I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. – Romans 12:1
Merriam Websters dictionary defines “reasonable” like this: Possessing sound judgment - not extreme or excessive. So, what Paul is instructing us to do is not extreme or excessive. It should appeal to someone with sound judgment. Reasonable is translated from the Greek “logikos” which is where we get the word “logic.” We can assume then, Paul is not asking us to do something unreasonable. But he is asking us – NO, more than asking… “beseeching” us (parakaleō) which means to beg, to strive to appease by entreaty. Picture a man about to jump off a building and commit suicide. Now picture a police officer standing a few feet away “beseeching” him not to jump… that is the context in which Paul is addressing us! He is warning us not to jump off the building - If we give our bodies over to our own lusts, we will face eternal damnation. If we continue in sin… the result will be the second death. Rather, Paul is pleading with us to “present” (paristēmi / to bring into one's fellowship or intimacy) our bodies as a “living” (zaō - active, blessed, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul) “sacrifice” (thysia – to slaughter, to slay, to kill). OK – now we seem to have lost the “logic” Paul was claiming to give us, right? What is a LIVING sacrifice? It seems like a nonsensical thing. Part of what makes a sacrifice a sacrifice is that we kill it. Then how do we come to a “logical” or “reasonable” understanding of what Paul is saying? It is vital that we do understand, since he tells us point-blank this is what is “acceptable to God.” What are we to do? We see in MATTHEW 16:25 Jesus says “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” Do you see the same theme here? In John 10:10 Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus is offering life - life to the full! So where is the sacrifice? In Galatians 2:20 we read “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” You may have heard "the gospel is simple." But my dear brothers and sisters, many of you have been sold a counterfeit bill of goods when it comes to the gospel. Some of you have been told that to be saved all you must do is “accept Jesus as your savior” or “ask Jesus into your heart.” And you are left to believe that’s it – you’ve got your ticket for free admittance into heaven and are now free to go and live your life the way you see fit. But that is a path to hell just as surely as the one who rejects Jesus completely. We are told that many shall say on that day “Lord, Lord, did we not do this or that in your name?” And he shall say unto them DEPART FROM ME FOR I NEVER KNEW YOU. Jesus said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Do you see? To be a follower of Christ means accepting him as savior… but it also means declaring him as Lord. 1 Corinthians 6:19 instructs us "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price." Romans 10:9 tells us “If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” He paid the price… he went to the cross and took the shame, the pain, and the penalty. But he says “if you want to follow me… follow my example.” Even Jesus had to struggle… In the garden, sweating drops of blood he cried out “Father, if it is possible, let the cup pass from me.” Jesus didn't skip to the cross with a whistle and a hop in his step. He agonized, and wept, and cried out! And we will not float along this life on a cloud of comfort through the pearly gates. We will be faced with tough choices. We will be called upon to lay down our own hopes and dreams, our own plans for the future we have charted out. There will inevitably be some area of your life that God will put His finger on and say “this I require of you.” It will cost you – and it will hurt. But like Jesus in the garden, we must lay it down and say “nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” My friends, this is our reasonable service. It is the most logical thing in the world to trust Him once you come to know Him... and to know Him, you must trust Him. We can be at the very edge of the executioner’s blade and have no fear. We can face the fiery furnace like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and say "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it. But even if he does not, we will be faithful to Him." We can be like Job, who lost everything in a single day, and say “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” And all of this we can do by “the mercies of God” – the “chesed” covenant with God… but more on that another day.
Be a living sacrifice today dear saints of God. May it be so in Jesus’ name.