This is perhaps one of the more famous passages in scripture. Paul writes,
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.
It’s always good to look back at what was said previously whenever you see the word “therefore.” And as we saw, Paul had just written,
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36)
Think about that phrase “all things” for a minute. Among those “things” are us. We were created from his mind and by his plan. We were created through his power. And we were created for him, and ultimately we will return to him, held accountable for how we lived our lives.
So many people scream, “It’s my life. It’s my right to live however I want to.”
That’s only half true. God has indeed given us free will. So in that sense, we have the right to live as we please. But it is not really our life. We were created by God, by his power, and for him.
And it is with that in mind, Paul says that we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to him. He also calls it our spiritual service of worship to God. The King James version puts it, “your reasonable service.”
In other words, it only makes sense that since we were created by God and for him, that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
What does that mean though? Does that mean we are to die for him? While some may be called to become martyrs for Christ, Paul doesn’t mean this. He says we are to be “living” sacrifices.
I like to use the analogy of marriage when thinking of a living sacrifice.
In a marriage, the husband and wife offer themselves to each other. And while I’m sure, for example, my wife would be happy to know that I am willing to die for her, she would much prefer that I live for her. That I would set apart myself for her, and give myself to no other woman. More, she would like to know that I love her so much that I want to please her, and find joy in pleasing her. I, of course, desire the same thing from my wife. And when husbands and wives live as living sacrifices toward each other, marriage works well.
In the same way, while God is happy to know that we’re willing to die for him, he would much rather that we live for him. That each day, we would set apart ourselves (be holy) for him. And he wants us to love him so much, that we delight in pleasing him.
Why would we do these things? Because of his mercies toward us. He himself became a man and laid down his life for us as a sacrifice. While we were yet sinners, our backs set against him, and going our own way, Christ loved us enough to die for us that we might be reconciled to him.
And now that we know the love of God in our lives, it’s only natural that we respond with that same kind of love and offer ourselves to him, living lives that are pleasing to him.
That’s a living sacrifice. How about you? Are you a living sacrifice?