21 Aug 1999

The Living Sacrifice, Romans 12:1

Submitted by theshovel
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Romans 12:1 Date Posted: Aug-21-99 at 4:56pm

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1

So, what is that dead thing we're offering up as a living sacrifice?

..by the mercies of God...

First, you gotta notice that this is by the mercies of God". This is not a difficult thing to figure out here; the guy had written THE MOST DEFINITIVE PRESENTATION OF THE FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST! Why do we strain so hard to come up with an interpretation? If you came over to my house and I put a big piece of grilled steak, baked potatoes and green beans (a meatless dish for you vegetarians) in front of you ... would you look around and ask what's for dinner? If you did, I would have to assume that what I prepared was not acceptable to you ... or that it was not recognizable to you as food. So, Paul has described in detail the amazing substance of true life as provided by God, and we come up with something like, "Jesus gave His life for me, THE LEAST I CAN DO is to live for Him." That's pretty lame. Do we just not recognize the full-course meal sitting on our plate? Or do we, perhaps, find it UNACCEPTABLE? The mercies of God is what CHRIST HAS ACCOMPLISHED through His death and resurrection. You may want to read Romans 1-11 (especially 6-8) so that you know what he is asking you to consider. For any attempt on our part, without this viewpoint, totally ignores EVERYTHING HE DID. THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST!

...present...

Try to picture this without thinking of a dedication service with altar calls, intense introspection, promises, resolutions & vows. For this presenting has nothing to do with any of that! He is not impressed with formalities and words.

For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die we are the Lord's. Romans 14:7-8

Don't you know that your every moment and thought is before Him? How we SEE ourselves is how we PRESENT ourselves. But it doesn't SAY, "See yourselves as ...", does it? The choice of words is crucial: it is a STATING OF REALITY vs. VISUALIZATION. Let me explain. You could SEE yourself as Superman, yet if you jumped off a building you would just go SPLAT. Now, if you WERE Superman, and had an identity crisis, you would be called upon to PRESENT yourself as Superman. In other words, VISUALIZING yourself in Christ doesn't make it true. But to PRESENT yourself before God as in Christ IT MUST BE TRUE!

... present yourselves to God AS THOSE ALIVE FROM THE DEAD Romans 6:13

VISUALIZING is merely an attempt to create your own reality; PRESENTING is the reality of standing before God (right now) as HE HAS MADE YOU. If you belong to Him, He sees you as He recreated you in Jesus Christ. So, how do YOU see yourself right now? THAT is how you are presenting yourself to Him. Any discrepancies between the way HE sees you and the way YOU see you? The gospel tells you that THE WAY GOD SEES YOU IS REALITY!

...present your bodies...

Have you ever said something like...

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the BODY of this death? Romans 7:24

Now if...

...nothing good dwells in me, that is, IN MY FLESH... Romans 7:18

...shouldn't we give up on the idea that anything good can come out of our bodies? But the answer to Paul's own question says that Christ SETS US FREE from the body of this death. No, this is not talking about when we die, this is a present reality! For Paul came to realize that...

I myself with my mind AM SERVING the law of God, but ... with my flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:25

Sound contradictory? Once again, it's NOT a mind-game. The reference to "my mind" was the REAL & LIVING PERSON he was in Christ!

So now, no longer am I the one doing it...For I joyfully concur with the law of God IN THE INNER MAN...the law of MY MIND Romans 7:17,20,22,23

If you think you are the EARTHSUIT you live in you will follow earthly principles in an attempt to produce results ... but this only and always results in sin! Who you really are SERVES GOD THROUGH YOUR BODY! But how? BECAUSE GOD HAS MADE IT A REALITY.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give LIFE TO YOUR MORTAL BODIES through His Spirit WHO INDWELLS YOU! Romans 8:11

Despite all appearances and doubts, He has made your dying body ALIVE for Him to live HIS life through! So, why do we spend so much time desperately trying to make ourselves into something that He can work through. The gospel tells you that IT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE!

...a living and HOLY sacrifice. ...

