A Living Sacrifice

20201101 Present Your Bodies a Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1

Firstly, let me acknowledge to you that there is a vitally important section of Romans 11 that I have need to come back to. I would expect possibly yet another four sermons in that chapter remains. But it is not yet the time to preach it, nevertheless it certainly will be attended to in due course if the Lord wills.

We have patiently enjoyed the greater part of the Book of Romans to date. 43 Sermonshave so far been preached in the exposition of this incredible book and I would expect there to be half as much again before it is concluded.

Nevertheless, we are in the last major section of the book (Romans 11 not withstanding). It is a section that is incredibly distinct in both character and subject.

  • Romans chapters 1 to 4 could essentially be considered as the knowledge of the ruin of man. All men are fallen before a holy God and Paul lays out that Gospel foundation with greater and deeper clarity than a physician lays out an explanation of a terminal sickness in his patient.
  • Chapters 5 through to 8 is the greatest cure ever known to man. It is the culmination of the gospel presented from the living to the dead. It is the section that sees the dead man now alive in Christ, washed from his sin, justified before the Lord and clothed with the righteousness of Christ and declared as inseparable from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Chapters 9 through to 11 provides some very strong and serious doctrine. There almost seems to be an expectation that now that you are saved by the blood of the Lord and have the Spirit of the living God in you, you should be immediately ready to be fed the milk and meat of the doctrines of scripture. 
  • Now, from chapters 12 to 15 answers the question that titles the Book of Francis Schaeffer, “How shall we then live”. It deals with duty not doctrine, It is practical in nature and speaks of the manner of life lived by those who have believed the Gospel: and you will notice that it minces no words from the very first verse.
  • The very last section is the salutation and benediction of Romans 16.

Having set a broad scope of the book to this point, let’s begin the consideration of this chapter.

Chapter 12

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

So now what we find is the apostle Paul, having dealt with all the fundamental doctrines of the faith, begins to deal with the duties of the faithful.

You will notice that he doesn’t get into it gradually, he doesn’t try the waters first, no dipping the toe in the water before the foot, then the leg…no!

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, …. which is your reasonable service.

Id like to concentrate on that element of the text today and deliberately link our living sacrifice as “reasonable service

What I intend to show for just this portion of the text today is;

  1. Paul pleads for that which he himself was committed to.
  2. That the plea is universal to all Christians.
  3. That our life and soul is held ONLY by Gods mercy and promise
  4. That eternal gratefulness is reasonably demonstrated by eternal service

It is these four that I desire to demonstrate from this first part of this first verse. The references to “holy and acceptable” I will attend to in another message, but for now I would like us to understand what is meant by the presentation of our bodies as a “living sacrifice” and how it can be considered our “reasonable service

1.   Paul pleads for that which he himself was committed to.

I beseech you therefore, …..

This is a plea that Paul is making to the recipients of this epistle. Paul pleas with them to consider what it is that he is about to propose to them. 

And the proposition he makes is a solemn one, one that is before God as his witness. And he makes this plea as but the introduction to the entire matter of the next four chapters. 

Paul here speaks of duty not doctrine, it is our actions that he is concerned with and not our understanding. 

Paul has already fed the mind and filled the knowledge, and having done so provides for his readers an eternally and logically committed “Therefore” to all who have understood all that he has previously written.

I beseech you therefore, …..

Beloved, this is the most wonderful aspects of believing the word of God; if all that you are reading is absolutely true, there are natural and logical conclusions that come from it that is perfectly consistent with what the Bible says and that you believe to be true.

If you were indeed “dead in trespasses and sins” and condemned to judgment and a lake of fire for all eternity, but now you have been “quickened” or made eternally alive to dwell even as a doorman in the house of our God, there is a logical “THEREFORE”respecting the dedication of our lives that follows.

Paul new this to be true the very moment he was converted.

Turn with me to the book of Acts 9:1-7

Before Paul was converted his name was Saul and he was a pure enemy to all those who named the name of Christ. Saul was essentially the Osama Bin Laden of the first century, and we had seen in the seventh chapter the very first Christian martyr recorded in the scriptures with Saul giving the approval of his murder by the recalcitrant and headstrong Jews. 

