“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).
From the dawn of history, humans have offered sacrifices to God. Cain’s controversy with God and his brother Abel was over the differences in their respective sacrifices (Genesis 4:1-8). Noah sacrificed to God. Abraham sacrificed to God. Job, Isaac, and Jacob did too.
The first seven chapters of Leviticus describe and prescribe the various sacrifices the nation of Israel was authorized to make. Because of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law, a Christian does not have to track such a variety of offerings. The Christian’s primary sacrifice is detailed in Romans 12:1. Here, the apostle Paul’s pen highlights three essential characteristics.
The Kind: Living and personal. As long as you have life in your body, you are to be presenting yourself as a sacrifice to God. Your sacrifice is not an asset, like a measure of grain or an animal from your flock. Rather, your sacrifice is far more intimate and personal. It is your body and everything contained therein (i.e., your soul and spirit).
The Caliber: Holy and acceptable to God. Just as Old Testament animals offered in sacrifice were to be free from deformity and all defects, so your living sacrifice is to be holy—unblemished by the ugly stains of overt or covert sin, free from the sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. Like righteous Abel, your greatest concern about your offering ought to be whether it is pleasing to God.
The Rationale: It is your reasonable service as a priest of God. In light of the holiness and acceptability of God’s atoning Lamb made on your behalf, it is unquestionably reasonable that your living sacrifice to God be of the same caliber and kind. Shabby, sick, and blemished sacrifices were detestable and unworthy of a great King in Malachi’s day (Malachi 1:7-14). They still are.
To do God’s will and offer a sacrifice superior to the Old Testament’s bulls and goats, a human body was prepared for Jesus in the womb of Mary. His holy, living sacrifice at Calvary as our scapegoat was acceptable to God; therefore, it sanctifies all who obey His gospel.
The kind, caliber, and rationale of Jesus’ sacrifice are the perfect pattern for your daily sacrifice as a New Testament priest.