There is a cost to following Jesus. However, the cost should be negligible in our own hearts and minds when we look at the cost He paid for our eternal salvation. Romans 12:1 outlines our sacrifice to Him, described by the Apostle Paul as “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.”
“a living sacrifice” may seem a contradictory term looking at the Jewish sacrificial system, knowing that no sacrifice survived the day. However as a word picture it is perfectly clear as to what our living sacrifice must be. We see this as Jesus was our sacrifice as He went to the Cross of Calvary to pay our sin debt. Unlike Old Testament sacrifices, Jesus rose from the dead and is alive for evermore. As a born again believer we are adopted into this life, and as His living servants we sacrifice our livelihoods for His honor and His glory. Paul calls our living sacrifice a “walk in love” (Ephesians 5:2), Peter calls it our “spiritual sacrifices” (I Peter 2:5), each attained only by Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:1 reveals what our living sacrifice sacrifice is for our Savior:
1) Our Sacrifice must be HOLY
Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that being holy does not take sacrifice. The moment we try to make our wicked flesh obey God’s holiness, it rears its ugly head and fights tooth and nail. For most believers, we honestly desire to be holy for our Lord and Savior, but our flesh seems too often to win. Jesus knew this when he said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
“holy” means that our bodies as believers are to be “instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:12-13). As we sacrifice our bodies wholly to our Lord, our bodies become vessels fit for our “master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (II Timothy 2:21). This means that everything about our bodies, our outward perceptions before the world and our God who said, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16).
2) Our Sacrifice must be ACCEPTABLE
Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that you cannot be acceptable unto God. The Bible is our instruction manual, and when we believe and obey it as more then simply ink on a page, our hearts become in tune with God. Our bodily living sacrifice must become a matter of the heart before it can be acceptable unto God. King David knew this well. In his repentant Psalm 51 he teaches us that before God is pleased with our “sacrifices of righteousness” there is the need for the foundation of “a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17,19).
Remember before God saved us, we had to come to Him “broken and contrite,” repentant. Equally, these are necessary requirements to be used of God after we are saved. “broken” has a natural order seen in much of God’s creation:
- broken soil produces a harvest
- broken clouds produce rain
- broken grain gives bread
- broken bread brings worship
- broken alabaster box gives perfume
- broken Peter produced a bold servant
- broken and contrite David won over the heart of God, who said of David, “David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart” (Acts 13:22)
We can be just as acceptable unto God as David was!
3) Our Sacrifice must be REASONABLE
“reasonable“because we have been “bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Corinthians 6:20).
“reasonable” because of the purchase price, by “his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:12).
Jesus gave up everything to be our sacrifice, it is only reasonable that we be prepared, ready and willing to do the same for Him.
I find it very interesting that the root word to “reasonable” is “logos.” Jesus is our logos, He is the living Word. We in turn must be His logos to a lost and dying world. Paul put it this way in II Corinthians 3:2-3:
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”
(II Corinthians 3:2-3)
A primary purpose of our sacrifice and service for our Lord is that souls would be saved from the eternal pits of Hell. We must understand that our living sacrifice may be the last or only message from God that will draw some men to obtain eternal life.
4) Our Sacrifice must be SERVICE
The context of Romans 12 is our service to our Lord through His local church. Romans 12:3-8 is written to those who have surrendered to Romans 12:1-2. Verses 4-5 points to our church membership, while verses 6-8 is our service through our church by way of our spiritual gifts. Church members make up a local church body, and each church member works in harmony with the others so the church functions like a healthy body. Without your living sacrifice, there can be no healthy body.
Are you a LIVING SACRIFICE?
Are we willing to make personal sacrifices for the cause of Christ? Can you name any sacrifices that you have made to be a faithful servant of Christ?