And now he intends to continue his persecution of the Christian sect originally known as “The Way”, by receiving permission from the High Priest to destroy this “Way”;

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

The transformation was astounding and the logical consideration from Saul was that all that he was doing that he thought was in service to God, was against God

All he did he thought would please God for eternal reward, but he just came to realise was “treasuring up wrath unto himself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom 2:5).

Nothing is more frightening that thinking you are headed toward bliss but discovering you were headed toward destruction. Immediately therefore, Paul surrendered his now saved and secured life, and said Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

And what does such a life do? 

What would you give having been spared death?

What would you give having been given life in the place of death?

What would you give having been given eternal life in the place of eternal darkness?

Whatever is in your mind, Paul considered there is no service too high in his mind.

And serve he did:

No less than three missionary journeys around the roman empire preaching the hope of Christ to all who would lend an ear. 

He preached in Synagogues, in the temple, in homes, in the streets, in ships and in cities.

As a result of that he was stoned, beaten with rods, shipwrecked, despised, blasphemed, falsely accused, whipped and suffered prison several times before, as history relates, he was beheaded for his crime of bringing good news of everlasting life to all the world.

(Just in case you think the lack of justice witnessed today is unique)

It was his own death that makes Romans 12:1 understood to have been truly believed and committed to by its author, and finally sealed with his blood. 

Turn to 1 Cor 4:9-13

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

Turn to 2 Cor 4:8-12

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

Now consider how he speaks of these things

Verse 15

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Light affliction? Consider what it is that Paul refers to as Light Affliction as he writes in this self-same letter, the eleventh chapter;

Turn to 2 Cor 11:21-30

21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. 

22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

His plea to you, “I beseech you brethren” is nothing less than what he himself believed was reasonable to give

Paul pleads for that which he himself was committed to.

2.   That the plea is universal to all Christians.

I beseech you therefore, brethren,

Now, pastor, do you really need to spend an entire portion pointing out Paul is speaking to Christians? We can see it says brethren!

Yes, it’s simple really isn’t it? But can you see it says YOU personally?

Can you see that is says; 

I beseech you therefore Cathrine….”

I beseech you therefore Vanessa….”

I beseech you therefore Jacob….”

I beseech you therefore Jessie….”

by the mercies of God, that you present your body a living sacrifice…which is your reasonable service

far too many Christians think that this text applies to everyone else BUT themselves. OR, 

they think because it is for all Christians, the seriousness of the command is diluted by the vastness of the recipients.

If Paul saw the logic that his life was eternally saved from an eternal destruction and therefore thought it to be more than logically reasonable to dedicate his life to the work of the Lord, why do so many Christians think it’s unreasonable for them?

Each of us have a calling upon our lives and a gifting of God to fulfil that call. God has wonderfully equipped us and our lives will NEVER FEEL FULFILLED until we do that which God has created us to do AS A LIVING SACRIFICE!

Paul’s call is to all, yes, but more importantly it is to YOU personally that he pleads. 

Far too many Christians who are genuinely saved just give excuse after excuse against the work the Lord has called you to give as a Living Sacrifice.

The two most common excuses of all is 1/ I’m too busy, and 2/ I’m tired.

Too busy to go to Church

Too busy to pray

Too busy to read my bible

Too busy to go to prayer meeting

Too busy for Bible study

Or just too tired to grow in the Lord and be used as Gods broadcaster of good news to all who ask of the hope that is evidently in you.

Imagine for one moment that each excuse is a scourge across the body of Christ;

Think of it that way. 

It was his flesh torn to ribbons that gave you life, and now consider your excuses in growing in Christ as the stripe across his body.

I’m too busy…tares the skin off his flesh.

I’m too tired…cuts deeply to his bone.

I’m not feeling well enough…drives the nail through the median nerve of his wrist into the timber frame behind.

Imagine for a moment that every excuse you give in your reluctance to be that living sacrifice sees a teenager take their own life.

Imagine that, ‘I’m too busy’ has its equivalence in I’m not interested is saving your soul from eternal hell. 

You think I’m being a little too dramatic?

I didn’t write I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, ….., which is your reasonable service.

