Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
It was the great preacher Doctor Martyn Lloyd Jones who said, “whenever you find a “therefore” in Scripture you need to ask what it’s there for.”
The third section of Paul’s letter to the Romans beginning at chapter 12 verse 1 is a series of instructions for Christian living. The “therefore” is there to give us the motivation for obeying the instructions which follow. “Therefore” refers to everything in the letter which has gone before. In the light of God’s grace, in the light of the fact that we are saved by faith not by works, in the light of the fact that nothing can separate us from God’s love, because of everything we have learned from the first eleven chapters of Romans, Therefore …. in view of God’s mercy says Paul, this is how you ought to live.
12: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,
C.T.Studd was the 19th century captain of the English Cricket team who became a missionary first to China and then to the Belgian Congo. He once said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
In the light of everything that Jesus Christ has done for us, each of us should
BE A LIVING SACRIFICE
offer your bodies as living sacrifices,(NIV)
Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. (MESSAGE)
This doesn’t sound too hard, until we remember that the only thing a sacrifice is called upon to do is to DIE. Paul is not saying here, “Go to church.” He is not saying, “be a good witness” or “live a good life,” or “love your neighbour.” The function of a sacrifice is to die – to give up its life. To become a living sacrifice means to die with Christ, to die to self, to be crucified with Christ. The problem with most living sacrifices is that they keep getting up and walking off the altar and refusing to die. Even when we realize that we are forgiven and saved, most Christians are still so selfish that we want to choose for ourselves how we live and to do what we want to do. But instead God calls us to be living sacrifices,
Holy and pleasing to God
Being holy means being set apart for God’s service, belonging to God instead of belonging to this fallen world. Being holy means to be pure and free from sin and dedicated to serving and obeying God
And being pleasing to God means always doing what God wants instead of what we would choose for ourselves. “Holy and pleasing to God” – that’s what it means to be a living sacrifice.
This is your reasonable (spiritual) act of worship
To be a living sacrifice is not some emotional response but rather a rational logical dedication of our lives to God’s service. “Acts of worship” were the words used for the worship offered in the Jewish Temple, but Christian worship is not just once a week in some religious place but rather a whole life filled with actions of a living sacrifice. This means continually focusing our minds on pleasing God in whatever we do. Somebody has written,
“Worship in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Worship is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church, for others, occasional visits to special services. Some, with a bent for Christian entertainment and sacred diversion, plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies and conferences. We go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so, somehow, expand our otherwise humdrum lives. We’ll try anything — until something else comes along.”
That kind of once a week, “tourist worship,” “worship as entertainment,” is not true Christian worship. Christian worship is a life filled with service continuously and consciously offered up to God, twenty-four / seven.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
But being a living sacrifice in a world which hates God is not easy. It means we have to
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
J.B./Phillips translation puts it this way. “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mould!”
It can be so easy and so tempting to fit in, just to go with the flow. But the only thing that goes with the flow is a dead fish. Christians are supposed to be different. Christians are supposed to stand out from the crowd – however much that costs. The job of a living sacrifice is to die, and Jesus Himself was crucified because he didn’t fit in, because he was so different!
Remember what Jesus said in John 15 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
If we are living sacrifices we can expect to stand out from the crowd! But sometimes we aren’t brave enough to dare to be different! Russian Christians sometimes call us Westerners “Four Wheel Christians.” They think that we drive to church for our dedications and our weddings and our Christmas services, and ultimately for our funerals. But real faith should mean much much more than that. The life of a living sacrifice should be very different! So Paul says,
LET GOD CHANGE YOU
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The gospel calls us all to repent, and the word repentance, in Greek metanoia, literally means a change of mind or a change of direction. The problem many of us face is that by the time we become Christians we have lived so long in the world that our ways of thinking are corrupted and perverted by the world around. We saw this so clearly in Romans 1
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
So from the very start our minds are opposed to God, locked into evil thoughts and selfish attitudes. We can’t begin to live holy lives or to please God until God has changed us.
Our minds need to be transformed, metamorphosed like a caterpillar into a butterfly, made new by God so that our thinking can glorify Him. Too often Christians are not caterpillars but simply chameleons, not transformed inwardly but simply changing on the outside to blend in with their surroundings.
be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Our minds need to be renewed so that our thinking can glorify God!
J.B.Phillips Don’t let the world around squeeze you into its own mould, but let God remould your minds from within.
This renewing of our minds will take hard work. It will take learning, immersing ourselves in the Bible, learning from theology and church history and morality and ethics so that we will really know how to please God. And renewing our minds is an ongoing process, a lifelong process. It’s about Sermons and Home Groups and personal Bible Study and prayer and reading Christian books. It’s about asking God to revolutionise the way we think about everything!
Philippians 4 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Be transformed by the renewing of the mind. It does disturb me how some churches in these days are only concerned with experiences and emotions and devalue and neglect study and developing a Christian mind. This is so important, says Paul, because only as God transforms our minds,
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is
God has his general will, the way he wants all Christian to live, loving each other and loving our neighbours and proclaiming the gospel by every means that we can. But God also has His specific will for each of our lives, his perfect plan to give us the very best life we could possibly have.
his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And the most appropriate response any of us can make to God’s love for us is to devote our lives to finding out what God’s good, pleasing and perfect will is for our own life, and then living that out day by day.
God’s will is GOOD – it has no bad bits, no sneaks, no tricks, no hidden surprises, no booby traps. Jesus said, “How much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Jim Elliott, the missionary martyr to the Auca Indians, said, “That man is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
God’s will is PLEASING Obeying God pleases God, but it is also pleasing and satisfying to us. However much it costs, following God’s will is worth it!
God’s will is PERFECT – it is complete, self contained, self-sufficient. If we are walking in God’s will, we won’t need anything else to live life which is a happy and completely fulfilled. It is enough to be a living sacrifice!
Another missionary to Africa, David Livingstone, wrote this in his journal.
“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege.”
To offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices is indeed a privilege – after all Christ has done for us it is the least we can do!
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer 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. NIV