Romans 12:1-2 "Living Sacrifices"

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Romans 12 begins a major shift in the Book of Romans. Paul is moving away from the theological and starts dealing with the practical.
There is a reason why though that the theological comes first. It comes first because the Christian life is lived out of a belief system.
Remember all the way back to Romans 1:16-17: “The righteous shall live by faith.” The righteous live in accordance with their belief in Christ and His word.
And this faith shapes our motivation as well as our actions. This is why it should be no surprise to us that the Apostle Paul makes a certain request of us in how we live out the Christian life. Look back at your text to the first half of verse 1:
I. The Request (1a): “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God”
The basis of the Apostle Paul’s appeal is rooted back up into the previous verses. Remember where we saw last Sunday that Paul was captivated by the glory of God.
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen (11:36).
God created all things and works all things through Jesus Christ for His own glory. This is the basis of the appeal being made by the Apostle Paul.
It is through Christ that the mercies of God are being displayed in God’s plan of redemption. God sent His son into the world to redeem sinners out of His sovereign and benevolent mercy.
This is the very thing that Paul has been explaining for 11 chapters. And all of that theological truth associated with the gospel is like a mountain and the pinnacle of that mountain.
Reminds me of being in Seattle, WA and looking at Mount Rainer. You can see the mountain from the city where all the experiential aspects of life are taking place. But when you gaze at the mountain and see the beauty of that snow-cap you behold the glory of God’s creation.
From a literary perspective most of Romans chapters 1-11 are describing the mountain of God’s salvation and Romans 11:33-36 is the snow cap of the radiance of His glory. As we live in this world in our human experience Christian let us never forget to gaze in the direction of God’s mountain.
Because it will take more than the mundane experiences of life to joyfully stir our passions to be living sacrifices for God. And this is exactly what the Apostle Paul is appealing for us to do.
To present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Sounds ironic doesn’t it. This is because the nature of a sacrifice in the OT usually resulted in the death of something.
We are not presenting our bodies as a sacrifice to be killed but we are presenting our bodies as a sacrifice to be lived. And this can be contrary to what we might prefer at this particular time.
We may have our own ambitions and desires that we want to pursue. We may have our own bucket list that we want to fulfill and live out in our lives. And we may make that our priority in life.
Nothing wrong with a bucket list or to have desire and ambitions but the priority of the Christian is to present your body as a living sacrifice.
And that life lived out as a sacrifice is to be holy and acceptable to God. In the OT the only suitable animal for sacrifice was a perfect one, one without blemish. No birth defects or lame or one suffering from some kind of sickness.
If someone sacrificed a lame animal the implication was that it didn’t meet God’s criteria of holiness and therefore it would not be accepted by Him.
There is no way for us to be holy and acceptable as a living sacrifice before God unless a substitute stands in our place. We can’t be free to live as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God without Christ making atonement and imputing to us His righteousness by grace through faith.
No one can live as a living sacrifice without a Christ centered gospel focus. There would be no way to cultivate a love driven passion for God’s glory. Christian you have to gaze in the direction of God’s mountain for this.
But it is not covered with a snow cap but with the glory of the righteousness of God in Christ. And right there at the highest point, at the pinnacle of God’s mountain of salvation, there is a Cross where the prince of glory was lifted up.
Isaac Watts said it this way back in 1707: “When I survey the wondrous Cross on which the prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”
You see Isaac Watts knew that it was the glory of God revealed in the gospel that was able to bring us to our knees in broken humility before God. And it was the same gospel that would inspire us to rise and to live for the glory of God as Watts declares in that final verse: “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
You see this verse here in Romans 12:1 and you think this is over the top, it is irrational for Christians to live this way. Will the rationale is not derived from anything in or of this world. Look at the rationale at the end of verse 1:
II. The Rationale (1b). “which is your spiritual worship.”
The NKJV translates this as. “which is your reasonable service.”
To really grasp the nuance of original language we need to understand that it is a spiritual reality of truth but it is also something that has been contemplated and derived.
Considering who God is and all that God has done to reveal His glory in His plan of redemption; which is a glorious redemption that has secured us to Him; the only logical and spiritual conclusion and response would be to be a living sacrifice before Him.
That means the priority and primary focus is for Him and His glory. And this doesn’t necessarily mean that we all volunteer for the foreign mission field. It may mean instead that your marriage needs to be adjusted to see your union with your spouse as primarily an opportunity to glorify Him instead of it being primarily about you.
It may mean that you business gets adjusted in your thinking as being a means that brings Him glory than being primarily about self-gratification.
It may mean that adjustments regarding priorities need to be made about your time and money or the very things that you are doing in your family dynamic.
I think it often shows in the way we treat others as we live out our lives. He will be the priority and it will be reflected in our faith, what we believe and how we love one another.
Ask yourself the question, how does this task in my life ultimately bring glory to God? Almost everything we do is connected in one way or another. The things that we do that is not connected is what the Bible calls sin.
But God has a way of even manifesting His glory when it comes to our sin. He deals with is justly and graciously in His benevolent love and mercy through the finished work of Christ.
Unbeliever you need a savior. One who can pay in full the penalty for your sin before a Holy God. One who can uphold the righteousness of God and by faith in Christ have that righteousness paid to your account.
Christian this table is before us today and the Lord’s Supper was instituted to be kind of like a Mt. Ranier in the Christian Life. We look to it and we remember Christ and His body broken and His blood shed for us. Christ was manifesting the glory of the righteousness of God.
Scripture warns us to self-examine in preparation of the Lord’s table. Let us examine our hearts before Him in full assurance that He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us when we confess our sin to Him. Lets Pray!
No closed, everyone together.
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