Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
In chapter twelve, Paul begins to wrap up his treatise on biblical Christianity with some real practical insight as to how to live out this faith that he has just described (vv. 1-11). He begins with, “Therefore.” In other words, in view of everything I have just written, here is how you live out these truths. Then Paul uses the analogy of a “living sacrifice” to illustrate the practical application of the Gospel.
In the Old Testament, a dead sacrifice would be offered for the forgiveness of sins. This was to be a picture of the future Lamb of God who would come to take away the sins of the world. Now Paul likens the Christian life to a “living sacrifice.” Here, Paul is communicating that in order to live out the Christian life, it is going to require some sacrifice. So, what does this look like?
In the Old Testament, the sacrifice was dead. It gave up its life in order to atone for sin. Once it was placed on the altar, it wasn’t going anywhere. The problem with a “living sacrifice” is that it can crawl off the altar any time it chooses. What Paul is communicating is that believers must commit themselves to God every day. This means we must submit or surrender our bodies (ways) and our minds (will) to the Lord’s service every day.
We see this intent in verse two where we are instructed, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world.” Before we trusted Christ as our Savior, all we knew was the way of the world. Now that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our lives, we can choose to live according to the Spirit of God. We no longer must obey the cravings of our sinful nature. Now we can choose to live a new life set apart for God. Every day we are faced with a choice. We can live according to the sinful nature and live for self, or we can offer ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice.” Submitting our will and our ways to God is no easy task. Paul describes this struggle in Romans 7:14-25. Surrender is not easy, but it is the key to experiencing the abundant life that Jesus offered to those who would trust in Him.
Questions to Ponder:
What kind of sacrifice are you? Why is surrender or submission seen as a negative thing in our culture? How do you begin each day with God? Are you experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10?
- Worship the LORD as King of Glory, the Almighty, Humble Servant of all.
- Invite the LORD to reveal to your heart any offensive way. Tell Him you are sorry and receive His forgiveness and grace.
- Ask the LORD to help you see people through His eyes, to embrace, honor and love them.
Heavenly Father, Servant of all, thank You for being so faithful, forgiving, and kind. Thank You for lavishing Your love upon me. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, I ask that You would help me to humble myself and serve others, especially those who hurt and wound me. I want to react and respond in love, and yet so often I respond with hate or anger in my heart. Lord, only YOU can change this messed up heart, for you took my sin upon Yourself. As You have forgiven me, help me to forgive those around me and treat them as I would want to be treated. I have been forgiven much, so I love much. Let Your genuine love flow in and out of me to all those around me by the power of Your Holy Spirit within me and by the blood of Jesus Christ. I ask in His name. Amen.