First, the holy part. Another whacked out concept that messes with believers heads, huh? Holy does NOT refer to the goodness, lifestyle or perfection of a person, place or a thing; it denotes something or someone that God lays claim on. He "sets it apart for His use" (that's the actual meaning of the word). It is an ordinary person or thing that becomes EXTRAORDINARY by the association! Why do you think people value items belonging to celebrities or athletes? In this case, the BODY of the believer finds its value in WHO IT IS THAT OWNS IT! Wow! Did you catch that? It doesn't have to do with your attempts to make yourself holy (whatever that may mean to you :). Are you one who believes in Christ? Don't you know that when Christ hung on the cross He made the full purchase for the purpose of DEDICATING you to God by Himself? And in view of the great price why do we keep doubting its reality by our feeble attempts to dedicate ourselves to God? Why do we try so stinkin' hard to MAKE OURSELVES HIS or to give ourselves to God? Don't you realize that Paul's letter to the Romans is describing the transaction of our being GIVEN TO JESUS by the Father

...they were YOURS, and You gave them to ME ... John 17:6

The gospel tells you that HE HAS ALREADY DEDICATED ALL THAT YOU ARE TO HIMSELF! Rest in this reality!

...a living and holy SACRIFICE...

Did you ever hear the story about the chicken who approached the pig and said, "Let's make a sacrifice and give Farmer Jones a Ham and Egg breakfast."? The pig + sacrifice = ham sandwiches; the chicken + sacrifice = 2 eggs over easy. That's a chicken for ya. But the sacrificed victim doesn't survive. It gets killed ... dead ... the life blood drained from its body. It may have walked TO the altar, but it NEVER walked away! Get the picture? Things put upon the altar were NOT being consecrated to a life of service. Where do we get the crazy idea that we are making a SACRIFICE by giving up things we enjoy ... or doing something we don't want to do? That's the chicken mentality. But a sacrifice was not a blemished participant. The rules of acceptability for sacrificed animals was strict. This reinforced the fact that the victim was not guilty for the crimes for which it was being killed. The sacrifice was an innocent victim that was substituted in place of the guilty! The gospel tells you that CHRIST WAS SACRIFICED FOR THOSE WHO WERE GUILTY!

The Altar

"The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar!" Heard that before? Doesn't the gospel tell you ANYTHING about listening to such trash? What is this altar? Why is the concept so embedded that we have them in most of the buildings we call churches? There has been ONLY ONE altar as far as God is concerned. Don't you know that every other one was only a SHADOW of the real one? The altar was a place of death; it was not a somber place of dedication and vows to the Lord. Most of us stay away from reading many Old Testament writings because they are so bloody ... so primitive! So, how is it that we continually speak of going before the ALTAR? An unbloody altar ... what a meaningless concept.

...being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation (a substitute sacrifice) in His blood through faith... Romans 3:24-25

Don't you get it? EVERY SINGLE ALTAR that God had instructed to be set up was a foreshadowing of the one to come. The gospel tells us that HIS ALTAR WAS THE CROSS ON WHICH HE HUNG AND BLED AND DIED.

...a LIVING and holy sacrifice...

So, what is a living sacrifice? Simply stated: THERE IS NO SUCH THING IN THIS WORLD! A contradiction? If you had lived in the wilderness with Moses, all the bloody slayings in the tabernacle would have convinced you that sacrifice and living don't go together. That is, except for one: the scapegoat ... or, literally, the goat of removal (Leviticus 16) Technically, this sacrifice wasn't SACRIFICED. For there were TWO goats that created this picture. Both were made to be offerings for sin. One was killed; one was driven away. One died; one lived. They were both part of one offering. And God made it a permanent, once-a-year ritual. It was called the day of ATONEMENT. And it was the day that the people would be cleansed from all their sins. Much more could be said about this, but I want you to take note of the goat that survived. There was ONLY ONE who had been SACRIFICED and LIVED to tell about it. And He didn't need two of Him to create an illusion. Jesus was sacrificed (the goat that got killed) and was REMOVED from the people (the goat of removal). He not only removed our sins from us, He Himself was removed to a new life where sin doesn't exist! THAT IS A LIVING SACRIFICE! The gospel tells you that YOU HAVE DIED TO SIN AND THAT YOU LIVE TO GOD: A LIVING SACRIFICE!

