Spiritual Worship: A Living Sacrifice
[ KJV] "1 I beseech you therefore,[dia [dē ŏ’]], brethren, by [dia [dē ŏ’]] the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable(well pleasing) unto God, which is your reasonable (logikos [lo-gē-ko's]) service (latreia [lä-trā'-ä]).
[ KJV] "25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"
[ KJV] "22 And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
[, KJV] "6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. ... 58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."
pertaining to speech or speaking
pertaining to the reason or logic
spiritual, pertaining to the soul
agreeable to reason, following reason, reasonable, logical
service rendered for hire
any service or ministration: the service of God
the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law
to perform sacred services
Because of what I have written so far, (on account of the mercies of God,) I appeal to you, brothers, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
What has he written so far? (outline of )
Mankind is guilty before God. ()
The Gentiles are Guilty ()
The Jews are guilty ()
All the world is guilty ()
(The verdict for the entire world comes back and he makes it clear. Paul says: “We are all guilty before God.”)
The mercy and love of God demonstrated by justification by faith in Christ.
Paul says: (What I have written so far is summarized in these words, “The mercies of God.”)
Therefore… present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Here’s how I see this phrase: (Write on board)
brothers, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
brothers, present God your spiritual worship
and… here’s what spiritual worship looks like.
present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God
What does it mean to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God?
We see that we are presenting a sacrifice to God. Now the word sacrifice is referring to sacrifices, like, in the Old Testament. Paul is drawing a parallel between Old Testament Worship, and what we are to me doing today.
When someone came to God they brought a sheep, or a bull, or a pigeon and sacrificed it on the altar as an offering to God. There were different kinds of sacrifices but all these different sacrifices come down to the fact that sin demands punishment. Now, did the sacrifices take away the sin? No! () all the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin. These sacrifices represented God's willingness to accept a substitute. They pointed beyond themselves to Christ, who was the final sacrifice for sin. Paul said in , “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” That was the final sacrifice for sin, because it was perfect and sufficient for all who believe. Most clearly of all says, “When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” So Christ brought to an end the Old Testament sacrifices for sin. He finished the great work of atonement. His death cannot be improved on. All we have to do now is trust him for that great work. We do not add to it.
So when Paul says that our worship is to present our bodies as a sacrifice he does not mean that we die and atone for our sins.
Let’s take the four words he gives and see what each contributes to understanding a lifestyle of daily worship: bodies, living, holy, acceptable to God.
Four points about our sacrifice to God (Spiritual Worship)
Bodies. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
The point here is not to present to God your bodies and not your mind or heart or spirit as he says in verse two because he is going to say very clearly in verse two: “Be transformed in the renewal of your mind.” The point is to stress that your body counts. You belong to God soul and body, or you don’t belong to him at all. Your body matters.
Someone might think: Why would God be interested in my body? It’s overweight, or underweight, wrinkled, blotchy, achy, diseased, impulsive, nervous, unattractive, lazy, awkward, disabled, nearsighted, hard-of-hearing, stiff, and brittle. What kind of sacrifice is that? The Old Testament demanded a flawless sheep. I don’t measure up.
That kind of thinking totally misses the point. The sacrifice of our bodies to God is not a sacrifice for sin. That is done already in the sacrifice of Christ. Which is why bodies like ours are acceptable. Peter makes this really clear in where he says something similar to : “Offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God” — then he adds these words: “through Jesus Christ.” It’s because of Jesus that our sacrifices to God are acceptable.
So don't think that your body will ever deserve acceptance with God. It won’t. If you are acceptable, it is “through Jesus Christ.” Through his perfection, not your perfection.
But that kind of thinking misses the point in another way: The offering of our bodies is not the offering of our bodily looks but our bodily behavior. In the Bible the body is not significant because of the way it looks, but because of the way it acts. The body is given to us to make visible the beauty of Christ. And Christ, at the hour of his greatest beauty, was repulsive to look at. describes him: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” The beauty of Christ is the beauty of love, not the beauty of looks. His beauty was the beauty of sacrifice, not skin.
God doesn’t demand our bodies because he wants models.
God wants visible, lived-out, bodily evidence that our lives are built on his mercy. Just as worshipers in the Old Testament denied themselves some earthly treasure (a sheep, a goat, a bull), and carried their sacrifices to the altar of blood and fire, so we deny ourselves some earthly treasure or ease or comfort, and carry ourselves — our bodies — for Christ’s sake to the places and the relationships and the crises in this world where mercy is needed.
Living. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
A life of visible, lived-out, physical actions of mercy might result in the death of a believer. There have always been martyrs. But that is not mainly what Paul has in mind here. Here he has in mind a lifestyle. Present your bodies a living sacrifice. It is your living that is the act of worship.
The call is to let every act of your body in living be an act of worship.
Demonstration that you truly love God. Let every act of your living body show that Christ is more precious to you than anything else.
Let every act of your living body be a death to all that dishonors Christ.
