The apostle Paul gives an urgent plea to believers in Christ “to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). Paul makes such a plea based upon “the mercies of God.”
We are objects of His saving grace; therefore we are to put our lives at His disposal. Paul uses the sacrificial word for the Jewish Levitical offering of sacrifices. The body of the believer is to be a “living sacrifice.”
How do you become a “living sacrifice”?
It begins in a once and for all being set apart to God. The Christian is set apart for God’s use in the sense of being for pure and righteous purposes.
Why such an urgent plea? The philosophy of the world system does not satisfy. The longer you live by the humanistic philosophy, the emptier your inner person becomes.
However, the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect.
Being a living sacrifice is often not easy, or pleasant. It is self-denial, self-sacrifice, self-crucifixion of the whole person. But remember the problem with living sacrifices is they want to crawl off the altar.
For the Lord Jesus Christ being a living sacrifice meant oppressive burdens. It brought Him in conflict with evil. He offered Himself as the perfect Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. However, as He conducted His Father’s business He found it to be good and acceptable and perfect.
A living sacrifice for Him means He humbled Himself and became “obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).
The “living sacrifice” that is acceptable to God is that which is well approved, eminently satisfactory, or extra-ordinarily pleasing to Him. The “living sacrifice” does not consist of outward forms, merely external or material, but a holy, well-pleasing, rational, agreeable to reason, sacred service.
Should the disciple of Jesus expect anything different?
Only spiritual things will last through eternity. Everything else will burn up (Matt. 24:35). Whoever “does the will of God will live forever” (1 Jn. 2:17). Jim Elliott said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim gave his life in reasonable service, to gain a spiritual inheritance that will last forever.
How many of God’s saints have died possessing nothing of earthly value, but a living sense of “no retreats and no regrets?” They were living sacrifices to the living God.
We are living sacrifices because God is at work in us now. He is continuing to work in those whom He has brought to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. We are living sacrifices because He is at work in us changing attitudes, destroying destructive habits, forming new ways of thinking that pleases God. God does not start a new work and abandon it. He always finishes what He begins. The only reasonable worship is to join Him in what He is doing.
It is our privilege to glorify God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Rom. 8:9; Phil. 1:20-21; Rom. 6:13). Therefore, Paul admonishes us to present our bodies once and for all to God as living sacrifices. A living sacrifice involves yielding the body, mind and will to God.
It is a privilege to give God our mind (Eph. 4:17-24; Col. 3:1-11) because He wants to transform it by releasing His power from within by using His Word. “If God controls your thinking you are a transformer.”
It is a privilege to give Him your will. It is not by will power that we are transformed, but as we yield to the will of God that His power takes control of us.
Is the “living sacrifice” worth the cost? If we are living sacrifices we will not look back at the end of our lives and be disappointed or feel life is all vanity. We will be able to hear our Master say, “Come, enter into your rest.”
We have only two options. We can choose to be conformed to this world system and its values or be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
As a college student fifty-seven years ago I concluded that being a living sacrifice meant “all or nothing.” I am glad I made that choice. I have no retreats and no regrets as I travel toward the end of the goal. It will be worth it all to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006