"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)
Before you think that Christianity has everything to do with being merciful, realize that Christianity is first having everything to do with living a life of worship. What we do with our bodies is our spiritual worship. Before we can be merciful, we must be full of worship, otherwise mercy will be be mere social agendas. Your life simply cannot be merciful if you aren't worshipful first.
Our bodies were created for worship. We worship God for His mercy.
So what does Paul mean by spiritual act of worship?
He means that we need to present a sacrifice, and not to be confused with Old Testament sacrifices. The blood of bulls and goats won't take away our sin. Jesus is the ultimate, perfect sacrifice.
1 Corinthians 5:7 - "Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed."
Hebrews 10:12 - "But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God."
We are called to sacrifice our bodies in worship.
Paul makes 4 points: bodies, living, holy, and acceptable to God.
Christianity is not only a mind transformation or spiritual transformation, but a body transformation as well. God wants our everything, including our bodies. Some people may think, "but my body is flawed," or "I don't like my body." That is not the point. We do not have to offer perfect sacrifices because we aren't sacrificing our bodies for sin; we are sacrificing for God. The sacrifice for sin was already made on the cross. Our bodies do not deserve anything. Our bodily sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus. Through Jesus is the only way we can be accepted. God is not after our bodily looks; but our bodily behaviors. It's all about what God wants us to do with our bodies.
The reason we have a body is to make the beauty of Christ known visible.
This can be seen in Isaiah 53.
"Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed."
The beauty of Christ is not found in looks, but in love. We are called to be models of mercy and love. If only everyone could understand this. We are raised in a society where we are told that we have to look a certain way and we compare our bodies to other people. It's really sad. I admit I have done it too. I think almost everyone has, and it's such a shame. If only we could see people the way God sees them, with love and mercy. That is my prayer. The only thing that matters is how much we use our bodies to love. We have bodies to give evidence that Jesus is our savior.
"Present your body as a living sacrifice." We are alive in order to make Jesus known. Make every act of your living body put to death everything in your life that dishonors Christ. When do you feel most alive? Most Christians will say it is when they are evangelizing. When they share God's love with others, they feel alive. We don't feel alive when we live for ourselves, but it is by grace when we live for others and for God.
Romans 12:1 can correlate with Romans 6:13
"Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness."
Do not present yourself to sin, but to God as those who have been brought from death to life. Let every action be one of righteousness.
Holiness is what I long for.
Acceptable to God
What does this add to holiness?
Paul adds "God" to make it acceptable.
Without God, we cannot be acceptable, but because of God's mercy we can be acceptable.
Before your bodies are designed for mercy, they are designed for worship. Mercy is the goal and means for worship. Mercy is what displays God and makes Him beautiful.
Worship is the fuel and the goal for mercy.
It may not be coincidence that our tongue is so much smaller than our arms and legs. Maybe that was God's way of showing us that actions are louder than words. Use your body for Him. Use your body to glorify God, and remember that you were bought with a price! Go serve Him. :)
"Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as You choose.
Take my will and make it Thine
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is Thine own
it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord I pour
at Your feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.
Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it's all for Thee."
- Take My Life by Chris Tomlin