By Jimmy Tuten
A. Review the introduction in lesson 1. Stress the influence of Romans 12 for determining what is acceptable Christian conduct.
1. The basic motivation of obedience – God’s love for mankind (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 12:1, “the mercies of God”).
2. The plea for mortal compliance – “I beseech you” (Lit. I beg you, please, a tone of gentle, affectionate persuasion).
3. By calling his readers “brethren,” he employs the appeal of love to enforce the precepts of duty.
4. Too, his language implies that compliance with his admonitions is not a matter optional and indifferent.
B. Before entering upon specific duties of the God-pleasing life, and depicting in detail the character of the Christian, the apostle exhibits in this verse the general and comprehensive principle of practical Christianity.
1. As a matter of course, the Christian must offer a sacrifice and a service.
2. The presentation of self to God is the one great act in which all specific acts of obedience are summed
up and involved.
3. Let God’s people come before him, bringing with them a living sacrifice and offering to heaven a spiritual, reasonable worship.
4. With such the Father will be well pleased.
I. What the inspired writer commands that we present:
A. “Present your bodies.” Nothing is more characteristic of N.T. Christianity than this demand, for it reveals the value and glory of the human body.
1. The Greek world in Paul’s day believed that the body was only evil, something to be despised. The position of the humanist, the evolutionist, etc. today degrades the body.
2. God reveals that the body, as well as the soul, belongs to him and that man can serve him with it as he can with his mind and spirit.
3. God reveals the value of the flesh of the Christian (1 Cor. 6:19; 3:17; 6:20). The greatest demonstration of its value, perhaps, is that Christ took upon himself this form (Phil. 2:5-11).
4. The fact that it is the body, and not the whole man that is under consideration is seen in that:
a. Body is from the Gr. word soma, meaning the physical body.
b. It is contrasted with the “mind” of verse 2. c. The word “present” is the technical term for presenting the Levitical offerings and victims (Wuest, Romans In the Greek New Testament, p. 205). “Present” means “to offer, to put at one’s disposal (cf. 6:3, “yield”).
B. “A Living Sacrifice. ” In contrast to the slain (dead) sacrifice of the O.T. which was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:1,11-12,28). However, the Lord having been slain arose from the sacrificial death. The slaughter of a lamb under the old economy could not prefigure this fact.
1. In view of this fact, God decreed that the Christian himself be presented as a living sacrifice, “dying to sin, buried with Christ in baptism, and rising to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-4, jt), and thus providing a continual witness of the primary facts of the gospel. . .”(Coffman, Romans, p. 410).
2. This new sacrifice referred far more emphatically to Christ than did the ancient type (the sacrifice of the Christian looks back to the cross, while the sacrificial lamb of the O.T. looked forward to his coming).
3. Christ is truly the keynote of all Scripture and the focus of all true religion. When we present ourselves a living sacrifice we witness to the great facts of the gospel (1 Pet. 3:21). This sacrifice requires the volition and assent of the whole person who formally and faithfully continues to present himself in worship and service.
4. Our bodies are presented alive, indicative of action. Yet, some try to present a sick, weak body (1 Cor. 11:30; Eph. 5:14; 1 Thess. 5:6).
C. A “Holy” Sacrifice. Indicates the sacredness of the action in being set apart for the Lord’s use (1 Pet. 1:15). There must be purity of life, without pollution, brokenness or divided interest (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 2:2; Jas. 4:7-10). Cf. the demands of “without spot or blemish” of the sacrifices of the Law of Moses.
D. An “acceptable” sacrifice. One that is well-pleasing to God (2 Cor. 5:9).
1 . To be “acceptable” it must be authorized (Lev. 10:1; 1 Sam. 15:22; Col. 3:17). God will not accept everything we put a religious face on (Col. 2:20-23).
2. It matters little what men think of us, if God approves what we do. Our highest aim should be to please him; the fact that we do please him is our highest reward!
E. This Sacrifice Is A “Reasonable Service. “Reasonable” is that which pertains to the mind. Thayer says this is “worship which is rendered by the reason, or the soul.”
1. This “service” is in keeping with the conclusions of the highest intelligence which acknowledges that it is harmonious with all that really blesses man. “The most ardent application of discerning intelligence will always reveal the reasonableness of serving God” (Coffman, p. 412).
2. This does not mean that we do what is just or equitable, as in the purchase of land because the price is reasonable. It pertains to the Bible heart of man, i.e., obey from the heart (Rom. 6:17). This is a death blow to formalism in religion.
F. It is a sacrifice of our feelings (many allow themselves to be dominated by feelings which are inconsistent with the precepts and spirit of Christ) and affections (Matt. 22:36-40). Note the example of Christ who “pleased not himself” (Phil. 2).
II. In sacrificing ourselves we sacrifice to God a potential for greatness.
A. The sacrifice of the eyes (Lust of the eye is, replaced with a diligent study of his Word, 2 Tim. 2:15 – a vision for his work, Jn. 9:4).
B. The sacrifice of the ears (“swift to hear” the voice of instruction and not temptation, Jas. 1:19).
C. The sacrifice of the hands (“working with his hands the thing that is good,” Eph. 4:28).
D. The sacrifice of the feet (not fleeing from responsibility, Jonah 1:3; Rom. 10:15).
E. The sacrifice of the tongue (“Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth,” Eph. 4:29).
F. The sacrifice of the emotions (as the works of the flesh, Gal. 5:19-21, replaced by the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23).
G. The sacrifice of the affections (love for all others and all else is secondary to love for Jehovah, Matt. 10:37).
1. The best summary of Romans 12:1 is found in the story of the scribe who asked Jesus, “What commandment is the first of all?” (Mk. 12:28)
2. It is expressed in Mark 12:30.
3. Because we have been so richly blessed, and so generously granted the mercies of God, well should we sing with the famed Isaac Watts:
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 18, pp. 555-556
September 20, 1990