What it is about: It is not about dying. It is all about living. Living the life God gives us through the amazing sacrifice of His son Jesus.
God’s goal for us is that we, like His son Jesus, live a sacrificial life. We must sacrifice what we want for what God wants.
It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a “living sacrifice”— to let Him have all your strengths that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus (Romans 12:1). This is what is acceptable to God. ~Oswald Chambers
Before we trusted the Messiah, we used our body for sinful pleasures and purposes, but now that we belong to Him, we want to use our body for His glory. The disciple’s body is God’s temple because the Spirit of God dwells within him. It is our privilege to glorify Jesus in our body and magnify the Messiah in our body.
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. 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.
English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 12:1–2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Paul says, “I beseech you.” The word is parakaleō (παρακαλεω), “I beg of you, please.” The word “therefore” reaches back to the contents of the previous chapters. The basis of Paul’s exhortation, or that by which he urges obedience to the exhortation is “by the mercies of God.” The mercies of God here are the justification, sanctification, and glorification of the believer.
Just as Jesus the Messiah had to take on Himself a body in order to accomplish God’s will on earth, so we must yield our bodies to Jesus that He might continue God’s work through us. We must yield the members of the body as “instruments of righteousness” (Rom. 6:13) for the Holy Spirit to use in the doing of God’s work. The Old Testament sacrifices were dead sacrifices, but we are to be living sacrifices.
There are two “living sacrifices” in the Bible and they help us understand what this really means. The first is Isaac; the second is our Master Jesus the Messiah. Isaac willingly put himself on the altar and would have died in obedience to God’s will, but Yahweh [the Lord] sent a ram to take his place. Isaac “died” just the same—he died to self and willingly yielded himself to the will of God. When he got off that altar, Isaac was a “living sacrifice” to the glory of God.
Of course, our Master Jesus the Messiah is the perfect illustration of a “living sacrifice,” because He actually died as a sacrifice, in obedience to His Father’s will. But He arose again. And today He is in heaven as a “living sacrifice,” bearing in His body the wounds of Calvary. He is our High Priest) and our Advocate before the throne of God.
The verb “present” in this verse means “present once and for all.” It commands a definite commitment of the body to the Lord, just as a bride and groom in their wedding service commit themselves to each other. It is this once-for-all commitment that determines what they do with their bodies. Paul gives us two reasons for this commitment: (1) it is the right response to all that God has done for us—“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God”; and (2) this commitment is “our reasonable service” or “our spiritual worship.” This means that every day is a worship experience when your body is yielded to the Master Jesus.