God wrote that to YOU Cody, to you Phillip, to you Elise, to you Chrissie.. he wrote it to you…David, to you Angela, to you Natalie (both of you). 

He wrote it to you all, and he sealed it in his death on a cross.

Paul sealed it with his neck on a block;

James sealed it with a sword through his body.

Timothy sealed it being beaten to death.

Peter sealed it on an upside down cross.

Andrew sealed it on a transverse cross.

Thomas sealed it being pierced through with spears

Must we die for Jesus?

Beloved, the plea is to LIVE FOR HIM

The plea is to present our bodies as a LIVING SACRIFICE.

There is no work or reward in the grave.

And if its your sin that hinders you, repent!

Speaking of the Bible, DL Moody once wrote, “It is either that this Book will keep me from sin, or sin will keep me from this Book

The same could be said for all Christian duty!

TOO BUSY is a misalignment of priority.

TOO TIRED is a mismanagement of activity.

Both are a sin when it prevents any Christian duty

There is a classic reference to those who die in the Lord. 

It was what was said of faithful Christians who have indeed lived their lives fulfilling that which the Lord had called them to undertake. 

When those who died in Christ were spoken of by those living for Christ, they referred to them as having Gone to their reward.

Christians of old desired eternal rewards and they lived their lives in light of the truth that Jesus spoke of to set their treasure in heaven

There is often heard a vanity in Christians with false humility saying they don’t live for rewards in heaven, and that getting there is enough!

There is here a true failure in understanding what a reward is.

What lazy servants these are,

One Christian said to another, “why work we for crowns only to cast then at the feet of Christ?”

The other responded, “what shameful thing it will be to have no crown to cast.”

Are not the souls of your friends worth you taking every opportunity to grow in the Lord?

Imagine just one study you attend, one prayer meeting, one sermon you hear that changes your life and somehow turns to save that friend through the witness of your transformed life!

What of that parent, that child, that relative when they truly see Christ in you and thereby ask of you that hope so evident?

I beseech you brethren….each and every one of you who are called by the name of Christ and have been spared the judgement of your sin, to present your bodies a living sacrifice..which is your reasonable service!

3.   That our life and soul is held ONLY by Gods mercy and promise

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God

Perhaps you are surprised to know that God holds your very breath within his hands. 

Jesus said that not a hair from your head will fall to the ground without the knowledge of your father which is in heaven. 

He knows all you go through, he knows your weaknesses, he knows your strengths, he knows what you are going through and he knows your heart toward him.

I praise the Lord that he knows my heart, I praise God every day that he knows the truth of every decision that I make, every motivation of my heart is an open book for him and I rejoice he knows it.

Every part of your life is in his hands, it is by his mercy alone that he had not already called you home. It is by his grace that we endure, and by faith that we live.

For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a)

We, like Israel, are the apple of his eye. 

We are the children of God, 

the brethren of Christ, 

the redeemed of the Lord, 

we are kings and prophets and priests, 

we are his representatives on this earth until we be taken to be with him for ever.

We are literally a gift to the world and our news is the greatest news of all to share. 

Beloved, could you spare a thought for a moment to consider what it would be like for this world if each of us that are in this small congregation actually lived our lives as a living sacrifice unto God?

Twelve men who did so change the entire world for almost two thousand years.

Never underestimate the ability of a few good men sold out for their Saviour and the gospel of Christ.

It was only a few good men, who also owned and ran their own businesses, who began placing Bibles in Hotel rooms in their local city. Today the Gideon Bible and Tract society is world-wide.

It was a small husband and wife team who began to preach the Gospel to the poor and then to also clothe and feed them in the late 19th century, the work was simply called the East London Christian Mission, but as it grew it would later be called The Salvation Army. This work began with William and Catherine Booth, who gave their lives as a Living Sacrifice before they went to their reward.

One man believed God answers prayer. He saw the simple logic that if he was doing Gods work, then the Lord would help him. He told his concerns to no one, but gave his petitions to God alone.

Hundreds and thousands of petitions went to the Lord alone. the result?

George Muller set up three orphaages, supported many missionaries, printed hundreds of thousands of Gospel tracts and many thousands of Bibles, and all he did was see his life as a Living Sacrifice and his reasonable service.

