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.
Note 1 at Ro 12:1: Paul was speaking to us Christians. It is possible to commit our lives to the Lord for the purpose of salvation and yet not be yielded to the Lord in our daily lives. It is only when we make the total sacrifice of every area of our lives that we begin to see God's perfect will manifest through our lives.
Note 2 at Ro 12:1: Paul used the mercies of God to encourage these Romans to give themselves totally to God. Today, most preachers use the wrath of God to try to drive people to God. Some people need the condemnation of the Law to make them aware of their need for a Savior, but as a whole, we could "draw more flies with honey than with vinegar." It's the goodness of God that leads people to repentance (Ro 2:4).
Note 3 at Ro 12:1: Notice that we are the ones who have to make this presentation of our bodies to the Lord. He will not do it for us. Some of us might pray, "Lord, You do what You have to do to make us serve You." That is not a proper prayer. We cannot have someone lay hands on us to impart this commitment to us. We cannot just rebuke the flesh and expect it to disappear. We have to give our bodies to God as living sacrifices daily (see note 4 at this verse).
Note 4 at Ro 12:1: This sounds like a contradiction in terms. How can we be living sacrifices when sacrifices are always dead? This is speaking of the fact that offering ourselves to God is not just a one-time deal. We have to die to our own desires daily. This has to be a living, ongoing commitment to the Lord.
The Apollo spacecraft traveled to the moon, but it was not just as simple as blasting off and landing on the moon. Course corrections were made every ten minutes or so for the entire trip. And then, they only landed a few feet inside the targeted landing area of 500 miles. Yet the mission was a success.
Likewise, there has to be a starting place for this decision to be a living sacrifice. We have to "blast off," or start our journey, sometime, but we don't ever "arrive" in this life. We just leave and start toward the goal (Php 3:12-13). We may be making course corrections every ten minutes for the rest of our lives.
You see, living sacrifices have a tendency to keep crawling off the altar. Every minute of every day, we have to reaffirm this decision to be totally separated unto God. This is what Paul was referring to by the term "living sacrifice."
Note 5 at Ro 12:1: Many Christians think that living lives totally consecrated to God is something that only preachers or a few lay people do. They see it as "extra" and not "normal" Christianity. However, Paul said this level of commitment is our reasonable service. Jesus died for each one of us. Each one of us ought to live for Him.
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