Holy. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Probably the best explanation of holy bodies comes from where Paul said almost the very same thing he says here, using the very language of “presenting” our bodies to God, only he refers to our bodily “members” and not just our bodies. “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
“Present a living holy body to God” means give your members — your eyes, your tongue, your hands and feet — give your body to do righteousness, not sin. That’s what would make a body holy.
So we see our bodies are made holy by what we do not what they look like.
Is it the physical instrument of meekness and mercy and peace?
Here are three examples where the body being used as an instrument of righteousness and mercy is called a “sacrifice.” In Paul says, I “have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
(Your work and giving to me is a sacrifice of worship to God. It shows God’s worth in your heart.)
, “Through [Christ] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
(When the lips join the heart in praise to God, the body becomes a holy, living sacrifice.)
, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
(When you do good, in Jesus’s name, with your mouth or your hands or your presence, your body becomes a holy, living sacrifice of worship. A body becomes a holy sacrifice of worship when it is devoted to God’s purposes of righteousness and mercy.)
Acceptable to God. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Does this add anything to the word “holy”? If the sacrifice of our bodily life is holy, then it is acceptable to God.
They remind us that the reason holiness matters is because of God. They remind us that all of these words are describing an act of worship — “which is your spiritual worship” — and God is the center of worship.
is a call to live a merciful life, it is a call to live a worshipful life. Or better: In calling us to live a merciful life (built on the mercy of God in Christ), the aim is that it be a worshipful life.
The aim of showing mercy is showing God. It is not mercyful to make someone comfortable on their way to hell. The aim of having bodies is to make the glory of God more visible. And he does not shine through our looks, or our muscles, but through our merciful behavior.
There are two verses written by the apostle Paul that I’d like to point out yet.
[Phl 1:20 KJV] "20 My hope and very desire is to magnify Christ in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death."
[ KJV] "19 ... you are not your own, 20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body..."
(Magnify Christ by the way you use your body.)
Story: (two Moravian men)
John Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann
A story of: One Passion, One Devotion, Passionate about Jesus, and totally Devoted to Him
John Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann are names you may not readily recognize. John was a potter and David a carpenter. Ordinary occupations. Extraordinary men. They are men who left the security of their jobs and families in Copenhagen to become the first Moravian missionaries in 1732.
These men were not going on a nice short term mission to the Caribbean, or even Africa or China but they sold themselves into slavery to answer the call 'come and minister the gospel to us'. It gives new meaning to the phrase “sold out for Christ”. They became slaves in order to have the opportunity to reach the slaves of the West Indies for their Lord. Their life’s purpose was to follow the Lamb who had given His life for them and for all the souls of the world. Their mission statement was “Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow Him.”
One of the men left his wife and children begging on the wharf for him to reconsider and stay. But the call and heart of God for these slaves in the West Indies was even greater than the pull of home. As the ship pulled away from the docks the men lifted a cry, "May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.” This later became the resonating heartbeat of the Moravian Missions movement.
The men felt their sacrifice paled in comparison to the sacrifice of their Saviour. They loved Jesus with everything they were and did, and desired to walk in obedience, knowing that the God who called them is the God who gives the courage, grace and anointing for the task. Even to spend a life of hard toil, with meager provisions and hardship. They experienced and modeled the truth of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The Moravian Movement, that sent out David and John, was founded by Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (born in 1720), in the early 1720’s. He initially founded it as a refuge for Christians in a papist Europe, but soon it attracted those with a desire for intimacy with God and a zeal for prayer and evangelism.
In May 1727, Count Zinzendorf and the leaders of the community felt God calling them to prayer at a deeper level. They committed themselves to praying round the clock, beginning a 24/7 prayer meeting that lasted over 100 years involving not only the adults but the children of the movement. In August of that the minister at the Sunday morning service was “overwhelmed by the wonderful and irresistible power of the Lord.” A move of God broke out, with people testifying that “hardly knew whether they belonged to earth or had already gone to heaven. We saw the hand of God and were all baptized with his Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst.” Over 10 years later John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church visited the community where the revival was still taking place. He experienced a powerful encounter with God that was to shape his own personal relationship with God and his ministry.
It was in this environment and atmosphere that David and John grew in hunger of God, His Word and His Lost. They epitomized the Count’s personal life motto; “I have one passion: It is Jesus! Jesus Only!” They knew that the secret to been able to sell themselves into slavery in order to minister to their fellow slaves was to be totally in love with their Lord. With their eyes upon Him they could lay their lives down and carry the cross of slavery.
These two men birthed a missions movement, not by persuading men to “Go” via flashy display boards, brochures and messages, but David and John, and the men that followed their example, lived the message and just did it. They lived the “Go”. John Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann inspired their generation, and generations to come to lay down their lives for The Lamb.
I don’t know exactly what your daily spiritual worship will look like but I would like to say this.
I know the struggle that comes when I am the sacrifice.
I also know how that struggle can dissolve when I return to the first eleven chapters and come to see the mercey that was shown to me.
(Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God is not so much a command but a product resulting from seeing the mercy of God.)
In your daily spiritual worship don’t forget the mercy of God because the moment you do the flame begins to cool and soon your altar will be cold and you’ll find it impossibly hard to start the fire.