I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 ESV
In the Old Testament sacrificial system, animals were sacrificed to the Lord for the remission of sins. The sacrificed animal was required to be spotless, and the blood of the animal was to be splattered on the altar, because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus became the perfect and complete sacrifice for humanity’s sin. His blood was shed at Calvary for the remission of our sins and for our salvation.
Because of Jesus, believers no longer have to offer animal sacrifice at an altar. Nor is it required for our blood to be shed for the remission of our sins. Instead, we are called to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. That means glorifying God through our physical bodies.
What does that look like? It begins with a pursuit of holiness. This idea is best captured in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” We must learn to prioritize holiness over personal comfort and godliness over our personal agendas.
A sacrifice must adhere to the requirement of the deity to which it is offered. In the Old Testament, God had specific requirements for the way sacrifices were to be offered to Him. In the same way, we must adhere to the requirements of God according to His word. Our soul’s desire should be as stated in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Paul wants believers to offer their bodies as living sacrifices. This is a voluntary act of surrender and worship. Just as animal sacrifices were offered to God during worship in the Old Testament, we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices which is our spiritual worship. Worship is not only done in a sanctuary on a specific day. We worship God when we take good care of our physical bodies. When we do acts of random kindness, we are worshipping God. Physical exercise can be a form of worship. Eating as well as resting are forms of worship.
What makes an activity worshipful is the intent for which it is done. Anything that is done with a spirit of gratitude and with the intent of functioning according to the way God created us to function is worshipful. The human body is the most sophisticated machinery ever created. The science community is yet to fully comprehend the complexity of the human body. When the body does what it was created to do to the glory of God, it is a form of spiritual worship.
To be clear, Paul is not asking believers to pursue perfection. He wants believers to cultivate a life of holiness. He understands this is very challenging to be done in the physical flesh. Thus, he recommends that we present our bodies as living sacrifices. This is the only way we can maintain control over our sinful desires and live a life that is pleasing to God.
As living sacrifices, we are not conformed to the patterns of this world but are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Our desire is to please Almighty God in every way. We discipline our bodies like athletes so as not to be disqualified as kingdom workers. We long for the resurrected body that will be given to us on the day of rapture. But in the meantime, we bring our bodies to submission to the perfect will of God, and we use godliness as the standard for all thoughts and actions.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What does it mean to be a living sacrifice?
How can you offer God spiritual worship with your body?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, I present my body to you as a living sacrifice. Please circumcise my heart and my mind so my life can be holy and acceptable to you. I ask your Holy Spirit to help me offer you spiritual worship in everything that I do.