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.
"I beseech you"
Means "I beg of you". Even though Paul was an apostle who spoke with the
authority of God and was inspired, his attitude towards others was one of
submission. What Paul was about to say, he said it with the air of man
begging his readers to heed him.
Paul was addressing brothers and sisters in Christ. Let there be no doubt
in the mind of the Bible student today that the readers of Paul's letter to the
Romans were Christians in the body of Christ. All of the commands,
directives and exhortations contained within this letter are thus applicable to
members of the Lord's body with an application for us today.
"by the mercies of God"
Jesus died for our sins by the mercy of God. Without that sacrifice on our
behalf there would be no hope for any of us. We learn from the Hebrews
writer that the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin (Hebrews 10:4).
The sacrifice of Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for all sin forever (Hebrews
10:12). Without that sacrifice which came about by the mercy of God, it
would not even be possible for us to do what Paul begs next.
"that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice"
The word bodies here is from the Greek word "soma" which means the physical
body. The living sacrifice we are to offer here is in contrast to the dead
animal sacrifices of the Levitical system of worship. Sacrifice was a way
of life for those living under the old law. A study of Leviticus begins
with the observance of the free will daily burnt offering of the Israelites and
from there moves into a host of sacrifices with many different purposes and on
many different occasions. What the Christian today needs to be aware of is
the sheer volume of sacrifice that was a part of the daily lives of the
Israelites. What we can apply from that to us today is that with the death
of Christ, the animal sacrifices passed from the lives of God's children.
The sacrifices of dead animals was replaced with the daily living sacrifice of
our bodies. The Israelites sacrificed dead animals. Through the
blood of Christ who was the one time perfect sacrifice for all sin forever, we
today sacrifice ourselves in service in Christ's kingdom.
The Sacrifices we make are ones of service to our fellow
man as recorded in Matthew 25 and Hebrews 13:16. In addition to this, our
worship to God is called a sacrifice. We offer the sacrifice of praise in
song (Hebrews 13:15). The offerings given by the Philippians to Paul were
referred to as a well pleasing sacrifice to God in Philippians 4:18 and context.
We are begged by Paul to offer our bodies as living sacrifices as opposed to
dead sacrifices. The Christians life as a priest in Christ's kingdom is to
be characterized by a lifetime of faithful service in sacrifice to God.
Strong's defines this word as "sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or
religious, ceremonially, consecrated)". Our bodies offered in living
sacrifices in service are consecrated which means set aside for service to God.
We were bought with a price, therefore we are not our own (1 Corinthians
6:19-20). Our bodies are set aside for the glory of God and it is our
responsibility to see to the fitness of our bodies for this service.
"acceptable unto God"
It would not be necessary to mention this if it were not possible for our
sacrifice to be found unacceptable. The responsibility for this is given
to those being exhorted to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. The
sacrifice must be acceptable to God.
"which is your reasonable
Some modern translations render the word for "service" here as "worship".
This Greek word is "latreia" which is translated as "service" in
every instance in the King James and the American Standard Version. The
Greek word for "worship" is "proskuneo". There is a
difference in the meanings of the words "latreia" and "proskuneo".
Service to God is not always worship. Worship is done with God as the
focal point and the sole object of one's adoration. Service in God's
kingdom does not have God as the sole object of one's attention and is therefore
not worship. Service is service and worship is worship. The two are
not the same.
As for it being our reasonable service, by the grace of
God, Jesus laid down His life for sinful man. We didn't deserve it, we
can't earn it, God was under no obligation whatsoever to offer us a means of
redemption. God could have left us to our fate and would have been
perfectly justified in doing so. yet, because of His love for us, He made
the ultimate sacrifice for us, on our behalf. God sent His only Son down
here to be that sacrifice. He sent the best He had, and the best He had
died because of it. And it was not a peaceful easy passing either.
Jesus Christ suffered at His death, naked, humiliated, shamed and spiked to a
cross to bleed out and die. So does it not stand to reason that we should
give something back? Is it not reasonable that we offer our bodies as
living sacrifices in service back to the one who offered His dead body as a
substitutionary punishment for what we should have received? Jesus
explained this in the parable of the unprofitable servant found in Luke 17.
The summary line of this parable gives us today the attitude we should have
about our service to God in the kingdom of Christ:
Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you,
say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to
He died for us and asked us to live for Him. It's
only our reasonable service. Nothing for us to boast about, certainly not
something that can repay the debt of gratitude we owe for it. Jesus
doesn't get to come down off the cross because of our service. Even after
all we can do, He still had to die for us and that is why our salvation is by
God's grace. There is nothing we could ever do to merit the opportunity we
got for redemption.