What does this phrase mean “present your bodies a living sacrifice” to God?

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“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).

In this verse, Paul appealed to Christians to sanctify their bodies to God. A living sacrifice was the act to commit their minds and spiritual abilities to their Creator (v. 2). For true sanctification is the dedication of the whole being—body, mind, and soul (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This sanctification leads to the total growth of the physical, mental, and spiritual powers, till the soul reflects the image of God that man was originally created in (Colossians 3:10).

Body affects the mind

To a great extent, the state of the mind and soul relies upon the state of the body. Therefore, it is vital that the physical powers be kept in the best health. Any unhealthy practice or addiction that weakens the physical power, makes it harder to develop mentally and spiritually. The devil knows that, and he targets his temptations to weaken of the physical nature. Paul realized the effects of Satan’s evil work on the heathen. And he tried to call them out of their corrupting practices (Romans 1:24, 26, 27; 6:19; Colossians 3:5, 7). He tried to establish the new believers in lives of holiness (1 Corinthians 5:1, 9; 2 Corinthians 12:21).

Therefore, Paul urged the believers to submit their “members” to God as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13; 1 Corinthians 6:15, 19). He called them to subdue their physical nature by the grace of God.

Living sacrifice

In the OT, the ceremonial slayed animals but in the NT people offer their lives to God. The Christian presents himself alive with all his powers dedicated to the service of God. The Lord instructed the Jews not to offer any animal in sacrifice that was lame or blind or in any way deformed (Leviticus 1:3, 10; 3:1; 22:20; Deuteronomy 15:21; 17:1). The priest tested every offering. And if he found any blemish, he rejected the animal. In a similar manner, Christians should present their bodies to the Lord in the best state possible. They need to be pure and holy, or else their commitment to God cannot be accepted by Him.

The Lord’s plan for His children is full restoration. This implies the purification and strengthening of their physical as well as their mental and spiritual powers. Therefore, Christians, who by faith surrender themselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord’s way of saving man, will willingly obey this command to regard the health of their body as a matter of the uppermost importance. To do otherwise is to deter the divine work of restoration. God’s power of reason, sanctified by His divine grace, must be evident in the lives of His children. Only then can they become suited to offer to God “reasonable service.”

Reasonable service

Our Heavenly Father who so loved the world that He gave His Son to save sinners is “well pleased” when people turn from their unhealthy habits and offer themselves completely for His service. For thus they make it possible for Him to bring about His good purpose to bring them to the wholeness in which they were initially created.

Holiness is an act of worship. Peter describes believers as a “holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The Christian glorifies God in his body (1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31) by serving as a living example of God’s saving grace and by participating with increased strength and vigor in the work of spreading the gospel.

In Babylon, Daniel and his companions were a living sacrifice by dedicating themselves to be pure. And their outstanding examples of full development of the physical, mental, and spiritual were demonstration of what the Creator will do for those who offer their lives to Him and seek to serve Him (Daniel 1:12, 18).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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