A LIVING SACRIFICE
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
People usually equate worship with a song sung in church. In reality, worship goes far deeper than that. Romans 12:1 equates true and proper worship with us becoming “a living sacrifice” that is holy and pleasing to God. How does this happen? How can someone both die (become a sacrifice) and live at the same time?
If we are keen observers of life, we will notice that God allows us little deaths or sacrifices every day. These deaths are opportunities for us to lay our self-will or selfishness on the altar and say, “God, I choose You over me. I choose what You want over what I want.” When we do this, we affirm God’s lordship over our lives since it is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives in us (Gal. 2:20).
We see examples of death in a variety of ways: What if God tells us to spend more time with Him in reading the Bible or praying, but at that moment He tugs at our hearts, we’d rather watch television? Now, television isn’t necessarily bad, but at that very moment of decision, can we choose Him instead of what we want? Can we die to our fleshly wants? Or what about the task of cleaning our rooms or washing the dishes without complaining when we know it’s the right thing to do?
Sometimes, to be a living sacrifice causes an inward, violent struggle of death within us—a crucifixion! What if, at school, we find ourselves in the middle of a test we didn’t study for and the desire to cheat becomes so overwhelming? Cheating is certainly the wrong thing to do but we know what’s at stake: a possible failing mark, the reputation of being called corny or a kill-joy for refusing whatever cheat code is passed around, and the loss of our Christian witness among our friends.
When we choose to die to ourselves—choosing God instead of us—then we become living sacrifices. A knife is thrust into our souls, slicing away at our sinful nature, allowing the very nature of Christ to rise within us. When we die to ourselves in this way, we become living sacrifices to God. The aroma of our sacrifice becomes the sweet aroma of worship, reaching into the very heart of Heaven! God is pleased. Others, too, start to smell us, and they will start to draw near to the God of Life because of our death to self.
It takes a lot of boldness to die; it is painful. In the process of our living deaths, the character of Christ in us begins to manifest. Truly, our lives are not our own anymore. If we are serious about following Christ, then we must be serious about worshipping Him with the decisions we make.