Updated: Apr 16
What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? Is the Bible completely outdated in a modern world?
These are only two of seemingly endless questions society asks, yet offers false answers to. The answer to the first lies in humility. We must die to self in order to live. God is clear that human nature leads to rebellion against what God has ordained as good. Since God doesn’t change, neither does His word and therefore, the Bible isn’t outdated. This article dives into being a living sacrifice for God and living life for the gratification of God’s calling over self gratification.
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“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV).
The audience of the book of Romans (also called the epistle of Romans since it is a letter) is important in understanding the overall message. Paul wrote Romans while on his third missionary journey while he was in the city of Corinth in AD 57, before he was martyred in Rome in between AD 64-67. His purpose (inspired by the Holy Spirit) was to unite both Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome. His goal was to use the church in Rome as the base for launching operations to proclaim the Gospel in Spain (mentioned in Romans 15:22-24).
During Paul’s second missionary journey in Corinth, he had established (planted) the church that was being used during the writing of the book of Romans (mentioned in Acts 18:1-11).
There are several key themes in Romans, however, for the sake of this post we will focus on one: being a living sacrifice. For a more broader scope of themes, please visit ESV.org.
Being a Living Sacrifice
God’s mercies are shown through the death and resurrection of Jesus. By Jesus shedding His blood and rising again on the third day, not only was the wrath of God satisfied for the atonement of sin, but humans had a way back to God since it was us that broke that covenant. God’s calling for the Christian is to build their lives on that foundation of mercy. There lies no more condemnation for those that are in Christ. Once they are converted, they will not be snatched from the Father’s hand.
So what does it mean, truly, to be a living sacrifice for God? It means to die to self. In all aspects. To put on the mercy of God. Here’s a takeaway from Pastor John Piper, founder of Desiring God.
“Build your lives on this mercy. Sink your roots in this mercy. And your new life will flow out with mercy. That is, Romans 12 will become a reality in your own life. Romans 12 oozes with mercy. “Show mercy with cheerfulness. . . . Let love be genuine. . . . Give to the saints. . . . Bless those who persecute you. . . . Weep with those who weep. . . . Associate with the lowly. . . . Repay no one evil for evil. . . . Never avenge yourselves. . . . If your enemy is hungry feed him.” Build your lives on mercy and become merciful.” Pastor John Piper, “Present Your Bodies as a Living Sacrifice to God.” Desiring God Foundation. Web article. Source: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/present-your-bodies-as-a-living-sacrifice-to-god
Note the key phrases in this Romans segment:
Show mercy with cheerfulness
Show genuine love
Give to the saints
Bless those who persecute you instead of vowing to vengeance
Weep with those that are mourning
Do not make outcasts of the lowly
repay evil with good
Do not avenge yourselves
Show your enemies hospitality (within reason, but still uphold justice according to God’s law)
If you noticed you struggle in more than one of the points listed above, you’ve uncovered what it means to be an ongoing living sacrifice. This will be a lifelong endeavor.
Dying to self is something that contradicts human nature (the flesh) and will always be at war with the spirit. It can’t be done without God’s continuous assistance. I know myself personally, all of the bullets above can be improved. For every Christian, this is what is strived for while we are Earth. Pick up your mantle and allow God to work in your life.
For similar articles, please see the below publications.
Knowing God's Will
The Attributes of God: Merciful Provider
Jesus the Daily Portion
The Attributes of God: Name Above All Names
The Myth Complex Part 2
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