...acceptable to God...

Aren't you sick and tired of failing to make yourself acceptable to God? I am! It hasn't worked and I know it because I've tried! How about you? There is good reason why you do not FEEL acceptable! Do you know why? In the split-seconds between the question mark and the first word of this sentence you just examined yourself, didn't you? You found yourself automatically agreeing that the crap of your life has made you unworthy, huh? Let me tell you, there is only one reason I would know that you might do that ... yeah, I do it, too! It happens so fast. We focus on sin ... the thing that Jesus took out of the way. Paul didn't tell anyone to MAKE themselves acceptable to God. He urged them to PRESENT themselves acceptable to God. Huge difference! The first says that YOU have to do something to make this happen; the second, that CHRIST did what was necessary to make it a reality. It comes down to this: If you judge YOURSELF as being unacceptable, you are judging JESUS as being unacceptable. I don't say this to make you feel guilty ... I say it to expose the deception of the lie. He is not waiting for you to get down on your hands and knees and beg for mercy. He wants you to be confident that He has already given it. The gospel tells you that YOU ARE ALREADY ACCEPTABLE TO GOD!

...which is your spiritual service of WORSHIP...

Each version I've seen translates this differently. It should be pretty simple, there are only four Greek words represented here. An article ("the") and a pronoun ("yours"). That leaves TWO words to consider to unlock this difficult spiritual mystery (lighten up, okay? :). One looks almost exactly like logical and it means pretty much the same. It is that which is fitting, or reasonable. It is that which follows in a logical sense. The other word means worship, service, or duty. Worship is about how one approaches God. If we miss the reality of the first part of the sentence, we will find ourselves reading something real spiritual into this part. It's not just that we deny our reality in Christ, but we use this part of the verse to make it APPEAR as if we are really doing God a service to do so! Now, I'm not mocking any heartfelt desire to praise God for who He is, but the fact is that we can put on quite a show in the name of WORSHIP. Worship is not what we do to make up for the obvious lack we sense in ourselves. But THIS, more often than not, is what drives many Worship services. Doubt and shame and fear can be at the heart of such events. We often try to LIFT HIM UP and PUT OURSELVES DOWN. Very tragic. But the meaning should be so obviously simple. He has made us worthy. He desires us to approach Him as being HOLY and as being ALIVE FROM THE DEAD WITH HIS SON. The gospel tells us that TO SEE OURSELVES BEFORE GOD AS HE HAS MADE US TO BE IS THE ONLY FITTING APPROACH TO HIM!

I urge you...

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1

If Paul is saying what I think he is saying, this reality should have your head spinning. For how you relate to God is NOT based on something that you have done or a determination that you have made. It is based on that which doesn't change. How is it that we so easily dismiss the earth-shattering event by which God did away with sin? What I'm saying is that when your idea of the Christian Life demands that YOU must deal with your sin YOU ARE TRYING TO DO WHAT CHRIST HAS ALREADY DONE.

HOW shall we who DIED TO SIN still live in it? Romans 6:2

Although you and I might consider ourselves UNWORTHY God does not stoop to that carnal viewpoint. Do you think that God will decide to forget what His Son Jesus did just because we do? I think not. I urge you, in the eternal "right now", to stand before your God, KNOWING THAT THE WAY HE SEES YOU IS THE REALITY OF YOUR EXISTENCE! The gospel calls you TO TAKE YOUR PLACE IN HIS PRESENCE WITH CONFIDENCE AND BOLDNESS AS THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN MADE ALIVE FROM THE DEAD AND HAVE EQUAL STANDING WITH HIS SON JESUS!

New Testament: 
Old Testament: 
Random Shovelquote: Realize the freedom (view all shovelquotes)

How can you realize the freedom you have in Christ? I say that you will discover it, more times than not, in the midst of the bondage that still seems to hold you down. You see, the power of the gospel is not found merely in the words of its testimony of Jesus’ death and resurrection, it is found in the reality that has been brought about because of who he is and what he has done. That reality is that Christ is in you. He is there, and his life witnesses from within you … despite all the doubts that you think actually come from within you. source