Summary: An appeal to the Christian to completely dedicate him or herself to Christ
“A Living Sacrifice”
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.
Romans 12:1 KJV
In the first 11 chapters of Romans, Paul explained the Gospel of God! He explained how the whole world was guilty before God and how man, through Jesus, could be reconciled to God. The theme of Romans is the Gospel of God, more specifically; the righteousness that is from God. This “righteousness from God” is first the righteousness that God Himself possesses and manifests in all His actions; and second, it is the righteousness that God gives to human beings by grace through faith. This involves an imputed righteous standing before God (justification) and an imparted righteous practice and a progressively transformed lifestyle. The latter due to the regenerating and indwelling Holy Spirit of God (regeneration and sanctification).
This imputation of the righteousness of God is the basis for Paul’s exhortatory statement that begins Chapter 12. Listen to what he said! He said: “I beseech you therefore.” “I urge you therefore.” “I appeal to you therefore.” I had an Old Testament Professor in school, who always told us: “Whenever you are reading the Bible and you see the word, ‘therefore,’ you ought to stop and see what it is there for!” Well, this “therefore” forms the connection between what Paul was about to say in Chapter 12 with what he had already said in chapters 1-11! And so, he stated that his appeal was based on the mercies of God that he had expounded upon in chapters 1-11. Paul’s appeal could be worded like this in our modern-day
vernacular: “Brothers, I urge you therefore, based on what God has already done, this is what you ought to do!” The basis of your dedication ought to be the mercies of God!
I find it quite interesting that Paul made this appeal based upon the mercies of God as opposed to it being based upon the grace of God. There is a difference between God’s grace and God’s mercy. God’s grace is His divine unmerited favor. God’s grace is His giving us what we don’t deserve. Whereas, God’s mercy is His pity and compassion. God’s mercy is not giving us what we do deserve! There are a whole lot of folks who complain that God is not fair! But, I am glad that God is not fair! I don’t want the Lord to be fair with me! You see, if God was fair; He’d give me what I deserve! I deserve to die and go to a burning Hell! But thank God for His mercy! His mercy allowed Him to look beyond my fault and see my need! Thank God for his mercy! And so, Paul said that his appeal was based upon the mercies of God! Now, based upon what God has done for you, this is what you ought to do in response!
My brothers and sisters, you need to know today that it is always God who is the first cause! It is always God who makes the first move! If you have been truly saved; it was not because you “found” the Lord, but rather it was because He came to where you were and found you! Yes! That’s how salvation works! If you and I are to be saved, we must respond by faith to what God has already done through Christ Jesus! And so, Paul said, “I appeal to you, my brothers, based upon the mercies that God has already extended. Note, that the word “mercies” is plural God wasn’t and isn’t just merciful once, but He was and is consistently and constantly merciful! Oh! Has the Lord been consistently and constantly merciful to you? Oh! I could have been dead; sleeping in my grave, but the Lord was consistently and constantly merciful!
Hence, Paul said to the church at Rome; “Based upon the mercies of God that I have just explain to you, this should be your response: Present your bodies as a living sacrifice!” Now, first of all, this presentation should be a once and for all presentation! There should be a point and time in your life when you make up your mind that you are going to make this presentation. Paul was not talking about an on now and an off later situation! The Greek word used in the text is a technical term for offering a sacrifice. Now, once you offer a sacrifice, you can’t take it back! Even in the pagan religions, once the offering was laid upon the altar, it was the sole possession of the gods! It could not be retracted! The offering is not of one’s possessions or cattle as was the custom in the Old Testament, but rather Paul said to, “Present your bodies!” In this text, the use of the term “bodies” is not to be understood as making a differentiation between the material and the immaterial part of man. No! Its use is to be understood as the author’s way of saying that we are to present our total selves as a living sacrifice! Not just in parts, but wholly and completely! I can remember when people used to get up and testify that they were so glad that God was a part of their lives. But, my brothers and sisters, the Lord has never desired to be just a part of our lives! Nowhere is it even implied in scripture that He is willing to settle for just being a part! With Him, it is all or nothing! The Psalmist asked the question in Psalms 116: 12: “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” (KJV). The old folks used to sing back home: “How much do I owe Him?” Well, we owe Him everything! And it’s about time we come to realize that we cannot bribe God with money! Some people think that if they just pay the tithe or consistently give a good offering that they have fulfilled their obligation to God. But you need to understand today that God is not really after the money! He doesn’t need it! The Psalmist says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Ps. 24:1 KJV) No! He’s not really after the money; He’s wants you! He knows the value we place upon money, for the Bible says; where a man’s treasure is, his heart will be there also! Therefore, one of the sure signs of one’s spiritual devotion or the lack thereof is the manner in which one handles finances in regard to God, the church and the kingdom! A true Christian not only has a sanctified soul; he has a sanctified pocketbook also! In fact, he understands that there is no part of his life that is off-limits to the Master! That’s what Paul meant in saying, “Present your bodies!” He meant that we are to present ourselves totally to God!