Romans 12:1

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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

Paul spoke of doctrine in chapters 1-8. Next he moved to the concept of the dispensational nature of God’s redemptive working in chapters 9-11. Now his final section, chapters 12-16, he will speak of our devotional responsibilities; what our duties are and how to perform them. And so he begins with his plea to those in Rome, “I beseech you therefore…”

“Therefore” is given based on the awe-inspiring doxology he just presented at the end of chapter 11. God’s glory is incomprehensible, His wisdom is infinite, and his judgments are beyond finding out. Because of this surpassing greatness, Paul implores the “brethren.” In Greek, the term “brethren” is used anytime at least one male was addressed. This in no way is diminishing to women, but is how the language is structured. Those at Rome were all being addressed, including women, as is indicated in chapter 16.

“By the mercies of God” takes us back to the mercy verses (11:30-32) which just preceded the doxology. As God has determined to have mercy on both Jew and Gentile, Paul states that those objects of God’s mercy should “present your bodies a living sacrifice.” On the surface, this seems like an oxymoron.  A sacrifice, by nature, is something that dies. And yet, Paul asks us to be “living sacrifices.” However, to Paul there was nothing contradictory in his words. In his first letter to the Corinthians he says, “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15:31

A sacrifice was offered to God for various reasons – atonement, fellowship, thanks, etc. These offerings were sometimes entirely given over to God in the fire, such as a sin offering. Other offerings were shared in by the one who offered, such as in the fellowship offering. Either way though, the entire sacrifice was consumed. This is the idea that Paul is conveying to them (and thus to us). We are to be completely consumed in our offering to God – not in literal death, but in death to unrighteousness, death to sin, death to immorality, etc.

This “living” sacrifice is to be a part of our very nature as we continue on in our earthly tents, awaiting that day when we are called home – either through death or the rapture. Until that time, our every act and thought is to be a devotion and an offering to God; a living sacrifice. As he says in the conclusion of the verse, such a sacrifice is to be “holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

“Holy” is undefiled and without mar or blemish. It is to be set apart and sanctified to God. “Acceptable to God” involves the thought that we are His, we were bought at a price and are to be effective bondservants of Christ, not slack in our duties or our devotions. We are to honor God with our every fiber, bringing every thought into captivity so that our service will be complete, undefiled, and honorable to Him. Such is our reasonable service and such is the expectation of God who sent Jesus to give us the pattern and the model which we are to emulate.

Life application: Let us truly be “living sacrifices” to God, wholly pleasing to Him in all ways. We are His and it is only right that we acknowledge this in our lives and conduct.

Heavenly Father, You have asked me to be a “living sacrifice” to You. And yet I know that I fail You from day to day and even from thought to thought. Help me to live for You, not by my own power or spirit, but by the power of Your Spirit, living in me. I desire to be an offering which is pleasing, holy, and acceptable to You. On my own, I know I will fail, but through You, I know I will prevail. Thank You for directing me. Amen.

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