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Background Scripture: Romans 12


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.  Romans 12:1

This is the second in a four part series.  Our topic is the Biblical command to not be like the world in which we live.  The essence of this command is to be a nonconformist.  Last time we focused on the mercy God as being our motivation in offering ourselves to God in all we are and do and think.  Today we want to examine the characteristics or qualities of our “sacrifice” to Him.

Paul tells us under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the true believer’s sacrifice to God has three distinct qualities:

First, it is said to be “living.”  Compare this living sacrifice to those offered to God by the Israelites in the Old Testament.  The sacrifices offered by the Israelites were either living creatures, or items which ministered to life.  The idea again was that the one offering the sacrifice was presenting something to God which represented the worshiper’s own life.  Normally, however, the offerings were slain.  In contrast, when the Christian truly discovers the enjoyment of true life, that is, an intimate and pleasing fellowship with God Himself!  Nevertheless, in presenting one’s self as a living sacrifice to God and for God there is both death and life.  The believer is constantly dying unto sin and entering into a new life of righteousness unto God as he makes the living sacrifice referred to by Paul in Romans 12:1.  It is by making this living sacrifice that we are obedient to Peter’s imperative found in chapter one, verse 15 of his first letter wherein he states: “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”

Second, the text of our Scripture tells us that our sacrifice is “holy.”  As we study the Old Testament system of sacrifices, what do we see emphasized time and time again?  Everyone who officiated had to be ceremonially clean.  The sacrifices themselves had to be without blemish.  The idea being that every offering to God shall be one which a pure, perfect, and holy God can accept.  What does this say to the modern day believer?  It informs us that a sprinkled body is not enough!  God, the holy, sovereign Lord of all things, demands that His chosen people have a pure heart.  Is this not what our Lord Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount?

Third, we see that our living sacrifice is “pleasing” to God.  Even in the Old Testament, we see that the “true believers” understood clearly that ceremonial purity and ritual correctness alone were not enough to obtain Divine favor.  Is not the same true today?  Does not the follower of Christ understand the necessity of a living and holy sacrifice in order to please our God, and to fulfill the requirement of our Lord Jesus as taught over and over again in the New Testament?


Paul then says that our “living sacrifice” is our “spiritual act of worship.”  Though the “body” is presented, this presentation is the expression of inner, spiritual worship.  Listen carefully Christian, all people worship!  Worship is not something unique to followers of Christ.  Pagans worship.  They have ceremonies, sacrifice, prayer, adoration, etc.  One need only recall the offering of Faye Ray to King Kong to realize that all human beings worship!  Today we see worship of material possessions.  We see worship of people like the now deceased Princess Di.  Yes, worship is common to all people.  Long before Christ came to earth until today, Judaism has demanded an elaborate system of public worship right down to chatting in ancient Hebrew.  What makes the worship of Christians any different?  Paul tells us.  Obedience is the highest and most acceptable form of worship which can be offered to God.  This “spiritual act of worship” is distinguished from worship which is merely mechanical and formal.  It is also distinguishable from all substitutionary worship.  It is personal, not representative; not by a priest who worships for the congregation and professes to offer sacrifices as their representative.  No, it is worship by each believer who has his own praise to give, his own service to render.  Praise Him who has made all this possible!

Christian, is your worship living and holy and pleasing to Him?  Will you not yield to what God asks, through Christ, who makes obedience and praise acceptable offerings to the Living God?

James McLaughlin

READINGS: Matthew 5 and 6; Luke 6:43-49; Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul, Readings 86, 87, 88, and 89.


– This article comes from AI’s devotional for lawyers titled, “What Does the Lord Require of You?”

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