I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. – Romans 12:1 ESV
Romans chapter 1 opens with Apostle Paul’s request to us that we offer ourselves as sacrifices to God. He says this is our spiritual worship. This is abstract, though, and can be difficult to wrap our minds around. What does that mean to our daily lives? How do we offer ourselves as a sacrifice?
The word sacrifice often brings to mind visions of loss. As Merriam-Webster defines sacrifice, it is “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.” But what is Paul referring to us losing? Looking at Jesus’s words on worship in John 4:23, we see that “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” That’s an important clue. Paul isn’t necessarily referring to a physical act, but instead it’s a spiritual one of understanding.
In the next verse of John, Jesus says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Ok, so we’re now onto the next piece of the puzzle: God has called us to join in Him by being like Him, not by doing anything of our own accord.
Now that we know that this is a spiritual sacrifice, what does the next piece, the truth part, tell us? We can see this part more clearly by going to the next verse of Romans 12:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2 ESV
As we are being this sacrifice, we need to be transformed, not of the body (although I wouldn’t mind a good make-over!), but of the mind. Jesus said that this worshipping was in truth. Therefore, this worship process must be that I’m transformed by truth.
I believe this is true on any level, the more truth in your life, the freer and stronger you will be. However, Paul isn’t just talking about gaining understanding. He’s referring to one particular truth. Let’s back up into Romans 11:32, “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” This verse is summing up the salvation process for all. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, but God has provided a way back, if we are willing.
The more we dwell on this truth and sacrifice our own self and our old way of thinking, our minds will be renewed in the knowledge of Christ. In Romans 12:2 Paul says this understanding is vital for finding the will of God for us. We can’t have His full insight into our lives unless we are willing to sacrifice fully in spirit and in truth.