Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1 NIV
A ‘living sacrifice’ is an oxymoron.
An offering brought to atone sin in the Old Testament was dead. If a living sacrifice was brought it would no doubt jump off the altar and run away… I know I would. I imagine myself being presented before God on an altar, a place of change, as an offering, and yes this oxymoron seems to perfectly reflect moments in my own life. Times of surrender followed quickly by times of ‘forgetting.’
How often do we find ourselves in in that very place? We lay our life down, surrender all that we are to God then life happens. A new opportunity comes our way, we get busy, distracted, essentially we skip the “sacrifice” bit and carry on with the “living”, running away bit.
I think this is where Eugene Petterson’s paraphrase of the verse so beautifully reflects what God is asking of us.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Romans 12:1 The Message
The idea that we would also have to present our lives as holy also seems just a little too much to ask. Holiness, perfection, without mistake, I need to try harder… No it’s the opposite. My holiness is about Jesus sacrifice not mine. At this point I got lost in Hebrews reading about the sacrifice that Jesus fulfilled once and for all. Here are some highlights as I refrain from copying and pasting chapter 8 & 10 of Hebrews as it is all so good!:
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Hebrews 10:1
The rest of the chapter goes on to explain that Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice once and for all and sat down at the right hand of God. The old way was finished. Verse 14 says that ‘He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified (set apart).’ I love that it says ‘who are being’ not who have been- we are changed and changing still, becoming more like jesus as we accept more and more of His sacrifice and allow it to permeate our lives.
Continued Hebrews 10 says that the law is now in our hearts (thus a good idea to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit quickly), Sin is gone and remembered no more and thus we should boldly draw near confident, with a pure heart.
So how do we follow Paul’s words and become a living sacrifice when our human nature constantly tries to escape from the altar and do our own thing?
In my early days as a Christian the times I would “present myself as a sacrifice” were reserved for conferences and retreats- once or twice a year. Thankfully over the years these times have become more frequent. A journey from surrendering once a year, to once a week, and now many times over in a day. “Not my will but Yours be done.”
Our will is strong but hopefully our desire to truly follow Him is stronger.
In the last few weeks I have also discovered another layer to surrender: when we place our life on the altar we don’t just surrender our will, but get to surrender our sin nature too. All of our faults and aspects of our character that we are ‘working on’ can be be placed on the altar in faith that Jesus has us covered. Literally.
Letting go of our faults seems easy, letting go our our will (our dreams, desires, our opinions, our ways), not-so-much. Yet somehow I feel like the two are connected. He wants all of us.
The more often we let go and surrender our lives to our loving Father, the more we can rest and trust that our life will unfold in His way.
My question is: if we know we should offer ourselves to God in this way why don’t we?
What holds us back?
Do we trust Him?
How can you take a moment to surrender, present and offer ourselves just as we are today?
This devotional is part of a 21 day ‘meander’ through Romans 12. If you would like to subscribe to the rest of the content we would love you to join us. Comments and questions always welcome xx
Check the Lex (Lexicon or Strongs) & the dictionary
Present Greek 3936 παρίστημι ‘par-is’-tay-mee’: to stand beside, to exhibit, recommend, substantiate; or to be at hand (or ready), aid, assist, bring before, command, commend, give presently, present, prove, provide, stand (before, by, here, up, with), yield.
Sacrifice– I looked this one up but it was as it says- a sacrifice. The dictionary explains a sacrifice as ‘the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.
Holy Greek 40 ἅγιος ‘hag’-ee-os’; sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated):(most) holy (one, thing), saint.
Living (my thoughts)…our life, our living our everyday ordinary lives. Not a ‘lifestyle of worship’- as lifestyle denotes choice, but a life; fully surrendered- no other option- sold out- yielded to Him.