What does it mean to become a living sacrifice? I have to admit when I hear that I always think of the reverse: the walking dead. That usually means zombies or evil things but being a living sacrifice is far from that. It means to be alive to what Christ wants for us and dead to evil things. It means to surrender to God and that means everything on our journeys.
“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies, dedicating all of yourselves, set apart, as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational, logical, intelligent act of worship,” (Romans 12:1 AMP).
In this verse, Paul is talking to believers, like you and me. He is speaking like a mentor, not giving a command. Commanding us would only result in outward compliance without inward commitment. It is always our choice to surrender to God. No one can force us to do that.
Because of who God is and what He has done for us, Paul is encouraging us to give our bodies and everything that is within us as living sacrifices to God. In order to live a vibrant Christian life the first step is always surrendering to God.
All That Is You
At first glance, it seems this is talking about giving God only our physical bodies but it is saying more than that. The Message explains it this way, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
All of yourselves means all of your life—everything you do, everything you say, everything you think, everything that is within you. It means your body, your soul and your spirit. God wants all of you. There is no part of you that should be kept just for you.
This is really hard to do as we make daily decisions. However, I know from experience that whatever plans I have will go must faster and smoother if I first do what God wants.
In the moment, though, I have to be reminded that I am not my own. I have been bought with a price. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body,” 1 Cor 6:19-20 NLT.
God really brought this home to me on the night He finally helped me understand that I have to give up sugar, not for just a little while but for the rest of my life. For some reason I thought I could put whatever food I wanted into my body and it didn’t matter as long as I was “working for God.”
What held me back from being all-in with God was my selfish desire to eat whatever I wanted and therefore not listen to what He had told me many times which was STOP eating sugar. When God clearly showed me that I had a problem that nothing else except stopping sugar would fix, I finally saw I had put foods made with sugar above Him. Sugar had become my god.
This revelation brought me to me my knees. I surrendered every part of me to Him. From then on I surrendered anew every day because I was intent on letting Him lead me. I wanted more of what He had for me. I gave my body to Him because that was the place where I could see my selfish ways had done the most damage.
In the process, He led me to lose 250 pounds and put firm boundaries around what I eat. It is very freeing to follow God’s boundaries for my life. In the process God has also renewed my mind, helped me learn how to manage my emotions and rely more fully on His Spirit.
Dying to Self
Being living sacrifices who are set apart also means that we must die to living for our selfish desires and choose to live for what Jesus desires for us. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me,” (Gal. 2:20 NLT).
It’s the same thing we see in Romans 6:13 TPT: “Passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to Him as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for His pleasure, ready to be used for His noble purpose.” This is not a life of drudgery but one of ongoing adventures with God every moment of every day.
Romans 12:1 TPT says it this way: “Surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.”
Live In Holiness
Many times when the Bible talks about holiness it is talking about specific sins against the body, anything that is a self-centered desire would be considered the opposite of holy. Gal. 5:19-21 mentions a bunch of these including sexual immorality, drunkenness, gluttony.
To live in holiness and do things that delight the Lord, we must be mirroring who He is. We must be exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. These attributes are what mark those who allow the Holy Spirit to lead their lives. Gal 5:22-23 NLT: “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
None of these attributes, not even self-control, come from us. They all come from allowing the Holy Spirit to reign in our lives. Self-control is not self-effort. It is letting the Holy Spirit be in control of our desires so we make Spirit-Led choices.
When we display these attributes, it delights God’s heart. When we live our lives allowing the Holy Spirit to express Himself through us, when we live surrendered to God, when we are intent on following His plan and not ours, God delights in us. This is what God sees as true worship from the heart of His believers.
Who God is and who we are, makes surrendering every single part of our lives to Him a rational, and at the same time a very emotional, course of action. Doing this now and every single day is more than a starting place. It will define how we live in tandem with Him for the rest of our lives.
When we do this, God delights in us. Psalm 37:23 NLT says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.”
For more on this topic, check out Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast episode 101: Surrender Delights God. Go here: https://TeresaShieldsParker.com/podcast.