Psalm 45:10-11, 13-15

Listen to me, O royal daughter; take heart to what I say. Forget your people and your homeland far away. For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. [...] The bride, a princess, waits within her chambers, dressed in a gown woven with gold. In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids. What a joyful, enthusiastic procession as they enter the king's palace!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Life Presented to God: Romans 12:1-2

We started out on Monday's post looking at the parallel theme in 1, 2, and 3 John that we, as Christians, are called to live a life that is very different from the rest of the world. Over the next week or so we'll be delving into Romans 12:1-2 and looking at what it says and what it calls us to as believers. I've been enjoying studying this passage and the fullness of the Word, and I hope you'll join me in it!
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Romans 12:1
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,
acceptable to God, which is your spiritual
service of worship.

The theme here in Romans 12:1 is that we are urged in light of God's mercy to view our bodies as living sacrifices. Paul is appealing to the body of Christ in the dedication of our lives as believers to heed what he is about to say. He calls us to present our bodies to God as "a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God." Paul speaks of this idea elsewhere as well, in 1 Corinthians 6:20 he writes, "You were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body." Paul is reminding us that we are no longer our own. We no longer have dominion over our own body or life, Christ's death on the cross bought us. We are now redeemed children of grace, thus our bodies are not our own, but God's to use and dwell in. This urging also reminds us that we are to submit ourselves to God (Ja. 4:7). Ultimately, if we are presenting our bodies to the Lord as living sacrifices that is submission. Offering yourself to God is not only a spiritual act of worship, as the verse tells us later, but it is also a sign of submission. When we submit to God (or anyone else for that matter) is shows that we trust and obey God, and is our offering to him.
We offer ourselves to God since He has shown us such great mercy. As I was studying, I came across a different translation of this verse and it was just so wonderful to me, "When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?" (NLT) I think that hits it on the head. So often we can come up with excuses, mostly without even being conciously aware, of why we shouldn't or can't fully give ourselves to God. That's why I love this translation, When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?" Seriously, is it too much for God to ask for our complete dedication when he gave up His Son for us? Now, how can anyone answer, "Yes, it is too much to ask!" Who would even be so bold? It's a humbling question that our hearts already know the answer. Offering our self to God is not only an act of spiritual worship or submission, but it is giving Him what is rightfully His, "You are not your own [...] You were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body" (1 Cor. 6:19b-20).
We must make a "decisive decision" (Ryrie 1744) or a "decisive dedication" (AMP 1314) to give ourselves as living sacrifices (as opposed to the dead animal sacrifices of the Old Testament) to the Lord. Our sacrifice is to be "living and holy" (NASB) and "devoted, consecrated" (AMP). We can't go this way or that, or one day decide to be sold out for Christ and the next trying to buy back our life. Lukewarm is not a safe place to be, although we often think it is. When we offere ourselves to God we make a decision of how we are going to live our life, either as those who know God and abide in His teaching by doing the good He says or we could not abide in the teaching of Christ, continue to do evil and thus not know God. Our decision is this, "and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God" (Ro. 6:13, NASB).
We are to offer ourselves to God "as those who have been brought from death to life" (Ro. 6:13, NIV) and offering our bodies as "instruments of righteousness for God" (Ro. 6:13, NASB). This offering our bodies to God in view of His mercy is "holy and pleasing" (NIV), "acceptable" (NASB), "the kind He will accept" (NLT), and "well pleasing" (AMP) to God. Our offering, dedication, decisive decision or dedication, devotion, or consecration is our "reasonable (rational, intelligent) service" (AMP). It is a deliberate choice to offer our self to God. This is the beginning of what our life presented to God looks like. It starts with a correct understanding of grace. We didn't earn it and we were bought by the price of the cross, thus we have made a decision of how we are going to live our life, consecrated to the One True God.

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