It is never too late to the work beloved, and nothing is impossible to be achieved when GOD is in it.

Do you know that the Lord continually searches the world to find just one hear and another there to do his work in accord with his will?

Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account: 28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. (Eccl 7:27-28).

When Isaiah heard the Lord, he heard his seeking after a man to do his will;

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isa 6:8)

And when the Lord searched for a man or woman willing to stand in the gap and intercede for the people, he sought them diligently;

30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. (Ezek 22:30)

Few indeed they are willing to vie for that glorious eternal reward God has set for those who love him. There are times however he found none, but might you be one?

One man or one woman he seeks, and when he finds them, his soul is well pleased, and there is nothing too hard for God to answer and to do.

By the mercies of God

Our life and soul is held by the mercies of God and his promise, and no harm can come to you that is outside of his will for you. 

And we know that all things work together for Good to them that love God, why? Because they are called to his purpose.

Must you do great works that are renowned through all the earth?

Beloved, I truly believe that those who have done the greatest work for the Lord have been heard of by no one. Their work was for his eyes alone, their desire was for his knowledge alone. 

Many people have thought on who might have reached the lofty role to have become one of the twenty four elders whom the Lord has with him in heaven in that time, truly I believe it may very well be those who no one knew, but who gave their lives as a living sacrifice unto God.

It’s not going to be the thousands who have heard your name, but there will certainly be a reward for that glass of water given in the Lords name.

Let the Lord do his work in your life, read his word, spend time with him in prayer, seek him with all of your heart and be patient as he makes the changes in you as the potter works the clay.

4.   That eternal gratefulness is reasonably demonstrated by eternal service

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice……… which is your reasonable service.

the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, (Luke 16:22-23)

It’s not a topic that anyone likes to talk about. 

There is no person in the world that, when they have the slightest understanding of eternal conscious torment in the fiery place also known as the Pit, can stand the consideration of it let alone agree with it.

Hell is written about specifically 54 times in the Bible, 23 times in the New Testament with Jesus recorded as speaking of it more than any other single individual in the scriptures, 15 times. 

Though the word appears 54 times in the entire bible, it is also alluded to at least another 20 times. 

It is known also as;

  • The pit
  • The lake of fire
  • The abyss
  • darkness
  • Place of torment
  • Everlasting fire
  • Where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth
  • The fire
  • A place of fire and brimstone 
  • A place where the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever
  • A place where there is no rest day nor night

It’s difficult to have read the Bible and ever missed reading of this place.

And it is eternal, for ever. 

Many years ago while camping with friends I rested my hand on a hot rock that surrounded the camp fire. 

It was only for a second and yet the residual pain lasted for the night, how will the soul endure everlasting burnings?

Turn to Matthew 25:41

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matt 25:41)

There are two points of understanding that I get from this text in Matthew.

  1. That hell was originally prepared specifically for the Devil and his angels.
  2. That Jesus clearly sees the end of the wicked as justifiably ending there.

It’s impossible for us to comprehend how any souls sin could have justified such eternal torment, and yet it is inescapable to find that God does justify it.

As I stated, Jesus spoke of it more than any and he makes absolutely no apology for it, but let us be sure to remember that it would be Jesus Christ who would give his life as a willing sacrifice that no person alive would ever need to endure it….if they accept his sacrifice for their sin.

Beloved, we cannot condemn the creator of hell when his own sacrifice would spare all who willingly accept it.

We cannot charge God with cruelty when the cruelty he endured for all of mankind would spare all who accept him.

God made a way that no man would ever endure the eternal torment of hell created for the devil and his angels. It is a gift…a free gift.

There are cultures around the world who understand the value of a life. When a man or a woman’s life has been saved from certain death, that man of woman commits themselves to the service of the one who saved them for the rest of their lives.

They see the simple and consistent logic that it is their reasonable service to spend the rest of their lives in service to the one who saved them from certain death.

It is not only to demonstrate gratefulness, but also the simple realisation that they would not have had any life to live otherwise.

To these cultures, this is more than reasonable when a life has been saved from certain death.

What of you who have been spared the second death of everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels?

Is it reasonable to present your bodies as a living sacrifice unto God?




Leave a Reply