The Christian's Duty To God
The first eleven chapters of the book of Romans is Paul's treatise on how both Jew and Gentile may be justified in the
same way "for there is no partiality with God" (Rom. 2:11). The twelfth chapter begins the practical part of the book. Here is where Paul begins to make application of the facts previously taught. In this section of Scripture we find the Christian's duty to (1) God (12:1); (2) the world (12:2); (3) the brethren (12:3-16); (4) his enemies (12:17-21); (5) the government (13:1-7); (6) his neighbor 4:34). He wants ears sacrificed to feet will be restrained from evil (Psa. (13:8-14); and (7) weak brethren (14:1-15:13).
The Toil Of The Sacrifice
Our basic duty to God is to sacrifice ourselves in His service. The action of this sacrifice is represented by the word "present" in Romans 12:1. The word literally means "to place beside or near" or "to set at hand." We must make ourselves available to God. We must be near to Him, so we can readily be used in His cause. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (Jas. 4:8a). Every Christian must present himself as a present to God.
The Thing Of The Sacrifice
The thing or the object which is to be sacrificed is one's body. All of the body must be presented to God. Presenting the body includes presenting the mind. We must have a mind set not on the flesh, but on the spirit (Rom. 8:7). We should be noble-minded like the Bereans in receiving the word (Acts 17:11). We are admonished to be of the same mind with our brethren (Rom. 15:5). And we must have the humility of mind like Jesus (Phil. 2:3-5).
Presenting the body to God as a sacrifice includes presenting the eyes. We must have eyes that look to God (Psa. 145:15). We need a clear eye, not a bad eye (Mt. 6:22-23). Our eyes need to see (Lk. 10:23), and be enlightened (Eph. 1:18). Eyes which are lustful are not being sacrificed to God (1 Jn. 2:16).
Presenting the body to God as a sacrifice includes presenting the eyars. God is not pleased with itching ears which desire tickling by men (2 Tim. 4:3-4). He wants ears sacrificed to Him which are quick to hear what He has to say (Jas. 1:19).
Presenting the body to God as a sacrifice includes presenting the mouth. Our mouths must be acceptable to God (Psa. 19:14). This type of mouth will be a mouth which is willing to confess (Rom. 10:9-10), which edifies (Eph. 4:29), which boldly preaches the gospel (Eph. 6:19), and which is seasoned with grace (Col. 4:16). The sacrificed mouth will bless and not curse (Jas. 3:10).
Presenting the body to God as a sacrifice includes presenting the hands. God wants hands that are clean (Psa. 24:4), and He desires hands which minister (Acts 20:34) and labor (Eph. 4:28). We also present our hands to God by lifting them up in prayer (1 Tim. 2:8).
Presenting the body to God as a sacrifice includes presenting the loins. Only loins which are girded with strength (Prov. 31:17) and truth (Eph. 6:14) can prove to be useful to God.
Presenting the body to God as a sacrifice includes presenting the feet. Feet used by God will visit the needy and distressed (Mt. 25:36) and will carry the message of the gospel wherever they go (Rom. 10:15). The feel will be restrained from evil (Psa. 119:101).
We may be selective in which organs and body parts we may wish to donate to others at our death, but God demands them all.
The Toehold To The Sacrifice
Notice the word "therefore" in this verse. The word connects the exhortation with the arguments and instruction that have preceded it. Thus what Paul said previously about all men being sinners, God's grace, the gospel, Christ, justification, faith, etc. are reasons why we should sacrifice ourselves to God.
Paul also bases his urging on "the mercies of God." Paul had spoken earlier in the book about God's grace (Rom. 3:24; 5:20-21) and God's love (Rom. 5:5-8; 8:35-39). He had just finished speaking about His mercy (Rom. 11:30-32). So, because of what God has so graciously, lovingly, and mercifully done for us, let us return our love and appreciation to Him by presenting our bodies in sacrifice to Him.
The Type Of The Sacrifice
Paul uses four phrases to describe the kind of sacrifice we are to offer to God. First, we are to offer "living" sacrifices to God. He no longer wants the offering of dead animals. Paul had exhorted earlier in the book, "And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God" (Rom. 6:13).
We must also offer up "holy" sacrifices to God. The Jews could not offer what was blemished to God (Deut. 15:21), and neither can we. We must avoid sin as the plague it is.
Our sacrifice which we offer will also have to be "acceptable to God." We may not offer to God what we think He will be pleased with, but rather we must offer what He has said He will be pleased with. Many people fail at this point. They think they are pleasing God, but like Saul of Tarsus, they are not obeying His will.
Finally, this sacrifice we make to God is, Paul affirms, "your reasonable service." The word translated "reasonable" means "rational; agreeable to reason." It is the Greek word logikos from which we get our English word "logic." The word translated "service" was used of the work of the priests in the tabernacle, and was also used of hired service. Here it refers to "the intelligent service of believers in presenting their bodies to God" (Vine, p. 349). Let no one tell you that the life of a Christian is not a rational way of life. The wise man Solomon, after pursuing a number of different avenues in search of the purpose of life, rationally concluded, "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl. 12:13).
For what or whom are you sacrificing? Are you willing to "go out of your way" for God? Remember Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Lk. 9:23).
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 8, pp. 238-239