Rom 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. NIV
Beginning with this statement in chapter 12, the apostle Paul lays out a treatise on Christian living. The rest of his letter to the Romans describes how we should approach life as a believer in Christ. The therefore, in this case, is to remind the reader that he has spent eleven chapters explaining in great detail, God’s mercy.
This is an important concept for all of us to grasp. When we are having difficulty living in obedience to God, we should always remember God’s mercy. Paul is telling us that there is good reason to follow the instructions that he will be laying out. He is saying that we should be motivated by the knowledge that God has been so merciful (sometimes translated as compassionate) to us.
As we begin to look at the many instructions that Paul will give, we can say to ourselves, “Why should I do all these things? Because God has been so merciful to me!” If you need a reminder of how merciful He has been to you, just go back to the beginning of Romans and read the first eleven chapters.
Paul’s first instruction to us is the blueprint for all of the other points he will be bringing to our attention. He tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. The Greek word used for body here is soma. Though it does mean our physical body, the reader, at the time this was written, would understand that it meant more than that. It would mean your whole being, everything you are.
Why does Paul say a “living” sacrifice? I believe He was contrasting this with the “dead” sacrifices of the Jewish religion. Remember that offering the sacrifice of animals to be killed, was an act of worship to God for the Jew. What does Paul say here? That offering your living body, to be used in God’s service, is now the preferable act of worship. Why? In view of God’s mercy.
God, in His great mercy towards us, has completed the sacrifices that involved killing. It was the sacrifice of His son on the cross, once and for all. (Rom 6:10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.) No other sacrifice that involved death would be necessary. Instead, we give up our lives on a daily basis, in service to our Savior. In view of His mercy, we should desire to live lives that are “holy and pleasing” to our Lord.
As we follow Paul’s instructions, let’s begin with taking time each day to thank God for His mercy toward us and then, offer ourselves up to Him, to be used as He sees fit! When we do that, we are truly worshipping Him!
God bless you