Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1)
What are we urged to do? To make a presentation to God! We are to present to Him our very bodies. Now this is a peculiar thing to do. Our body is one of our biggest sources of temptation! It is the visible representation of what the Scripture calls the flesh—those desires within us which wage war against the life of the Spirit. That is why we need to offer them to God as sacrifices. When we do that, we are committing our bodies to him and yielding them into his control.
What? Oh, I hear you asking, “Why would God even want it? I mean, it’s not all that great. It smells bad. It snores. It has a bad heart. Sometimes it thinks evil thoughts. It’s a real hang-up to me and you’re telling me that God wants my body?” Yes, He wants it. He has said that it is pleasing to him. He has said that it is a “Holy Sacrifice.” I realize most of us don’t see our body as being, “Holy.” Bur our Father does! He will receive your body if you will offer it to him.
However, and here’s the catch: He wants this sacrifice alive. Now you may think this is contradictory. How can there be a sacrifice be “living” after it has been sacrificed? There must be some mistake here. How can we die and live at the same time?
We must understand that the death we experience when we come to Christ is a very real one. It is a death to self. A.W. Tozer provided a perfect description of what God was looking for:
“One time a young man came to an old saint who taught the deeper life, the crucified life, and said to him, ‘Father, what does it mean to be crucified?’ The old man thought for a moment and said, ‘Well, to be crucified means three things. First, the man who is crucified is facing only one direction . . . he is not going back . . . and he has no further plans of his own.’”
That is the cost of commitment. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” If we are not willing to give God our all, we are not willing to truly follow him. When we give him our all, we make ourselves a sacrifice, and we die. However, through this death to self comes resurrection life!
There were two living sacrifices in the Bible, Isaac and Jesus. Both were offered to God. When Isaac was spared and allowed to live, it was said of him that he “received back his life.” In Abraham’s mind, Isaac had already been offered three days earlier when YHWH told him to sacrice his son. Jesus died on the Cross for our sins and rose again in resurrection life. So we are risen to a new life when we lay down our lives at the foot of the Cross of Christ. However, you cannot experience this resurrection life until you experience death to self.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome