructs Christians to glorify God with our bodies. Today, listen as Harry Reeder teaches on the scriptural context of this passage and identifies its application for all of life.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We’re recording live from Ligonier’s 2022 National Conference, and I’m joined by the senior minister of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Dr. Harry Reeder. Dr. Reeder, what does it mean to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God, and in what way is that our spiritual worship?

DR. HARRY REEDER: I believe that you were created to worship. Secondly, you were saved to worship. And thirdly, you are providentially sustained to worship. When God made humanity, He had a creation mandate, but it was to be done for the glory of God. So that whether you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, you do all to the glory of God. Then when He saves you, He saves you for His glory. One of the great texts of Scripture is the doxological statement in Ephesians 1:3–14. It’s Trinitarian: verses 1–6, the Father has predestined or authored your salvation, verses 7–12, the Son of God has accomplished your salvation, and verses 13–14, the Holy Spirit has applied that salvation.

What’s interesting is that even though it’s clearly the three persons of the Trinity, there’s two things that are astonishing. First of all, it’s one sentence—228 words, one sentence. Secondly, it is Trinitarian. It is a Trinitarian doxology—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And then each one of those sections ends with the same phrase: “to the praise of His glorious grace.” We have a Trinitarian gospel, and each one of the Trinity are to be praised because of God’s saving work. So He created us for worship. He saves us for worship. And thirdly, He sustains us. We have life and breath because of Him. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” That’s why our forebearers in the catechism begin question one: “What is the end of man, the purpose of man? The purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Now, notice those are two statements, but it’s only one purpose. What is the purpose, singular, of man? What is it? Glorify and enjoy. Well, that would be two purposes, wouldn’t it? No, it’s two sides of the same coin. The more you enjoy Him, the more you praise Him. The more you praise Him, the more you enjoy Him. You were created, redeemed, and sustained to praise the Lord. How? Through two venues.

Number one is the gathered assembly of God’s people. At Briarwood, we have the large group on Sunday morning and Sunday night. We have the congregational community Sunday schools. We have small groups. Just like Jesus had the multitudes, the seventy, the twelve, and the three. You create ways for people to assemble together to build relationships for worship, to give praise to God as you serve the Lord together.

Then in your personal life, you are to live as an act of worship. So the book of Romans, after giving eleven chapters to explain the gospel, ends with a doxology. “God, you are too much. Everything is from you, to you, and unto you. Who has been your counselor?” Next verse, “Therefore, I urge you, I appeal to you, I urge you that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” In the Old Testament, the focus was on dead sacrifices. In the New Testament, it’s living sacrifice because our sacrifice lives, and He brings life to us. So you are to be living sacrifices, sanctified by His power, His presence, and His redeeming grace, sanctified so that you are holy and without blame as you give the praise to the Lord.

Now, how do you do that? Personal worship. And that feeds corporate worship. Here’s how you do it. Don’t be conformed to the world. Don’t be pressed in the mold of the world. “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”—that may sound familiar to the Ligonier ministry. Be transformed through the renewing of your mind so that you may manifest that which is good and acceptable.

So in other words, life is worship. Whether you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, that in all things, Christ is to have preeminence. So, God has saved you so that personally, we who fell short of the glory of God now have our greatest delight to live lives to the glory of God in everything we do, think, feel, and say, and we’re on that trajectory of being perfected in sanctification. And then we gather together with the redeemed to praise the Lord. And the Lord’s Day gathered worship becomes the template for everyday personal worship. And that’s the way I think the text of Romans 12 is to be embraced.