A Living Sacrifice
Submit YOUR questions, through our easy to use form,
to our team of mature Christians known as the Email Evangelists!
Question: What does it mean to present our bodies as a living sacrifice?
Answer: Being a living sacrifice to God is mentioned in the book of Romans, chapter 12. Here Paul is teaching what does it mean to truly serve God to the fullest:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1, NKJV)
There are a number of ways this question could be answered. To be brief, I’ll simply contrast the idea of being a living sacrifice to God with two other kinds of sacrifices: one to a pagan false god and the other to God based on his Old Testament law. In the non-Christian religion of the Roman Empire, some of the temples to pagan deities included such worship practices as temple prostitution. Paul makes a number of references to this in his epistles, mentioning how the Christian converts came out of such worthless practices. With this in mind, we can see that being a living offering to God would mean not taking part in the evil practices of pagan worship, which God hates, but rather doing those things which God wants us to do.
In the Old Testament, the priests of the Temple would offer animals as part of the worship of God, cutting them up and offering them on the altar. Paul does tells us, however, that God would prefer that WE become a sacrifice while we still live, which is far greater. In fact, even under the Old Covenant God considered obedience to be far better and of greater value to him than any offering of animals (1Samuel 15:22-23, Psalm 40:6-8, Amos 5:21-24).
God wants us to lay ourselves aside daily, dedicating ourselves to him and His way of life. The rest of Romans 12 gives us some examples of how we can sacrifice ourselves on a daily basis. Here are just a few of them:
Do not be conformed to this evil world (verse 2).
Be transformed by a renewing of your mind (verse 2).
Prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (verse 2).
Do not be vain and self-centered but in humility serve others with whatever gifts God has given you (verses 3-8).
Do not pretend to love, but out of sincerity do so as Jesus loved us (verse 9).
Reject evil and hold fast to what is right and good (verse 9).
Serve others based on THEIR needs not yours (verse 15).
In conclusion, rather than giving our physical life as a one-time offering (like an animal at Jerusalem's temple), a Christian is to offer themselves daily to serve God and love his fellow man. We do this not by being self-centered - doing things just to please our own wills - but by being focused on benefitting and blessing others. As a believer offers themselves in this way each day they become more and more like God - perfect - which is what our Father wants (Matthew 5:48). Thank you for your question about what does it mean to be a living sacrifice to God.