NAU Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, 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. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
NIV 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. 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.
KJV Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
What does Paul mean by being a living sacrifice and how can that be accomplished? It is interesting to note that the word for ‘present’ or ‘offer’ is the same word used in the Septuagint (LXX) in Leviticus 16:7. There the word is used to describe what to do with the animals in the tabernacle – they are to be presented or offered as sacrifices to the Lord.
If you sacrificed an animal to the Lord, you had to take its life before placing its body on the altar. To offer or present a living animal on the altar to be burned with fire would be cruel.
Paul tells the justified sinner’ to present or offer his body to the Lord like the Old Testament sacrifice – except, instead of offering or presenting oneself physically dead, we are to make a living offering of ourselves to God. Not only are we presenting ourselves alive to God but as holy and acceptable. The Greek literally describes this sacrifice as a living, holy, acceptable one.
How do we offer ourselves not only as a living sacrifice to God but a holy and acceptable sacrifice? Paul has already told us in the first 11 chapters of Romans that we are unholy in God’s sight until we become ‘holy’ or’ acceptable’ by placing our confidence (i.e. faith) in the finished work of Christ on the cross. This justifies us (or, declares us righteous) in God’s sight. After being justified, Paul is encouraging us to not only offer ourselves as a holy sacrifice but to live holy. How this can be done will be examined tomorrow and Thursday.
But even after being justified, we continue to sin. If a good effort could not justify us as Paul argues in Chapters 1-11 before placing our faith in the finished work of Christ, then a good effort certainly cannot do the job after placing our faith in the finished work of Christ. While the immediate context does not tell us how the justified sinner is to deal with sin in his life, the Apostle John did in 1 John 1:9 – confess it and repent!
Paul continues his ‘encouragement’ to the justified sinner by saying that offering yourself as a holy, living, acceptable sacrifice to God is the logical expression of faith by the justified sinner (the literal translation of the phrase which is your spiritual service of worship!