“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
The New Testament presents Jesus in several dual and seemingly incompatible roles—Son of God/Son of Man, stumbling block/cornerstone, Lamb of God/High Priest. Such contrasts magnify His glorious uniqueness.
Like the Savior, every Christian is a fully human son of God, an aroma of death and an aroma of life (2 Corinthians 2:16), and a living sacrifice and priest (Romans 12:1).
Unlike the Old Testament priests who offered sacrifices on behalf of others, each New Testament Christian offers up his own sacrifice to God. This sacrifice is not a possession which is external to oneself—like an innocent lamb or goat; rather, it is one’s self. And, unlike the Old Testament’s sacrifices of dead animals, the New Testament priest offers him/herself daily as a living sacrifice.
Holy, living sacrifices are what God has authorized for His New Testament temple, the church. They are the prescribed offerings each priest is to make daily in response to God’s manifold mercies.
The rest of Romans 12 describes in energetic and precise detail what each holy, living sacrifice ought to look like: not conforming to this world; transforming your mind; proving God’s will to be good, acceptable, and perfect; not thinking of self highmindedly but soberly; using individual gifts properly and zealously; abhorring evil; clinging to what is good; preferring brethren in honor; being zealous in spirit; obediently serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; enduring tribulation; being steadfast in prayer; helping the needy; pursuing hospitality; blessing and not cursing your persecutors; rejoicing with the joyous; weeping with the brokenhearted; associating with the humble; refusing to think highly of yourself; not returning evil for evil; providing good things to others; seeking peace, not vengeance with others; giving food and water to your enemies; conquering evil with good.
These are the real world characteristics of the living sacrifice you are to present every day as God’s royal priest.