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Romans 12:1

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

When Paul wrote the book of Romans, it was primarily to impart the truths of the gospel to believers in Rome who had not received direct apostolic instruction. Paul drills down on fundamental doctrines of our faith. He emphasizes on our unrighteousness and our desperate need for God’s righteousness. And then he points us to Christ, the righteous Son of God, whose own righteousness was credited to us that we may stand justified before God. This is the life-changing gospel story. But what is the implication of the gospel to our lives? Paul tells us that the necessary result of the gospel in our lives is to worship God by presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.

Too often, there is a disconnection between what we believers receive from the Lord and give to the Lord. Having received the gift of salvation through Christ and His finished work on the cross, this must produce in us a love and reverence for Him which we display by giving back to Him all that we are and all that we have. This act of giving back to God is what we call worship. Worship is giving back to God the honor that is due Him.

Before we continue to discuss what kind of worship Paul was referring to, we need to identify the requirement to worship God. Notice whom Paul is exhorting to worship God: his brothers in the faith who have received the saving mercy of our Lord. Here we see that salvation is clearly the starting point of worship. Unless God’s redeeming grace is a reality to you, you will not have the desire and capacity to worship God in a way that is truly pleasing and acceptable to Him. After receiving countless mercies from God - Christ’s righteousness, our justification, forgiveness of our sins, and too many more to mention - how must we respond to God? Having been given these mercies, should we not be stirred up to give back to God for all that He has given to us? It’s interesting how Paul circles back on the mercies of God as the reason for our worship. Paul tells us that these mercies must result to a profound kind of gratitude and deep kind of love that naturally gives birth to a desire to worship Him.

How does God want us to worship Him? By presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him. To “present ourselves as a living sacrifice” entails a willing surrender and wholehearted devotion to Him - God demands nothing less. If we are to worship God, He alone must get our everything. Our worship is not to be divided between God and the world. To worship both God and the world is to not worship God at all. In the Old Testament, we read of sacrifices being presented to God. Once these offerings have been consumed by the fire, the offering is deemed dead and the sacrifice is deemed complete. But this is not the case with us who must present our bodies as living sacrifices. Presenting ourselves before God as a living sacrifice is not a momentary activity that comes to an end after an initial run. Presenting ourselves before God as a living sacrifice entails our daily consecration for Him - committing all that we are and all that we have to Him - all the way until He takes us to glory.

Dear believer, do you worship God by presenting yourself as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to Him? As you study and meditate on what the meaning of worship is, may you be reminded and refreshed by the mercy of God given through Christ - this is the very reason why we worship. If our motive for worshiping God is to get something out of Him, then we can deem our worship as worthless. But if our motive for worshiping God is to give our all to Him because of who He is and what He has done, then we can be assured of His pleasure and His joy in our worship. In all this, we need to remember that we can never outgive God for what He has already given us. Yet God’s command for us is not to measure up or equal to what He has given, because in the first place, that is something we can never do. God’s command is to simply give back to Him by presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice— that is all He requires.

May we seek to present ourselves as living sacrifices to Him who has given us countless mercies.

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