Inspired by the Holy Spirit to pen Romans 12:1, the author urges us to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, being our reasonable act of worship. In the Old Testament, many animal lives were given as sacrifices and these were put to death on the altar. In this New Testament verse, emphasis is given to how God desires our very lives to be our living sacrifices as an act of worship to the Father.
What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? What does this act of worship entail? Looking at the verse, we can learn the following insights:
- There is an intentional decision to give oneself to God as an offering.
The Greek Word for “present” which is used in verse 1 means to “appear, stand by”. The meaning here is that the one making the offering consciously and self-decidedly presents his very self as the offering. When Abraham brought Isaac to Mount Moriah for the purpose of offering Him to God as a sacrifice, Isaac was willing when he learned of the plan. In Romans 12:1, the offering is decided by us with our very lives and we intentionally, willingly present ourselves to God as an offering for Him.
- There is a lifetime decision to give oneself to God as an offering.
To be a living sacrifice is to offer yourself to God for the whole duration of your life. You never cease to be an offering. At all times, you pose yourself for His pleasure and purpose. This means you will not withhold any part of your life from Him. This means that all of you and yours are His and for Him alone.
This can be difficult at times, especially when we are at the fork of a road on which a decision has to be made, whether or not to to pursue a self-interest that may distract us (or lessen our time and efforts) from pursuing the things of God.
- A living sacrifice counts oneself sacred for God and pleasing for His use.
The words “holy” and “acceptable” carries the meaning of “sacred” and “pleasing”. In being sacred, you set yourself aside for a particular purpose. In being sacred, you commit yourself to a particular cause or person. In being pleasing, you work on being fit and able to meet the desire of someone or something.
To be a living sacrifice is to offer your life for God’s pleasure, on His terms and not on yours. You discover from His Word what pleases Him and you work on applying those discoveries in your life. It is not a conditional “take it or leave it” mindset when you come before God and offer yourself. It is a non-conditional “take it and make of it what you desire” mindset.
This can be difficult at times, especially when we face frustrations and failures or when there is discomfort at a time when God is working in us, pruning us, and changing us to grow more attached to Him and to live godly lives in this humanistic world.
In being a living sacrifice to God, the end benefits are not for God actually. We are the ones who stand to benefit in this act of worship. We know this to be true based on the following verse. As living sacrifices, we won’t conform to this world but we will be transformed, having our minds renewed. And at the end of that process is us finding God’s good and perfect will for our very lives.