Whoa, Keith, looks like you skipped a few chapters there! Yesterday we were in Romans 8, and today we’re in chapter 12! What’s going on?
I didn’t skip any chapters. I already went through chapters 9-11 when I did a study on how we’re supposed to relate to the Jewish people, which you can read here if you'd like.
Just to remind you, though, Paul ended that passage of theology on a note of praise, a doxology:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
If your theology doesn’t lead to doxology, then something’s wrong. And then your theology, if it’s orthodoxy (right belief), should lead to orthopraxy (right lifestyle and actions).
It all starts with the word “therefore.” Please pay attention to prepositions and conjunctions and other “connecting” words. After eleven chapters of showing what God has done for us, now he spends the remainder of the book (five chapters) about how we should live in the light of this glorious salvation.
“In view of”: When we know about and think about and ponder 1) where we were, 2) what he’s done, and 3) what he has planned for us, the only right question to ask is “What should we do now?” And here’s where we start to answer that question.
First and foremost, you need to offer a sacrifice. People under the Old Covenant had offered sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice. But there’s a huge difference here. God has no interest in dead sacrifices any more. He wants living ones. We’re to offer our bodies (metonymy for the whole of us) to him as a living sacrifice.
But here’s the thing to keep in mind. An animal in that culture was extremely valuable. For you to hand it over to a priest, watch him slit its throat, pour out the blood, and then set fire to it was a sacrifice that cost you something. And once you handed that lamb or goat or bull over to the priest, there was no getting it back. I mean, it’s hard to get wool from a lamb or milk from a goat after it’s set on fire. That animal had been completely handed over to God, and you resolved yourself to doing without that animal from now on. It belonged to the Lord, completely and permanently.
Why am I hammering this home? Because our living sacrifice is supposed to be as much given over to the Lord as that animal burning on the altar. I'm supposed to be as much dead to the world, and alive to God, as that animal. When Paul said in another context that we're not our own, that we’ve been bought at a price, he wasn’t kidding. That’s the truth we have to concentrate on and live out.
The problem, as someone once told me, is that a living sacrifice keeps crawling off the altar. Yes, in a sense I committed myself to him once and for all when I believed in Christ and submitted to him as my Lord. But I think that Paul isn’t talking about a once-and-for-all submission to him. No, it’s a daily thing. Everyday I have to make the choice to deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow Jesus. Every day, really every moment, I have to decide—in his empowering Spirit—to give myself over to him as much as that animal.
I have a lot more to say about how Paul describes this is as worship. That’s for tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s commit to living like dead animals.
Lord Jesus, it’d be really foolish to commit myself in any sense to you in my own strength. Only you can give me what I need to do what you command. But in your strength and power, I’ll offer myself to you today.